Caribbean Blog

ocean trader, Caribbean Blog

Feathers – Part I

This Caribbean Blog asked Hanna Lowes to tell Ocean Trader the story of Feathers her 35 foot Bristol cutter. In a previous life Ms. Lowes was a respectable Tax Consultant with a semi-ordinary life until she parted with her husband of 18 years. That is another story she is unlikely to share, but in her own words this is the story of Feathers.

OTC: What kind of boat is Feathers?

HL: Feathers is a 1982 Bristol 35.5 cutter-rigged boat. She is a fiberglass boat with a fixed fin keel. My boat is conventional in most respects expect I made her a stronger and better offshore boat in small increments.

OTC: Like what?

HL: Like I replaced all of the standing rigging except the mast. The mast always struck me as one of the strongest parts of the boat. I even replaced the mast partners with that special poured and hardened system and it seems to work just fine. I installed the biggest manual bilge pump I could find and I also replaced the existing electric pumps with heavy duty Jabsco units. Things like that. On the electrical side I also had the the main panel replaced along with bigger 4D deep cycle batteries. For coms I just have 2 VHF’s and an old ICOM IC-706 with the Mars upgrade. I carry a new Satphone as a backup. For most of my communication I use the VHF and Ham Radio. If you are going cruising on a budget those two pieces of electronics will serve you well.

OTC: What about navigation and Met services?

HL: Well there is no Met Service onboard like Satellite Radio and that sort of thing, but I do use a basic Garmin GPS Plotter with a built-in depthsounder. By now I have a variety of GPS devices including my MaxiPad (Apple). I get old charts when I can, but so far all my landfalls have been to harbors and coastal areas that are well documented. If I were to head further south down into the  Windward islands, or South America I would definitely invest in charts.

OTC: Where did you acquire your boat?

HL: After getting burn-out from doing Tax consultation for many years and going through a devastating divorce I was ready for huge changes in my life. I even lost faith in the crooked economic schemes and governmental institutions that controlled my life for so many years. It finally dawned on me that most people end up in debt and live fairly miserable lives just staying employed to service that debt. One gets so busy being at work that there is a good chance you will grow away from the people that care about you. I lived and worked in Atlanta and towards the end I hated every thing about the place especially the road traffic. Don’t get me wrong. I have wonderful friends that still live there and they are still plugged into the matrix, but these are people that probably talk about me as if I have passed on to the next world.

OTC: Did you consider diving into some other profession, or was buying an old boat in the back of your mind?

HL: I did consider switching jobs. I had several alternative scenarios floating around in my head, but the idea of buying a used yacht and sailing away occurred in phases. I was also exposed to a past client who had been living on a boat with her husband until he became too ill to live aboard. She is back on her boat now as a single woman and appears to be getting ready for another 10 years afloat. Anyway, this lady would chat about what she and her husband were doing or fixing or planning in between the usual tax preparatory dialog. I was also one of those ground pounders that thought (at the time) her lifestyle was a bit odd. I bought my first and only boat about four years ago.  After owning the boat for slightly over one year I finally moved aboard. It took me about 8 months to sell my house in Buckhead, and another 4 months to sell and giveaway years of stuff I would no longer need. My art and and few things I could never part with sits neatly boxed in a friends garage attic. Once I started looking for a boat I had this silly idea that I did not want this process to be an endless quest. I knew in the natural course of life we have windows of opportunity and I didn’t want this particular window to close on me. Feathers was the fourth boat I looked at. She looked about right and the asking price was in my ballpark. The boat was located in a boatyard in South Carolina. I would have to say the broker I dealt with gave me a fair shake and also steered me toward an affordable boat with the right pedigree. The survey was a mixed blessing in that it was thorough and assesed that the hull, rigging and basic aspects of the boat were seaworthy. Needing replacement was a long list of items that made me breathless. Things like sails, windlass, bilge pumps, wiring, various engine components and so on. I eventually replaced everything on the survey list and then some. The old Westerbeke diesel I replaced with a new Yanmar engine and panel. I was advised correctly to spend a bit  more on upgrading the Racor filtering, engine room soundproofing and a few other items on the engine system. That new Yanmar gives me confidence and peace of mind; two things I can always use while at sea.


  1. WilliamP says:

    Where is part II ?

  2. Bernier says:

    Part II Please!

Speak Your Mind