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Going Over to the “Dark Side” —

2003 Campbell Custom Yacht 35 By Capt. David P. Hope


hy would a sailor ever go to the “dark side?” I was certain that I never would do such a thing. I thought that one day in the far distant future, I would have my last sail, sell my beloved sailboat, and that would be it— finished, done, etc. I have sailed various craft since the early 80s, starting with a worn-out Gulf Coast Catamaran, then a Hobie 16, and then getting into sailboards. In 1992 I bought my first monohull sailboat, a 1982 S-2 Center Cockpit 9.2. I loved that boat. In 1998, I switched to a Hunter 376 and thought I had arrived. We sailed out of Deltaville, VA, and all over the Chesapeake Bay from Norfolk to the top of the bay. We sailed when others would not venture out. We sailed when others chose to drop the hook after an hour’s sail and party the weekend away. We sailed. In 2003, I bought my last sailboat, a Hunter 420 CC Passage, a wonderful coastal cruiser and Bahamas boat. My fiancee and I sailed that boat to the Abacos three times, and once all the way to St. Petersburg, FL, from the Outer Banks of NC.


February 2019 S O U T H W I N D S

So what happened? Why would I go to the dark side? I have often heard, “Oh, sailing is so much work!” I never thought of sailing as being work. It’s fun, it’s what you do, it’s a sporting event. It did finally dawned on me that sailing is physical. On our last trip to the Abacos, I hurt my lower back twice, fortunately after arriving in the Abacos. Each time, I was out of action for at least five days. On the first incident, we sat in Spanish Cay for five expensive days, waiting for my back to get well enough to carry on. As time wore on the right shoulder tore also. Both have been repaired, but the right shoulder, arm and hand are not as strong as the left; of course I am right-handed. On our first trip to the Bahamas, we did a fair amount of Intracoastal Waterway work. I think the evil seed was first planted then. People in trawlers would pass us in the ditch. The “captain” would be standing in the doorway with a cup of coffee in his hand—and he did not have an overcoat on, nor gloves, nor a stocking cap. He looked very comfortable. What I knew was that I could still sail, he could never ever sail and that is what I hung onto. Anyone who does destination sailing will recognize that a lot of motoring is involved, even in the ocean, where we spend most of our time when transiting to and from far destinations. Evil thoughts crept into my mind more frequently. I don’t have the upper body strength that I used to have. I can certainly sail in benign conditions, but what if the weather gets really bad? I know what bad weather is and have been spanked severely and was much younger at that time. Can I still physically handle the boat in foul weather? When you start thinking that way it’s time to do some serious introspection. Further, I was tired of doing 6.5 knots all the time, sailing or motoring. So, in 2013, I took the plunge and bought a 2003 Mainship 30 Pilot and had a custom hard top manufactured for it. Would I like this boat? I loved it. You get on the boat, turn the key and off you go. It was great for sunset cruises, going to Manteo, letting the dog swim, and just enjoying being on the water. We could spend one or two nights aboard and not be too cramped. I thought I had the best of both worlds, a sailboat for windy days and a motor boat for non-windy days. Wrong, only one boat gets used. The Hunter 420 continued to sit in her slip behind the house. Now the real decision had to be made, am I going to sell my wonderful sailboat and buy a larger power vessel? Reluctantly, I came to the decision that, yes, I was actually going to pull the plug on my boat and sailing and go to the dark side. I knew that I must define my wants and needs, and ultimately my budget—which was somewhat dependent on the selling price of the sailboat. Then, in 2016, I put on the full court press and traveled to see boats from Newport, RI, all the way down to Miami, with stops in between. I knew that I wanted a down east or

Profile for SOUTHWINDS Magazine

February 2019  

A free, printed sailing magazine reporting on sailing in the southeast U.S: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missi...

February 2019  

A free, printed sailing magazine reporting on sailing in the southeast U.S: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missi...