“The beamy, open floor plan, cozy aft cabin, large galley and giant deck locker are ideal for living aboard. We also loved its unique shoal-draft swing keel design which–when up–gives the boat a draft of only 3 feet.”

Juliana, Beneteau 331

Interview with the Captains — Grace and Drew

On Long Range Cruising

Can you share a bit about yourself and how you came to live-aboard your sailboat?
Though we loved our lives in Midcoast Maine, something was missing.  We wanted to simplify and spend more time doing what we loved. So, when an opportunity to buy a sailboat came by, we took it. We sold our house, quit our jobs, packed up our dog and two cats and moved aboard.

Where have you sailed so far, and where are you heading next?
We left our homeport of Rockport ME in September with the simple plan to “head south”. We adored exploring Maine’s beautiful coast but as the days grew colder we left our familiar New England waters and sailed down the coast to the Florida Keys. We have just made the jump over to the Bahamas and plan to cruise here for the winter. Next… we have not gotten that far yet.

Could you share a memorable story from your sailing adventures so far?
Everyday generates a new story. For instance, the day Drew decided to fix the hole in the dingy was the same day that the dog decided to have diarrhea. With the dingy repair curing on deck we spent the next 24 hours hopping from dock to dock down the ICW to let the dog off to do his business.

Most under-rated piece of equipment for long-range cruising?
Three animals in a small space equals a lot of pet hair- so one of our favorite pieces of equipment onboard is our vacuum. Small and compact, it runs off our Ryobi 18Volt drill batteries. We even have a handy battery charger that can plug directly into our 12Volt system so we don’t need to use our inverter.

Do you have any other notable resources you use (apps, devices, etc)?
We supplement our chart books & GPS with the app Navionics. Really enjoy the reviews folks leave on anchorages/marinas with tips on dog-friendly places, amenities close by, and neat things to check out.

About the Boat

Why did you choose to buy a Beneteau 331?
It really chose us, but a big buying factor was the interior layout. The beamy, open floor plan, cozy aft cabin, large galley and giant deck locker are ideal for living aboard. We also loved its unique shoal-draft swing keel design which–when up–gives the boat a draft of only 3 feet, which is perfect for exploring gunkholes. The sugar scoop is great for swimming and fishing. Finally, due to the fact there is no wood above deck, maintenance is fairly low, leaving us more time for cruising.

What other kinds of boats did you consider before buying this model?
Our budget was on the small side so we were looking mainly at mid 80’s production boats- Catalina, Hunter, Genoaue. We considered full-keeled heavy displacement sailboats but when we took a closer look at what we wanted from our cruising experience, we went the complete opposite way.

How did you come to find/locate her before purchasing?
Grace’s dear friend’s grandfather previously owned the boat. When he passed, the family looked for a suitable new home for the boat for some time.  When no buyers surfaced, the friend reached out to us knowing we were boat people. The boat was out of our budget but we instantly fell in love with it. After explaining our dreams of cruising, the family the decided to sell to us knowing the boat would continue to be cared for and sailed.

Who first introduced you to sailing?
Drew was first introduced to sailing as a camper at Camp Agawam where he got hooked on dingy racing and taught others as a camp counselor. He went on to crew sailing yachts in the Caribbean and schooners in Maine before becoming a professional captain in Boston Harbor. Grace came onto boats via Marine Biology- as a student aboard the Sea Semester tall ships and an NOAA Observer aboard Alaskan and New England commercial fishing boats.

What boats have you previously owned?
To save money on rent we lived on our 36 foot Carver aft cabin in Boston when we were first dating and Grace was finishing school. Living on 36 feet is one sure way to test a relationship.

What are the features you like most about your boat?
We were originally looking at larger boats but we have discovered a smaller boat is a huge asset while cruising. Yes, you have to get more creative about storage solutions, but we save lots of money on dockage, hauling and repairs when you pay by the foot.

What features/improvements have you added or do you plan to add?
Because we have the aft cabin we were able to convert the v-birth to storage, built-in shelves, pet locker, and netted cargo space for bulky items like beach chairs. We also installed a flexible solar array to increase our self-sufficiently. Next on the project list is to install a salt water pump in the galley to reduce our fresh water use. In the far future we would love to add a watermaker.

How do you typically use your boat over the summer, and where do you go?
We are full-time liveaboards. We spent the summer on a mooring ball in Rockland Harbor, Maine and exploring Penobscot bay and prepping for our trip south. Since we left in September home is where we throw our hook.

Do you belong to a yacht club or other boating organizations?
We currently belong to the Young Cruisers Association- a fun tribe of folks from all over the world who have decided not to wait until retirement to start living.

What is the biggest challenge you have in servicing your boat?
Our shoal draft and twin rudders are a unique model so parts specific to those features can take a minute to track down. And though diesel and water is fairly common to track down when on the move, propane can be more of a challenge especially in remote places. But Grace loves to cook and Drew loves to eat so its worth the extra logistics.

Do you have any advice for those looking to buy a Beneteau like yours?
The twin rudders, though fantastic for sailing in the open ocean, can be quite a challenge in lobster pot country and maneuvering in tight marinas.

What’s the story behind the boat’s name?
Juliana is named after our friend and our dingy is named “Norm” as a tribute to her grandfather, the previous owner. We feel these names honor the family that made our dream a reality. Normand even left his published personal memoir onboard- which is a popular book to read aloud during cocktail hour ☺

Check it out
Click the gallery below to learn more about Juliana!