We love seeing our customers enjoying the boating lifestyle and are excited to share with you the first in a series of customer updates. This update comes from John and Denise McLinn, when they bought their first boat with Annapolis Yacht Sales they were brand new to the sailing world. Not long after they decided they were ready for a bigger adventure, to live aboard and travel full time. We were happy to help them purchase their second Beneteau and love keep up with their travels.


By John and Denise McLinn, Beneteau 48 Owners

Navigating the First Boat Buy
We decided to buy a boat after spending a summer helping Denise’s brother with a project boat he purchased.  We instantly loved the boating life and being near the water.  Our kids had graduated college, and we were empty nesters with two border collies, it seemed like perfect timing to make a lifestyle change.

We began research and looking for a boat that would accommodate both of us comfortably for our weekend trips, along with our dogs; it was also important that the design would allow our dogs to get on and off easily and have enough room for weekend visitors.  Yep, that was our criteria.  Since we had no experience, we felt like a new boat would be a better fit than a used boat.

We spent several days at the 2009 Annapolis Boat Show; we must have walked on and taken notes on over 20 boats, went home, did more research, narrowing our choice down to three boats, the Catalina 445, Jeanneau DS42 and Beneteau 43.

We made an appointment with Tim Wilbricht in November 2009, came up with a “wish list” of boat specs, went back home, studied some more, then met with Tim again.  This time during our meeting Garth Hichens came in, and with all questions answered, we sealed the deal.  We took delivery in April 2010.  We were brand new boat owners, and had very little practical knowledge, in fact had never even owned a canoe.  As new boat owners we needed a boat name.  We are a musical family, someone suggested a play on the song Sloop John B, we adjusted it to accommodate both of our names, our brand new Beneteau 43 was christened Sloop John Dee!

The negotiated boat deal included 40 hours of “on our boat training” with an AYS qualified skipper, to get us past the initial learning phase.  Training included a day with Garth Hichens going over boat basics and systems (beyond the initial comprehensive delivery instructions we received); a day with an AYS skipper spent repeatedly docking our boat in our slip at Herrington Harbour South Marina; a day sailing in windy weather, and a memorable overnight sail with, then Warranty Coordinator, Fred Wagner.

Adventures with Sloop John Dee

We joined the Chesapeake Bay Beneteau Club, CB2, to get more information from other like boat owners, and in fact signed up to participate in the Del-Mar-Va BOLD trip to take place that May, a mere six weeks after delivery.  That trip included offshore sailing, an overnight, and getting into the Ocean City Inlet, all three challenges that experienced skippers took seriously.

John has since earned his Coast Guard Captain’s license.

Our Beneteau 43 took us over 3,200 miles in three years, that included two trips to the Bahamas, expanding our sailing experience even further.  At the end of our second trip, when we returned from the Bahamas, the Spring Annapolis Boat Show was going on, so we visited.  Should have known better! We saw so many beautiful boats, though we were not in the market, John loved the Beneteau 48, and jokingly asked, “How does Sloop John Dee II sound?”.  A deal was quickly made, and Sloop John Dee II found her new family.

Adventures with Sloop John II

With a bigger boat, and the love we both have for sailing and exploring new places, we decided to rent, and then sold our house after three years and moved aboard.  This happened in July 2014, and we have been living aboard ever since.  Our 2014 Beneteau 48 has over 11,900 miles on her, sailing from 23-44 degrees Latitude, from Maine to the southern Bahamas.

There are so many communities associated with sailing, Facebook allows us to communicate with Beneteau owners around the world.  We have always taken advantage of AYS’s excellent post sales costumer service.  The Beneteau Club was so important in our early days of boat ownership, answering “newbie” questions, planning trips and BOLD trips.  Other clubs support cruisers and offer training courses.  There is a wealth of knowledge easily available.

So many places pull at our hearts, the Chesapeake Bay offers so many beautiful locations for easy sailing and enjoying time on the anchor. Mill Creek off the Great Wicomico is one of our favorite locations, where osprey’s fly, and eagles soar!

In Maine, if you can get through the lobster pots, there are so many islands to explore.

The rugged coastline boasts beautiful coves and inlets, pine-covered islands, picturesque harbors and small towns to explore.

And of course, The Bahamas, where we have spent six winters (including this one).  The challenge of getting to the Bahamas by navigating the waterway, taking offshore passages south when appropriate, crossing the Gulf Stream, planning passages with serious study of weather, the camaraderie with other boats traveling is unique in our lives.  Cruisers help each other with everything, from planning passages, to boat repairs, sharing parts if necessary and the friendships we have made in the boating community are beyond anything we experienced in our previous life!