We did an interview with Ocean of “Into the Blue Crew” about his Broadblue 38 Prestige. His family is setting out on a journey after 10 years preparing! Please scroll down below for a recording of the interview with Diane as well as a written transcription of the interview with photos.
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I’m here with Ocean Reid for [CatamaranSite], and we’re talking about his Broadblue 38 that he sails with his family. Ocean, can you tell me a little bit about yourself, and your family, and your boat?
We are a UK family from England, sailing a cat, a BB (Broadblue) 38, expanding our journey. We’ve done 10 years, living in a tidal estuary of the south coast of England, and it’s been really nice. Our babies were born there, and now they’re four and seven. We’re ready for bigger adventures. We’re expanding our zone, if you like, and sailing out into the sea.
What kind of boats did you have before the Broadblue?
They were very much projects. They were very much house boats. A Southern-class sailing yacht, which was probably way past saving. An old ship’s lifeboat, which was probably a ways from saving. Projects that you could make comfortable, but you wouldn’t take out to sea. Definitely not with a baby on board, so you probably know the score on that one.
How did you find your current boat? What’s its name by the way, and what made you choose it?
We inherited the name. The name is Spirit, S/V Spirit. The name came with the boat, and we just had that weird, is-it-unlucky feeling, so we stuck with it. It’s kind of cute. We’ve only seen one other Spirit, and you can’t get too carried away with your boat names. You’ve got to announce it on the radio, and then you sound like an absolute fool. Spirit is nice. It’s quirky and cute.
That’s good. What made you choose Spirit?
We were looking at a family sailing boat, so we weren’t about adrenaline. We were trying to get as much comfort as possible, for the smallest and most affordable amount of money possible. We started looking before the pandemic at boats in Europe, at Ex-charter, and they were never quite right. We couldn’t get the right information. Every time I asked a question, I never felt like a got a straight answer from some of the brokers in Europe.
As the pandemic came in, it wasn’t the right time to start flying about, and we changed our search to a different boat manufacturer. We started to look more in the UK, and it brought us back to Broadblue. Some of the features of it, we discovered on the go. There’s two of these BB 38s, and one sold very quickly. I think as we got in touch on it, it pretty much sold. The remaining one was literally 100 yards away. We got on board for a view-in, and rather randomly there was another YouTube channel, which you’ve also interviewed, World Towning. They were looking at the same boat. In fact, further along the road buying the same boat, and they were doing the viewings, the sea trials, the surveys. It couldn’t have been at a better time.
We were watching their channel, “Brilliant! Go and look at this boat again, tell us more about this boat!” It was brilliant insight. By the time we actually saw it, and by the time we offered and sea trial, we just felt like we knew the boat inside out. It felt good for two young children. Loads of space up top, don’t have to send them down below if it gets a little bit uncivilized out at sea. It felt like the right space for family.
How has that worked out? Has it been the right boat? How long have you been aboard?
It’s only been two or three years, really. During the process of acquiring, buying, and getting it to a place where we could work on it. It was a pretty functional boat anyway. Had some minor engine defects and a few expenses to cover dead batteries and all that malarkey, but it came together quite quickly. We’re probably down to upgrading a few older navigation things, and getting some AIS safety equipment, obviously. Pretty quickly, it felt like a good boat for us. The space really worked, The enclosures, the bimini space, and definitely the salon was brilliant for the kids. They can always see, but they’re always protected. You’d need some real rough weather before we start attaching loads of leashes and things to people. It felt good, it felt good.
Tell me a little bit about your family, who is aboard the boat?
We’ve got my little boy River, he’s four now. He’s a bit crazy. Partially, the boat was a little bit of containment for him because he’s a little bit unpredictable.
He’s calmed down now. He knows if the weather’s getting a bit bad at sea. He knows he just goes to bed and that’s fine, can’t get injured. He sleeps, and he gets up when it’s less rolly.
My little girl Indie, she’s seven now. She’s actually starting to get interested in taking part in being crew, which is nice. Because between myself and my wife, Natalie, one person always has to be with the kids. The kids are young, we can’t just leave them to roam, and they always need stuff. They’re young, which makes us a crew of four, but when we’re sailing a single-handed sailor and this is where the boat’s really worked out. I can do most things from the cockpit. The way the rigging is set, you can really furl the jib in and out, and it’s quite a quick response, and quite a safe way to keep the boat under control, and de-power really quickly if you need it. I’m pretty happy with the boat, and mostly the kids love the bunk beds.
That’s important! That is really important. Talk to me a little bit more about sailing the boat then. Did you have much sailing experience prior? Can you compare it to other boats?
I’ve sailed with friends. I’ve got past experiences going all the way back to lasers, and little keelboats, and stuff like that. Then there’s been a gap, a huge gap. I kind of came back to it when I wanted to. I’d kind of had my ten years on water, I felt like coming home. I was at the entrance to the sea, but not going out to sea, and it started to feel like that. It brought me back to sailing again, which has been nice, but mostly it was keel and monohull experience, so catamarans are are new to me, to all of us actually.
The Broadblue is unique, it’s got a very different rig than most boats. For people who don’t know, the mast is set fairly far back, so it’s got a small main and it’s got a very large jib. Tell me about sailing that. What have you learned from that rig? It sounds like you and the boat are learning each other together, tell us how that’s been?
As kind of a single-handed sailor, my wife Natalie, she’s learning and she’s in and out, but she’s kind of occupied with the kids. If the kids do sleep, she can come get involved.
But mostly, I need to know I can de-power quite quickly, and this is where the large jib comes in. If you are going out, and you know you’re a little bit more uncomfortable, then you’re going to be. We don’t go out in anything crazy, we’re in that 10-to-16/17 miles-per-hour zone. That’s our kind of comfort within this vessel. We’ve gone a bit above, and we learned that it wasn’t our comfort, and we brought it down again sensibly. But the weighting towards the jib is brilliant for me, because I can know if I pretty much don’t need the main because I can’t tidy up quick enough by myself. I can use the jib, I can furl it out 50%, that probably gives me enough power to go where I want to go. I can go a bit more, I’ve had about 12 knots just out of the jib at 50%, which was quite interesting. No kids on board, but just seeing what the boat can do, it was pretty good. For me, knowing I can de-power really quickly, and obviously if you’re going on a longer passage, then it’s worth the leg work to get the main up. It’ll give you that extra one, one-and-a-half, two knots push, maybe. But the boat doesn’t feel out of balance if you don’t use it. It does seem to sit quite well. Downside, probably on the jib, is it’s so big. If you’re out and you’re out in space, and you know you’ve got space and not tons of vessels about, it’s great. But it does limit your vision. It absolutely cuts across the bow of the boat, and you spend half your time, getting a bit curious don’t you, when you’re blind sailing?
I know it was only five seconds, but I’m gonna go look. You’ve got to keep walking around the sail, but there’s so much power there.
That’s good to know, because that would definitely make like if you’re tacking through a busy harbor or something, quite a challenge.
I would take probably 20-25% of the jib in. I would furl it in just so I’ve got that window underneath.
So, for when it’s furled, you can see through.
Yeah, yeah. It just takes that little bit off the bottom, and you suddenly get a window, which is quite nice.
That would work. Tell me what she’s like seawise. Have you been out in bigger seas?
For me, she’s a bit short to go big. [She] does handle it, but we found very quickly, if we go above 20 miles-an-hour, we start to get a little bit bouncy, it will surf okay. It just feels like maybe longer monohulls that would need the extra wind to power up. But if it did power up, they’ll cut those waves much better than this catamaran will. But within that 10-to-15/16 miles-per-hour zone, that’s the sweet spot, and it sails really well. It just feels like it’s kind of a medium-power vessel, sail-wise.
How about light winds? That big jib must help.
It does, actually. It will cut across 30 off, which is pretty nice. It’s pretty close to kind of get that close to the wind. Even if you are very light-winded, and maybe you’ve got a bit of engine on, it’ll still give you a couple more knots. Obviously, you’re doing extra distance to get those knots, but if the direction’s right, I would use it just to get there a little bit quicker. That’s the thing with family sailing, isn’t it? There’s none of that, “Oh, I’ll just sit there with no wind and just see when I’ll get there.” It’s like, the kids want to get somewhere.
All right, get the engine, on get there!
Fair enough. While we’re talking about the kids again, tell me a little bit about the interior and exterior layout, and how they work for your family?
The biggest selling feature for me was… The company that went under was Prout, and it kind of spawned this new company, Broadblue. From the Prout 38, which this mold used to be, spawned the Broadblue 38. It was kind of the meeting of a bespoke furniture company, and a mold maker, a boat maker. So basically, they started to get slightly nicer interiors, and the salon space just was a massive selling point to me. There’s much sexier vessels initially, I quite like the Fountaine Pajot Lavezzi 40, and stuff like that. Really nice looking boats. When you went below that price range, suddenly sexy wasn’t a word that went with the boat.
For its price range, and for its sailability, and all that kind of stuff, it actually had some reasonably nice aesthetics, and the layout was nicely done. It was very light, there’s windows the family can see out, and also the bimini space was really, really good. That’s been lightly expanded as we’ve gone along. We’ve kind of got two enclosures with good visibility for the kids.
Also down below, the kids love the bunk bed, so they’ve got a forward bunk area, and they love that. They just love climbing everything they can, probably like having cats on board. Then there’s two doubles, and in theory there’s a single, but actually it’s a store cupboard really.
We had one of those as well.
Can’t oversell that one. It’s a reasonable galley, and also it’s a half-up, half-down galley situation, so you’re not completely separate. You can still talk as you’re doing stuff, and you can still grab stuff, and you can pass stuff over the top. it works quite well. Maybe we’re a lazy family. I’d like to say it’s quite economical.
Right, right. Family friendly. So we’re talking about some of the things you love about your boat, what else have you really found to be quite special about it that were maybe surprises?
It’s much faster than I expected, which was quite a good bonus. We set ourselves up for a 26-hour sail from Ipswich to Shoreham, both UK South Coast destinations. We took six hours off it. I was quite pleased with that.
We did, on the other hand, end up stuck at anchor for six hours waiting to go in, but it’s nice to know the boat can move if you need to get ahead of a storm, or get away from something. I like that idea. A lot of my monohull friends call it a couch with a sail. From that point of view, it can still go if it needs to.
Probably for me, I have lost an engine at sea. So having two engines, there’s no way I could have left the helm and pulled in engines pieces. In fact, at the moment, I’m still very much learning about engines. There’s no way I could have done that. Losing an engine in 20 knots plus was a game changer, or a lifesaver if you like. For me and the family, we were in a position where we would have ended quite quickly on some rocks, and we didn’t, so I love having two engines. I’ve got to say I love two engines.
It is a nice thing. We discovered that two rudders was also handy, when we lost one of those. So I get you with the redundancy.
But two heads! Bonus, you know?
There you go too. What year is the boat? You said it was in great condition, but obviously everybody needs to make the boat right for their family, so what did you do?
Not everything. It was a 2002 38 Prestige. The rigging was good. A lot of stuff was good, aesthetically. Obviously, it had its bumps and scrapes, and bits and bats that needed looking at. You’ve also got to give it your own stamp, make it comfortable in your own way. For us, the engines just needed a bit of love. It sat for a while, that’s happened, heat exchanges, stuff like that. Tech upgrades, AIS, and MFDs, and things like that, definitely.
As we’re planning to go to busier places, windlass, that’s been amazing to get that up and running again. We’ve got a big fat anchor on there, which I’m loving. I love that anchor. We’ve never dragged brilliant anchor, we are going to put another 40 meters of chain, because we want to go a little bit further next year. In fact in May, we’ve got some plans. Some little kitchen upgrades, the fridge has seen better days, stuff like that. The domestic side of the boat needs a little bit of love as well.
Other than that, there’s no huge problems. They’re just little quirks that we need to get out. The battery bank, we’re going to build for the leisure side. We’re probably going to upgrade the solar, and I think we’ll be quite close to having the boat that we love very much.
Well that’s pretty wonderful. Where do you think the future is going with you or your boat? What are some of your plans?
We are going to the Med in around May-time, depending on the weather, because it’s been mental this year. Around that time, we’re aiming for that. We’re just trying to work out Brexit and the amazing gifts it’s given us in Europe.
We’ve lost that freedom now, we are now like the rats of Europe. We’ve got the three months in, three months out thing to negate, and it’s quite a pain. Also, our tax situation on the boat is that we used to be anywhere in Europe and be good for tax, but now we’ve have to get back to England within three years, not just Europe. All the way back to England within three years, or we pay our tax again on the boat. That is a huge slap in the face. I only just found that one out. I’m glad I did, because we were starting to look at Turkey going, “Oh we can be there for five years. Wow! That’s amazing!” But we can, at a price.
In the process, there’s cruising tax in Croatia, cruising tax in Greece, so that’s another couple grand to look at. Do we negate that? How do we negate that? Let’s stay away from certain places where will be boarded. We’ve gotta stay out of Algerian waters, we’re welcome in Morocco. We’re trying to work out the place of how do we go in Europe for three months, out of Europe for three months. We’re looking at visas too.
It’s a very, very complicated way of saying we’re going to the Med, isn’t it?
Right, right! But you feel like the boat’s the right one to do it. Would you trade it for any other boat, or is it the right boat for your family?
I think pretty much the size, and what it can do, I’m happy with. Obviously, if I was some crazy millionaire with some spare money, I would probably buy something in the sexy bracket. It’s safe for the family. It’s a good space for the family. Sails pretty well, from what I know of catamarans anyway. For single-handed sailing, it’s working really well. It anchors nicely. With the twin engines, even if you go into a tight marina, or a tight docking space, it handles really well. We’ve got into some really tight ones, with half a meter on the nose, and half a meter on the back end, and still got it in there. So far fingers crossed, it’s the right boat.
Well that’s a great place to stop, so thank you so much, Ocean. This has been a really fun conversation. I think people find it really interesting.
It’s been really nice. From your catamaran experience, is there any advice you might give to me before I start this crazy journey with my rug rats?
That’s a fun question. I think you’re going at it the right way. You’re starting with a boat that you feel really confident in. You’re taking your time to get to know it, you’re not biting off more than you’re capable of, and I think you’ve chosen a really good boat that you can learn on together. I’m a big fan of having a boat that will take a few bumps, and take a few errors, and still keep going. It’s not so sexy, that if it gets a scrape, you’re going to feel bad. Instead, it’s going to be a scrape that you’re going to be able to say, “Hey! I learned this!” So that’s a nice thing with an older boat.
Not so nice that you daren’t use it, so we’re safe there.