Sailing Nakamal

Buy a boat

“I just want to rid of all my stuff, quit my job, and live on a boat.”

After getting rid of most of our stuff, we were ready for the next phase. Well, the next phase would be quitting our jobs, but we were doing things a little out of sequence. However, before you can live on a boat, you have to actually buy a boat. What’s THAT like?

Hint: It’s just like buying a house. And a car. If they were the same thing.

After the epiphany, we started getting serious. And by serious, I mean obsessed. First we set a general budget (if you are thinking about doing this, be warned that just like buying a house, the budget is easily exceeded). Next, the good Captain researched boat designs, and narrowed the search to three models (just like a car). Our wish list included Island Packet, Cabo Rico and Pacific Seacraft in the under 40-foot range.

Then came the dreaming phase. We spent hours trolling websites, imagining ourselves in the pictures of our future, but at this point, virtual home. Looking back, I can’t imagine accomplishing the narrowing down process from the desert of Tucson, AZ without the internet. We settled on as our favorite trolling grounds. Most boats are listed in multiple places, but Yacht World keeps their listings updated so that you won’t be getting excited about boats that were sold two years ago.

Our plan was to sell the house, relocate to Florida and start seriously looking at actual boats. Florida seemed like the obvious choice, given its proximity to our cruising goal (island-hopping in the Caribbean) and the glut of boats for sale there.

We studied hundreds of online listings and were saddened a couple times when boats we had started calling by name  disappeared from the listings.

Sea Trial

Sea Trial

Then it got personal. John and I both traveled for work, he made frequent trips to California. Starting in the summer of 2014 he took advantage of work trips to look at actual boats.

My sole boat search was a long Labor Day weekend in Florida. I set up 6-8 boat viewings on both sides of the state with the goal of determining what boat features were really important to me as a future liveaboard.

(As an aside, my mom and sister-in-law were in Florida visiting my niece so we had a quick mini-family reunion. I also took advantage of the in-person meeting to let my mom know of our plans. To her credit, she had sort of seen this coming for a couple of years, we have her blessing and she is excited for us, even though there are others who think we’re a still a few ships short of a fleet.)

After all that travel, arranging boat viewings, moving between hotels on one side of the state to the other I was able to report back to the Captain with these very important findings: “What’s really important to me are (1) a step-on/”sugar scoop” transom and (2) a bed that I can get out of without requiring acrobatic skills”. His response: “You’ll be happiest on the Island Packet 380…”

“… but we’ll have to spend a little more.”

(See comment above about budget.)

By this time, the Island Packet models were all muddled in my head – in four days I had looked at a 350, 36, 370, 38, and a 380.

It's just a random sink.

It’s just a random sink.

Back to Yacht World and voila – the 380 is the one with the wacky sink in the aft berth.

Within two weeks of my return from Florida, we scheduled a trip  “just to take a look” (and escape the last of the desert heat). We liked what we saw. A lot. Wacky sink and all.

My step-on transom (the wind vane has since been removed).

My step-on transom (the wind vane has since been removed).

Her name at the time was Champ, and she had recently been completely outfitted for a solo, non-stop circumnavigation. The previous owner, an adventurer, was getting ready to set sail but had to change plans for personal reasons, so put Champ on the market.

After the viewing we made an offer, but before signing on the dotted line, we got to pay for a survey (like a house inspection) and conduct a sea trial (like a test drive). Those happened during the last week of September 2014.

One interesting moment: the selling broker backed Champ out of her slip to begin the sea trial but she would not return to forward gear. So we just kept backing up – toward the concrete pillars and very expensive boats behind us. My thought at that moment was something like

“Well THIS sea trial is over.”

But the situation righted itself (it was some anomaly created by several months of sitting in a slip with the propeller not moving) and we continued on without incident.

Like buying a house, both the seller can ‘sell by owner’ or list with a broker. And like buying a house, the buyers can go on their own or enlist the aid of a buyer’s broker. As it happens, we did have a broker of our own who accompanied us on the sea trial. Her impartial opinion was invaluable during the moments when we were waffling (“Are we moving too quickly? Should we look at more boats? What about the other two 380s with stacking sails that are on yachtworld – are we missing a great deal if we go for this one?”). As an added bonus, she has agreed to accompany us on the first long voyage in October 2015, so we’ll have extra hands and experience on board.

Back to the survey and sea trial: another step was the haul-out. Imagine your future home getting straps under its belly, lifting it up and suspending it in the air. It was pretty fascinating. She weighed in at 28,000 pounds. We figured that between John’s wine collection and my shoes we would add another ton after we moved onboard, so downsizing became even more critical.

Yeah, this was a little nerve-wracking.

Yeah, this was a little nerve-wracking.

At any rate, this all went well, we went over the list of things we would have to add or remove to prepare the boat for our comfort and goals, realized we would end up spending more than our original plan A (and more than Plans B and C too – see comment above about budget!) and decided, after a couple days of aforementioned waffling, to (as they say) just do it.

In the meantime, we put the house on the market and got a good offer in six days, started having yard sales and seriously downsizing, searched for a marina to move the boat to and oh yeah – still worked full-time jobs that often had us on the road. Some days I was e-signing both boat and house counter-offers. Oh, and did I mention that full-time job?

By mid-October, we owned a boat.



We re-named her Nakamal and moved her to Chula Vista Marina at the end of October. On November 10th we closed on the land house and moved a few remaining items into our friends home, where we stayed until the permanent move at the end of the year.

On November 12, we left for a vacation starting in St. Thomas. There we had long-standing plans to charter an Island Packet 370 for 10 days. We had toyed with the idea of cancelling given all the other balls in the air, but being back in the islands was a great reminder of why we were doing this.

This Island Packet 370 was fresh out of the Annapolis boat show. When we signed in, we were told: “Other than the delivery crew who brought her down from Annapolis, you are the first people to sail her. So let us know if anything doesn’t work.” Three pieces of good

My get-out-of-either-side bed. No acrobatics required.

My get-out-of-either-side bed. No acrobatics required.

news came out of this – the important things all worked, we returned the boat the in the same condition she was given to us, and we decided that even though this was the newer model, we liked the older 380 model better. Even with the wacky aft berth sink.

Which was fortunate since we had just purchased one.

And now, we got to move aboard our very own boat.

This was one of the selling points for the Captain.

This was one of the selling points for the Captain.

This entry was published on July 30, 2015 at 4:37 pm and is filed under Tucson and San Diego. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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