Monday, January 9, 2012

The Highs and Lows of Boat Buying

The search for the perfect boat can be fun, exasperating, or anywhere in between.  When we decided to buy our first boat, it was just a matter of checking on Craigslist.org and finding a small Seawitch.  Not much of an investment, so not much time or energy was spent on that search.
Sister ship to our Lockley Seawitch


When we decided to upgrade to a "real" sailboat, Mike researched all the different aspects to be sure we found a boat that would meet our needs.  We wanted a boat that would be stable, sail flat, be well made, and most importantly, be novice friendly.  The Com-Pac 16 was what we wanted, but there weren't many around.  Would we be able to find one?  Late in the fall a posting came up on Craigslist for a Com-Pac 16 right here in Madison.  Brenda fell in love with the name, Puppy Luff.  Mike said we could name a dinghy Crush.  Mike was impressed with the condition and sharp look of the boat.  The 16 was in a University of WI parking lot and while we checked out the boat, the owner was getting chewed out, rather loudly, by a University employee for having the boat parked there illegally.  "Move it or we'll tow it out today!"  Price negotiations went quickly from there and Puppy Luff came home.

Puppy Luff


After a season of boat improvements, sailing and lots of learning, we were ready to move up to a bigger boat - one that we could stay on overnight, but still trailer.  Yes, having room for a potty played a big part in the decision to move up in size.

As mentioned earlier, Mike likes to research his purchases.  So after tons of time spent searching the internet for the perfect Com-Pac 19, we decided to head to Cincinnati to have a look at what the owner said was "the best Com-Pac 19 for the price in nine states" and the pictures backed him up.  Off we went with high expectations.

If our only purpose for heading to Cincinnati was to look at the boat, we would say we wasted 15 hours of driving.  We guess what one person considers "really nice" can vary by a wide margin.  Loose and broken mast step, worn rudder pins, running rigging rotted, trailer winch shot, bottom paint gone, old tired sails, and worst of all the hull was so weathered it would need to be repainted.  We found out the pictures used in the ad were "borrowed" from another sale ad for a boat in TX.  He even went so far as to say he had removed the VHF that showed up in one of the pictures.  We of course found no evidence that anything had ever been mounted near that spot on the boat we were looking at.  This boat looked nothing like the one the owner represented in his ad.  Needless to say, no deal was made and we continued our search.

On the good side we enjoyed the drive, spending time together, and side trips along the way.  We also got an education in looking over a 19.  Buyer alert - never buy without seeing the boat in person.

Next up was a Com-Pac 19 in Detroit.  Brenda couldn't take time off from school, so Mike headed out for a speed trip.  This time he went with tempered enthusiasm.  It just so happened that our son had recently moved to a place 30 minutes from the boat, so Mike would have a place to stay.  Mike left right after work and drove straight up.  He arrived at our son's at 1:00 a.m. and quickly crashed after a quick look at the apartment.  Then he was up to take John to breakfast and off to meet our future boat.  Everything was as represented in the ad and then some.  No disappointments this time around.  Mike hooked her up and pulled her home that same day.  At that time we referred to her as Puppy Luff  II, but she was later named Miss B's Haven.  She continues to teach us and treat us well on our inland lake sailing excursions.

Miss B's Haven
CP 16 and 19
Now that we have become empty-nesters, we can pursue our dream of big water sailing.  All we have to do now is find that perfect blue-water boat.  We wonder what stories we will have to tell about that search?

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