The Journey Begins


Mom and Dad, on Shearwater

I have been wanting to go cruising my whole life.  My dad spoke of building a ferrocement boat and sailing the south pacific.  His words, when I was 15, gave me a life long desire to make this journey.   At times, the possibility seemed dim with seasick partners, the struggles of a small business, the world seemed to conspire to make this already difficult goal impossible to obtain.

Years after the death of my first wife Sandy, I met Lisa who is open to the adventure and promise of this journey.   We slowly set about putting the plan in action.  We sold my wonderful Cape Dory “Shearwater” and began the search for an appropriate cruising vessel.  We spent 2 years visiting monohulls up and down the coast in California with our agent, and friend, Allison Lehman.  During one stop, we check out a multihull “Mantra”, a huge boat in less than pristine condition.  We offer,  but the deal falls through because the seller’s broker wanted both halves of the deal and pulls a buyer out of his back pocket.  We look at a beautiful Catana 472, but I am too tall to stand in front of the stove…I love to cook.

After that visit we spend two hours talking to the broker in the cockpit, (we call it the porch.)  We talk about cruising and multihull design.  As Lisa and I walk away we realize how comfortable the porch was. The elevated view of the surrounding marina, the protection afforded by the bimini overhead.  We realize a Catana is the way to go.

We visit Santosha in Ventura and offer.  Santosha is a 471 with the same great deck layout as a 472 but I can stand in front of the stove!  We offer, but the Seller seems to be conflicted.  He obstructs every step.  In the end, after a 3000 dollar survey, we abandon the deal.  In our view, the seller is completely unreasonable or perhaps just not ready to part ways with his boat.

After a “cooling off” period, we offer on a 471 in Seattle.  We get the deal in November 2013. The boat sits in the brokers slip while I sell my optometry practice.  Two weeks after the sale, I’m off to start working on the boat.  We finally found her, and later christened her Footloose!


New Moon, now Footloose at her survey in Tacoma, WA

5 thoughts on “The Journey Begins

  1. Frank Michaux

    Hi from New Zealand.
    I have been in touch with Dave Nelson who seems to have a wealth of knowledge on Catanas and has looked in depth at 3 boats I am considering.
    Your story is a little like mine and I now live in the bay of islands and my dream is to have a cat. One of my neighbours has a Catana and another is a cat designer, Ron Given. So I really should not get a monohull.
    Plus my wife is 6’3″.
    We may be looking at hull #27, Traveler, she is in New Caledonia. Can you tell me if my wife would fit and in general what you think.
    Any items of special note we should look at?
    Many thanks and kind regards
    Frank Michaux

    1. Michael Britt Post author

      Hey Frank,

      In short Catana’s are great boats. I’m 6′ and I have a couple of places I hit my head. Beam in the aft stateroom and sliding door if I step on the sill. At 6’3″ you would probaly have your hair touching the ceiling in the main salon.

      You can hear Dave answer a lot of questions by going to the Catana users group on Yahoo. Pick a system, search, learn more than you wanted to know.

      Good luck with the boat. WE have gone system by system updating and testing.


      1. Frank Michaux

        Dear Michael,
        Thanks for the reply.
        In your experience, are there any specific areas to look at/inside when inspecting?
        Thanks again

        1. Michael Britt Post author

          At 15 year years old, anything with a wire is suspect. Otherwise listen to the history of the boat. Hulls are solid. I have never heard of one of these having delamination or blistering for example. In short, get a survey. mine took three days. The sellers were present most of the time. It was a great opportunity to learn something of my boats history and some tips and tricks about it’s operation.

          1. Matthew

            Hi Michael,

            We are considering looking at Santosha, which seems to still be on the market (unless the Website is still up on accident?), and you apparently have quite a bit of experience with the seller. Would you be willing to share more about your experience? The seller currently has her listed for $429; is this comparable to the asking price when you did your survey?

            Thanks so much! Congrats on Footloose; what a terrific dream you’re living!

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