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Maritimo 2022Mar - S75 LEADERBOARD

From Sailboat to Powerboat: Circumnavigators talk taking the leap with Back Cove

by RCR Yachts 23 May 10:11 PDT
Oyster 56 © RCR Yachts

When Mike and Donna Hill decided to embark on the Great Loop, they knew they needed the right boat to take them on this new adventure. The Hills are not new to boating. They are veterans in every sense of the word—longtime sailors who have traveled 60,000 nautical miles, including the Great Lakes, Newfoundland, the US East Coast, and a world circumnavigation from 2004-2009.

After selling their Oyster 56 in 2011, they moved two hours north of Toronto, minutes from Georgian Bay, and only hours from some beautiful cruising grounds. By 2017, they were ready to be back on the water. "We had to have a boat, but we weren't excited about doing all the work a sailboat required," says Donna. "We were ready for a less complicated way of boat ownership. A power boat fit that bill."

Their search for the perfect boat led them to Back Cove. "Moving from sail to power is a big step for some of us," says Donna. "A Downeaster-style made the transition easier. It felt good to us—stylish, simple to run, and low maintenance. Most importantly, we needed to feel a flow of air through the cabin, hear the water bubble past the hull, like being in the cockpit of a sailboat."

They ultimately chose a Back Cove 32, which they say was perfect for cruising Georgian Bay. In addition to the classic style, generous-sized cockpit, swim platform, ease of handling, and galley-up location, Back Coves are touted as being uncomplicated and low maintenance—and it was. "We kept pinching ourselves, thinking 'shouldn't there be something else we should be doing?', says Donna. Instead, they just enjoyed their extra time on the water.

When they decided to travel the Great Loop, they had a decision to make. "The 32 has been a great boat, and we considered doing the trip with it," says Mike. "But we thought we needed more: a second cabin for guests, more fresh water, grey water, and fuel tank capacity, more refrigerator and freezer space, and more dry storage. The 41 fits that bill."

In addition to adding extra refrigeration and freezer space, and a beefed-up anchor package, they further equipped their new Back Cove 41 for extended cruising with Stidd helm seats, Starlink communication technology, Furuno navigation equipment, Freedom Lift davit system, Highfield dinghy, and greater power storage capacity with lithium batteries. "They've been very accommodating with what we've wanted to do," Mike says of Back Cove.

Once they settled on the boat, it was time to find a dealer who could help with their order: selecting options, helping sell their current boat, and then handling the inevitable hiccups along the way. With no dealers in Canada, they were able to choose from several different dealers in the US. "We talked to different dealers," says Mike. "RCR was the best we spoke with about trading in and getting the new boat. They were the dealers that were the most accommodating in our situation. Tim and Don have always been helpful in working with Back Cove to keep things on track. They've been great, very transparent, and everything has worked out really well."

The Hills have gotten periodic pictures of the build process and they're in the home stretch now. "They've started to drop some of the interior liners in. All the pieces are there and built, they're just putting it together now," says Mike. The new boat is due to leave Back Cove's Maine facility early this summer, be fitted with electronics and lithium batteries, then delivered to RCR Buffalo in time for commissioning and a sea trial in August. Then, it's off on their adventure.

Due to lock closures on the Illinois River, they're opting to ship the boat to Pittsburgh and head south via the Ohio River in September. They plan to be in Florida and the Bahamas by this winter. Stay tuned for more updates, as we'll keep checking in with them as they take delivery of the boat and start heading south!

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