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Friday, May 21, 2010

Boat Building and Connections Across The Internet Ocean

Last week I received a very nice email from a Living with a Purpose type guy named Tony Bigras. Some folks may recognize his name as he has a good internet presence, documenting his journey constructing boats and selling them.

Tony has constructed a handful of boats, and literally invested tens of thousands of hours thinking about them and creating them. Truly a remarkable guy, marching to his own drum. For a hint at what this guy is all about, his website is: www.IdeaIntegrator.com. The story of why Tony reached out to me is neat and shows the power of the Internet as a way to connect.

On my favorite boating forum, LivingAboard, I was publicly sharing my opinions about the merits of building your own boat versus buying. One of the example cases under discussion happened to be one of Tony's efforts, his 50 foot catamaran named Osram VII. Tony had seen the Internet traffic to his website from the LivingAboard forum, so he came and checked out the forum thread. Therein he saw my posts about my stance on build versus buy and he then came over to www.SailboatFamily.com!

Tony reviewed enough of our site to offer me some advice about the boat we have. From his perspective, it isn't the right type of boat for anything more than coastal cruising and that it isn't right for the around the world voyage we plan to make. He also noted things like load capacity, stuff we've blogged about before.

Tony's email was gracious and genuine. I'm grateful he took the time to send us an email, make the contact, and offer his take on things. What a cool guy.

We still plan on our slow meander along the coasts and make a few of the long, multi-day jumps as required. As I shared with Tony, if we suspect a boat integrity problem we will course correct.

Thank you, Tony, for reaching out.


  1. Cool Post Bill. In our quest and journey of discovery we have made many course corrections and we don't even own a boat yet. :) Our initial boat choice was leaning toward the traditional monohull designs, but after reading your blog and many others like it, we are 99% sure we want to go the catamaran route. As for size, we've made our decision making process simple. My wife is the practical one of our team and she would be content with the smallest of boats. I on the other hand always want the biggest and the best, but sailing around the world requires a change in thinking on my part in regards to budget and living expenses. So for now we are basing our decisions as to the size boat based on what things we could not live without. For instance my wife wants to be able to make Margaritas. Well that requires ice. Ice requires water of course which means we must have a water maker and a generator. That means our boat size should be 40 feet or more. :) See, real simple math.
    Now before you think we're not being realistic I promise that this whole thing is written tongue-in-cheek and that we are spending the next three years making sure we make the most educated and sane decision possible.
    I know you have probably seen this video, but I think it does a good job of level setting the challenges of a crossing in a catamaran. http://vimeo.com/5595748
    I also want to say that by reading your blog I know you have done more research than most and you will do well at sea. :)
    Take care and keep up the great progress reports.

  2. I was wondering if possible if we could read his letter? I've just started thinking about an adventure of my own and Im wondering the reasoning behind Tony's opinion

  3. you don't need to sail around the world to live the dream or to be a "real cruiser". People who say you haven't cruised until you've crossed an ocean are being snobs. Even if you are only out a season, or five, or island hop, or coastal cruise the USA... you are DOING IT. Learn, live, and savor the experience.

  4. @Joe: Thank you! As is said so often, it isn't the destination, it is the journey. You guys, too, are making the journey and enjoying all the adjustments along the way. Knowing and defining what your minimums are is key, and no one can define your minimums but you. Sure, they can tell you what they think the minimums are, but they really aren't your minimums and I must say, Margaritas as a minimum sounds good to me! I tell you what, when we are both out on the ocean living out our dreams, we will get together and sip Margaritas talking about how awesome it is being out doing our own things with our own minimums. My pre-order is an extra large Margaritas on the rocks, no salt please! Yeah, we've seen that video … pretty cool stuff!!! While it is an 105Mc, and not a Gemini 3200, it does certainly show what a 32 foot (or so) catamaran would look like in some decently hefty seas! Thanks for the support and encouragement Joe.

    @Ryan: Glad to read that you're looking at defining an adventure of your own! Your usage of this blog as one of your inputs for your adventure is bit humbling. Regarding Mr. Bigras' personal email to me, I've decided not to post it. However, if you're considering the Gemini 3200 and interested in Mr. Bigras' thoughts, I encourage you to reach out to him directly. From my exchange with him, he is a decent fellow. Also, if you do a bit of Google searching and spelunking, you will find an entry of Mr. Bigras' from many years ago wherein he helped bring a Gemini 3200 from Hawaii to San Francisco (if I recall the web page correctly). Thanks for reading the blog and best wishes on creating your own dream.

    @boatbay: Well said and we totally agree. There is no such thing as the right way or what constitutes a “real cruiser.” Moreover, such things really don't matter. We are our own arbiters of success … we get to define what it looks like. If it is a day sail, wahoo! If it is a coastal cruise, wahoo! If it is a transatlantic passage, wahoo! The key is to go for it. As you shared, “you are DOING IT.”


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