“Our very first passage as new owners of Esprit was our transit of the Panama Canal (no joke). We purchased Esprit in Shelter Bay Marina, outside of Colon, on the Caribbean side of Panama. Our goal was to bring her back to our then-homeport in San Francisco Bay, and the first step of the journey was the Canal! “
Esprit – Kelly Peterson 46′
Interview with the Captain — Quincey Cummings & Mitchell Andrus
Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you came to live onboard your boat?
We met in Park City, Utah, where Mitch had lived all his life and Quincey moved to as a teenager. Quincey grew up overseas, first in Hong Kong and then the Philippines (bucket list destinations to cruise for us)! We have lived and worked on sailboats for over ten years.
Mitch started off sailing with his dad, who cruised around Central America in the ’70s. Mitch grew up lake sailing in Utah and cruising to Catalina with his Dad. Mitch’s first keelboat was a trailerable, fin-keel Beneteau First 235. He worked in the Caribbean during summer breaks from college for the sail training company ActionQuest, and Quincey joined him to work for two summers after we married. That was Quincey’s first experience living on boats – imagine 50’ Beneteaus and Jeanneaus with approximately 12 teenage students and 3 staff per boat! Living quarters were tight.
We bought a Fuji 32 ketch in 2015 when we moved to Berkeley, CA, and lived aboard for 3 years. We loved that boat and had planned that she would be our world-cruiser. We got the wild idea to start an adventure charter company – with our background in sailing instruction and teaching liveaboard skills, and our continued desire to teach and share this lifestyle, we decided to buy a bigger boat to accommodate guests more comfortably. We looked at and considered over 20 boats that were for sale on the West Coast, and finally honed in on the KP46. We expanded our search and fell on the For Sale listing for Esprit almost by chance. She was for sale in Colon, Panama. We took a big chance on this, and put a deposit down before even seeing the boat in person (very out of character for us, but something felt right). The previous owners were so gracious and commutative, we knew we were working with a couple who truly loved this boat and had successfully sailed her around the world over 12 years. The boat had proved herself, and we hope to take her on the Round 2 World Tour. We flew to Panama, and the boat exceeded all expectations. After purchasing Esprit and getting our lives in order, we took her through the Panama Canal and up the coast back to San Francisco Bay. It was an excellent adventure, and the boat proved that she is absolutely tougher than us. The trip North was challenging, but lucky for us we had friends join us who were exceptionally capable crew and great company.
We operated our charter business successfully for the previous two years, but due to 2020, we’ve had to put that on hold. In this forced down-time, we’ve actually been able to sail just the two of us and without a hard schedule. It allowed us to do some local cruising, we spent over a week cruising the inland waterways of the Delta, visited all our favorite anchorages in the Bay, and had the opportunity to relocate to Southern California. We are currently in Ventura Harbor, and we plan to cruise the Channel Islands for the next couple of years before venturing on to Mexico.
Where have you sailed so far, and where are you heading next?
We have spent many months sailing in the British Virgin Islands when we worked for the teenage sailing program ActionQuest. In college, Mitch sailed aboard the 80’ schooner Ocean Star and visited many Caribbean islands over a college semester. We have chartered in other parts of the Caribbean as well, such as St. Martin, St Barths, Saba, Statia, Nevis, and St. Kitts. Most of our recent sailing has been in the San Francisco Bay, where Mitch was a sailing instructor at OCSC Sailing Club and we spent five years living aboard and sailing our own boats. One of the most unique Bay Area trips we enjoyed was a week to go up the inland waterways of the Delta – there were so many bridges to coordinate passage, warm water to swim in, and just a completely weird place to see a large ocean sailing vessel! We have had several trips up and down the California coast, with a few short trips to the Channel Islands. Our longest trip was the delivery of Esprit from Panama to San Francisco (3,400 nm over 47 days, with stops in Mexico and California).
We plan to spend the next couple of years exploring Southern California and the Channel Islands, and from there we cannot wait to get to the Sea of Cortez and spend a few seasons. Ultimately, the goal is to Circumnavigate while taking deviations from the usual west-about route. We have family in the Baltic region and are really looking forward to getting there.
Do you have a memorable story to share from your sailing adventures so far?
Our very first passage as new owners of Esprit was our transit of the Panama Canal (no joke). We purchased Esprit in Shelter Bay Marina, outside of Colon, on the Caribbean side of Panama. Our goal was to bring her back to our then-homeport in San Francisco Bay, and the first step of the journey was the Canal! We untied the lines from the dock and motored over to the first set of locks to meet our Advisor that same afternoon. Quincey’s parents joined us for the transit, and we also hired a local line handler named Santos. Santos had been through the Canal “about 100 times”, and we were extremely grateful to have such an experienced person aboard. It was the first time for the rest of us, and we had heard horror stories of things going wrong for sailboats going through the canal (things breaking, extreme surge, lines dropped, other boats losing control, etc!). Our scheduled transit has us split over two days, so we were able to spend one night on a large mooring in Gatun Lake. It was weird jumping off the boat to swim in freshwater, 80-ft above sea level, and we had to keep a watch out for crocodiles. We had a smooth and pleasantly uneventful Canal transit, and a true test of Esprit’s original Pathfinder diesel engine (FYI sailing in the canal and the Lake is not allowed). We were literally spat out of the final lock, descending into the Pacific felt absolutely epic.
Most under-rated piece of equipment for long-range cruising?
Q: a stovetop pressure cooker. It saves so much water and propane, and we eat a lot of beans, grains, soups, root veggies, and all of these are great for keeping aboard for long passages. It also feels very secure while cooking underway, the hot contents are locked in tight.
M: underrated piece of gear? Well, every boat and every journey is different for every person, so in order to not generalize, I think it’s really important to have many great chocolate bars aboard for crew morale. Also, underrated these days are paper charts. You should always have paper charts.
Do you have any other notable resources you use (apps, devices, etc)?
Crew Watcher is a small beacon (a little larger than a chapstick) that can be worn on the person in a PFD, and also has an app that links to it. It sounds a really loud alarm on the device (tablet, smartphone) if the beacon gets submerged in water or gets too far from the device (you can manually set this depending on the size of your boat). We always wear these, especially on night watch. We had an accidental alarm trip when Quincey went all the way to the bow pulpit to watch dolphins, the alarm woke the entire crew! Very effective, and we learned that we needed to adjust the range.
Boat watch is an awesome app with a free version, while in cell service it is great for navigating traffic, any ship that transmits AIS will show up and give you info like name of vessels, size, speed, destination, etc. Favorite weather apps are Windy (free, lovely interface), Predict Wind, and SailFlow. We also use Navionics on our iPad. We’re subscribers to two online communities dedicated to long-range cruising. The first one is Attainable Adventure Cruising and 59* Norths’ Quarterdeck.
About the Boat
How did you choose to buy a Kelly Peterson?
M: We were really looking for a boat that had a pedigree for bluewater cruising. We knew we needed two cabins and two heads for our charter business, and we had a budget that put us in boats built in the 1980s. The Kelly Peterson is a center-cockpit that allows the forward two-thirds to be slightly disconnected from the back third. There is a passthrough down below between both parts, but there is also a companionway in each part that both lead to the cockpit. This allows a lot of privacy between us and our guests. Also, the designer, Doug Peterson was not one for building slow boats, but he was one for building beautiful boats. So, she’s easy on both the eyes and the passage times.
Q: We love the layout down below for living and hosting, and the sailing performance is phenomenal. She sails incredibly fast for a big cruising boat. She is very easy to sail short-handed, we sail just the two of us (and the cat) and find it very easy and enjoyable to sail her. For the budget and desires, we couldn’t have found a better boat.
What other kinds of boats did you consider before buying this model (and how did they compare)?
We looked at and considered more than twenty boats that were for sale along the West Coast, from San Diego to Seattle. We were mainly looking for great sail performance, as well as a comfortable layout down below for hosting charter guests. Also, taking into consideration – how comfortable will our mothers (who are not sailors) be when they come aboard. One boat we really fell in love with was a 1980s Wauquiez Centurion, The layout down below was amazing, and the deck was in great shape, but the ultimate deciding factor was the terrifying companionway. You had to walk or crawl over the traveler to get to the companionway from the cockpit, and then it was a 7’ ladder straight down! We saw that as a liability for having paying guests, luggage, and our moms aboard. Another contender was Halberg Rassy – gorgeous boats, incredible sailing prowess, but still, a bit out of our price range for the well-maintained listings and the galley just seems like an afterthought. We love to cook and entertain, so a spacious galley was important. Although, John and Amanda Neal have successfully run immersive sail training charters aboard their HR 46 for years (Mahina Expeditions), and they are well known for amazing meals aboard!
Who first introduced you to sailing?
Mitch has been sailing since he was little with his Dad. His dad owned a C&C 36 and cruised around Central America in the late 1970s and 1980s. Quincey was sucked (willingly!) into the lifestyle because of Mitch. Her first real sailing experience was on the Great Salt Lake in Utah, aboard Mitch’s Beneteau First.
What boats have you previously owned?
Mitch’s first boat was a Beneteau First 235 named Gitana that he sailed on lakes in Utah with his dad. They brought the boat out to California, and we anchored her in Half Moon Bay before selling. Next was a Fuji 32 ketch named Windrose that we kept in Berkeley, CA and lived aboard full time for almost four years.
What are the features you like most about your boat?
This is a difficult question to narrow down to a few things, but mainly we really like her hull and rig design. She sails incredibly fast and smooth and is easily managed by two people. We really like the low center cockpit layout, it feels very comfortable and secure underway, and the added privacy of the aft stateroom is wonderful when we have guests aboard.
What features/improvements have you added or do you plan to add?
That list is long! Over three years we have upgraded/installed – Synthetic standing rigging, replaced most running rigging, titanium chainplates, new B&G electronics (wind instruments, transducer, Chartplotter) new Furuno radar and radar pole on the aft deck, AIS receiver, and transmitter, REMOVED the old Northern Lights 5wk generator and upgraded solar panels, replaced old refrigeration unit with energy-efficient Isotherm through-hull cooled unit, new dodger and bimini cover, new Hydrant sails (main, genoa, staysail), new VHF unit at nav desk and in the cockpit, transitioning all lights on deck and down below to LED, Mitch sewed custom hatch covers and portlight curtains, replaced both heads ….
Next up – we are slowly replacing the freshwater plumping (as most of it is 30 years old!), and will be doing a complete overhaul of the deck trim varnish. Also, the salon cushions need an overhaul, that’s an exciting sewing project! We have done too many things to list in the scope of this article!
How do you typically use your boat over the summer, and where do you go?
We have recently relocated to Ventura, California. We plan to spend our summer cruising the Channel Islands when we have the time off work. Quincey has never been to Catalina, we plan to spend a couple of weeks there.
Do you belong to a yacht club or other boating organizations (and what’s your homeport)?
We were members of Berkeley Yacht Club when we lived in the Bay Area. Currently, part of an online international organization called Young Cruisers Association.
Quincey and Mitch are both from Park City, Utah, and we decided to make that Esprit’s homeport, too, although she will probably never go there.
What is the biggest challenge you have in servicing your boat?
Keeping up with the varnished teak on deck. We will be stripping that all soon and reapplying a new product, AwlWood. Mitch has had success with this on clients’ boats, and it looks gorgeous and has proven to be really durable and long-lasting. Detaining in general is tough, it’s a lot of boats to maintain! She looked beautiful the day we bought her and we are trying to keep her that way.
Do you have any advice for those looking to buy a Kelly Peterson like yours?
Join this online forum https://groups.io/g/petersoncuttter. There is a ton of great info on that site and daily conversations about the KP44, F46, and KP46. Also, feel free to reach out to us if someone has questions.
What’s the story behind the boat’s name?
Esprit has been her name from the beginning, we saw no reason to change it. We like it, although a surprising amount of people mispronounce it (pronounced “es-pree”, not “eh-sprit”). It means literally “spirit” or “soul”, and “the quality of being lively, vivacious, or witty”. She is indeed vivacious while sailing!
CHECK IT OUT
Click the gallery below for more photos and information about Esprit!