I had contacted a guy through Craigslist named Jey. Jey has done a lot in his life, is about my age, has been an engineer on a 105 ft motor yacht, expressed confidence in his abilities to check through and fix anything in the mechanical systems on the boat. Jey was at the Marina by 8 am, shook hands and talked about what we "wanted to do with the boat." This is a critical question as the tasks for a trophy yacht is very different from the tasks and budget for a sailboat for coastal cruising. It is also an answer that many people who know us don't fully understand.
Why would we buy a boat in Florida when we live in Arizona? I look at this boat as a big first step to a sailing hobby with Kathleen. My sailing passion had a significant role in the disintegration of my first marriage. My wife wasn't comfortable with "tipping" and always wanted to get there and then move on. We chartered a number of times when our plans accommodated sailing, but there was always drama. I've been told I yelled too much (Me?). Sailing was fine for the family as long it was my activity and they could opt out for the soccer game. The kids were caught up in the parental stress and so when I retired (at 44) while I thought we would buy a nice catamaran (shopped the Miami Boat Show, but couldn't convince myself $250,000 represented a reasonable family boat) and sail off into the sunset. The wife had a job and the kids had jr. high and high school. It wasn't going to happen. I read ‘the full series of Patrick O’Brien books (Master and Commander, etc.) and lived in the historical fiction of early 19th century British Navy. Wonderful books, I highly recommend them.
This time needs to be different. Kathleen is very different- she is strong and up for many things, she has sailed before there was us. We discussed my dream on our first date and she was up to give it a try. We've spent the last four+ years learning each other’s ways of doing things- Kareful Kathleen and Ready, shoot, aim Fred. She has a huge security need that I understand and try to fulfill. She loves beauty and values things done well. Everything has value. The boat needs to not be "Icky".
Went to Harbor Freight and bought cleaning supplies and power tools. Power buffer, sander, sandpaper, (did I mention cleaning supplies?) and other miscellaneous bits. Love Harbor Freight, about $150 with my new Harbor Freight membership.
Jey had been pressure washing the hull while I was away, it needed to dry before we painted. It was now obvious there were some “blisters.” Generally blistering is not structural but cosmetic and this boat was 38 years old, certainly not unexpected, but it would have been nice to see a perfect hull.
The surveyor shows up about noon and his first words were- "this boat won't insure." Why? "It's too old and not in good enough condition." Well, let’s go through the survey process. "If you don't need an insurance report I'll only charge you half." OK. So we go through the boat- through hulls are good, motor is good, plumbing in general is good (The boat has built-in AC and a dehumdifier (it was bought in Houston) which are in good shape, Surveyor smiled with arched eyebrows). Then he starts with the meter and the hammer. Now boat surveyors are like home inspectors. They have no liability if they miss something, but if something is out there in front of God and everyone they're expected to find bad stuff. Thus, the hammer and the moisture meter. There are obvious changes in tone at different places on the deck, cabin top near the mast, and the hull (there are also blisters). This is a 38 year old boat- I didn't expect perfection and none of these weaknesses worry me individually, but he seems to be puckered and shaking his head. Obviously, he wouldn't buy the boat (he doesn't own any boat). I ask the summary question- Given what we want to do with the boat where does it rate on a scale of 1-10? "Probably a 7 or an 8." Good enough.
Huddled up with Jey and Tom (previous owner's boat guy), went over the surveyor's comments and mapped out a plan of attack. The one truly hazardous finding (as in sink the boat hazardous) was the stuffing gland- the hole in the boat where the propeller shaft exits. Obviously, we had hauled the boat to see and work on the bottom- bottom paint, zincs, check through hulls, etc. Those would all be high on the list and were easy to execute.
Went to West Marine, bought West Marine CCP ablative bottom paint (cheaper than name brand, but still $125/gallon, needed 2 gallons.) And more cleaning supplies, and a Boat US tow membership. Total about $500.
Then I cleaned the slime off the hull. As with any Red-blooded American I used a power tool- the buffer with Scotchbright pad whirling at 600 RPM. It was amazing how readily the slime gave up. A couple hours and the hull was impressively clean and ready for bottom paint. And I looked like I was ready to be in the Blue Man Group!
Warning- I'm not that pretty even in my natural coloring.
Climbed into my sleeping bag in the V-berth for my first night on the boat! I woke up about 3 am with major misgivings- was this boat "Icky?" Undoubtedly, but if I got going I could make it less icky and hopefully not “too icky."
I got to work.