By Steve Knauth
IN THEIR WORDS
The liveaboard life of Peter and Debbie Verne started with a Caribbean sailboat charter in 1999. After the island getaway, the two architects returned to New York and began looking for an apartment in the city. The results were typical, the solution unorthodox.
“Returning to the stratospheric New York housing market and fresh off a wonderful week aboard led us to start looking at sailboats,” says Peter Verne. “Our running joke was, ‘How much smaller can it be than a Manhattan apartment?’ ”
Today, they’re on their second boat, having spent most of the last nine years on the water. The couple moved back on land after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. “People [were] leaving Manhattan; we felt compelled to return,” Verne says. Back on the water, home now is a 1985 Endeavour 40, which they bought in 2006. It’s their second Endeavour, replacing a 37-footer they lived on for three years.
“We’d become Endeavour loyalists,” says Verne. “The 40 was just right. It wasn’t much bigger than what we were used to, but it offered much more than we had. We liken the relationship between the 37 and 40 to nesting bowls, where the larger is only slightly wider, but offers much greater volume.”
The price was in the low-$70,000 range, and the boat needed some major work. But after owning the 37, the couple — he’s 41, she’s 46 — felt confident they could bring the bigger boat up to par. “I’d learned everything I know about diesel engines, fiberglass work and boat systems on an Endeavour; it was my classroom,” says Verne. “In the end, we felt more at home with the devil we knew.”
And they’ve put that experience to work. The bilge-mounted fuel tank had failed, along with one of the two water tanks. Getting at them involved major structural work, which Verne left to professionals, but finishing off the job fell to him. Working weekends, he replumbed the engine, cut inspection ports, traced wires and even got the new name, Delancey — after Manhattan’s Delancey Street — put on the transom.
“I’ve come to realize that I enjoy maintaining and repairing my old boat as much as I do sailing her,” Verne says. Over the winter, he repaired the cabin sole — reassembling the distinctive Endeavour parquet floor — replaced an air conditioner, upgraded the refrigerator with new insulation and a new compressor. “Next is new radar,” says Verne.
The couple does get out on the water, and Verne calls the boat an “easy sailer.” The big sloop has wide side decks around a coach roof and center cockpit, with a wide aft deck. The 40 carries around 750 square feet of sail and has a deck fitting for an inner forestay.
Below, the two-cabin layout is traditional, with a midships saloon and staterooms forward and aft, each with a head. The galley is at the base of the companionway, and there’s a nav station in the passageway to the aft cabin. Auxiliary power is from a 4-cylinder Perkins diesel, the same model the Vernes had on the 37. It pushes the 40-footer along at 6.5 knots at 2,000 rpm, sipping just under a gallon an hour.
The nav electronics were all 1980s-vintage, and they’re gradually being replaced with newer gear. Upcoming additions include a dedicated LCD radar and a remote VHF cockpit mic. “I’ll tie the GPS and VHF together to get full use from the DSC and distress functions,” says Verne. “I plan to add an SSB eventually, depending on how cruising communications evolves.”
And when it’s time to relax from the pressures of work and the weekends of boat repair, you won’t find the Vernes fighting outbound traffic on the George Washington Bridge or Long Island Expressway. They hoist anchor and run through Hell Gate, heading for Oyster Bay and greater Long Island Sound, or turning south for a leisurely cruise down to Sandy Hook, N.J.
The 40 has made good on its promise of seaworthiness, says Verne. “She’s a homey boat, not fast by any stretch,” he says. “[In rough seas] she’s far tougher than we are.”
And there’s more sailing to come. The Vernes plan to make their first overnight passage together this summer, sailing down the south shore of Long Island and out to Block Island, R.I. The long-term vision is to eventually sail her up and down the Caribbean island chain, says Verne. “But for now, we’re quite happy gunkholing in sounds and bays from New York to Nantucket [Mass.].”
The Endeavour 40 may not be as big as a Manhattan apartment, but it’s much more fun.
In “A Field Guide to Sailboats of North America,” author Robert Sherwood calls the Endeavour 40 a “big, comfortable cruiser intended for extended trips.” The 1980s hull design features a modified fin keel with a skeg-protected rudder. The forefoot is slightly flatter than a traditional wineglass hull, and the 13-foot beam is carried well aft for form stability and interior volume. Sail area is 743 square feet, with a 338-square-foot main and 405-square-foot foretriangle. The center cockpit is farther aft than some designs, and it’s high and dry.
The cabin arrangement is traditional, revolving around a saloon with centerline drop-leaf table and opposing settees (with storage). There’s a cabin with double V-berth forward, with direct access to the forward head. Moving aft, the galley is a step down, and to port, from the saloon. The C-shaped design leaves room for a stove top, double sink and counter space, along with refrigeration. In the passageway leading to the aft cabin is a nav station with folding table to starboard. The aft cabin is a step up, and it’s laid out with a full island berth and a private head with shower. Teak is used throughout, and a parquet floor is an Endeavour tradition.
Endeavour 40s can be found up and down the East Coast and in the Midwest. A lot of them end up in Florida after their owners complete lengthy cruises. Prices range from around $70,000 for an early 1980s model to as much as $100,000 for a turn-key boat from later in the production run. A $79,000 sloop on the east coast of Florida came equipped with the standard Perkins diesel and included such extras as an inflatable dinghy on davits, a wind generator and Mac-Pac mainsail furling. A 1982 sloop with a 50-hp Perkins was listed for $99,000 in St. Petersburg. It came with a full set of sheet winches, a mainsail with stack-pack furling, a 135-percent genoa and integrated nav electronics. Extras included a teak cockpit table and a four-burner stove with oven and broiler.
Endeavour Yachts, of Largo, Fla., came to prominence in the late 1970s with the introduction of the Endeavour 32, a rugged cruiser based on Ted Irwin’s Irwin 32. Catching the wave of public enthusiasm for hardy midsize cruisers, Endeavour went on to build some 600 32s. The Endeavour 37 followed (more than 450 built) and helped establish the builder’s reputation for “simple, straightforward” sailboats. Endeavour added a performance component to its new designs during the 1980s (E33, E35, E38), with less sales success. Founders John Brooks and Rob Valdes sold the company in 1986, and the builder closed doors in 1988.
LOA: 40 feet
LWL: 32 feet
BEAM: 13 feet
DRAFT: 5 feet
WEIGHT: 25,000 pounds
SAIL AREA: 743 square feet
PROPULSION: single 50-hp diesel
TANKAGE: 95 gallons fuel,
170 gallons water
BUILDER: Endeavour Yachts, Largo, Fla.