I’ve been eyeing open water capable sailboats for years. While it would be nice to have $30-50K sitting around to buy a decently outfitted Westsail 32 or similar, it wasn’t going to happen in the near future. I started looking at smaller fin keel coastal cruisers and trailer sailers in the more immediate budget that I could take out on the San Francisco bay, the usual suspects on the used market being Catalina 22′s, Ranger 26′s, and the like.
While these would be fine for the bay, I really wanted a heavier boat with a full keel and a ton of ballast. More than a ton of ballast. Reading more about early fiberglass boats, I learned about the first successfully mass produced fiberglass yacht, the Pearson Triton 28. An Alberg design, Tritons are full keeled boats typically found rigged as fractional sloops and fitted with the loved and hated gasoline Atomic 4 inboard. The boat is small enough to sail singlehanded, and has enough space for two. Advertising literature may have claimed “sleeps four”, but this should be taken with the same size grain of salt as “four man tent”. An important feature for me, exceptionally rare in inexpensive full keeled sailboats, is the Triton’s 6 feet of headroom in the main saloon. And so the search began…
Many of the Tritons on the market at any given time are priced in $6000 to $9000 range, decently outfitted and more or less ready to sail. Project boats are cheaper, accordingly. Most of them are also on the East coast of the US. After six months or so of watching sailboat listing sites, forums, and craigslist for a project Triton, I found one with a short description listed for around what my used DR650 cost me. I went to see the boat, and soon after money and papers changed hands. I am now the proud new owner of Caper, probably the biggest money sink of a project I have ever bit off.
Sure, there’s a lot of work to be done, and in the end, I’ll likely invest around $10,000 in her, but all the work, systems, and layout will be done just the way I want them. The first step is to give the sails, rigging, and rudder a good going over as well as getting the engine back to running shape. With a lot of work and a bit of luck, I’ll be sailing her on the bay this summer.