When Darren and Cindy Matwichuk first looked at their future boat 12 years ago, Cindy wasn’t crazy about it. It had been a racing sailboat and had minimal accommodations and little storage. The couple extensively overhauled the boat, adding a king-sized bed, a seating area, a shower and extra storage. They now live happily aboard their 1977 Dencho Choate CF 37, Orion, in Victoria, B.C. with their courageous boat dog Missy, who is blind.
Tell us about your boat’s name.
Our boat is named Orion, after the constellation of stars. The Hunter with club in hand has an ancient mythology. He was a giant among gods, so tall he could wade through any sea with his head above water.
Have you owned other boats before this one?
Yes, we owned a 21-foot San Juan. We spent many long weekends away as a family crammed into that little boat — so many fond memories! Next, we purchased a 27-foot Catalina and enjoyed many more weekend adventures. We were very thankful for the taller head room inside, a little more comfort and we had a head!
Tell us the story of how you found your boat and what makes it special to you.
We were on vacation and went to a marina to “just look” at some larger sailboats. Her striking looks caught our eye and she just happened to be for sale! Darren immediately fell in love, whereas I needed time and some real convincing to warm up to the idea. She is an ex-IOR race boat, so was not exactly cozy or beautiful inside. She was full of single pilot berths for sleeping, dark, with nowhere to eat a meal and very little storage.
Thankfully Darren saw the diamond in the rough, and was fully capable of making her the beauty she is today! After a lot of hard work, we now have a beautiful king size bed, a settee area where we can eat and entertain, new lighting, a shower and lots of innovative storage areas!
What’s the history of your boat?
Orion was previously named Bodacious when she wore her racing colours. She was built in Long Beach, California, Hull #11 at Dencho Marine. Documentation shows she had a very successful racing career from Long Beach to the Catalina Islands.
What do you like best about your boat?
Her striking looks set her apart from other boats. She is solid fiberglass, hand-laid, and very stiff and exhilarating to sail! Her motor is a Volkswagen Jetta, which makes it very easy to work on. She has comfort in rough seas, and has taken us safely to destinations near and far.
What’s your favorite story involving your boat?
We spent a week at anchor, in a beautiful, secluded bay in Alaska, loving every minute, although we felt we were being watched. We were told later from a local resident that the bay we stayed has a long history of being haunted!
Describe the most challenging situation you’ve experienced on your boat and how it performed.
You know the saying “Those who have been on the bottom and those about to be?” We experienced this in a new marina! We were out of town for the weekend and got a call from our neighbor that our boat was pulling the dock over! We immediately drove the six hours back to the boat in hopes of moving but it was too late. We dried two feet during a period of extreme tides and had to spend 12 hours adjusting lines while waiting for the tide to come back in, all the while balancing the boat on her keel, before we could leave the slip. Very stressful!
Where do you plan to take your boat? Do you have a dream destination?
We have sailed the inside of Vancouver Island and the central coast, and had an exciting adventure to Juneau, Alaska. Our next dream destination is Mexico, and then hopefully turn right and beyond!
If someone gave you $10,000 that you could only spend on your boat, what would you do with it and why?
Loaded question! I would first upgrade the galley countertops as they are original and redo the cabin sole and upholstery. Darren says he would buy provisions and blow this popsicle stand!
If you could have any other boat, what would it be and why?
We would have another Dencho Choate! They are built very strong, solid, and seaworthy while being very exciting to sail! We truly love the boat!
What didn’t we ask you about your boat that you wish we had?
What addition to your boat are you the most proud of? Our electric dinghy! We changed over to an electric motor on our dinghy to make trips ashore quiet and have a motor that is “green” and inexpensive to maintain. Four times per day, we take our courageous dog to shore. Darren has customized our dinghy with a solar panel, which continually charges the battery. The electric motor is so manageable and easy that I am able to put it on myself and use it regularly!
We’re always looking for boats to feature — powerboats, sailboats, racing boats, wooden boats, work boats and others. If you’d like us to feature yours, drop us a line at email@example.com and tell us a little about it.