Friday, September 19, 2003

One of the Best Days

One of the old saws of sailing is that there are two "best days" in a sailor's life; the day you buy the boat and the day you sell it. Well, finally, in this case, we bought our 1990 Nauticat 43 Sloop in Maine September 19, 2003. We say "finally" because it was two years between our first visit and signing the final papers.

We started looking at boats about four years ago. At first only at boat shows and indiscriminately, noting what we liked and didn't. Our first loves for example were Valients and Island Packets. But as our "must have" list solidified, Valients bit the dust - no center berths, a problem with traditional design boats. Three years ago we started visiting used boats. Our first was a lovely Perry designed sloop in Mattapoisett harbor which had been around the world one and a half times. It was in perfect condition and ready to go anywhere. But you had to exit the bed by grabbing a bar and pulling yourself out, feet first - no way. Another boat we loved was a Liberty Center Cockpit 43, but it sold before we were ready to buy.

We were exhausted at the end of a day at the Newport Boat Show when we started looking at a few used boats nearby. "Explorer" was among them. As soon as we came up the stern ladder and saw the captain's seat in front of the wheel, I started to fall in love. Only a few minutes later I entered the main salon, sat, looked out at the view and said to Scott; "I could live on this boat". After seeing the big queen center bed in the stern (with four opening windows AND a hatch), two more staterooms, two heads and a spacious galley, we were sold.

But there were two little problems. We couldn't buy it for at least eighteen more months and it was $29,000 above our top price limit. I was adiment that we needed to sell our home in Brookline before buying a boat - and it wasn't even on the market yet. So we told the broker the situation and asked him to keep in touch. Meanwhile we started looking at other Nauticats. It didn't take us long to realize that the 43' was the only one we were interested in and that there were very few on the market. Most were built as a ketch and "Explorer" was one of the few cutter rigs made. We preferred this arrangement.

So time went by, we put the house up for sale and in January 2003 signed a purchase and sale agreement to close in June. We went back to "Explorer" and made an offer based on waiting until our house sold before buying - six months in the future. We hemmed and hawed on the price and finally settled on $250,000 and agreement to wait until after the house sold to sign.

We had a name for our boat way before we saw her. I told Scott the deed was done and of course he reacted quite negatively, naturally. This would have to be something done together! "What did you have in mind?" "Scott Free" "Oh...perfect!" And in deed it is.
But in June a new problem occurred when they stripped the hull and found bubbles in the gel coat. It needed to dry out before the bottom was painted. Perhaps a few weeks delay on closing turned into three months delay! We'd sold our house, had already rented our home in Vermont for the summer, and were homeless. Even worse, our youngest son Sean, only 18 and just finished high school, had taken a job at the marina for the summer expecting we'd be living on the boat there. Oops! At first we both stayed with friends and then sublet a student apartment blocks from our previous home in Brookline for the three of us. The whole arrangement was complicated by Sean's racing commitment at Community Rowing for the summer nights and weekends. It was a lot of commuting for him.
A difficult time.
But happy endings came in September. Sean, settled at Dartmouth College, took the weekend off to go with us up to Maine and sail our new boat back to Boston. The seller had provided a captain to accompany us and show us the ropes. It was our first overnight sail as well. Lovely weather and a terrific start to our life aboard. Sean took the helm and brought her into our slip at the marina in East Boston. We had a number of friends come over and see us on the boat that fall.

Ted and Karen Martin join us on our new boat