S/V Ruby is for sale

S/V Ruby is up for sale!

Reason for sale: After a less-than-full sailing season, I’m putting Ruby on the market. Maybe it’s time to admit that I’m not going to enjoy this as much as I’d hoped, and that someone else can pick up where I’m leaving off. I lived aboard a Cal 28 out of college, moved up to a circumnavigating Tartan 37, before downsizing to the biggest trailerable I could find. I was inspired by the voyage of another Aquarius 23 named Lacuna from Seattle up the Inside Passage to Alaska.


That picture in front of a glacier convinced me this was a boat that could take me anywhere I reasonably wanted to go: any East-coast destination was do-able with grit. Ruby has been arranged for comfortable single-handed cruising and fun with friends. Trailer her home for easy winter maintenance, then launch for great sailing the rest of the year. I’ve owned Ruby and her Aquarius predecessor for just over 6 years now.

The boat: S/V Ruby is a 1980’s vintage Balboa 23 centerboard sloop. Balboa purchased the molds and rights to the successful Aquarius line and continued production with some modifications. Most notably, Balboa interiors are molded fiberglass and the rudders are stern-mounted with a fully-enclosed cockpit. The Aquarius owners group on Yahoo has extensive information about both models, their performance characteristics, and a slew of happy owners. Moored on the Middle River above Baltimore, MD, the slip could be transferred to the new owner (current rate is $100/month).


Hull, rig, above decks: Ruby is 23 feet long, just inside of 8 feet in beam. She draws less than 18” with the centerboard up. The stern-mounted blade rudder kicks up as early indication you’ve found the shallows. New “Ruby” vinyl letters on each side. Aluminum rub rail all around (forward port side shows some older hull repair from dock rash).

  • The aluminum mast and boom are easily managed even single-handed. I installed a new stainless mast-base hinge to permit easy raising/lowering of the rig. An aluminum gin pole and custom-made cat’s cradle provide additional leverage/support for the operation.
  • Standard fractional sloop rig with stainless shrouds all around, adjustable tension backstay (two-part block), and pair of windex indicators. Only two halyards: main and jib, with mast cleats.


  • Mainsail is in working condition. Partial battens, full-length mast and boom slot for attachment (pro: no loss of wind, con: not as easy to raise/lower due to system friction). Mainsheet is A-frame style across rear of cockpit.
  • Jib is in working condition. Probably 110% (feels a little small) with luff clips. Heavy-duty sheets. Non-tailing winches and cleats in cockpit.
  • Deck layout is standard for a large trailerable. No openings in the bow, raised cabin with 20” port on starboard side. Bow pulpit and stern pushpit of 1” stainless. I removed the lifelines but will provide the stanchions. Companion hatch converted to sliding-style with rails; original plexiglass two-piece hatchboards & bronze fox head. Cockpit has single drain (1 ½”) at aft end. Deck was painted this year with non-skid for looks/grip.


  • Maybe the most unique feature is the hard dodger. I made this as a prototype to see how I liked the feature. Has (5) opening ports for visibility, (2) solar trickle chargers mounted on top, screwed to the hatch rails and is removable. Coated in asphalt roofing tar ad covered in hull paint.
  • Rudder is stern-mounted with oiled tiller, red tiller cover, and push-rod for the kick-down blade. Newly installed clam cleat provides tension and safety when underway.


Trailer: Original EZ Loader galvanized single-axle trailer. Towed well on 2” ball. Added an extension for an additional 4’ of length to make launching easier. Tires new in 2011; maybe 200 miles on them. (4) galvanized jack stands provide long-term storage weight support (takes the weight off the tires and/or use in emergency to jack the trailer up). Light-bar attaches to boat to prevent submerging them. Comes with: (1) spare wheel carrier (uninstalled), (2) spare wheels (good rims, need new tires), and if desired a weight-distribution hitch for a 2” receiver.

Propulsion options, spares: I spent a great deal of effort getting options for alternative propulsion. Ruby is one of a few of these boats with electric propulsion capability. Motorguide Riptide 80 lb thrust with hull-mounted plug connects to (2) 12 VDC batteries in series for a 24 VDC system. Super quiet, fully maneuverable. I’ve cruised a full weekend on a single charger. 24 VDC shore battery charger, fusing, circuit breaker, and kill switch are installed. Great option is you are in quiet waters and just need to get out/in.


I’m moored at the upper end of a long river, and decided this year that I needed to renew a gas option. Currently installed is a 1990’s vintage Honda 8hp 4-stroke CDI outboard. Good condition, recently tuned up and many parts replaced. Mounted on a Garelick outboard mount, fuel hose, filter, and bulb in cockpit locker with thru-hull connection. Has 6A, 12 VDC charging capability (not installed). Comes with working spare motor with many replacement parts on hand.


Interior layout, fixtures: Pretty much a stock Balboa with the expected level of comfort. Think “glamping”. Normal arrangement for a sloop:

  • V-berth
  • Forward-facing head
  • Starboard-side settee berth with fold up table
  • Aft-starboard navigation station console
  • Port-side galley
  • Port-side quarterberth


Berths include two sets of cushions; tartan fabric in OK condition; back rests recovered with blue sunbrella. Thetford portapotty in head with shelf rack (will be cleaned for new owner, wink). Navigation console provides table-top an electronics mounting in convenient location. Cabin-top mounted chart storage. Floor has vinyl wood stripping for ease of cleaning.

Galley includes wall-mounted papertowel rack, trashbag rack, trashcan, hooks, (2) burner alcohol stove, small stainless sink, 5 gallon water tank, and weather station. Pots, pans, cooking utensils, etc. included.

imag0913Safety kit: Mostly standard items, but enough to get you safely on the water.

  • Heavy cruising plow anchor
  • Danforth anchors
  • Fisherman-style anchors, plus rode
  • Lifejackets (so many lifejackets…)
  • Harness & jackstrap
  • Flares, flaregun, horn, first-aid kit
  • Stern chainplates mounted to tow a drogue or lines when heaving-to
  • Multiple fenders, including a large sea buoy-style for in-port use

Electronics & whiz-bangs: I’ve managed to collect an assortment of odds and ends over a decade of sailing that found their way onto Ruby. Some are installed and working great. Some are installed and working good enough for now, but could be improved. Some are not completely installed, but planned.

  • House battery: 12VDC deep cycle, under the nav station, fused. 110VAC battery charger with co-located outlet for shore charging.
  • Dodger-mounted 12VDC trickle charger (2)
  • (2) cockpit-mounted depth sounders (pucks not installed at this time)
  • 5 VDC microUSB charge cable in cockpit
  • Bluetooth command mic in cockpit (for using your cell phone)
  • 3” compass
  • 12 VDC tiller autopilot (uninstalled)
  • LED running lights (bow, stern, mast)
  • Handheld marine VHF (2)
  • LED cabin lights
  • 10m Yaesu Ham radio (console)
  • Antenna tuner & watt meter (console)
  • 2m Kenwood Ham radio (console)
  • Midland CB radio (console)
  • Apelco Marine VHF (console)
  • 12 VDC audio amplifier + unmounted speakers (console)
  • 7” Lenovo Android tablet w/ 16gB SD card (pdf manuals, and a great classical collection: will reset for new owner)
  • Weather station w/ wind speed, temps, barometer: cockpit-mounted anemometer
  • 5VDC charging cable (interior)
  • Non-marine Garmin GPS (I keep it outside for simple speed & geographic area info)

Current to-do list:

Centerboard: Like many A23’s, Ruby has a stuck centerboard. I purchased her in the water and wasn’t able to fully assess until I hauled out in 2012. The Aquarius owners group has extensive directions on best practices for removing, refurbishing, and/or replacing the ~120 lb steel plate.

Ports: I’ve gotten by with Gorilla tape for the last few seasons, but the ports need to be addressed at some point. I envisioned replacing them a la Lacuna with fixed Lexan or Perspex fixed with stainless screws. In the current condition there is minor weepage in the cabin during heavy rain.

Electrics: I’ve been in continual “upgrade/update” mode on the electric system for the past two years and there’s much left incomplete. I’ve been finishing things as I’ve needed them. A complete list will be provided and gone over during survey. The inventory provided above gives you an idea of the extent of my envisioned scope. If you search “Datawake” and “Technomad” you’ll see one of my influences…

Galley mods: I’ve been considering how to improve the galley and came to a conclusion that a new galley top would be a wonderful improvement. A new surface would allow the stove to seat better and provide for a better 5 gallon tank fixture and more working space.

Inner shrouds: Are too long. I have a temporary set of galvanized wires with stainless hardware serving well, but could use replacement.

Additional projects going along:

  • Rail BBQ: I have most of the parts collected for a rail-mounted BBQ, like the Magma bowl-styles.
  • Stove: I have some parts for an in-boat stove, stainless enclosure, etc. This would be in addition to, or alternative to, the propane heater
  • (1) Self-tailing winch and chain windlass for use in anchoring (was going to mount at bow area)

Additional items going with the sale:

  • Tool bags aboard: two collections of hand tools for use aboard
  • Spare blue & red Sunbrella, cushions, marine carpet, paint, and interior items
  • Sevlor inflatable dinghy with bag & pump
  • Full-size boat cover for use in the off-season (sized for pontoon boat; fits over lowered mast and fully over sides; some tears from last winter)
  • Mast, fins, snorkel for below-water expeditions
  • sleeping bags + camping kit for shore expeditions
  • Fishing gear
  • Collapsible hose, nozzle, and cleaning kit
  • Spare boom, mainsail
  • Spinnaker & spare jib (can be repaired but unuseable at this point)
  • Propane Buddy Heater for winter projects aboard
  • Carriers for mast when trailering
  • Sailing library: Every armchair sailor needs some good books to while away the winter nights. I’m including a selection from my library to get you started, along with some maintenance classics for those projects coming your way. There’s probably ~ $500 invested over time in these.


What’s coming down the pike for you: Hey, it’s a good honest question. You can sail comfortably today and for the foreseeable future. My annual operating costs feel high but were influenced by the many updates I wanted to accomplish. Required expenses were probably less than $300 (registration, fuel, simple repairs) plus slip. Rigging at the ramp takes 45-60 minutes (faster with familiarity) and derigging takes 30-45 minutes; in the slip I was underway in 10-15 minutes and packed away in 5-10 minutes. Looking out at the list of project above:

Centerboard replacement: Carbon steel will run a few hundred dollars or less, depending on the source. If you replace the board you may want to renew the antifouling paint all around.

Ports: Depending on source will run $100-$300 for materials to do them well.

Rigging & sails: Could be refreshed and get you a lot more performance: probably somewhere around $1000-1500 would get you well set up for years to come.


Bottom line: I’m familiar with this family of boats and the average prices they go for. I never thought too hard about investing money into something I really enjoyed, and I really enjoyed making Ruby a better boat than she started out as. You can find lower priced offerings out there. You’ll probably have to find an engine, trailer, or other substantial parts to get them going reliably. You’ll have to invest a lot of elbow grease one way or another! Ruby is priced to represent a lot of the odds & ends that add up over time but make her convenient and comfortable. You’ll still need elbow grease, but hopefully a good deal less.

Sales price: $2800 for everything. At this time I’m not interested in parting things out. You can probably make back a good deal of the purchase price by diligently selling off some of the spare kit (I’m just not interested in being diligent at this time either). In spring 2017 I’ll probably get her up on Craigslist for other potential buyers.

I can be contacted at my personal address travis.a.chapman(at)gmail.com to arrange viewing. My plan is to block Veteran’s Day weekend for trial sailing and/or a nice final cruise! I’ll probably haul out end of November.


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