Turning a boat sale into an adventure - By Tony DiStefano

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Mildred Rose
Blue Marlin
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Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2008 9:48 am
Boat_year: 1968
Boat Make: Ohlson
Boat_Model: 38
Boat_Name: Mildred Rose
Location: Boston, MA

Turning a boat sale into an adventure - By Tony DiStefano

Post by Mildred Rose » Tue Sep 01, 2009 8:33 am

Turning a boat sale into an adventure
By Tony DiStefano, the Beep

For various reasons it was time to sell our 37 foot center cockpit Irwin sail boat. We had had a three person partnership, Ed Goodhue and another, on the boat for over 4 years and it had worked out well, with the owners in the northeast and the boat in St. Pete Florida. Somehow it became my job to sell the boat. This would seem easy but in the current market with so many boats for sale who would want a 29 year old boat when there are so many newer ones for cheap? So we chose a price, just a little over what we had into her, listed the boat on sail boats .com, boat us, and Craig’s list. Also I made up a flyer and put it in some of the marinas in St. Pete. For 2 weeks no response then suddenly e-mails and calls came in.

I was in Las Vegas and getting calls to see the boat. My mistake was that people wanted to see the boat now, not in 2 weeks, when I would be back and able to get to St. Pete. I made 7 appointments that I qualified via e-mail for a Saturday and Sunday, only 3 showed up and the boat was too big for all three. I guess they did not read the ads or the e-mails with pictures and info they requested. Another couple called and showed up again the boat was too big for the husband but the wife fell in love with the aft cabin and head. The boat had 2 cabins and heads. This couple had a ’93 Macgregor 26 trailer sailor so I understood, owning a 90 myself.

I left Florida depressed and feeling that we would have to give the boat to charity. At home an e-mail for the boat came and again wanted to see it yesterday. I made an appointment for the coming Saturday but told him he had to be ready to buy if I were to come to St. Pete again. He said he was ready. At noon on Saturday the appointed time he was not there but called at 12:30, traffic delay. He showed up with his girlfriend and her 10 year old son. After looking at the boat they wanted it but would only pay our minimum acceptable offer. I took it!!!!!! It costs $510 a month at the marina; we would be out before the end of the month, great.

To close the deal we went out for a sail. Tampa bay is a great place to sail with plenty of room and lots to see and the Gulf is right there. Needless to say the boat was its usual great at sailing and the new owners were taken back by the comfort and ease of sailing. As we were heading back to the dock the new owner, Ed, told me he had never sailed but owned a lot of power boats, would I help him get the boat to Miami where he lived? I said yes and we made a date to go out again on Sunday.

Due to commitments I could not move the boat for 2 weeks but that was ok with him so I showed up on Friday for a 3 day trip to Miami. I had planned to go via channel 5 at Marathon but could not fine proper entrance on the charts, so it was to Key West and North Channel then around the keys to Miami. Ed was there with his 2 adult sons and ready to go. After some boat prep and a trip to the fuel dock we left at 3pm. This time of year in Florida each afternoon has thunder storms so we were happy to see a clear sky and 15 knot winds. The engine was cut and the sail raised and we were off on our 333.8 mile journey. We passed the Sunshine bridge in 2 hours an continued at 6 knots for 8 hours watching clouds build, I reefed the sails as the wind build but we got hid and hit hard, the bimini was damaged torn off, the extra cooler on the stern was washed over and the interior was a mess, but all were ok and ready to continue. After the storm came the calm. Here it was midnight and no wind but a beautiful sky, so put the motor on. For the next 40 hours we motor sailed and it was the sun, the sea and the dolphins. We rigged up tarps to keep the sun off, looked a little white trash, but worked. During the day Ed said he purchased a chart and it showed channel 5. At that time we were 80 miles from the North entrance to Key West and 100 to Bollard reef the start of Channel 5 so we took the change in course to Bollard, we watched a great sunset that night.

The next morning, after a spectacular sunrise, the Gulf was so calm it was like glass. We could see dolphin and turtles but there were thousands of lobster and fish pots that we had to avoid. Not being able to see land and just the water you can understand how the early sailors believed that they would fall of the edge of the water, I cannot tell your how beautiful the sunsets and sunrises were, alone on the water with no other boat in site and no cell service. Then the first of the problems was an engine overheat. After 40 hours of running and lots of grass floating in the water I assumed that the intake screen was plugged, it was, we cleaned it and still no wind so with sail up at less than a knot we headed to Bollard Reef letting the engine cool down. After a couple of hours, now it was afternoon, we motored again and at 1 mile to Bollard we overheat again. This time I disconnected the water hose before the pump and we had water but doing the same after the impeller we had intermittent flow so the impeller had been damaged. We tried to fix the impeller as there was a new one on board but with on the basic tools that I brought we did not have the right ones. We called Tow Boat US and they would bring out tools and tow if necessary. So we did what any sailor in the doldrums would do, we went swimming and fishing and turned a bad situation into a vacation.

Tow boat showed up in 45 minutes with tools telling us there was another boat in trouble and he would be back. We tried to get the cover off but only 2 screws would come loose so on the return of Tow Boat we were towed in to Marathon marina by now it was 9pm. We squared the boat and set out for a restaurant and some great sea food then a shower and a good night sleep at dock.

In the AM we went to Home Depot for the correct tools and with the help of the local mechanic we found that the gasket was missing from the cover and the impeller was drawing air when it should have drawn water. Boat fixed we took on 27 gallons of fuel, so we used less than ¾ gallon an hour, not bad. Ed took the helm and I went to clean up and tidy my things. Within a mile he grounded the boat and it was another call to Tow Boat. 3 hours later we were back on track in Hawks Channel which we would follow to Miami. You would think that nothing else could happen but the trip was not over and night drew near the storms came back. Sunset was not as good in the Atlantic as the Gulf but still great on a boat.

At about 10pm I had the hatches and ports closed and put the crew in the cabin, again reefed the jenny as we were hit again, the rain was bad but the wind only had light gusts and after about 15 minutes of painful rain pelting me the sky cleared and we continued at 6 knots close hauled with full Genoa. With Ed in the cockpit we enjoyed the movement of the boat thru the water and a great sail which he said over and over that it was better than as motor boat. At 2AM I went to my bunk, told him to reef again as there were dark clouds ahead and he and Danny took the helm and I went to sleep. I just fell asleep when all the gear on the starboard side came to the portside where I was. I could hear the wind and the waves and told them to reef again, put the things back and went to bed. Again as sleep came so did the gear from the starboard side. The boat rounded for the second time in about a half hour so I stuck my head into the cockpit and said to reef the jib if they did not want to loose it. They did and the storm slowly abated and I got some sleep and the boat sailed on.

I woke at 6, Ed was asleep and Danny was at the helm. He was in a good mood and said after the storms of the night he could now go thru anything. I went down to clean up and we hit another reef, grounded, I tried to get us off but no dice. Call Tow Boat again. Again making lemonade out of lemons we had a great breakfast of omelets while we waited. We were towed to deep water told that we hit a reef in a protected area and would hear from the state, OOPS!!! Ed at the helm and I discussed the night before and he said he was never so scared in his life, the dark, the wind, the storm all added to discomfort. I asked why he did not call me (not that I was much better) he said it was his boat and as captain it was his job to get it thru. I was impressed with this and wondered how many times in life we make a choice and do something beyond what we would normally do? You know, go out on a limb because the fruit it out there.

Now you would think that all the bad was over but no, in boating no matter how good it gets it still can go wrong. With Ed at the helm clipping along at 5 knots I read my book and the boys fished or slept, it seems people under 30 need about 20 hours of sleep interrupted only by eating. I was deep into the book when Ed said we have a problem, the boat will not go and we are not grounded. I took the helm and turned the motor on trimmed the sails for max power and we could not go. I tried different points of sail but we just seemed to be tied to that spot. Then it hit me, TIED, we had picked up a buoy from a fish pot. Ed took the helm and I went down the ladder with my trusty knife to cut the line and zip back to 5 knots and the motor off.

Now your say what else could go wrong, surly there was nothing else that would keep us from our dockage. After the fish trap we continued to Biscayne Channel then into Biscayne Bay under the bridge and up the Miami River. We had gone thru about 10 draw bridges (great bridge tenders, friendly and quick) with one more and the dock in site. But the rules are that from 4:30 to 6 pm no bridge openings. So we sat tied to the side of the river looking at our dock waiting for the bridge to open. Now you can say nothing else could go wrong, but again you would be wrong. As we pulled into the dockage Ed told me that they did not expect him till the first of the month but we were not that early. Then we noticed an electric wire overhead that we could not get under and could not dock the boat here. Ed then turned the boat and headed across the river and we docked at a condo sea wall and he called the owner for permission. Now we have ended the trip 4+ days 333.8 nautical miles with an average of 4 knots per hour, with 84:38 traveling hours. The trip was about even under power and under sail.

On my trip back to New York I realized what drew me to the boat were all the things that drew the new owner only he learned them in his first few days of ownership, it took me all of 4 plus years. The best thing I can say about this trip is that “calm weather does not a good sailor make” I’m a better sailor but without a big boat!

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