Sunday, April 27, 2008

Someone's knot waiting... and I'm knot packed!

Can you guess what Hans is standing in front of?

If you guessed a boat, then you're right.

But I bet you didn't guess that it was to be our new home.

Because it is.

I kid you not!

Back in January we took a trip to Boston ala these posts to look at boats. Actually our boat search started in the fall when we took a trip to Annapolis MD. If you've never been there...well you should. You don't have to go to look at boats (and if you're smart you won't!) it's just a beautiful place to be. But first, make sure that accommodations are available. Annapolis is a very popular town!

But I digress.

Back to the boat.

Hans grew up in a sailing family and from what I've witnessed, once a sailor always a sailor. When I met Hans he'd just sold (with a huge sigh of relief) his 42 foot Passport and I distinctly remember him vowing to never again buy another boat.

Well, just like I had sworn (after my divorce) that I'd never get involved in a serious relationship again, one should never say never!

I'm not sure how or when the discussion of purchasing another 'hole to throw your money in' got started. It probably had something to do with our Sunday BBQ wing nights, and hey... anything's possible after a couple of pitchers of beer!

Last October we headed to Annapolis to meet Rich, a broker whom Hans has had dealings with for years. I told Hans before we went that I'd been stalking the blogs of other 'live aboards' and that our trip to Annapolis was going to be a huge waste of time. One man posted that he'd flown down to Annapolis from way up north, and that the people he had dealt with were very inefficient, some boats that he'd arranged to look at were unavailable, and he wouldn't recommend going to Annapolis to anyone.

That's too bad because Rich, our broker, was and is wonderful! We wanted to look at catamarans and that's what we did. From the top of the line to the bottom, if there was a catamaran in Annapolis that was for sale, we looked at it.

What an adventure! One of the boats that we wanted to look at was moored a few hundred yards off shore and we had to use a dinghy to get to it. Of course the dinghy we were to use was rather small and filled half way up with rain water. This required tipping it up in the air to drain it and hoping the outboard engine would start. It did, but the next hurdle was fitting all three of us into it. Rich got in first, I was to be in the middle, and when I realized that Hans was next, I started to panic. You see, Hans is a big guy and I've experienced first hand what happens when a big guy loses his balance in a small boat. It means I get catapulted into a backwards somersault and I didn't care to do that again, in cold dirty dock water!

I was babbling at Hans to be careful and Rich was telling me that we were fine and I said, "But he weighs over two hundred and sixty pounds and you have no idea what's going to happen when he gets in!" Poor Hans got a hurt little boy look on his face and said, "Sometimes I weigh about two hundred and fifty five pounds (like that would make a big difference!) and I again begged him to please be careful.

With Hans in place and my heart pounding wildly, we chugged out to the boat. It turned out to be a disappointment and once again we had to get back in the dinghy. Rich whistled the Gilligan's Island theme as we slowly made our way back to the dock and then he patted me on the back and said, "I think you have a little Mary Ann in you."

Didn't I say he was nice?

We looked at several boats. One had beautiful teak floors throughout (not so pretty when it's time to re varnish!) and came complete with a washer/drier combo and a price tag to match. One boat that hadn't even been wired for electricity yet, was just hideous. The drawers in the galley (kitchen) wouldn't open without almost jerking your arm off, the flooring looked like it was made of cork and was already worn out, and it had two 8 horsepower gasoline engines!! Not a good idea.

So at the end of the day we had seen maybe one boat that was ok and of course I said, "I told you so!" to Hans, who's such a good sport!

As we were leaving the next day we had one more stop to make and I already knew it was going to be a waste of time as the boat we were going to look at was only 35 feet long.

When we decided to look at boats, we had set parameters on what we thought would be acceptable. But just like house or spouse shopping you rarely get what you're looking for. I sincerely doubt that a single waitress with three kids is what Hans had in mind when he went back on the market, but that's what he got, like it or not!

So this last boat was a 35 foot catamaran and we really didn't want to go with less than 38 feet. It had two cabins and we really would have liked at least three. I also knew that between the front hulls it didn't have a trampoline (a nice springy net that spans the hulls and is great fun to sit on when sailing) and I love trampolines.

We found the boat, boarded her and looked around.

"Very nice" we remarked with surprise, because after all it was three feet shorter than we wanted. There was a ton of storage space, and the galley also had more drawers and cupboards than some of the bigger boats. This was a very nicely designed boat. The two berths were queen sized and spacious. A huge bonus was the fact that there were two complete heads (bathrooms). Each had a toilet, a sink complete with triple mirrored medicine cabinets, and full size separate showers that were deep enough to fill with water for a shallow bath if you'd like. Each shower had a full size door in the back of it that lead to the 27 horsepower diesel engines. Walk in engine rooms! Until you've had to pull up floor boards to get to your engine you truly can't appreciate such a feature.

The helm sat in the center back, which is what Hans likes, and the boat was small enough to single hand sail if that's what you want to do. And even though it's a catamaran, it will fit into most single slips which is really nice as you pay by the foot when you dock.

The front of the boat had a big cushion that two to three people could relax on, and the back of it will tilt up so you can lean back comfortably. There's extra storage in the front between the hulls that gives the boat the appearance of a tri-maran, but it's not.
Over all it was a great design and the crowning touch was the fact that it was an American made boat.

Our research had found that if you wish to captain your own boat in American waters with paying passengers, in addition to having a captains license, your boat has to be manufactured in America. If you want to rent it out to bare boater's, it doesn't have to be American made, but we want to live on this boat while chartering it.

You wouldn't believe the rules and laws involved in this endeavor. It's mind boggling!

Well, we fell in love with this boat and planned on making an offer but were told there would be no budging on the price.

And then Hans found 10 other boats just like it. It's an Island Packet Cat and I believe Bob Johnson, the designer, made about 41 of these boats in the 1990's. Two of the most promising boats were in Boston, so Hans got a hold of Rich and together they made arrangements for us to go there. Later on Rich himself flew to Massachusetts to oversee the inspection. So that's why we made a trip to Boston in January which is not the smartest time to look at boats but we didn't want to wait until spring.

We looked, we saw, and we bought.

So this Friday, we're driving to Annapolis and taking a train to Massachusetts. We will then board this boat that we've never sailed before and hopefully within a week we'll arrive in Annapolis where a company has agreed to charter it for us this spring and summer. Next year at this time we hope to be the captain and crew of our own boat.
I'm working on a sailing blog that will tie into our future web site. This will give people an idea of who we are and whether we are the kind of people they would like to sail with. I feel that this is very important!

Two others will be helping us in our little journey next week. One is a friend of Hans' who's sailed with him before and the other is a hockey team mate who's from Massachusetts and has sailing experience, but just not with Hans.

I realize that our recent trip to Europe went far too smoothly for this particular vacation jinx. I fear that someone is trying to lull me into a false sense of security and that the heavens are going unleash some sort unholy hell upon me on this trip!

This is not our boat but it's the same model and gives you a view from above.

This however is our boat.

This is just below deck in the salon (or saloon, both pronunciations are acceptable).

A partial view of the 'head'. The shower is in the background, and that's the door to the engine room in the back of the shower.

This is the sun pad, tilted up for reading, or knitting, or whatever!

Hans says that when we move on board I can bring my sewing machine.

That should be very interesting!

I only hope you don't hear about us on the Today Show!!


Bald Man said...

Ahoy matey..Congrats..where does the sewing machine go? I mean are you now looking for "Sail Patterns"?..Is there a "sail swap" in your future?...Seriously although that type of boat is not my specialty (personally I love sailors..however in retail I dont) do have a friend "in the business"

The mad seamstress and I are going to Boston Memorial Day weekend..Do you live close enough that we could buy the captain and crew a drink?

Bald Man

laura said...

Actually, we live a lot closer to Annapolis than Boston and I work on Memorial Weekend or we'd take you up on your offer in a heart beat! But I'll take a rain check, perhaps a drink on our boat! Sail patterns?? Due to the much smaller living conditions, I'll be lucky to churn out coasters! I'm glad to hear that you like sailors and you have my sympathy, I would not want your job!

Mary Witzl said...

Oh, you lucky, lucky woman: you will have such adventures. I don't dare show my husband this post. He'll want to start looking at boats in another few years' time. We're already pricing motorcycles.

laura said...

We'll see how lucky you think I am after our first trip which starts this weekend! The vacation jinx (me) in a boat on the ocean? Dear God!