Monday, July 1, 2013

Disaster at sea

At least it was for us, anyway. Unfortunately, I don't have the good news to report that I was hoping for when I wrote that last post.

As it turns out, our offer was accepted, and at what we thought was a reasonable price for the boat. So, we went ahead and jumped through all the hoops to book a surveyor, a haul out, last minute plane tickets, etc. We were feeling pretty optimistic that we were at the end of our search, so we decided that both Sara and I would go for the survey, even though it was a bit of a budget killer to book two plane tickets on short notice.

Off we flew, back to sunny Florida, where the forecast was for rain and thunderstorms the whole time we were there. The landing in Tampa was eerily similar to my earlier boat shopping trip to Fort Lauderdale, with rain and lighting out the window as we landed.

Due to scheduling conflicts, we couldn't see the boat until our second day there. That made our first day a carefree tour around the Florida Gulf Coast, checking out potential marinas where we could keep the boat, assuming the purchase went through. There was lots of rain that day, and at one point it was pouring so hard we couldn't drive safely, so we had to pull over into a parking lot to wait it out.

We capped the day off with a great dinner out, and a walk along the water front, where we found the locals getting together for their weekly Thursday night jam session. It was amazing to watch - some really great music, and an amazing feel of community, kind of like you see in old American movies set in small towns.

The next morning dawned bright and sunny, which was a welcome change for our survey day. We headed out early to the boat. 6 a.m. Florida time is 3 a.m. for us, so we were really feeling the time change. The rest of that day was a blur, with a survey, haul out, and sea trial. I won't say too much about it, other than to say things were going pretty well until we put the boat back in the water after the haul. An unexpected current, a misplaced megayacht and a nearby dock put a distinct damper on events after that.

As we drove back to the airport in Tampa that night, we were still in shock as to how quickly things had gone downhill on the survey. In fact, the incidents on the water were not our only concerns with the boat - we had some misgivings about the layout, and some of the functional issues of the boat. Suddenly, our optimistic plan started to look a little suspect, and we were cursing our lack of foresight. If we had anticipated things better, we could have spent some of the time we were in Florida looking at other boats as well. In fact, we pulled off the highway and briefly considered the logistics of changing our plane tickets and car reservation, booking a couple of more nights in a hotel, and extending our babysitting for a couple more days so we could view a few more boats. But on the background of the day we had just had, it was all too overwhelming, so we decided to head home as planned.

Long story short, we have been home now for over a week, and it has been a difficult one as we have tried to decide what to do about the boat. In the end, we elected to decline the purchase, which means we are still without a boat, and will have to start all over again. This likely means another long negotiation process, another expensive trip to Florida, and another full survey before we get the full feel of yet another boat. It's too bad there isn't a system to sail a boat without having to kick out the full money for a survey, but it seems like that is part of the deal.

Oh well, every time we do this we get smarter about the process, and define better exactly what it is we want in a boat. I think we are also getting a bit jaded, and will be a little less excited next time we head out to survey a boat. I'll keep you posted how that whole process goes.

We are also acutely aware that if our worst problem is that we are having difficulty buying a yacht, then life must really be pretty damn good. And it is.