Our first thought of buying a boat, at ages 68 and 70!
Since Dan and I have been together, we have had a wonderful time. We took a long (10,000+) mile trip around the USA. We have gone to his SEAL Team Reunions in Virginia Beach (July each year) and his SEAL Team Muster (November each year) in Fort Pierce, Florida. We have gone to Key West each winter. For our first few years, all this road travel plus the months spent in Key West were in the truck camper. Now, granted, it is a big truck camper, but, by virtue of the fact that it sits in the back of his truck does mean that it is pretty small. It is great for traveling around, but for sitting in one place for week? Not so much!
During our 5th winter in Key West, we saw an ad on the bulletin board for a 5th wheel trailer. The couple selling it had used it for many years, all there on Key West. We met them, checked out the trailer, and bought it. Since then, our time spent in Key West is much more comfortable!
In the process of meeting with this couple, we had many conversations about our various adventures, theirs and ours. One they told us about was when they bought a trawler (I had no idea at the time what type boat that was) and traveled America’s Great Loop – they sold the trawler after that. We were intrigued! We talked to them, then started reading up on America’s Great Loop. The more we read, the more interested we became. We didn’t know if we had the resources to get into a boat sufficient for that trip, but we were certainly interested.
Turns out, if you are a good ‘wrench hand’, like Dan certainly is, we do have enough resources. We are so lucky that the thought of traveling around the country on a boat was very interesting and exciting to us both. Dan has extensive experience on boats, both in the Navy and afterwards. He knows how to navigate on the waters. I know nothing! But, I trust my husband.
One thing we did, before we even started looking at boats, was to attend the Spring Rendezvous of America’s Great Loop Cruising Association (AGLCA) in Norfolk. After those three days, the seminars, meeting and talking to people either doing or planning to do the Loop, and seeing a few boats – there was no stopping us!
Once we decided we were interested, then we (mostly Dan) started researching to determine what type/model boat we would enjoy. Because of Max, our older dog, we settled on a Bayliner, either 45 or 47 foot. All levels of the boat, state rooms and heads, galley and salon, pilot house, and fly bridge, are accessible with just a few steps – no ladders necessary! The next step was to find a boat.
The first boats we looked at were in Georgia, on Lake Lanier. One boat was in pretty rough shape, and the other, while in great shape, was priced way too high.
We had met Curtis Stokes, a yacht broker, at the AGLCA Rendezvous. When we saw the model boat we wanted in Florida, we contacted Curtis, and the real search was on. We flew to Bradenton, Florida, and looked at one boat that turned out to be in really bad shape. The next boat was in Port St. Lucie, named Obsession.
The owner of the Obsession was to have some mechanical problems, found during the survey, fixed so that the survey could be completed. We had signed a 60 day Purchase Agreement, so we began the waiting. Our broker had us sign an extended Purchase Agreement when the repairs were taking longer than anticipated.
Once the extended agreement was about to expire, Dan and our broker decided to take a look on the internet to see if a better option might be available. They found another Bayliner 4588, the model we wanted, in Lottsburg, Virginia. Looking at the pictures, and talking to their broker, Dan and I decided we didn’t want to let this deal slide away. Since the Virginia location was only a one day’s drive, we hopped in my car the very next day and hightailed it to see the Kittiwake.
Short end to the story – a much better-maintained boat, price was right. Many of the changes/enhancements Dan had wanted to make on the other boat had already been done! We made an offer, it was accepted right away. All that was left was to arrange a survey.
One really wonderful aspect of this boat was that it ‘came’ with Mike Steele, who has turned out to be a good friend! He was best friends with the previous owner, recently deceased, and had worked on the boat extensively. Some issues came up during the survey, mostly because the boat had been sitting for two years – Mike resolved them to our and the surveyor’s satisfaction, and also promised to work on other issues after the survey and before we closed on the boat. Because of his input, the owner’s daughter, now owner, paid to have a new exhaust system installed (@ $5,000), the bottom cleaned and painted (@ $2000). He also promised to work with Dan to install a new inverter after the purchase.
We believe that we have found the right boat for us!