Pulling at the heart strings…and potentially the purse strings – Emily Luna, A Cabo Rico 38

After coming down off Caper, we chatted with Wally and Joe for a bit before getting back in the car. From there, we followed Wally across to Harbortown Marina in Fort Pierce, where we had seen Suwendejen and So Bella. This time around we were set to look at Emily Luna, a Cabo Rico 38, and Equinox, a Valiant 40.

Just walking up to Emily Luna was a real treat. To my eyes, the Cabo Rico 38, with its sweeping, relatively low sheer, is an incredibly beautiful boat. She looks salty and seaworthy, but also fast and entirely comfortable. After taking her in from the dock and stepping aboard, I was excited; it would only take me a few more minutes to start imaging our future life together.

Emily Luna from the dock

Emily Luna from the dock – Wally in the backgroud

While her teak decks made her look pretty, they were one of the things keeping me from falling immediately head over heels. They appeared to be in good condition, but a fairly high proportion – maybe 20-30% – of the bungs were missing, suggesting the teak might be getting a little thin and raising the possibility that water was intruding through the screws into the cored deck. But at the moment, I did little more than take a note of all this, allowing myself to be taken in by the boat.

EmilyLunaCR3803 EmilyLunaCR3807

At the bow, she had a short bow pulpit with a furler on the forestay and a club-footed staysail. The anchor chain looked like it needed regalvanizing, but it was in a lot better shape than that of the Cabots we saw in the morning. However, the shackle attaching the anchor to the chain was quite rusted and needed immediate replacement. While I did not check the condition of the genoa or staysail, the main was in awful shape and would need immediate replacement.

EmilyLunaCR3809 EmilyLunaCR3811

Back in the cockpit there were self-tailing primaries, as were the winches on the cabin top. However, the halyard winches on the mast were old school. The traveller on the cabin top seemed to need some attention, as I could not adjust the car from its centerline position. And the clutches on the cabin top were similarly aged, though they still seemed serviceable.

EmilyLunaCR3817 EmilyLunaCR3816

Standing at the wheel felt really good, even though I was just in a marina while pretending to be off crossing the Pacific. The cockpit is just a little bigger and more comfortable than most of the other boats we have been looking at. While cockpit size is always a concern while passagemaking, this cockpit gave the impression of seaworthiness at the same time it held out the promise of guests, sundowners, and a bit of personal space, all at the same time.

Aft of the cockpit there were nice looking dinghy davits with a small, newer looking 4hp Johnson stored on the stern rail. The storage area in the lazarettes was clean and fairly spacious. And the thru-hulls and seacocks I could see from the portside lazarette looked robust and in good shape. On the starboard side, the Alpha 3000 autopilot looked quite old and weathered and the ram looked rusted solid.



Heading below, I found the companionway stairs to be oddly angled, causing me to kind of slide down them to avoid hitting my head on the dodger before going below. I figured it was just a matter of getting used to the situation, but I never had the chance to go below again and figure out if that was true. Immediately upon entering the salon, I was struck by the beauty of the teak woodwork. People have commented that it is difficult to find fiberglass below on the early Cabo Ricos, and this was nearly the case on Emily Luna. The wood made the cabin feel cozy, warm, and salty. But I did not truly fall for the boat until I entered the aft cabin and took a seat on the berth to write some notes and examine the nav station, which is located in that cabin. Sitting there with Margaret in the main cabin, I realized how much space there was in this boat and just how comfortable it was below. We would have the opportunity to have visitors without being overwhelmed by their presence and even manage a little alone time if the two of us were trapped below by weather for a few days.

Companionway - check out the nice teak handholds!

Companionway – check out the nice teak handholds!

Cabin salon

Cabin salon

Unfortunately, the aft cabin also started to reveal some potentially major issues with the boat just as I was falling in love. Looking along the top of the cabin, presumably where the hull to deck joint is, there was clear evidence of water intrusion. It was hard to tell whether the leak was recent, but there was a good patch of water staining and maybe even a bit of rotting wood. Margaret found similar leaks behind the portside settees and in the galley. While we are not certain, it sure seemed as if the hull to deck joint might be leaking, which, upon further internet research, seems to be a fairly common issue with the early Cabo Ricos. Not only did this concern us, but these leaks also heightened our anxiety about the teak decks. And, we also found evidence of water intrusion at the mast step. Elsewhere below, though, she looked to be well-kept and in good shape. The hoses and wiring, for instance, all seemed robust and fairly new. However, we could not access the bilges below the cabin sole without a good deal of work, so we never saw the mast step or anything else in that area of the boat.

Aft cabin

Aft cabin

Aft cabin storage

Aft cabin storage

Aft cabin hatch, port, and door

Aft cabin hatch, port, and door

Aft cabin "nav station"

Aft cabin “nav station”

Aft cabin damage

Aft cabin water damage

Aft cabin water damage

Aft cabin water damage

Seepage behind the port settee

Seepage behind the port settee

Water damage in galley lockers

Water damage in galley lockers

Despite her obvious issues, I came away from Emily Luna completely smitten. I had confirmed what so many people always say, that the Cabo Rico 38 is a beautiful boat. So, I was even more ready to believe all the good things that are also said about the Cabo Rico’s seakindly motion and nice sailing qualities. It would take a few days, maybe even a couple weeks, before I finally took the prospect of having to repair the hull to deck joint and, at some time in the near future, remove the teak decks seriously. Once that realization set in, it became a lot easier to move on to other boats.

In the meantime, I found a blog of the owner’s ill-fated experiences on the boat, which both shed some light on Emily Luna and made her even more endearing. In short, the former owner was a classic example of somebody who catches the cruising dream and rushes headlong into it. Within a matter of one or two months, he had bought the boat and set sail on a circumnavigation. Of course, calamity and disillusionment followed.

Margaret’s thoughts:

Just a Jeff explained above, Emily Luna was a beautiful boat. Even from the dock, I was drawn to her wide teak decks and the way she sat in the water. A life raft hung on her aft rails, which scored bonus points with me before we even stepped aboard. As Jeff inspected the topsides, I did some quick documenting of the decks, cockpit, and hatches. I was curious to get below and see how her 38′ interior felt compared to the Valiant 40, which was still, at this point in our search, my favorite design and size. I knew as I grabbed the handrails that this boat had a very different feel from the less expensive Cabots and Bayfields we had looked at recently. The teak was smooth and well-formed – it just felt right in my hand.

As I stood below and took in the space, the warmth of the honey colored teak drew me in. It felt like a good pub, one with extensive polished wood, cozy seats, and always good beer on tap. This interior was meant to be more than just functional, it was meant to seduce you. It was easy to imagine Jeff and I sitting at the table, drinking rum cocktails, and sharing stories late into the night. Or listening to Born to Run and Born in the USA back to back while playing cards. Or whipping up a stew to warm our bones on a cold night.

There was enough space for both of us to stretch out on the settees to read or write, and plenty of room to entertain another couple or two. The aft cabin was well situated and better proportioned than the other aft cabin boats under 40′ that we had viewed. So while I was concerned about the water stains and still wet leaks behind the settee, I was willing to overlook these issues for a while as we dreamed of making Emily Luna our home.

More info on the Cabo Rico 38 layout:

Gauging space

Gauging width

At the base of the companionway to port is the small but efficient galley. It is much smaller than the ones we viewed on many 36′ boats. As the engine is under the stairs, there is a large, insulated box at the bottom that eats into the galley space. And though this does make for a small space it also creates a tight nook in which the cook can wedge him or herself and feel safe at sea.

Jeff removing the stairs to look at the engine

Jeff removing the stairs to look at the engine

The sink is aft, with the stove to port, and refrigeration just forward of the stove. The current owner had a dehumidifier installed on the stove top which inhibited a full review of the galley.

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To the starboard side of the stairs is the aft cabin, which as ample storage lockers and under the berth compartments. (see images above for more details inside the aft cabin)


Aft cabin door at the bottom of the companionway stairs


Storage under aft cabin berth

The cabin salon was spacious and well designed. There is a ton of storage under and behind the settees and in cabinets and bookcases.


Salon table open


Storage behind settee back


Storage under settee seats


More locker space


Storage under port side settee

The woodwork was in very good condition except for a few water stains. The head is forward of the salon to starboard.

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The v-berth also has nice lockers and drawers.

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Below are a few additional images of bilges, hatches, thru-hulls, etc. :


The ports need new gaskets


Sadly, not a butterfly hatch, but still nice and large for good ventilation

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A few images from the Yachtworld Listing:

emily luna looking forward to v-berth

Looking forward to the v-berth

emily luna galley

looking aft

Additional Cabo Rico info:

Yachtworld.com Listing

BoatUS review

Sailboat Data

Cabo Rico Owners Group


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4 Responses to Pulling at the heart strings…and potentially the purse strings – Emily Luna, A Cabo Rico 38

  1. Dale says:

    Having look at these photos I’d warn you off of this boat. It looks to have some serious water intrusion issues, many which may be originating from the deck which is almost certainly leaking – a regular problem with older CRs with teak decks. I bought mine from a previous owner who had just spent $40K completely replacing the teak decks.

    • Jeffrey says:

      Thanks, Dale. Although we keep thinking about Emily Luna, we have pretty much moved on. We had done some research on replacing the teak decks and came up with anywhere from 10-50 thousand. It is good to get confirmation from someone who has some hard information.

  2. Keith Herman says:

    I sailed Emilyluna up the coast to Pultneyville on Lake Ontario just east of Rochester this past month. Loved your well written and very accurate blog. Please email me if you’re ever up this way and my wife and I will take you out sailing.
    Keith Herman
    cell 585-455-7087 kherman@tomwahls.com
    PS This is not an attempt to sell you a sailboat

    • Jeffrey says:

      That is great, Keith, as it sounds like you have decided to keep Emily Luna. Margaret is originally from Rochester, and we do get up that way occasionally. We will certainly give you a call the next time we are in the area. I hope all is well.

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