The two happiest days in a sailors life ….
the day you buy a boat and the day you sell it.
It took almost three years to accept my mistake. I had purchased the wrong yacht. It was a beautiful boat. A 1987 Hunter 40, with two staterooms, two heads and a massive grand salon. It was capable of cruising at 7 knots and could easily circumnavigate the globe. It was the perfect boat… but not for me. The delivery had been a disaster with two rescue boats towing us in after dark. I raced it for two years without a win and every time I turned around it needed another expensive repair. In the morning while I had my first cup it would mockme from its berth in the back yard.
Eventually I swallowed my pride and called Tony the broker. Hoping for a white knight we listed it for $49,000 but there were no lookers. We dropped it to $37,000 and started getting a little interest. Finally after 4 months, a retired Toyota Executive looking for a project boat, sailed her away. I lost a pile of money on the trade but was… a very good day.
The dock was empty but I didn’t have any problems getting my fix. Tim Harris needed crew to help him bring his Gemini down from Tampa Bay and very Wednesday I went out with a group from The Isles Yacht Club. In July I started looking and after two months of visiting marinas from Tampa Bay to Key West, I found one that seemed too good to be true. She had been sold by the original owner two weeks earlier to a fellow who was going to use it as a cheap apartment when he was working at his Tampa office. He changed his mind about the “live aboard” lifestyle when Huricane Irma rolled over South West Florida. His loss was my gain! His asking price was 22% of my budget, plenty of money to get her in She was 25% smaller and 100% better! A Hunter 28.5 (1987), 2 feet longer than my inland boat, 11.5 shorter than my last boat and just right for Dawn and I.
On Monday, I surveyed the boat and met with the original owner. On Wednesday morning I drove to Snead Island and visited the local boatyard where I got copies of the last five years of service invoices. Dennis, the original owner had taken good care of her. The bottom had been done in March and looking back, she had been hauled and serviced on a regular schedule. The Yanmar 2GM was clean and well maintained. I was sold. That afternoon I met with the seller in Tampa and closed the deal.
The next day Chris Heelis and I were shuttled up to Palmetto by his lovely and so accommodating wife, Marchelle. We spent a little time familiarizing ourself with the boat and hiked to the Public for some last minute supplies. After a fine meal at the Marina we crashed.
I was having a lalapalooza of a nightmare when I felt a bump. What was that? Where am I? It too a minute to realize that I was aboard a boat and another second to remember that it was our new boat and that today was the first day of the delivery to her new home. I was so happy to be there instead of the damned netherworld I’d just left.
We made short work of having a Cuppa Joe and pastries. Chris threw off the lines and we motored over to the fuel dock where I filled the tanks with Diesel and water. We chatted with the Dock Master who recommended I put a bottle of finness or Downey fabric softener into the black waste tank to break up the sludge. I waved to Barbara on the top deck of the Marina, thanked her for her kindness and promised to return with my wife for a visit.
We left Riverpoint Marina at 8:30 and headed down river toward Tampa Bay. The winds were 10 out of the NE and we had no trouble sailing around Anna Marie Island and down the coast to Venice Yacht Club by 4:30. There didn’t seem to be much Hurricane damage except for a sunken yacht at the entrance to VYC.
After tying up we took the bikes left for us by the dock master and rode into town for a good Italian meal and some live steel drum jazz in the park. Life is good.
The next morning we got up early and we’re away by 7:30. The sail down to Boca Grande was a fine broad reach. We viewed off shore to be well away from the coast to catch the Boca channel from the beginning. It was confused seas for a long way into the Harbor and we motor sailed until we were alongside Burnt Store.
The big excitement was a squall that caught up with us a mile below Ponce Inlet. We had been keeping an eye on it and lowered sails well before it got to us but when it hit I was surprised by the strength of the storm. I couldn’t see 10 feet past the bow and only the chart plotter kept me from going aground at the on the shallows around Punta Gorda. After 20 minutes of tooth grinding sailing it started to slack off and we were able to see well enough to point toward the channel entrance. The rest was easy.