“The most memorable moment for me so far living aboard was when Joe and I were up in Catalina on the mooring on ASTRAEUS. The sun had recently gone down and the mooring field in Avalon was lit up with all the happy hour lights from the other moored boats. Seeing all the lights and the awesome surroundings with some light music playing was surreal. I realized at that moment that this was the best decision I had ever made. “
Astraeus, CHB 36′
Interview with the Captain — Johnny Albani
About Long-Range Cruising
Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you [and your brother] came to live on board your boat?
I was born in Boston and was always on the water as a kid. My grandparents had a few boats (mostly sailing) over the years and they were such a big part of my childhood. I went to Mass Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay, MA, and am now on active duty Naval Officer. Boats and the sea are my passion! It was such an easy choice to live aboard. My best friend, Joe, also lives aboard his boat at the same marina. We both live and work in San Diego. As a navigator on a warship, I get to work on my ship and go home to the boat!
Where have you sailed so far, and where are you heading next?
I haven’t lived aboard too long yet so, unfortunately, haven’t been able to make any big trips in the boat just yet. The first and farthest voyage we have been on was from San Diego to Catalina Island. Being in the military and with the virus, it has kept us rather tethered to our duty station. The hope is to soon get down to Mexico and some other cool spots in the Northern US.
Do you have a memorable story to share from your adventures so far?
The most memorable moment for me so far living aboard was when Joe and I were up in Catalina on the mooring on ASTRAEUS. The sun had recently gone down and the mooring field in Avalon was lit up with all the happy hour lights from the other moored boats. Seeing all the lights and the awesome surroundings with some light music playing was surreal. I realized at that moment that this was the best decision I had ever made.
Most under-rated piece of equipment for long-range cruising?
Most boats today have them, but quickly realized how much more difficult the transit would have been without my autopilot system. Modern boats and ships may take them for granted, but I am so grateful for that every time we go for a long cruise!
Do you have any other notable resources you use (apps, devices, etc)
For navigation, I have a few great apps for my Ipad that run off service. Seapilot and Inav work great for a portable chart plot / ECDIS unit while underway. I can put the boat on auto and keep the system with me if I need to step away from the help or go to the bow. Some other go-to resources are the Trawler Forum and Prop Talk Magazine. These groups are filled with knowledgeable trawler owners and if I run into a problem someone will have a solution and be willing to help!
About the boat
Why did you choose to buy a CHB?
It’s a funny story of how I came to find my boat. My buddy Joe and I were looking for videos on how to swap out his injector filter and we came across this amazing YouTube page run by my now good friend David. David was the previous owner of ASTREAUS and he was constantly posting awesome videos of different upgrades and maintenance projects he had done on the boat. While scrolling through some of his other videos we found one where he mentioned he had to move away from California and was selling his boat. I messaged him immediately that I loved the boat and that if it was still available I wanted to check it out. He got back to me and I went up to see it with Joe and our engine expert friend, Jim. Once I got there and laid eyes in her, I knew that was the boat. The boat is so unique and full of character. The old-world wood carvings and great use of space, its truly awesome!
What other kinds of boats did you consider before buying this particular model (and how did they compare)?
I was locked in an eternal struggle of boat selection for a few months! I grew up on sailboats and that’s really all I knew. Then I expanded my horizons in the world of the trawler and realized I could get a lot more space for the same price. But even after the practical realization, I also realized that they are just awesome boats in their own right! Although I still love sailing, I have several friends now with sailboats and still get out there a lot. A trawler is truly an awesome live aboard!
Who first introduced you to boating?
I was first introduced to boating by my uncle when I was really little. Lots of the men in my life are/were naval officers. It’s kind of a family tradition! I’ve been so lucky to develop this passion young. So many people we run into at the marina who got into boating later in life say they only wish they had done it sooner!
What boats have you previously owned?
ASTRAEUS is the first boat I have owned and lived on myself.
What are the features you like most about your boat?
Where do I start… I love the layout! The big aft cabin with desk, the spacious salon and great kitchen layout, so much counter space, the captain’s chair, and a big V berth. Also, she has 2 heads! 2-bedroom 2 bath on the water. What more could you ask for? The Ford Lehman engine has to be the most reliable engine ever built. This engine is a product of the early 80’s and still starts right up like she did on day one. She runs at perfect temperature and sounds great. The fly bridge is a great spot also. Independent helm station and so much deck space. It is the main outdoor entertaining space. ASTRAEUS also has a great mast and king post. This is an awesome feature. I use it mainly to raise and lower my small boat or to string up a massive American flag!
What features/improvements have you added or do you plan to add?
The most recent feature I added is the teak desk in the aft cabin. I used a great marine carpenter and friend, Chris, to help me do the work while I was away at training. The desk came out beautiful and I recently finished the sanding and varnishing on it. Now, I can work back in my room and store some of my charting tools and books!
Do you belong to a yacht club or other boating organizations (and what’s your homeport)?
Currently, I am a member of the Coronado Yacht Club in Coronado, CA. My home port is in San Diego (they are the same location pretty much) since I am on a slip waitlist for Coronado.
What is the biggest challenge you have in servicing your boat?
So far the biggest task has been exterior teak. There is so much of it and it is a meticulous job. It is a labor of love and it has become somewhat therapeutic for me.
Do you have any advice for those looking to buy a CHB like yours?
Take some extra care to see what the water and fuel tank tops look like. Also, if it has a Ford Lehman, don’t be afraid of high hours (3000+) these engines are built to run. Very low miles isn’t always a good thing.
What’s the story behind the boat’s name?
ASTRAEUS is the Greek god of the stars. It literally means “of the stars.” My grandmother came up with the name because she loves Greek mythology and history. Also, as a navigator and merchant marine, the stars and astrology are very important to me. With the time and a few stars, we can always find our way home!
Check it out
Click the gallery below for more photos and information about Astraeus!