We secured a slip in Apollo Beach, Florida. We should be sailing Sweet Escape home over the Thanksgiving holiday.
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After 6 months of stressful sailboat shopping all over the East coast and a failed survey, we are extactic that Sweet Escape had a successful survey. Yippee!
Henry even completed the first of many projects on Sweet Escape, replacing the sacrificial anode (zinc) on propeller shaft.
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I’m trading in my cowgirl boots for a life in flip flops.
Wow!! I would not have thought that finding a sailboat to live on would be like searching for the love of your life. Since meeting people is often hard we often use dating services to find a potential partner; with a boat we use on-line websites or brokers to search out of sailboats and use a broker to seal the deal. But before we seal the deal we have to “date” the boat and have a survey done; someone that will spend hours going through every inch of the boat to determine the good, the bad and the ugly. We will find out if the boat is going to more of a money pit then we already expect. Wouldn’t it be nice to hire a surveyor to survey the people you date; someone to find all the flaws before you buy! At least the boat’s flaws can be fixed!
Although our dream of living on a sailboat began years ago, we started our journey more than 8 months ago surfing the internet looking at thousands of boats worldwide, trying to narrow it down to what we consider the perfect live aboard. My idea of what I could not live without was so different than Henry’s; however we did agree we wanted space. I wanted our boat to have that NEW car smell, a separate shower in the head, plenty of locker/storage space and a “gourmet” galley. Henry wanted electric winches, in mast roller furling’s, state of the art electronics, and a bow thruster to easily maneuver our little yacht. Everyone always asks what is your budget? I’ve heard many live-aboard sailors say that many people aren’t shy about asking personal financial questions about the costs of living on a sailboat; however, these same people would never dare ask how much you spent on a home or costs to maintain your home. So I will put it out there. We initially decided our budget to buy our sailboat would be around $275 – 350k. That would give us a newer sailboat with all the must haves!
We started our journey in Palmetto, Florida and looked at a handful of boats in the local Marina, one of which we found online. The broker that showed us boats shared her story of retiring and spending years in the Caribbean on a live aboard with her husband. Her story gave us a lot to think about. She and her husband were true “pirates” and did not believe in the modern conveniences like electronics and vac-u-flush toilets. She explained to us they never had things on the boat that they could fix themselves and they used maps and the stars to find their way. She said they often met up with fellow sailors that were stuck in shore waiting for parts or were lost because of failed electronics. By the end of the day I was sold on looking at newer boats; I did not see myself as a true old time pirate like this broker.
We traveled to Miami, Annapolis, Melbourne, and Titusville touring DOZENS of boats. We made our first offer on a 2012 Beneteau Oceanis 46; a boat Henry loved. Although it was newer, I was never truly sold on the boat due to the lack of storage. We went back and forth on the price with the seller, scheduled a surveyor and bought non-refundable airline tickets, but in the end we could not come to an agreement due the transport costs of the vessel (she was in Annapolis, MD). In the end we think the owner had another offer without transportation costs of the vessel. I’m hoping our Southwest non-refundable tickets will be used for a romantic getaway once we get through the adventures of buying a boat.
So it was back to the drawing board looking for something that would give us space, a bit of luxury AND closer to home. Throughout of boat buying adventure we continued to change our budget. After seeing dozens of boats we decided that we wanted a sailboat that was less than 15 years old and under $200k. Although there are a lot of newer sailboats (less than 5 years old) on the market that meet our requirement there weren’t a lot of meticulously maintained sailboats that were 10 to 15 years old. We decided to start looking at Hunter’s. They are known for luxury coastal living, they are not a true blue water sailing vessel.
We headed to the East Coast of Florida to view a couple of Hunter sailboats, the broker was insistent that he had one that I would love. Bingo! The broker was right and although it was older than I wanted, we loved it. We went home to do some research and then put another offer in on a meticulously maintained 2004 Hunter 426DS; a sailboat that felt new and would give me a master suite, a nice galley and storage galore and would give Henry his specified needs. We did not have a broker representing us and although there was a bit of back and forth over the price we came to an agreement. Our next step in the process was to have the boat surveyed.
Although the seller’s broker supplied us with a list of the surveyors we knew from our own research to find our own surveyor. We spent an entire day researching and reading about local surveyors and ended up picking one. My computer techie boyfriend picked John with Suenos Azules Marine Surveying. John not only uses old school techniques to survey the boat but he uses all the new electric surveying gadgets which Henry was drooling over. The survey started at 9:30 am sharp and wasn’t over until 6pm. Everything went well, including the sea trial, BUT when we had her hauled out of the water for her bottom to be inspected the survey went SOUTH! It was obvious that one of her former captain’s had abused this beauty. John found stress fractures that could make her sink like the titanic if she were ever hit again. We were advised that although she could be repaired it was best for us to walk away since we did not want a fixer upper. The survey was a very costly learning experience.
Back to the drawing board AGAIN! We spent the following Saturday on a boat that we had initially looked at that was 20 minutes from our home. When we first looked at the boat I didn’t like it because it was older, she was built in 2000. But after all the boats we had seen, I realized she had been hardly used, meticulously maintained and had everything we wanted. The broker told us that the owner had over priced her and had already turned down several good offers; we knew we could be in for a battle. We put in a fair offer and the owner gave us a ridiculous counter offer. Wow he lowered his price $1k! We knew from the market and his broker he was about $30k to high. He obviously did not want to sell his boat; his wife on the other hand may have wanted her gone.
Ten minutes after we got the ridiculous counter offer I talked Henry into driving down to view a 2003 Hunter 426DS (a 44ft. sailboat) in Ft. Meyers, Florida. This boat was listed for sale by owner. The owner told us his beauty was still for sale but was about to be listed with a broker. He agreed to show us his beauty before he listed her if we could be there within 3 hours. Henry grabbed his portable Wi-Fi and computer and we hit the road; he was working on a major project so I agreed to drive.
I have been told never to fall in love with a boat, but I did. Sweet Escape is a true beauty and has been meticulously maintained. She was equipped by her owners so they could live off the grid for a month at a time in “luxury”. Unfortunately, her captain has a sustained an injury that will not allow him to sail her any longer. As we were climbing off Sweet Escape I told Henry we were not walking away from her until we negotiated out a deal with the owner, he agreed. Because there were no brokers involved, it was the easiest deal we’ve ever made. There was no haggling, instead we calmly and easily came to an agreement on a fair price, we shook hands and walked away smiling. Was it really that easy? Henry and I drove home in silence both thinking “was this too good to be true”? Thinking back I believe we needed a few lessons learned before we found the right boat!
We will be picking up the keys to Sweet Escape tomorrow and will sail her home over Thanksgiving. We are STOKED!!!!
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