Friday, June 21, 2019

Much to do! Busy, Busy, Busy...

In my last entry, I related the story of making an offer on what we hope will be our new home, an Island Packet 35 sailboat. In this entry, I will take the story from there to now. To say our lives have been busy would be an understatement.

After signing the sales agreement on the boat we had much to do in a short period of time. We signed the deal on June 4th. We had flights scheduled on Wednesday June 12th. Mike, our broker was going to be out town in Missouri until the 10th. We had to do a survey on the 11th.

A marine survey is an inspection, much like a home inspection before you buy a house. The survey is required by the insurance company and a lender if one is involved. You have to hire a professional to conduct the survey and you have to arrange with a boat yard to lift the boat out of the water, so that the surveyor can inspect the hull. This entire process costs the buyer about $1000.

I made a bunch of phone calls and was able to make all of the arrangements. I also started working on insurance and marinas. I had much to learn on both of these subjects. I also continued to research tax requirements and registration issues. I worked more than 8 hours a day for all of that next week. It was great to have the Miami condo to work from. Thanks again Doyle!

We left the condo on Monday, June 10 and drove the 4 hours to Bradenton, Florida. We stayed at a Days Inn. Talk about a step down in accommodations! The room was small and the area was a bit sketchy, but we made it work.

We were up early on the 11th to meet Mike at the boat and begin the process of getting comfortable. If I could not get comfortable, I could kill the deal during this step in the process. The Surveyor was right on time at 9:30 and we began getting the boat ready to have it hauled out of the water. We started looking at various systems on the boat. The Surveyor was excellent at explaining what he was doing as he went along. There were a number of things that he had only limited knowledge of, which was a disappointment, but that was mostly electronics, which is my strength.

It was pretty scary to see the boat lifted on those straps, but the operators were very experienced, which gave me some comfort. 

This is what is called a "Full Keel"
You can see the dingy, outboard motor and motor lift in this picture. You can also see the solar panels and radar dome.

The Surveyor called the boat a "boring" boat. What he meant by that was that he was hard pressed to find anything wrong. After putting the boat back in the water, we took her for a test sail. We had a good 10 to 15 knots of breeze. We motored out of the harbor and the engine ran perfectly. We then turned her into the wind and I raised the mainsail. That was a bit more of a workout than I expected. This boat is much larger than what I am used to with my Hunter 22. We then unfurled the staysail and then the Genoa. We then beared away and she caught the wind in her sails and took off. We quickly accelerated to almost 7 knots. I took the helm and she felt stable and balanced. I loved the way she handled. I am sure it won't be long before I have complete confidence in her ability to take care of us in even the worst conditions.

I went forward and gave Kim the helm. She also liked the way the boat handled. I looked over the sails and found one repair on the main, but all else looked good. They are not new sails, but they should be fine for a while. It was then time to take down the sails. I had the distinct feeling that I just wanted to keep going, but we took them down and ran a full power motor test. The motor did not get hot and ran perfectly. We then headed back to the dock.

It was at this point that Kim found the only negative issue for the day. The main hatch was leaking. The strange thing is it was fresh water. It seems that there is a top side leak that is letting rain water in between the deck and the cabin top. The water had been there for a while and moved to the hatch when we healed over while sailing. The boat has not been sailed for a while. I think I found the issue right away and should be able to fix it. The good news is my Hunter has given me lots of practice fixing this type of issue.

We were comfortable when we were out on the water with the excellent breeze, but it was hot and humid when we got back to the marina. We plugged in the electric at the dock and fired up the A/C. It works very well.

We then spent the next 4 hours going over every compartment and every system on the boat. This is what I need to get comfortable. I found many cool things that had been added by previous owners and a couple of disappointments, but nothing that was a show stopper for either Kim or I.

We went back to the Days Inn, hot and tired. It was a very long day. We had a fairly short list of things that required additional information. We got up early on Wednesday, June 12th and drove to Orlando and then flew back to Missouri. Our daughter Shannon was there to pick us up and before long we were back in our current home at the ranch.

I have much to write about, other than the the story of buying the boat, but I will fast forward two weeks to yesterday. We spent those next two weeks gathering additional information about the boat and the installed systems. Our broker, Mike has been great. He is full of information and suggestions. He has made a couple of trips to the boat to take pictures and even a couple of videos to explain how things are installed.

We got the report back from the Surveyor. To tell the truth, I was disappointed. There were many errors and omissions in the report. There was no mention of the largest issue we found (the leak in the cabin top) It is clear they cut and pasted from other survey reports and were not very careful. There is not much that can be done about that, and they did help me get comfortable with the boat. The main purpose of this document is it must be sent to the insurance company.

To make a long story short, we signed a letter of acceptance yesterday. That means we are now committed to buying the boat. We still have a few things to finalize, but we are scheduled to close on July 10. We are planning to take possession and move aboard on that day. I am sure it will be a cool and comfortable day in Florida in July... Yeah, Right!

In my next entry, I will write about the other things that have happened in the past two weeks. It has been more of the same kind of pieces falling into place. Clearly we are doing the right least that is what we keep telling ourselves.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

We Did It!

I am sitting here in Miami and I can't really believe what has happened over the past three days. The last I wrote, we were trying to get serious about buying the Cabo Rico 38 Pilothouse. Kim and I were having trouble with the idea of working on this boat to get it to the condition that we would be happy with, but we were thinking if we could get it at a good price, it might work out.

I had a comment from Darrell on the previous post that helped put it all in perspective. Darrell and his family have had some tough luck in the past few years and he pointed out to me that time is very valuable and we should be thinking about sailing and exploring, not working on the boat. I have to say, Thanks Darrell, you are right!

I do believe that I am not the only influence here, and if I leave things in the hands of the almighty, I will be shown the way. I know that because it has worked out that way so many times in my life it is amazing.

The first factor was that the broker for the CR 38 became unresponsive. I asked him to set up another meeting, he still has not done that.

We took that available time to go look at another boat up in Fort Pierce. That boat was not what we wanted, but the car ride changed everything.

We spent some time talking about our plans and what we wanted to do after buying the boat. One key factor was the mast height. We need to be under 52 feet to get the boat up the rivers to Kentucky. I want a sailboat, but I also want to explore by water. The mast height on most sailboats is in direct correlation to the length. I thought I wanted a 38 foot boat as a minimum, to be a comfortable living space. As I drove, Kim was looking at smaller boats. Not a lot smaller, just stepping down to a 35 did some amazing things. Not only did the mast get shorter, the price dropped significantly. If we look at 35's we could go way up in quality and still be in the right price range with the shorter mast.

A brand that we have looked at but discounted, was the Island Packet(IP) brand. Their boats are beautiful, but they are expensive. That is the brand that we looked at when we were in Palmetto, Florida on the first day of this trip, but we only looked at 38's and they were really out of our target price range. We kept the list of available boats from that visit. Kim started to see what we could afford if we looked at 35's. The big question was: "Would there be enough space to be comfortable in a 35 foot boat". Well, there is only one way to find out. I called the broker, Mike and talked for a bit. He felt that the 35 would be fine for us. He had just had a cancellation and was available the next day. He also told us about two boats that he had that we should look at. We made an appointment for 1 the next afternoon.

Palmetto is a 4 hour drive from Miami. Yep we were going to drive 8 hours to go look at two boats. It was no big deal, we have this very comfortable rent car (part of his plan, I think so). We got up and headed out and arrived right on time.

We had two boats to look at, but Kim and I agreed that the one called Solemates 3 was our clear favorite. So, we looked at the other one first and were very impressed. The interior space was excellent and because it is the standard "Trunk Cabin" felt more roomy than the CR 38 we had been considering. We gave it a quick overview and then headed to see Solemates 3.

Solemates 3
When I first saw the boat I was impressed. She is beautiful! The woodwork has all been recently redone and the rest of the boat is spotless. I looked and looked and could not find one thing wrong.
After an hour or so, I looked at Kim and she gave me the signal. This is it!

There is one big issue that was bothering me. There is one significant reported problem with the Island Packets. It has to do with something called a Chain Plate. This is the part that is installed in the hull of the boat that attaches to the standing rigging (the cables that hold the mast up). The broker told us the chain plates had been updated, but I went back and read the information from the current owner and we checked it out. It turns out the update has not been performed. We went back to the boat a second time to take a look and see if I could tell if they looked corroded. I could not see any sign of a problem, but I was still uncomfortable.

I wanted to move forward, but I have learned to trust Kim to be the voice of reason. We decided to go get something to eat and talk it over. We had just sat down when she said, "I am sure it will be fine. Let's buy her." My heart jumped! I could not eat fast enough. We headed back to Mikes office to fill out the paperwork to make an offer. I was asking for a concession from the buyer for the possible repair of the chain plates, but I thought it was a fair offer.

We left the office to start our 4 hour drive about 6PM, but we had to go back to the boat to get a few pictures. The gate was closed to the marina, but the security guard was awesome and let us in.

Not a great picture, but Kim with Solemates 3. 
We had driven about 1 hour and 42 minutes, when I got a text telling us the offer had been accepted. We were excited. It made the rest of the drive back to Miami go very quickly as we started planing the next few weeks of our lives. All I can say is WOW! It did then and it still does now, just feel right.

If you want to see more pictures of the boat we now have under contract (not ours yet) you can click on this link: Solemates 3

In my next entry, I will write about the plan going forward and explain what happens next.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Looking at Our Dream Boat

This entry may be way too detailed for some readers. I am attempting to document the process that we are gong through to attempt to buy a sailboat. I want to write about it in real time, from beginning to end, to refer back to later. So, skip this entry if you don't want to know about buying a boat in South Florida in June.

We woke up on Friday (5/31) morning very excited and nervous about the day. We were going to go take a second look at the boat that was #1 on our list, of possible boats. We had the entire day to look at the boat by ourselves. The broker was busy. The boat is docked at a private residence of a boat mechanic and he would just leave it open for us. We took a cursory look at the boat back in January, but that was when we were not ready to buy. The plan this time, was an in-depth look at every aspect of the boat and it's systems.

One thing that I am becoming aware of, is the very different buying process that is used in the boat business. I thought that buying a boat would be much like buying a car or even a house. It is not. The expectation of the broker selling the boat, is that a buyer will do a viewing of the boat, then decide if they are interested in moving forward with an offer. If the offer is accepted, then a "survey" is done by a marine expert. This includes putting the boat on a lift and pulling it out of the water. Then a test sail is done including a motor test. After this is all completed at a cost of a little over $1000 to the buyer, a final report is generated. It is at this time that adjustments in the price are negotiated and a final deal is either accepted or rejected by either party. The buyer does have the right to accept the deal as was outlined in the original offer, but this really limits the ability to negotiate concessions.

I am not comfortable with that approach, so I am attempting to learn more about the boat before making an offer to potentially save the cost of the survey if I become aware of a "show stopper" issue. It will also allow me to make adjustments in my offer that will get me closer the a final price up front. We will see how that goes.

The first mistake we made was not getting an early start. We thought we would look at the boat for the afternoon and then when the mechanic came home in the evening, we could ask him some questions and he may even start the motor for us. The weather in South Florida is very hot and humid right now. We knew from our previous visit that there was a sign in the boat warning to not turn on the Air Conditioners. So, we did not attempt to turn them on. There are 2 of them.

It is hard to get a good picture of a boat at a dock, but that is the Pilothouse. The thing that is unique about this boat.
Our first impression of the boat was not great. The boat has been sitting a while and it is really starting to show. It is docked in a very protected canal in Fort Lauderdale, but it is still exposed to salt water and UV from the hot sun of South Florida. As we went around the boat opening hatches to get some air flow we started to see signs of neglect. This is a 29 year old boat and she is certainly showing her age. There are problems with many of the hatches and the dogs that close them. I can certainly fix all of the little things I was seeing, but it is a sign that the boat has not been maintained at the level I would like to see. Much of the exterior wood on the boat needs to be refinished. I can also do that, but it will take time and money.

We spent over 4 hours on the boat and found many things that we liked and many things we are concerned about. After 4 hours of crawling around the boat checking things out, I was very hot and ready to find a cool place. We did not wait for the mechanic to come home and went to get something to eat and a cold drink.

Kim and I spent most of the evening and much of the next morning talking about this dream and this boat. After making a number of lists of things that would need to be done and I researched the potential costs, we finally decided that this boat was still #1 on the list. We are willing to do the work, if we can get the boat at the right price.

On Saturday, June 1, I sent an email to the broker outlining my thoughts and a request to see the boat again with him or the owner present to see more about the systems aboard. I really need to see two key areas:

1. Engine - I want to see it run and put in gear.
2. Sails - I want to see the sails unfurled to check the condition. This is a big dollar item if there is a major problem.

We are now waiting for that next meeting to see if we can take the next step. While we are waiting we took a walk to the beach and took a swim in the warm Atlantic Ocean.

Kim on a beach
I will write again in a few days or when something major happens, but until then, I will leave you with a picture of the evening sky from the Condo.