Last year, when our search for sailboats took us beyond our laptops and into boatyards and marinas, we did peek at the monohulls. They were tempting, their price tags half of that of catamarans sharing the same LOA. In Mexico, we wandered the yard looking at all the monohulls that hadn’t brought us there, comparing it to the one catamaran that did. With our nascent boat eyes we didn’t understand how much of a project the cat really was until the other boat owners started filling us in on its history. They described how it was left to disintegrate in the sun, how no one had given it any care in two years. “I wouldn’t touch this with a 9-foot pole,” said one guy, who took a generous break from his own boat rehab project to help talk with us and dispel his wisdom. “This one could work for you two,” pointing out a monohull with recent updates and all the extras for sale in the yard. “Unless you’re dead set on a catamaran.”

Would we consider a monohull?

Maybe, but we weren’t ready to buy just then. It was February 2016, and we were getting married that April. We needed time to sort our lives. (And time to come to terms with the idea that our first sailboat wasn’t going to be a catamaran.)

Breaking off our courtship of Nice Pair was a huge relief. That boat would have required every penny from the couch cushions, and the negotiations had robbed us of level heads. Once we closed the door on Nice Pair and other catamarans in general, we could refocus on a more affordable class of boats, and narrow our search geographically to our (current) backyard: the Midwest.

The first monohull we went to see was located in Milwaukee, just 25 minutes from my parent’s house. We parked and walked up to the entrance of The Horny Goat Marina. A sign with a grinning cartoon goat hung above the door.

Inside the warehouse, sunlight cast a warm glow on all the boats sitting in their cradles, tucked under dust cloths, hibernating. We met Eric, the broker, who seemed like an amiable, no-bullshit kind of guy. He lead us down through the rows to the Morgan 382 we had come to see.

I was excited. We had spent years aligning our stars to buy a liveaboard sailboat. With money in hand, and no landlubber obligations, we were poised to make a move. I climbed the stairs leading to the deck of the boat, wondering: Could this be the one?

After climbing down below, my first thought was how lovely the interior smelled. Often boats smell dank and stuffy, which can be hard to avoid given they’re always half submerged in water. Tokrimo, however, hasn’t been in the water for two years. The interior has also been completely gutted and redone, new wood and new upholstery everywhere, leaving the inside smelling like a toasty woodshop. If we buy this boat and plop it back into its natural habitat, the freshly-cut cherry wood aroma probably won’t last long. New smell aside, the rehabbed interior earned Tokrimo a bold check in the pros column.

It wasn’t until we saw two more Morgan 38s that we realized Tokrimo was our frontrunner. The other Morgans were similarly priced, but not as well cared for. They had leaks, rot, general disrepair — all common in used boats. Compared with Tokrimo, they were no match. The love and attention Tokrimo’s owner, an 80-year-old woodworker, had invested into his boat was evident in every last piece of trim.

During our second viewing, I crawled to the foredeck and envisioned dangling my legs off the bow. I perched on a stern pulpit seat and imagined full sails aloft. I sat down at the settee and pictured a plate of hot eggs and toast and a cup of tea. I might have thrown an “our” in front of “boat” under my breath to Kirk.

We climbed down from the boat and thanked Eric for his time. We told him we’d like to get serious about making an offer. We were very interested.

He mentioned that another couple would be coming to look at Tokrimo the following week. It would be the second showing for them, too. They were very interested, too.

My heart sank.

We left the boatyard and got into the car. Worry flooded me. Wrinkles knotted my forehead. As of now, this was our best option. After years of dreaming and planning, our timeline was tight. We needed to start sailing this summer if we wanted to be in warmer climates by winter.