There was agreement that after we closed on a new house I could start the next boat search, though secretly I had been doing it all along. After a long search for a new home first looking in the Bay Area 680 corridor (Pleasanton, San Ramon, Blackhawk, Danville, Alamo, Walnut Creek, Lafayette) we decided we’d be a better fit west of the hills. Eventually we found a fixer upper right on the crest of the Oakland Hills with a beautiful view of the bay, quiet street and a back yard; now the important search was on.
This boat search was pretty much left up to me as we were expecting our first baby and Diana wasn’t interested in boats; this was to be my toy. Since I got to decide the criteria I determined I wanted a boat to really teach me how to sail; both the Pearson and Lagoon were fairly forgiving I wanted something to punish me for bad sail trim and I also had a fairly modest budget. After looking at 19 different boats over the course of a year, there was one I kept comparing them all to. One of the first boats I looked at was “Monsoon” a 1977 C&C 38 MKII; designed in the IOR era, she looked fast standing still maybe like a 911 Turbo of the same vintage. She’ll bite if you don’t know what you’re doing but you’ll be rewarded if you understand how to make her go fast. Eventually Monsoon’s price kept dropping and I saw her nearly a year after I first inspected her at an informal boat show in Alameda, now listed by a broker. I sat on her for a few hours and decided this would be the interim boat.
After my offer was accepted, I learned a bit more about Monsoon. She was initially sold on the East Coast where she was campaigned in various different races, then shipped to SoCal and raced in the early to mid 80’s. Here she was modified with 18 more inches on her keel and about 1000 more pounds of ballast. She was then sold again and was sailed to Florida for a few years and then sailed back to the West Coast some time in the late 90’s. From there she was cruised all over the South Pacific, New Zealand, Tonga, Hawaii etc. I bought her from the guy that did all that cruising. Eventually that addition to the keel took it’s toll on the keel stub which had to be beefed up with many layers of carbon fiber. With all that history she was still a very simple boat; no hot water, limited electronics, Monitor self steering. At this point none of that mattered as I was looking for a boat to simply enjoy sailing. More importantly she had a new Yanmar engine, new stand rigging, a vast suit of sails and didn’t seem to need much work.
The sea trial and survey didn’t uncover anything I already didn’t know. I definitely needed a professional survey as C&Cs are balsa cored above and below the waterline. This is actually a really good way to add stiffness without too much weight, but and a big BUT, if water gets into the balsa core the boat will rot from the inside out. Monsoon had a dry hull and a few moist spots on deck that could easily be repaired.
I was super excited to start sailing this sports car of boats, but since she was designed to be sailed by a crew of 4 I needed to make a few changes to sail her short and single handed. Though she did have a self steering wind vane but that wouldn’t work underpower so I added a wheel driven auto pilot. I also lengthened a lot of the running rigging so I could bring it back to the large primary winches in the cockpit, this was done a bit on the cheap side but it worked.
Monsoon really scratch the itch of having a boat that rewarded for good sail trim and overall boat balance. Though she was a racer at heart she did provide a decent platform to introduce both my kids to sailing; Ryley was only 5 months old when he first went on a sail aboard Monsoon and same with Abby.