Since we’ve given up our obsession with catamarans, our boat options have multiplied, almost scarily.

Monohulls are everywhere. There’s so many of them. Different sizes, shapes, conditions and price tags. A search online for boats under $50k returns thousands of results. For the first time boat buyer who doesn’t exactly know what to look for, it’s overwhelming.

Fortunately, Kirk and I have a few criteria to help narrow our search:

1. Price: under $40k.
2. Draft: less than 5 feet.
3. Location: the Great Lakes.
4. Condition: nearly ready to cruise.

For about a week we thought we could get away with dropping $20k on a 32’ Bayfield, probably on the smaller side for a couple to live aboard (and still be a couple by the time they get off the boat).

After giving up on Nice Pair, we had no desire left to chase any more one-of-a-kind, cross-country located or too-good-to-be-true boats. “Screw it,” we said. “We’ll buy the cheapest piece of crap that floats and go for it.”

Probably a bit rash.

We had never seen a Bayfield 32C in person, but the price was low and its draft a minimal 3.75 feet. The handful we found for sale were in Lake Ontario, which fit our location criteria — technically — but wasn’t ideal considering our immediate sailing goals (We’re leaning toward heading south via the Mississippi). After reading more about this boat, Kirk discovered how small it really was.

“Remember the Westsail 32 we saw in San Diego last year?” he said.
“I do. The ‘wet-snail,’ right?” (Apparently they’re slow and allow heaps of water into the cockpit.) “It was a matchbox.”
“Compared to the Bayfields, people are saying the Westsails are ‘roomy.’”
“You’re kidding.”

We decided a little bigger would be significantly better. Boats in the 36-38’ range seemed more reasonable. More expensive, of course. Prices for boats this size start around $30k and go as high as $80k or more, depending on their condition and upgrades. With our budget of $40k, we hoped to find a solid boat with the basics: decent sails, working engine, a functioning head, a not-too-old battery bank, and no major issues. We could buy the other stuff we needed/wanted (solar panel[s], navigation equipment, dinghy, etc.) as we deemed necessary.

The search for a monohull was on.