It’s hard to find a boat. Actually, it’s easy to find a boat. What’s hard is to find a boat that meets all the criteria of:
- sailing performance
- living space
- liking how it looks
- affordability (I know I said that twice. It’s a big one.)
There are a lot of stars that have to align before the perfect one can be found.
We thought we had done it. We thought our stars were in alignment when we found a Fast Passage 39 in the BVI. This boat had been sailed around the world by a fairly high profile dude who had since passed away. The boat was in terrible shape but the price was right and we were caught up in the romanticism of the previous owner. We wanted to restore the boat as a tribute to his life and sail around the world in his footsteps. This boat had been for sale for months and months when we found it. We made an offer. Two other interested parties made offers within a day. That’s right; we were outbid. The stars had other plans for us. It has since come to our attention that we never, ever, ever would have been able to afford to fix this boat. Also, it is in the British Virgin Islands and we are in NYC. Oh. Right.
Saved from folly by someone else’s bigger budget. Phew.
So, we started looking again. Our bible was the list of John Neal’s Boats To Consider For Offshore Cruising which we cross-referenced on Yachtworld.com. We basically know nothing and felt this was a good place to start. Yachtworld.com is full of amazing boats but it’s easy to eliminate the ugly ones, the ones that are too small, the ones that are out of our price range, the ones where you walk on the galley (that’s “kitchen” for you landlubbers) countertops to enter the boat. A big No on that one. I cook frequently and well; I will not have people walking around in my cooking space. So we searched. I found one; my better half found one. His was a Staratt and Jenks Morgan 45 in Maryland; mine was an Amazon 37 in Beaufort, NC. I didn’t like how the ass-end of the Staratt hung out over the water. He didn’t like the fact that the Amazon was only 37 feet long and looked a little rough around the edges. We made plans to go see them during our upcoming vacation.
We flew to Raleigh-Durham airport, rented a car and drove the 3 hours to the Beaufort. Interesting drive. There are a lot of billboards for cosmetic surgery and there’s a Pork Center.
We’ve never stopped but it looks fascinating. We spent the night at a charming B&B in downtown Beaufort, had dinner at a fish place across the street, then (because we’re from NYC and don’t like to go to bed before midnight) asked the waiter for a recommendation where we could get a drink. He directed us to the Backstreet Pub. Amazing. There was a roaring fire going and they have a boat lending library upstairs where boaters come, drop off books and pick new ones up. It was the highlight of the night.
In the morning we got up, ate breakfast, and headed to the marina to meet Ken, the yacht broker who would show us the Amazon. It was a glorious day, cold and bright. I was able to pick the boat out the second we drove into the yard. It was beautiful; love at first sight.
Then, we got inside… Stuff was stuffed into stuff and piled on top of stuff that was stuffed into every nook and cranny. There were things wrapped in plastic bags. There was a layer of dust over everything. The air was damp and smelled like diesel, mildew and stale cooking. Neat. I was cold and disenchanted and out of my element.
I had to stop and reconsider: trash could be taken out; cushions could be cleaned; dust was easily wiped away and, more importantly, the bones were good. Ok, back in love.
Ken took us to see two other boats. Nice, but out of our price range. Also, we were both rehabbing the dirty boat in our minds.
We drove back to the airport and caught a flight to Washington Dulles where we would look at the Staratt. We rented a car and drove the 2 hours to Rosehaven, MD. There’s not much around there. Our plan was to spend the night, view the Staratt in the morning then catch a flight in the afternoon to New Orleans where we would spend the rest of our vacation. Once again, those stars had other plans… When we tried to check in for tomorrow’s flights we found we were scheduled to fly from Dulles to Cleveland to Newark to New Orleans. The day after tomorrow. What? There’s a winter storm coming and all the airports are shutting down and there are almost no flights? 12″ of snow expected in Maryland in the next 24 hours? Oh. There was a flight leaving Dulles at 9am. We booked ourselves on it, emailed the yacht broker that we would not be meeting her in the morning, and found some place to eat dinner (since I was in Maryland I insisted on a crab cake).
We had a most interesting time at dinner. It was a local hangout where the bartender knew everyone, had never left Maryland, and played industrial death metal as an accompaniment to my crab cake. We learned how a lead singer should properly scream while singing and not wreck his vocal chords (constrict your throat; we hear it’s easier than actual singing).
Morning came early and we were on the road by 6am. We made the flight since, amazingly, there were still seats available (we can only fly if there are empty seats. My better half is an airline pilot. Sometimes the flying thing works out and sometimes it doesn’t.). 30 minutes before boarding the snow was coming down so hard it was difficult to see the plane. We boarded, de-iced and took off. I still can’t believe it worked out.
We landed in New Orleans and got to our hotel. We called Ken and said we were interested. He said he had 2 other interested parties. Not again! We made an offer. It was accepted. We rejoiced.
New Orleans scenes: