“Hon, there’s a boat over in Buffalo that we ought to take a look at.” Susan has heard those words before and before her eyes could roll or sighs escape, I followed up with “And it’s not a project boat!”
We’ve had this conversation before. It started with a Sabre 34 near Boston found on eBay. We won the bid and it became a challenging transaction steeped with misrepresentation, a sharp learning curve, and assistance from the eBay Buyer Protection Program. For a while we owned Mucho Gusto and were out a few thousand dollars, then we owned her and got our money back. Eventually, the yard owner expressed an interest in owning her and in a New York minute he was the proud owner of a Sabre 34 in need of great repair for the price of a beer.
A year or so later, in another eBay story, we were off to Philadelphia to pick up a derelict Rebel in need of considerable work. A small boat, only 16 feet, she seemed the perfect project boat. Clean her up, some new rigging and sails and we’d have a perfect daysailer. We might even turn a small profit on her eventual sale. There she sat in our side yard for a couple of forlorn years. She needed more work than we anticipated and we were distracted by our next acquisition a week later.
Our yacht club was trying to get a Flying Scot fleet off the ground or perhaps better said off the dock. A friend sent a Craigslist ad for a Flying Scot, priced right and not too far away in Saratoga, NY. The boat was solid, a price negotiated, and soon we had a Flying Scot in the driveway and at Rebel in the side yard. Did I mention Identity Crisis, our Sabre 30 sitting at a dock in Oswego?
With our fleet now at five, (including the canoe and inflatable), Susan I am sure, thought our boat acquisition days would take a hiatus. The now too familiar refrain, “Hey hon, there’s a boat in …” echoed through the house once again. This time, it was a Sabre 36 in Solomons, MD.
From contacts in the area, I learned that this boat, Condor, had been on the hard for seven years and was in pretty rough shape. Listed on Craigslist for an astonishing low price, she was certainly worth the seven-hour drive for a look-see and maybe an offer.
Condor was a mess. She had been flooded while on the hard with water several inches above the floorboards. The “broker” had drained the water, but the wood was saturated. The keel was suspect. Was it poor casting and maintenance or worse; had water infiltrated the keelbolts, freezing and thawing until the lead bulged and cracked? Those were the most obvious flaws. We made an offer, they countered, and we responded with our final offer of $1,000. We never heard back on our final offer. The trip was not a total loss; we got to meet an internet acquaintance from the Sabre list serve and had some great crab cakes at Stony’s.
In the years since our trip to Solomons, the Rebel has been put out to pasture (literally), the Flying Scot is languishing on its side in the backyard with half the bottom faired and finished. And a RIB has been added to our fleet as the inflatable was retired. We continued to upgrade and sail Identity Crisis, and dream about our retirement plans. We had learned some things about project boats, time, money, and motivation.
It was against this history that my words last September rang out. We were less than a year from my retirement and a fortnight from our wedding. We were deep into caring for aging parents and negotiating the extended care labyrinth. Finding a new boat was not at the top of our to do list.
After a few emails, arrangements were made to see the boat Buffalo. On the way out the door, I asked, “If I like the boat, can I make an offer?”