Broadblue 38 Review and Owner Interview – “WorldTowning”

We talked with Will and Jessica of WorldTowning who bought their Broadblue 38 Prestige called S/V Friendship via CatamaranSite.com’s for sale by owner listings. They bought her in France in September 2020 and are fairly new to cruising, but they already have some strong opinions about what life is like on their catamaran.

We moved from a 21 foot RV. This is a palace!

Will and Jessica on life aboard a 38 foot sailboat as family of four.

They have great enthusiasm for travelling and share their adventures across their website, WorldTowning.com and number social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube. You can become a Patreon for special access to their adventures.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves and about your boat?

We have been traveling full-time since 2014, and we have now become newly indoctrinated into the cruising lifestyle. For the first six years,we were basically land bound renting out Airbnbs for a year at a time.

Eventually we migrated onto an RV which we did that for about two and a half years visiting every country in Europe and our Covid time was supposed to be our year in Asia bouncing around different countries one month at a time, but sort of every country closed.

We started out in Japan, and it ended up being five months in Japan. Since we realized we weren’t going to be able to do Asia and visit it the way we had intended that we would come back and live in France. We have long stay visas in France.

We thought we might buy a fixer-upper home and kind of remodel a home for a year until Covid was over because we didn’t think it was going to last long. Show our kids how to do that.

In the meantime this fabulous boat came across my Facebook feed and we bought a boat. Now it’s not kind of as crazy as it sounds. We had planned on buying a boat and being live aboard but maybe not for another year or two. Since Covid happened we thought what better time to learn something new when we’re isolated. We’re quite locked down in France. Why not learn you know how to sail a boat.

It was kind of a crazy move to take when things are uncertain, and we have a travel business so obviously everyone knows what the status of that is. It’s on a major pause, but we have to keep moving and learning and growing. We’re not really the type of family that can just kind of you know stop and sit at our computers all day ( although there is a lot of that with our work and we homeschool our kids ).

We thought we need a project so here we are. We are on a boat and have this project. We’ve been on it for five months now.

Can you tell us a little bit about the Broadblue 38 and how you found it and what made you choose it?

The Broadblues have a very long history but not necessarily as Broadblue but as Prouts.

The Prouts was a UK outfit in the 70s to 90s. Ours is a Broadblue 38, so Prout was renamed once it was purchased in around 2002 or 2003. Essentially the Prout 38 is the same thing as the Broadblue 38 which is what we’re sitting on right now (Editor’s Note: We did an interview with the owner of Broadblue who gave additional clarification about the connection between Prout and Broadblue specifically talking about the 38 foot design. Please click on the link above for the transcript or video embed below with Mark Jarvis.)

Interview about Broadblue which talks about Prout 38 / Broadblue 38

It’s a fantastic boat. It’s a three cabin version, and I think they all were made in that that format. Some had the actual stand-up shower in the portside hull while other ones had like a storage unit in the portside hull adjacent to the to the master bathroom.

Storage unit with washing machine

We like the fact that ours has a storage unit because that’s where we have our washing machine which came with the boat. We’re so happy to have that because Will is a former accountant, so there’s no way we would have been adding the luxury of a washing machine as opposed to kind of upgrading safety and tech. I’m quite grateful to have it.

S/V Friendship is the name of our boat, and she came to us with that name. We hadn’t done a lot of boat research before we bought her. Everyone knows about Lagoon, Leopard, and Fountaine Pajot. But those were all really way out of our budget, and everything that we had been looking at in our budget which was around $150,000 and under US dollars was really awful junk that just needed a ton of work and wasn’t really reliable.

When I say junk I don’t mean like needing repairs I mean they didn’t feel like quality boats that felt safe to us. They had been through hurricanes and were charters. Those are not the type of boats that we were looking at. We have two children, and we’re inexperienced sailors. We needed something that we felt comfortable and safe in.

Broadblue 38

That being said a friend of mine who lives in japan said, “We’re in the same budget range, and these are the boats that my husband really likes. We have been searching for 10 years.”

So the Prout was one. When we came back to France and decided we were going to buy a house and remodel it on Facebook came across this this Broadblue 38 (Editor’s Note: If you list your catamaran for sale by owner with us, we do Facebook marketing.) which at the time I didn’t know was a Prout. I looked at it, and I thought, “Wow that’s really nice looking and from what I can read it looks like it’s a pretty great. It’s got a lot of good setups, and it’s in good condition.” I thought to myself, “maybe it’s so low because it’s not a good quality boat.”

So once Will and I started doing some research we found out that these boats have a great reputation. They’re really solid, tough, seaworthy boats and that’s kind of how she came to be ours.

We did a bit of research at that point. It was really hard to get information on her online because I kept searching Broadblue 38, but once I realized going through different Facebook groups that this was also known as the Prout 38 I was able to get more information where I was actually able to kind of discuss it and actually form an educated opinion.

Before that we were like, “What is this? There’s like two paragraphs online about it. How are we going to you know figure out if it’s any good.”

We’ve been doing this travel thing for a while, and you have to sometimes bank on the fact that sort of things are going to just work out for you when when sort of you take the plunge.

Jessica said “junk” because at the end of the day, we got really burned when we bought our first RV. So our first RV that we bought was truly a lemon which had to be returned within like four days of getting her. There was some sneaky workings of the owner that they covered up damage and stuff. So I’m much more skeptical now because it was a very traumatic situation.

Broadblue 38 Salon

If we hadn’t gotten the money back, that dream would have never happened so nevertheless we upgraded that point that wee did not buy junk the second time.

So now we make sure that we do our homework. We don’t buy junk.

Did you have any sailing background?

We did a RYA competent crew course in Malta about two years ago. We spent 10 days on a Bavaria 42, and it was a very interesting experience because the weather was not exactly in our favor. It was the worst storm Malta had in 30 years.

I have sea sickness issues, so that is one of the reasons we chose a catamaran because I knew that it would be really unpleasant for me and I’m pretty tough and whatnot but when sea sickness gets you it’s bad.

Most of the time you’re just incapacitated. You’re very little help, so I didn’t want that to be our experience. That’s how we kind of ended up going with the catamaran versus a monohull.

Have you had a chance to sail Friendship very much yet?

We’ve taken her out about seven times. We first got the boat when Covid lockdown version 2.0 occurred in France. With us having not yet completed our day skipper course, we weren’t able to sail her with our insurance covering us until we completed our certification. So we had to wait until the whole dust settled, and we were able to get our instructor to come visit us and do it live aboard.

He came to us for 10 days essentially. We sailed all the time, and then we’ve done two sails on our own since then.

That’s an interesting insurance requirement that you need.

So tell us about sailing what it been like for you and how is the boat working for you?

We’ve taken her out in point two meter waves and then all the way up to like almost like two meter swells. She handles the waves very well. She does not have the trampoline in the front, so there’s a bit of a slap when things get a little rough.

She averages about six knots, but we’ve got her up to eight knots. She sailed very comfortably.

The only issue is the slap. We knew this going into it from the research. We knew that would be an issue There’s certainly ways you can learn to sail to sort of minimize that a little bit but yeah and just don’t leave anything that’s going to get slapped across the table.

How is it with just your family sailing? Do you feel like you’ve got enough hands to do everything?

We did great with the instructor. This I always knew this was going to be a big learning curve for me as well as i have a little bit of fear and a lot of seasickness.

To be completely transparent parent, both of our sails that we went out alone I came back and cried after both of them. But I dusted myself off, and I said I’m going back out. If other people can do this, I can do it.

On our own, we did have some wind and some swells and so right out of the gate as soon as we exited marina we were all over the place. So we came back, and then we went out again a couple hours later, but it was still pretty wavy. It was more waves than we have ever experienced with our instructor.

I was very confident that the three other people: Will, our 16 year old daughter, and our 13 year old son were very capable in what they were doing. It was just my own personal fear that I kind of need to get a handle on.

I guess a lot of people that have larger catamarans would consider the cockpit and all the lines quite small, but it really works for our family. We all worked great in that space together. You can see really well out the front, and everything fits and works really well on here.

Broadblue 38 cockpit

She’s been incredibly well maintained as well. We are actually in contact with the owner we bought it from and then the owner before that so we have a lot of history about her.

What kind of work have you done to her?

The areas that she was weak when purchased her were safety stuff.

The previous owners essentially had a coastal mindset as opposed to more of a long crossing in mind, and so there were certain items that we’re upgrading. We’re upgrading electronics. We’re upgrading solar. There was no life raft. So we’ve upgraded all that which makes us feel even more secure.

I feel like she’s a solid boat with our limited experience.

So what about comfort for your family. You’re a family of four on a 38 foot boat. Some people would consider 38 foot catamaran small especially with teenagers. How’s that working?

We moved from a 21 foot RV. This is a palace!

I am so glad that you asked that question because we’ve gotten a lot of questions on that. We have a YouTube channel. And the sailing community is fabulous wonderful loving kind supportive absolutely. Nothing bad to say at all, but people have asked us – people with obviously more experience – “why would you go on such a small catamaran for four people? That’s insane! You’re going to outgrow that.”

And I always have to respond well we came from 21 and a half feet in an RV. We were all sleeping in one room, This feels like a palace. We have two heads and everyone has their own cabin. I don’t want any more to clean. This feels perfect for us.

We can’t accommodate all the toys like scuba gear and so forth, but that’s fine. We have time for that later on in life. If we choose to upgrade. Right now this is the perfect boat for us at this moment.

I don’t want to put down any other boats, but I personally am not really attracted to the more modern boats because they feel very IKEA inside to me and I love the feel of this boat. It feels…I don’t want to say antique because that’s not really the right word but it’s really well made inside and nothing feels like it’s going to break like the table or the chair. It doesn’t feel like i’m going to ding something, and there’s going to be a big scratch out of it like that.

I’m glad we had done our research ahead of time to know that it was a good boat and made well.

Tell us a little bit about your to-do list now.

This is a bad time to ask that question. We don’t want will crying on you. We just finished watching some of the virtual boat shows that just completed.

We watched the Toronto seminars and then we also watched the Seattle seminars and and as a result of those our to-do list is now 15 pages long of things that we have to do on the boat.

We’ve done quite a bit. A lot of the systems were old. The navigation the safety was either old or non-existent. So we’ve put a lot of money into it already in that area.

I need a new radar.

The previous owner put two extra solar panels but didn’t upgrade the charge controller, so that we’re not utilizing all the solar. I think most of the big ticket items are done at this point. We do need to add some more solar and that.

Then we have like days and days of little one-off stuff that we need to do. For example you want to put bungs by each seacock. Little things like that but once you add it all up it’s massive.

We are creating policies and procedures and regimens that we want to have. We don’t have a man overboard routine. We want to create that and then put it down to paper, memorize it, laminate it, and make sure everyone memorizes it.

All of our VHF protocols. We haven’t really practiced that.

It’s the things that you need to do to basically make this life work for you.

I think that was one of the big shocks to us. Obviously we knew that boats cost a lot of money. There’s a lot of repairs and you’re always repairing something. We did not think that we would actually be as time consuming as it is.

I guess to the benefit of Covid. We’re locked down in France. There’s no temptation to do anything else. We basically work and do boat projects and work and do both projects and sleep a little.

But at this point we got we our boat was undervalued so the survey came in about $30,000 more than we actually paid for it. The owner was ready to get rid of it, and we were just very lucky to purchase when we did. We’ve put in now probably $20,000 without upgrading systems.

we had to put a new alternator, a new starter that we hadn’t anticipated initially. We did have a survey and all that kind of stuff.

What would you say to yourself of six months ago when you’re just starting on this journey? Is there anything you’ve learned that you wish you’d known then?

If you have the opportunity to do this and not work or maybe work at home an extra year to save enough money to be able to not work especially if you’re learning to sail and you have children and you home school, I highly recommend it.

If you’re in your home country maybe buy the boat and live on the boat while you go to your office job for another year, so you’re learning about the boat while you’re still getting money.

Will and I have always worked while we’ve traveled, and it’s a challenge. But it’s been even more challenging with the boat because there’s such a huge learning curve.

So if you have the ability to do that i highly highly recommend doing it. I mean we’re surviving, and we will survive. But that is definitely a challenge.

Many days where we feel like one step forward and 16 steps backwards.

I wish we could sail every day because we live aboard her and so there are days in which like I see just incredible conditions where it’s picture perfect. You can just take off and just have an amazing experience and and because we have to make decisions like to work we have to not sail.

You’re building for the future and as much as there are days that you wish that there were no remote projects. You are building upon something that’s gonna sort of take care of you forever, so I’m totally grateful that we’re doing this experience and when we look back we’re not going to look back on the days of doing boat projects. We’re going to look back on sort of the anticipation of launching and going to far off lands.

Coming soon too because we’ve had six years of travel already. Our clients don’t like it when we say this because it scares them but there’s a bit of suffering that goes along with doing something that’s out of the box. If you can work through that suffering it’s not always a bad suffer.

If you can work through that whatever is at the end is really great and I can say this from being someone who’s gone out and feared for her life both times without an instructor with us and been really seasick that i can’t wait to go back out again.

We’re really happy with our purchase. We love this boat. We’ve been living on her now for five months. We have a really good feel for her as a liveaboard, and we’ve also taken herout sailing. We’ve realized she’s going to keep us safe.

It’s just important to kind of get out there and test as many as you want. Maybe you’re not someone who’s affected that much by your your surroundings as I am. I need light. We also have two teenagers with us, so we have a lot of different personalities to fit on the boat.

It really worked has worked out well for us. I highly recommend the boat and they’re not that easy to find. We’re part of a catamaran group for Prouts, and people are always saying, “Hey I really want a Prout 38. Does anyone know where I can get them?”

I don’t know how many were made but obviously not enough because people want them.

Do you have anything else to add about the Prout 38 before we stop filming?

It just goes to show that you don’t always have to go with the name brands. Everyone’s always looking at you know the Fountaine Pajots, Lagoons, and Leopards. There’s a lot of other quality boats that are sitting out there that don’t have the marketing behind them.\

Or the YouTube cache that other other boats. You find a boat that is a quality boat that is rugged and that will take you places and if it doesn’t have the name behind it what does it matter as long as it’ll get you where you need to go. That’s all you care about.

On other thing, many people we see wait around for the boat that has everything on their list. The perfect boat and from what we’ve learned that catamarans are selling like crazy in the USA right now. In many other parts of the world, people have kind of been waiting around for years for their perfect boats.

If you can be willing to compromise it’s really not that bad. We thought coming in that we must have a trampoline, we must have the galley up so that we don’t get seasick or anything like that, and we absolutely have to have four cabins because if someone comes to visit we don’t want to have to make our teenagers bunk together or sleep up in front of people that are getting up for breakfast.

Although all of those things that we really wanted would have been great I’m happy being on a boat that rather than not finding that perfect boat in the price range that worked for us because we had a very specific price range.

That makes a lot of sense and very true. That is one of the conversations that’s been very consistent with people who are actually out there on boats. Buy the boat that suits your family now as opposed to the boat that you might need one week out of the year. Get out there and have a good time.

By Diane Selkirk

I love to travel and have spent the past seven years sailing with my family aboard our 40 Woods Meander catamaran - traveling from B.C.'s north coast, to the west coast of the US, Mexico, the South Pacific, Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia, across the Indian Ocean to South Africa and on to St Helena, South America, the Caribbean and Central America.

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