I have a similar story. When I was hunting for my boat I went aboard a live aboard in Annapolis, some Tiawanese 41 something or other. The owner was an old fart like me. The thing that immediately struck me was that all the gear was really really no nonsense stuff. None of it was shiney. The next thing that struck me was how used it all looked, not in a bad way, just used. We went down below and it was the same. He started showing me some of the modifications and repairs he had done himself and they were impressive! I'm thinking this guy must have come all the way from Florida! So we hit it off and had a few beers and when I ask him where he just came from he mentions the Pacific, by himself. Quite humbling I might say. It just amazes me who's out there doing it while most of us just talk.
Alex, I wanted to buy that guy's boat on the spot but the "Captain" wanted something "fresher" looking. I wonder a lot where he is now.