About the boat

Solstice is a Sceptre 41. If you want to skip the story of how we found her, you can go straight to the specs and photos.
The search

Once we decided to sail away, we started to look for the right boat. Actually, John had been doing research for awhile. One of John’s major references was a page on selecting a cruising boat on the Mahina Tiare website. John insisted that I read it before we even talked about what we wanted. At the bottom of the page is a list of boats to consider. I printed out the list, and we kept it handy as we looked at boats on the Internet and around the Bay Area.

During our search we attended the Mahina Tiare Offshore Cruising Seminar (education was part of the plan). This weekend-long seminar by John Neal and Amanda Swan Neal was a great investment for us, and we learned a lot. For one thing, we learned that a boat (not on the list) that we were thinking about would not be a good choice – and why.


John Neal offers consulting services for selecting a boat, and we considered going that route. But also a speaking at the seminar was Pete McGonagle of Swiftsure Yachts in Seattle. Pete didn’t seem like the yacht brokers we’d met in the Bay Area. For one thing, he’s very knowledgeable about bluewater boats. So we talked with Pete, and he agreed to be our buyer’s representative. After that things went quickly.

We continued to mine the Internet using the Yacht World site. This site includes all the boats listed by member brokers throughout the world. Most yacht brokers seem to belong so that most yachts on the market are shown. While the site has areas that are available only to brokers, the basic listings are available to the general public, and the search engine for the database is quite good. We had already looked at all the boats in the Bay Area that might suit us, so we expanded our search to include the whole West Coast.