Well, change of plans. As much as we love our busted old boat, the 28 foot Newport lovingly known as the frog, we decided to move on to a more family friendly and dependable boat. It was just too much having Emilia on board and wondering when the motor would quit or the chain plates would give way, or the steering cable would snap… again.
The pandemic has given us a window to really think about our future, and what we want in it. And where we want it.
First we had to decide if this was the right time to buy a big ass boat:
of course not,
but when will it ever be?
its like kids, you will never be truly ‘ready’ to have them.
Then there is the issue of: ‘what kind of boat are we looking for?’
And lastly: finding that boat and going through the ghastly purchasing process.
Amazingly, we did all of those things in about a months time.
We are now the happy and slightly bewildered new owners of a 38 foot Leopard Catamaran.
(above photo taken by Stan.)
The last couple of weeks have been filled with drama and waiting and traveling back and forth to Florida, where our dream boat resided. Before the pandemic hit, we managed to score a great deal on a small travel trailer, allowing us safe travel and lodging back and forth to St. Augustine Florida while the boat buying process lagged on.
The first boat we had our eyes on was a 38 foot Maxim, also a South African build with a good reputation. But unfortunately, the survey fell through with a resounding bang, and we were back to square one. You know its time to walk away when your surveyor tells you “you know you can walk away from this.” That would be like your home inspector telling you to step outside during a pre purchase inspection just incase the building collapses.
Our broker, Rose Anne, (with Yacht Sales by Rose Ann in St. Augustine) found another more promising boat the very next day, in Melbourne Florida, only an hour away from St. Augustine.
Since we already had the RV site booked and paid for through the week, we wasted no time in going through the grueling process all over again.
This boat was a leopard, which was our #1 choice for Catamaran brands, and it had low engine hours and direct drive shafts (which is a huge advantage over sail drives).
The price was also right, which is rare since the leopard cats are so highly sought after.
There were 8 other offers on the boat! Considering that, and the unlikely hood of finding another leopard in good condition and in such a convenient location, we went ahead and put in a competitive offer (pending survey), and under contract we went!
We met the owner, Stan, when we looked at the boat, who was every bit a salty sailor.
After an hour of walking around the boat and getting a run down on all the things, he offered to help us take the boat up north!
Stan seemed like a nice enough guy, genuine and incredibly knowledgable about the boat and sailing in general. To me, his offer to sail north with us to Oriental, meant that he stood behind the overall condition of the boat. If there were any hidden problems, they would surely show their nasty heads on a two-week trip up the ICW.
The survey took place about 2 weeks after we looked at the boat. And the evaluation was good (really good if you compare it to our last survey). All the main systems are fully functioning, and the boat doesn’t need any major repairs. Good enough for us! We negotiated the price a little, and closed the deal.
Compared to our 28 foot mono hull, this boat is enormous. Actually if you compare it to our last house, I’m pretty sure it might be a little bit bigger.
The design is galley up, with a large dining table (converts to giant bed), and the cockpit also has plenty of seating with a large dining table
It’s an owners version, with 3 staterooms, 2 heads and one huge shower.
Here was my major requirement (no judgement please): air conditioning.
I’ll never forget that night anchored out on Taylor creek in August 3 years ago. I was 5 months pregnant with Emilia. There wasn’t a lick of wind, and the heat was stifling, but the bugs were worse. They were so bad that we had to close the hatches, basically creating a sweat box of misery. We had one small rechargeable fan which Adam and I fought over at 2 in the morning. (Not his best moment).
So yes, air conditioning is a requirement. Because sleep is a requirement, without it we would all die.
This boat has a generator which will run the AC cold allllll niiiight loonggg.
Now to the drama of boat buying.
The day we closed on the boat (or so we thought), Hurricane Isaias started making headlines. Our closing date was set for July 29th, which was the exact date that the sellers had their insurance cancelled. There was an unexpected lag in paperwork at the very last minute, partly due to stupid bankers, and also due to Asheville’s lack of overnight mail. Our insurance wasn’t able to take over the boat until the boat was 100% ours.
Unfortunately, once a storm gets a name, it’s every man for himself. Good luck getting your insurance company to bind you. And the insurance was only half the problem, the boat was docked behind Stan’s (the seller) house in Melbourne in an unprotected waterway. We called a few marinas near his house with no luck, either we had to be a current member of their ‘hurricane club’ to guarantee a lift out of the water, or the marinas refuse to offer dockage once the storm becomes a hurricane. Our paperwork lag only lasted a day or two, during which Stan was able to extend his insurance. The only protected marina nearby was Telmar Bay, and they offered us a slip for a few days, but only if I got it there before it turned into a Hurricane, and if I paid for an entire months slip. Luckily, Stan’s friend/listing agent, Kevin, does a lot of business there, and pulled some strings for us. We were able to secure a slip for a week, at a week’s rate. Stan was kind enough to take it there for us, since we were still in Asheville tying up some loose ends before driving down to move the boat.
It was a nail biting few days watching the hurricane make headlines on every news channel. We waited it out at my dad’s house, obsessively organizing our provisions for the trip,
and watching the storm’s predicted landfall inch its way closer and closer to our boat.
The storm did make landfall directly on our boat, but Isaias left no marks on her. Stan did a great job of prepping it: making sure the boat was tied to the pilings, not the cleats (even cleats that are through bolted can come up in a storm), lashing the main sail, taking the Bimini off, taking down the jib… We couldn’t have been more grateful for his help with that.
But that was only the beginning of his kindness. He stayed true to his offer, and is helping us, as I write this, take the boat to NC. He said he would go for as long as we needed/wanted his help. He has owned lots of boats, and even built a sail boat himself. We have been soaking in all the knowledge he has about this boat, and sailing in general. It has been invaluable. The next post is soon to come, with an account of the first few days of our 800 mile trip north to Oriental, NC.