BOATING LIFESTYLE: With an upgrade to a Hunter 39 and a mooring in Catalina, two can live happily ever after


Ray Ellis, Sandra Brackert, Molly, aboard Hunter 39

Ray Ellis, Sandra Brackert, Molly, aboard Hunter 39

Hunter 39 at mooring in Catalina. 

Hunter 39 at mooring in Catalina.

Sandra Brackert , Steve Curran In Alameda

Steve Curran joins Ray and Sandra in Alameda for Hunter 39 sea trial


“Clients buy more than a boat— They buy a boating lifestyle. What I enjoy most about my many decades selling boats are the clients that evolve into friendships. Ray Ellis is a great example,” says Steve Curran.

Curran is owner and founder of California Yacht Company, including Marina del Rey Yacht Sales and Long Beach Yacht Center.

“Ray is a guy that I met 35 or 40 years ago– he had just moved to the Long Beach area. He worked for McDonnell Douglas, was a single guy, and was looking to live aboard a sailboat. He talked to a lot of people in the Long Beach area about living aboard— none of them were very encouraging— then he met me at the boat show and I was encouraging — and so I ended up selling him a boat.


Ray Ellis inside Hunter 39 spacious cabin

Ray Ellis inside Hunter 39 spacious cabin


“And Ray just fell in love with the lifestyle. He loved sailing. He advanced a great deal over time. He got his captain’s license. He took people out. He lived aboard— and bought a second boat that was kind of a house boat. He helped me out at boat shows. It turned into a really nice positive long-term relationship that has been going on for a long time.

When Sandra Brackert and Ray Ellis found each other seven and a half years ago, Sandra was a UCLA oncology nurse practitioner with no previous boating background. But she was about to also become an active sailor.

Spending weekends whenever possible, the couple would take Ray’s sailboat from Marina del Rey to Catalina Island’s Two Harbors, aka The Isthmus, where, conveniently, Ray had a mooring. “Ray would cook meals on his stainless steel grill, attached to the stern rail,” says Sandra.

Hunter 39 cockpit

Sandra Brackert and Molly relaxing in Hunter 39’s cockpit


With uncounted trips to the Isthmus, helpful advice from boating neighbors, and an affinity for research, Sandra’s knowledge of sailing and boating grew.

As time went on, she began to have an epiphany: “Taking showers off the back of the boat was fine for a while, but eventually I wanted more creature comforts,” says Sandra.

“Ray and Sandra were outgrowing Ray’s boat,” Steve continues. “They wanted to have more room and they wanted something a little classier. They did their own sort of research— looking around for a bigger boat— and they came across a late model Hunter 39.”

“Nowadays, the newer boats have more space, and they have some significant design improvements— including swim steps with access on and off the boat through the cockpit— which is a tremendous convenience—even a safety factor if you ever fall overboard on a boat. Getting in through the stern with a walk-through transom is so much easier, even life-saving in some cases.


Hunter 39's galley area

Hunter 39’s galley area


“So they found this boat, became enchanted with it— it was up in the bay area— and there aren’t a lot of these nicer boats around nowadays. Joining forces to acquire that boat as co-purchasers, Ray and Sandra contacted me, and we made an offer sight unseen.

“Ray and Sandra drove up there— I also got up at three am in the morning on the same day, drove up, and arrived by 10am to meet them. We spent the day sea trialing the boat, taking it out of the water, having a good surveyer look at the hull, and they ended up buying the boat. I drove back that night. It was a long kind of a long day, but they thoroughly enjoyed the experience and stayed longer.

“We closed the deal the next week. They went up, spent the weekend sailing and becoming familiar with the boat. Their plans were to sail it under the Golden Gate Bridge and out of San Francisco Bay, then continue down the coast to their vessel’s new home in Marina del Rey. But plans changed when they found a captain who made an attractive offer to deliver the craft to Marina del Rey. And they’re just delighted with the boat. It’s neither too big not too small.


Hunter 39 in its new Marina del Rey home berth

Hunter 39 in its new Marina del Rey home berth


“One advantage of 39-foot boat is that it only has one head. At 40 feet almost all manufacturers include a second head. And that second head takes a lot a living space away from the boat. So if you’re able to live with one head, the 39-foot boat has almost as much space as a 41-foot boat if you take the head out of the equation.

Ray is now retired from Boeing, and Sandra is a year and a half away from retirement, at which time they’ll spend more time and longer trips on the boat.

About Steve Curran: Celebrating 51 years in Marina del Rey as a successful yacht broker, sailing enthusiast, and boating community leader, STEVE CURRAN offers a lifetime of seasoned boating experience. Growing up in Santa Barbara, California, a youthful Steve actively raced the 29′ Olympic Class Dragon, sailed for UCLA, and competed in the 1968 Olympic Trials (finishing 5th). Steve served in the Army National Guard. In 1969, while earning his bachelor’s degree in economics from UCLA, Steve opened his first business, a Hobie Cat dealership. During the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, Steve served as Principal Race Officer Alpha Circle (Wind Glider Sailboard). He completed several Transpacific Yacht Races (winning his class in 1985), and in 1986 became Commodore of the California Yacht Club. In 2013, Steve co-founded Marina del Rey’s annual MarinaFest event. In 2014, he opened Marina del Rey Yacht Sales. In 2016, Marina del Rey Yacht Sales moved offices to its current location at Fisherman’s Village, Marina del Rey, and also assumed operations of Long Beach Yacht Center at Shoreline Village Marina in Long Beach. In 2019 he won the coveted Yachtsman of the Year award from ASMBYC (Association of Santa Monica Bay Yacht Clubs). An active sail racer, Steve and son Drew acquired and restored a vintage 36’ Nelson Marek race vessel Tinderbox, aboard which they and a special crew gather weekly to compete in Marina del Rey’s Wednesday Night Series.

For more information on selling or acquiring a boat, please contact either of California Yacht Company’s two offices, Marina del Rey Yacht Sales or Long Beach Yacht Center. (310) 822-9814 or (562) 983-6622, or .