Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Hunt

Our QUEST for our Puget Sound vessel started back in early June of 2015. We knew we wanted to downsize from our previous 42 foot sailboat as we peered into the next ten years. Banging on the door of Medicare and Social Security our considerations included age, money, physical abilities, and the purpose of the Puget Sound vessel. We wanted a vessel that we could live on for several months at a time and safely sail the waters of the mostly protected waters of Puget Sound, the San Juans, and into Canada. Both sailboats and trawlers in the 36' to 38' range were on the table. After seeing about six versions of trawlers that were in our budget we eventually gave up on them. The only trawlers that we would want to manage were out of our budget and/or maintenance commitment. We both know sailboats very well and feel comfortable already without having to go on a whole new learning curve. The sailing lifestyle in our blood.
Our first look at a 1989 36' Catalina in Anacortes got the ball rolling That particular vessel would enter our sights again months later when she came up for sale again in Seattle, and what a tale that one is! Time seems to be more valuable than ever in 2016-2017 so between the two of us we learned to make our boat shopping efficient and thorough on the first visit. We would take copious notes, lots of pictures, and go through every nook and cranny removing any boat stuff in the way. Many brokers remarked that they had never seen anything like us. Since we traveled to all points between Tacoma and Anacortes Washington, including Bainbridge Island, Poulsbo, Gig Harbor, Shillshole, Lake Union, and Lake Washington, making use of our time on the first visit seemed mandatory to us. Why would you want to take time for a second visit if the boat was not the One? Best to determine that immediately and either pursue the vessel or reject it. As soon as we got home after viewing a vessel the real work would begin. Carefully examining the 100-150 pictures (often the camera is better than the eye), researching boat history gleaned from boat documents and online resources, and sometimes visiting boat yards who performed work on the vessels for information. I am really good at the big picture  side and the Admiral is a detail person. She is very good at stacking up all the details so that I can see the Big Picture in HD!
We made a total of seven offers including a 1983 Catalina 36, 1984 CS 36, 1988 Catalina 36, 2002 Catalina 36, a 1989 Catalina 36 and a 2004 Catalina 36. After making an offer on a boat the timeline for the process to ownership starts ticking. So repeated visits to each vessel to make sure our investment in surveyors would pay off. If there was any issue with a boat we wanted to make sure we knew them all before a surveyor stepped foot on the boat. Why pay $2000+ in survey cost if your not going to buy the boat?
Fortunately we found the one thing that stopped the survey's in three of the cases. in one other case we just had the $700 worth of engine and rigging survey before stopping the sale and one other case the C&V Survey stopped almost as fast as it started so we were  only out $350 into that one.
We decided that a Catalina 36 was the preferred boat if we could just find one that was structurally sound and did not have a history of damage that we did not want to inherit. John Baird, a surveyor we worked with on two vessels, said "once you buy the boat their problems become yours." All used boats will have something come up on a survey, it just depends on what your tolerance level is when it comes time to repair or upgrade. Each vessel we made an offer on involved weeks of time, research, emails, travel, and phone calls. You are also required to pay a 10% deposit when you make an offer so there is a big commitment in the process. If at anytime during the process you can throw in the towel and get your money back but the whole thing becomes a stress point.  There were two very promising vessels that came on the market that we were interested in. One a Catalina 36 and the other a Jeaneau 37. They both sold after being on the market for two days. Obviously there were buyers who had prior knowledge of the boats and pounced on them when they came up for sale. The 2017 boat market up here is almost as crazy as the housing market. The Admiral learned the term "Least Worst". We began to think that the vessel we were now searching for was the least worst.
We exhausted the Puget Sound so I turned my attention to the California Coast. There were eleven C36's for sale from San Diego to San Francisco Bay. After researching what I could on the internet on these vessels I started with a 1998 C36 in Emeryville, CA located on the Bay just across from San Francisco. Since this would require additional expense of travel, rent cars, and hotels I began to try and find a way to get as much of this work done long distance and have surveyors lined up after our initial inspection. This was contrary to the way we behaved before but I felt it was necessary to be as efficient as possible with our travel expenses. Our offense and defense for this effort had to rest primarily on two excellent surveyors: Chuck Thomas of Chuck's Marine who surveyed the engine and Kent Parker of Parker Marine who completed the C&V Survey. My research on the surveyors paid off for us and while this is a solid vessel it will still take about $10K to get her up to our standards. After some further negotiation for a repair allowance we bought the boat.

Here is a video of the previous owners sailing on San Francisco Bay: 

The book that I have been writing for the last two years is complete except for a last round of editing. All of the experiences we had in The Hunt paid off huge in putting the finishing touches on the book

Available soon on Amazon

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