Monday, April 7, 2014

Looking at boats.

One of the boats on our short list is a Southern Cross 31. We found one listed for sale by a broker in Racine, WI. The SC 31 is a full keel, medium displacement cruiser that is capable of sailing anywhere. This model satisfies most of our search criteria, but since it has a fairly narrow beam of 9' 6" we were concerned it would feel cramped inside and lack decent storage.

We drove down to Racine on Sunday which was a rare sunny day to meet Capt. Ed at the boat. Since we arrive a bit early we found a neat coffee shop located downtown in an old building. This area of Racine surprised both of us by being quaint, revitalized and interesting. I guess we both pictured a run down manufacturing area with lots of empty buildings. Instead there are many shops, bars, restaurants and offices in beautifully restored old buildings.

Meeting Capt. Ed at the boat started out on a bad note as we found the boat was still under plastic wrap for the winter. Oh well, Capt. Ed cut open a flap door for us and gave us the tour. The deck had nice wide walkways to the bow, substantial rigging and hardware and was in overall decent condition. The SC 31 has a smallish cockpit due to its canoe stern, but without wheel steering there is enough room to relax in. The headroom is listed as 6'2" which is pretty accurate for a couple small spots in the salon. Not exactly standing headroom for Mike, but pretty good for a 31 foot boat.

The v-berth was long enough for Mike which was a pleasant surprise. The interior was a bit cozy due to the narrow beam especially with the fixed table set directly down the middle of the cabin. We prefer a flip up table that is stored against the bulkhead wall and will convert any boat we buy to that arrangement if necessary. The storage was indeed limited which would be a big concern. Otherwise, the interior was well kept and showed very little moisture intrusion or condensation.

Overall we liked the solid keel, hull, deck, rigging and condition of the boat. The sails were original which would add a pretty big expense to the refit. Additionally there were some stress cracks that appeared to be caused by a poorly braced lifting strap on the aft end. The electronics were old and basically worthless. This particular SC31 probably isn't one we would make an offer on, but we won't rule this model out from our continued search.

After the boat inspection we drove a few blocks to the waterfront of Lake Michigan so Brenda could hear the waves and smell the water. It sure was nice to be near water again after this long miserable Wisconsin winter. We drove up along the coast on our way home looking for a waterfront restaurant for lunch. We pulled into one in Milwaukee that looked perfect, but when we saw the valets charging $10 to park we decided this wasn't our kind of place. We drove a little further north toward McKinley Marina where Brenda spotted people eating outside a really cool old stone building. Perfect! We parked (free!) and walked over to the Colectivo's Coffee located in an 1888 municipal pump house. The place was packed but interesting, and the workers were super friendly. We highly recommend the tomato basil turkey sandwiches. Yum.

Screen shot of their website.

That was fun, let's go find another boat to look over.


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