“Gozzards are hearty blue water boats who give up little in performance…the Gozzard has a very classic and classy design. Inside is cherry wood, so it is warm and surrounds you like a hug.”
Anam Cara, Gozzard 50′
Interview with the Captains — Sam and Erika Grubbs (with Bella the Boat Dog)
About the Boat
Why did you choose to buy a Gozzard?
Ironically, the former owner of Anam Cara posted just before a hurricane in one of the Facebook cruising groups and Erika saw the post and just went, “Wow, that is a beautiful boat…”. Fast forward a couple of years and we were on an epic road trip in Florida, having found none we wanted on the west coast – 14 boats, 1200 miles, 3 days – and guess which boat we ended up on? The journey to her, though, was not direct. We worked with Swiftsure Yachts out of Seattle, who were incredible. We went to boat shows. We loved boats, we lost boats (were under contract three times…), and we ultimately found the most perfect boat for us.
Gozzards are hearty blue water boats who give up little in performance. We liked that the company is still going strong in Ontario and that if we have a question or problem, Mike Gozzard would readily help. We needed headroom for Sam, who is 6’4” and the simultaneous ability for Erika to see over the helm at 5’1”. (That fact alone ruled out many boats.) We wanted a boat that could be single-handed and that could be sailed entirely from within the cockpit.
Aesthetically, the Gozzard has a very classic and classy design that just made us swoon the moment we saw her. Then, we walked down the companionway stairs (stairs, not a ladder…so very Bella the Boat Dog friendly)…and she just took our breath away. Inside is cherry wood, so it is warm and surrounds you like a hug. The aft cabin has a king-sized bed, long enough for Sam to stretch and wide enough for Bella to sleep with us. The forward cabin converts from a living room space with a coffee table, to a dining room space with seating for 8, to an enclosed, private sleeping cabin with a double or separate single berths. There is a wine rack for a case worth of wine behind one settees which is much used. There is plenty of storage, an amazing galley with a comfortable and convenient breakfast nook, and two heads with a Jack and Jill shower. Sam can stand upright everywhere in the boat.
Mostly, we wanted a boat we LOVED to our cores. Owning a boat is a lot of work and a lot of money. We knew if it wasn’t a heart connection, the blush would quickly fall off the rose. We instantly fell in love with this boat…and it helped that the owners were just the kindest, most helpful and loveliest of people and quickly became friends. We knew Anam Cara was “the one” the second we saw her. There has not been a day since that we’ve not been grateful, we have her.
What other kinds of boats did you consider before buying this model (and how did they compare)?
We looked at both Cats and Monohulls; but, ultimately chose the monohull for a variety of reasons. We almost bought a 50‘ Frasier in San Diego, but did not have that heart connection with it. It had a very deep draft and very tall mast and it was just huge for us. It is telling when you fly 1,500 miles to see a boat, walk up to her and then walk right by her because the boat in the neighboring slip is the one that draws your eye. Just sayin‘.
We also almost bought two 45‘ Cabo Ricos and a Caliber. The latter were all wonderful boats with similar blue water capabilities and, in the case of the CRs, equal classic beauty. The Cabo Rico just did not have as comfortable a layout for us as the Gozzard did. We felt we’d get a bit claustrophobic on it. The Caliber had a fantastic layout; but, Sam could not stand up in the cockpit. It also just did not have the same lines as the Gozzard did; so, while it may have been a fantastic boat from a practical standpoint, it did not make us swoon when we saw it. Swooning is, to us, very, very important.
How did you come to find/locate her before purchasing (and what’s the boat’s history if you know it)?
We found her by pure Kismet! We were on the odyssey trip to FL with a spread-list of 14 boats. Boat #12 was a pretty beat Catamaran that we knew within 30 seconds was not for us. I told the broker as much so as not to waste his or our time. He said, “well, what boat do you think you would like?” We told him we thought we’d like the Gozzards and he said he and his wife had one. They knew someone who had a beautiful Gozzard and might be interested in selling it. So, he texted the owners, they were willing and available to show it, so we drove across the state that night to see it (we were scheduled to fly out at 8 the next morning). We got there just before dark, the owner showed us the boat, and that was it! The owner took the time to walk us through all of the amazing upgrades he’d done. He and his wife made the boat so beautiful, inside and out…it was a labor of love and it shows.
Who first introduced you to sailing?
Fate. Erika walked into our bank and saw a poster board with pictures of a repossessed Catalina the bank wanted to re-sell. After buying her, it was a series of amazing ASA instructors and a good friend of Sam’s, now gone, who took us out on a crazy blowy day (when we thought we’d have to reschedule) and heeled us over, racing back and forth across the lake, whooping and yee-hawing like a madman. We loved every second of it. After that, our teachers have been Anam Cara, our own mistakes, and every cruiser we have been privileged enough to share a sundowner with.
What boats have you previously owned?
We have had runabouts on the lake and the 27‘ Catalina previously. None really prepared us for living aboard a boat like Anam Cara. Knowing how to sail is one thing…learning how to maintain and repair all of the systems on a cruising boat is entirely another.
What are the features you like most about your boat?
We have touched on most of them above. Additionally, we really enjoy our Frigoboat system – we don’t have to go a** over teakettle to get something out of the fridge because we have huge drawers instead. Being vertically challenged, Erika really loves this feature! The stern step is a great feature as well. The stern folds down to the water edge, making it very easy for Bella to board, for dinghy access, or for us to just swim right off the boat. The convertible nature of the forward salon is truly one of the aspects of the boat we love the most too. No other boat had a “living room” space that was quite the same. It is easy to forget we are in a floating home on the quiet evenings. The salon is warm and cozy.
What features/improvements have you added or do you plan to add?
We added an 8-man Viking life raft, AIS, new Dragonfly lithium batteries and a Victron controller (very spiffy as our electronics guy can access the system no matter where we are in the world and make adjustments if needed), and a power winch. We have also added little things, like rain shower heads at the stern and inside, spice racks, access holes in the cockpit, and a kayak rack…things that make it a more comfortable liveaboard platform. Really, the boat was very squared away when we got her, so we’ve not needed to add much. We did just buy folding bikes which will make shore explorations and provisioning a ton easier and more enjoyable.
How do you typically use your boat in the summer and where do you go?
Summer is hurricane season, so we are north of the Fl/Ga line for the summers. We spent the bulk of last summer in the Chesapeake Bay and will spend this coming summer in Maine.
What is the biggest challenge you have in servicing your boat?
Finding qualified people in the location where you need the service. Sometimes, less than qualified people pose as qualified ones and that can give rise to some serious issues.
Do you have any advice for those looking to buy a Gozzard like yours?
Find a knowledgeable broker that you love and trust, regardless of what boat you buy. Specific to the Gozzards, for most, it is helpful to contact Mike Gozzard directly as he maintains files on most of the boats. Anam Cara is a bit of a renegade, having most of her refit happen away from Ontario, so he did not have much information for us – but we are the exception to the rule and he was most willing to try to help with questions. Again, not specific to Gozzard; but, if buying a boat for the first time, do your research and put your boots on as many different boats as you can so you learn through the selection process what you want and need and what you do not. Charter. Get on IG, FB, and YouTube and start learning. Go to boat shows and attend the seminars. Soon, your boat will emerge from the masses. We promise, you will know your boat when you see her. If it is a Gozzard, just sit on her quietly and soak in that warmth…ask yourself if you are “home.”
What’s the story behind the boat’s name?
Not an insignificant task, picking a boat name. We tried on many; but none fit perfectly, until “Anam Cara.” Her prior name was “Mona Lisa” which suited her classic and one-of-a-kind beauty; but, it did not have meaning for us as a couple. This whole chapter in our lives is about time, and how we spend it. We have a 17 year age spread between us, and we wanted to do something magical together with the time we had. We found each other later in life, but when we did, we knew we’d found our “soul mates.” “Anam Cara” is Celtic for “soul friend.” It describes something special and deep – two souls who are stronger together than apart. Feeling we were on to something, we looked on-line and found a book by John O’Donohue called “Anam Cara.” He describes Anam Cara as “a person to whom you could reveal the hidden intimacies of your life;” “a friendship that cuts across all convention and categories;” “joined in an ancient and eternal way with the friend of your soul;” and “when you are blessed with an Anam Cara, you have arrived at that most sacred place: HOME.” Well, that pretty well perfectly summed up our relationship with each other, our children, our boat, the sea, and nature; so, “Anam Cara” it was!
On Long Range Cruising
Can you share a bit about yourself and how you came to live-aboard your sailboat?
Sam is a retired Sheriff’s Captain and Erika is a lawyer, still working remotely. We have, together, four children. We lived in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho prior to moving aboard a year and a half ago. Erika had always loved the water and thought sailing would be amazing. In 2005, we had an opportunity to purchase a 27’ Catalina. We bought the boat knowing nothing about sailing. We took ASA 101 in the Puget Sound and learned how to sail well enough to get the boat off the dock, around the lake, and back again. It wasn’t pretty, but we could do it and we loved every second of it!
Then, in 2017, we vacationed in Roatan and met a bunch of cruisers who shared stories of their amazing journeys. We picked their brains and soaked up their stories and we knew we needed to DO this! We made a three-year plan to move to a sailboat. We sold our lake house, took ASA 103 and 104, chartered boats in the Puget Sound, voraciously soaked up other cruiser’s Instagram posts, walked away from the security of our jobs, said some very hard and some very easy good-byes, and we moved across the country to Anam Cara.
Where have you traveled to, and where are you heading next?
We started in Boca Raton and sailed offshore to Beaufort, SC and then on to Charleston, arriving just in time to weather Hurricane Dorian there. Then, we sailed south to the Keys, with notable stops in Brunswick, St. Mary’s, Cumberland Island, St. Augustine, Ft Pierce, and Ft. Lauderdale, and crossed to the Bahamas from Biscayne Bay. We explored Bimini and the lower part of the Berries and were half-way down the Exuma chain when COVID hit and our daughter’s college sent the kids home. We turned around, met her in St. Augustine, and headed north mostly via the ICW with our new crew member. Along the ICW we enjoyed Georgetown; Beaufort, NC; Swansboro, Carolina Beach; Myrtle Beach, among others. We experienced wildlife and seclusion on beautiful canals and the wild open water of the NC Sounds. We spent several months this summer and fall exploring the Chesapeake Bay from top to bottom. It wasn’t as tropical as the life we’d dreamed and schemed; but, we loved all of the charming harbor towns, museums, vineyards, and the beautiful anchorages we found there. Favorites were St. Michaels and Solomons Island. We stayed a couple of months in Annapolis. We are currently in Hilton Head Island and have extended our stay here because we are enjoying it so much.
We are not sure where “next” is. We may hop over to the Abacos or just down to Cumberland Island (which is one of our most favorite places). If we go north, it may be to spend a bit more time in North Carolina – we want to see several towns that we’ve always been too crunched for time to enjoy – Ocracoke, Oriental, Manteo, Washington, etc. The only thing that is certain right now (as certain as anything is on a sailboat during Covid) is that you will find us cracking many a lobster in Maine this summer!
Could you share a memorable story from your sailing adventures so far?
Oh my gosh, there are many. Probably, the best (and worst) was when our dinghy got loose in the Exuma Land and Sea Park. The ebb tide was sweeping it out to sea at a dizzying pace and Erika, in a flash of what can only be described as sheer brilliance (not) jumped in after it. Well, the thing was…she was pantless. She’d just come back from snorkling and was getting ready to get into the shower when we noticed it already about 100 yards out. So, of course she couldn’t catch it; but, what happened next was the story…. There was a HUGE mega yacht parked next to us. Literally, any one of its four tenders was probably worth more than our boat, and equal in size to it. Two guys from the yacht saw Erika in the water, hopped on their jetskis and came to, what they assumed to be, the rescue. One guy pulled up and offered her a ride. She thanked him, but declined (given that she had no pants). He persisted so she finally had to say, “thank you so much, but I am not wearing any pants.” He did not skip a beat and sweetly offered her his shirt to wrap around her mortified self. She declined but asked him to retrieve the dinghy which was now no more than a dot on the horizon. He got it for us while Erika swam back and thankfully, she got back to the boat and tossed a towel around herself just ahead of he and the dinghy’s arrival. We all had a good laugh, but we are pretty sure that mega-yacht guy has a video somewhere…
Most under-rated piece of equipment for long-range cruising?
Sam says it is the auto-pilot. Cruising as a couple would be pretty grueling without that, so Erika agrees. The other things that are essentials in Erika’s book are the solar system, AIS, life-raft, EPIRB, Iridium Go, and a water-maker. When we were looking at boats, we thought having the latest, greatest navigation system was very important. In reality, we use our Raymarine as a backup to our iPad which have become our most essential navigation, weather planning, and dockage tools. We run Aquamaps, Navionics, DockWa and probably too many weather apps, and we can honestly not imagine not having them. If we had it to do over again, we’d skip the fancy installed navigation systems and just get a large IPad Pro to keep at the helm with an IPad Air as a backup. That said…we ALWAYS have paper charts and know how to use them too…just in case. Perhaps, it is those that are the most under-rated, but most essential piece of equipment. Oh, and YouTube videos explaining how to fix/maintain systems and the boat… we could not live without them. Drinks are on us for the folks who have taken the time to make those videos!
Do you have any other notable resources you use (apps, devices, etc)?
Haha…why yes! See above. Also, we use cruising guides and when in the ICW, we rely pretty religiously on Bob’s tracks and his ICW Facebook page. We also subscribe to Chris Parker’s weather emails which have proven to be very accurate. The Iridium Go/Predict Wind package is one we use when offshore and while, we’ve found Predict Wind to predict rather optimistically most times, it is helpful to be able to access weather reports and to communicate when offshore for long stretches.
Other books include: our ASA books, The Annapolis Book of Seamanship, Chapman, the Mechanical and Electrical Manual, Bob Sherer’s ICW Cruising Guides and his FB site (Bob 423).
Check it Out
Click the gallery below for more photos and information about Anam Cara!