This is a blog featuring my personal stories of food, gardening, yachting, photography, travel and life.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

New Form of Travel Update!

A lot has happened since my blog entry a couple of days ago. My goodness, what you have to do to buy a boat. It is almost overwhelming except that in the end you own a boat which is pretty cool.

In our case, the entire negotiation over the boat our hearts were set on took only one afternoon and a couple of phone calls. We got a deal we are very happy with and that others have told us was a very good deal indeed. So, we have, barring any unforeseen circumstances surrounding the survey of the boat, become boat owners.

Next Wednesday we drive down to Seattle to do the sea trial and survey. The survey is a close inspection of all parts of the boat from keel to life jackets, fire extinguishers to motor mounts. Then the boat is hauled out of the water (no easy feat on a 32') and the bottom will be pressure washed, inspected and if all looks good, the zincs replaced. Then back in the water and return to the marina.

At that point we should have a very good idea whether we will either proceed or back out. Too many expensive fix-its and we may have to drop the deal. If things aren't too bad and can be fixed either easily or over time, then we proceed.

After feeling a pang of buyers remorse I began thinking about the advantages of owning a yacht like this. Think about it this way. Ever dream about owning a summer or winter place, a mountain cabin, a cottage overlooking the sea, a place on a deserted island? Well, take your pick. With a boat you own a moving summer home. Don't like it here? Move over there. Tired of going to the same spot every year? Go somewhere else. Just pull up the anchor and go!

Oh, yeah, you do have to fill it with fuel. You do have to do engine maintenance from time to time, haul it out of the water and work on the bottom. But what getaway wouldn't have some upkeep or other costs involved? But the beauty of a yacht is that you take your shelter with you and in the pacific northwest there are endless sheltered coves, resorts, quaint island towns, and deserted islands for you to explore. And if that isn't far flung enough for you, well, head for Alaska or the Oregon, or California coasts or even Mexico.

Oh, I'm not planning any long range trips to the south or even Alaska. There are a lifetime of discoveries right here in our backyard--The San Juan Islands and the Gulf Islands of Canada.

Am I just trying to justify the purchase? Oh, I suppose that is true to a certain extent. But I am looking forward to it. Besides the travel, the time on the water, the discoveries I'd never find without the benefit of the boat, I am also looking forward to the learning opportunities. That yacht has a whole host of electronic devices used for safety, fish finding, gauging depth, keeping track of other craft and showing you how to get where you want to go.

The depth finder is important due to the changing tides up here and to make sure there is plenty of water between your keel and the bottom. The RADAR keeps an eye on the proximity
of other craft at night and in low visability. The GPS plotter gives you a heading and the best way to get from point A to point B using colorful, realistic computer generated maps. Of course, the compass is right there in front of you as well. I look forward to learning how to use these instruments.

I also look forward to learning about all the other details that are critical to knowing your way around a boat and the sea. Bouys, navigation devices, weather stations, planning the trip, dealing with VHS radio calls, and no doubt a whole host of things I haven't begun to think about.

We have signed up for a Coast Guard Auxiliary Class beginning in August and my broker, who is a boating instructor, has very kindly offered to give me some basic instruction in the use of my boat. Add to that the friends whose many years of experience on Puget Sound I will definately tap into and I think we will be in good hands as we embark on this new adventure in our lives. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

New Form of Travel

In the early 80's I was the proud owner of an O'Day 14' Javelin day sailor. I spent incredible days sailing out of Alameda and out into the unpredictable waters of San Francisco Bay. Nothing thrilled me more than the feeling of water coming in over the bow and to be hauled over at precipitous angles, the sea only inches from the top of the gunwhale, the edges of the sails snapping in the salty breezes. She was a sweet little boat and I delighted not only in sailing her but also in spending time polishing the bright work and waxing the hull.
I sold that boat a long time ago. It helped pay for my teaching certificate giving me my career for the past 30 years. So I owe her a lot. Not much thought went into boating since that time until we moved to Bellingham.

Since arriving here 15 years ago I have had intermittent pangs of desire to reenter the boat ownership world. These moments would ultimately be followed by the realization that it would really not be such a good idea. Well-meaning friends would regal me with stories or give advice as to why buying a boat was just a bad idea. I listened carefully and eventually talked myself out of the idea. Until recently.

I don't know what is different this time. Getting older, nearing retirement, getting senile! But I haven't been able to talk myself out of it this time and neither have my friends.

A clever story was told to me by our friend Keith Craswell who had a buddy who spent years going to boats shows. He loved going to those boat shows. He'd go on all the boats, checking them out from stem to stern, ask questions and have a blast. Finally after years of doing this he decided he was ready to buy a boat and he did. He discovered he loved going to boat shows. Badda-bing! Thanks Keith! Good story but. . .

The decision it turns out is full of a multitude of options--power boat or sailboat, what length, what type, class, model, etc. Of course, the bottom line for everyone save the most recent winner of the lottery is always about the money. I have spent hours of time perusing lists outside broker's offices, surfing the web, browsing magazines, narrowing down to those handful of boats that fall within the parameters I'd established.
I started out pie in the sky, looking at makes that I have always loved. My favorites have always been the tugs and trawlers. Sadly, their popularity and resale value makes the cost of even older models rather expensive and eventually led me in a different direction. So I can't afford a Nordic Tug (used 26 footers are $80,000), or any tug for that matter. So, I can't afford a Grand Banks trawler (actually I can but that would get me a 1960's vintage boat with a wood hull). The point is to be out on the water and do it in a safe, reliable yacht that has the options my family needs whether new or used.

So what exactly do I need in the boat that works for us?

  • Diesel engines with low hours and which operate economically
  • A full galley
  • a complete head
  • a dinghy with motor
  • a clean solid hull
  • sleeping accommodations for 6
  • A boat that will require as little maintenance as possible
  • a clean well maintained boat with few signs of wear
  • a boat that shows it was well loved by its previous owner
Not asking too much am I?

Finally, I went to a local boat broker and gave him my list of demands and stood back waiting for him to blow me off or send me packing because there was no way I was going to get all of this with my budget. To my surprise he found exactly what I was looking for in his listings and we began to talk. The yacht, as they are called when over 28 feet, was in Seattle but he walked me down to the slips in the marina and showed me an identical boat as a 34 footer. I was shocked at the amazing use of space designed into the yacht. It was brillant!

We arranged for a fieldtrip to Seattle to see the real thing and today, Wednesday, July 8, 2009 we drove down and saw the boat. We were smitten! In only 32 feet they were able to build in 2 staterooms (boat talk for bedrooms), a full head (bathroom), full galley (kitchen) and plenty of open entertaining space. A flybridge on the upper deck included a second helm and enough seating for 6-8 people. The dual diesel engines have low hours, rest in a clean, dry bilge and show careful maintenance. Yes, there is wear around the edges but the bright work is clean and sparkles, the decks are clean, the fiberglass shines. She is ready to head out to sea just the way she is.

Now we have a survey done which is like a house inspection only for boats, we wait for the offer that we submitted to be either countered or accepted and then possibly in as soon as a week and a half, we will/could be yacht owners.

So, there she is, the current front runner and our choice for our yacht--the Bayliner 32 Motor Yacht.

I was most surprised as I said by Leslie's reaction to the boat. She loved it! I was afraid she was going to accept the full price offer just so we could take it on the spot. So we drove home this afternoon, quite nervous and giddy at the same time. What next?