Meta, the shipyard that built the original Joshua, went on to launch over 70 of them -- not up to Westsail standards, but a respectable run for any production sailboat.
Back in October, when I began my search, there were three on the market: one in Europe, one in Martinique, and one in Rhode Island. Since Helena and I were in Florida by then, none were close enough for a casual look. Besides, we were still hoping to find an Ingrid we liked.
Ironically, it was the owner of one of the Alajuela Ingrids who kicked my interest to the next level. He had actually been aboard a Joshua and — though he laughed at some of its features ("It was built like a submarine, with round deck hatches and watertight bulkhead doors!") — the enthusiasm in his voice only fanned my interest.
|From the original Joshua plans|
The Martinique Joshua seemed especially well equipped for long range cruising. Her British owners, John and Gill, had crossed the Atlantic in her. I wanted to see her, but I was reluctant to spend a thousand dollars on a plane ticket just to look at a boat that, realistically, was probably too big for Helena and me to handle. Then, unexpectedly, we had to return to the New York area, and we grabbed the chance to see the Rhode Island Joshua.
We arrived dockside after dark, just as the first snowflakes of the year began to fall. Floating on the black, oily water, she did indeed look enormous, but I could see right away that she had most of the features I was looking for: a split rig to keep the mainsail under 400 square feet, a main mast stepped at deck level, and moderate freeboard.
But mainly, it was a feeling. Here was a ship that could take us literally anywhere. Greenland? Gladly. Patagonia? No problem.
"How about someplace warm, like Tahiti?" said Helena, shivering beside me.
"Ha! Bernard took his Joshua on her shakedown cruise to French Polynesia!"
Helena's teeth were chattering, so I wisely bundled her off the frozen dock, down the road to a warm pub, to thaw her out with a glass of mulled wine.
The next morning we returned for a closer inspection. I'd forgotten to plug in my phone, so couldn't take many photos, but the short video below captures the moment.
We climbed aboard, unlocked her round hatch ("It is like a submarine!"), and climbed down the ladder to check out her accommodations. When we emerged an hour later, the snow had turned to an icy drizzle. Helena held an umbrella over us as I closed and locked the hatch.
"So, what do you think?" she asked.
I looked longingly at that long, slush-covered deck, seeing not a grey, northern harbor beyond the lifelines, but an azure bay with waving palm trees along the shore.
An icy rain drop in my eye brought me back to reality.
"She's too big," I said. "Probably."
Back in Florida, I sent an email to John and Gill.
"She's too big for us," I told them. "We could never sail her home from Martinique."
Well, maybe we could have, but my insurance agent thought otherwise. I'd checked, just to make sure.
"She's too big a jump from the boats you've owned before. Maybe if she was in the Bahamas," she said. "But Martinique? No way."
And that was that, I thought. We'd just have to look for another 'interesting ' boat.
And then, the next day, we got another email from John and Gill.
"What if we sailed with you?" they asked. "To the Bahamas?"
There was only one way to find out. I dialed my insurance agent...