"No, really. We want to buy a boat!"

Finding a Boat (July 1999)
You can't very well embark on a sailing adventure without first buying a boat. Fortunately, I had come close to buying a boat when I lived in Baltimore in 1993, and then again when my company was bought by Intuit in 1996, so I had a good idea what I wanted.  We started looking for a broker in late June of 1999...

Week of June 20 - June 26, 1999: I called InterYacht this week to renew my relationship with Al Gundry, the broker who assisted us with our boat search back in the summer of 1996. Unfortunately, Al Gundry was on vacation, so I was transfered to another broker, Jill Griffin. We spent the whole week playing phone tag.

Week of June 27 - July 3, 1999: Jill Griffin and I exchanged several emails this week, attempting to find time to see some boats. Our schedules never coincided, and Theresa and I left on Friday to spend the Fourth of July in the mountains. I'm starting to feel like Jill isn't taking our boat search very seriously. I thought I could gain some time by working with Jill while Al Gundry was out of town, but I'm regretting my impatience.

Monday, July 5, 1999: I got an email from Jill Griffin (dated yesterday) informing me that she's leaving for England, and won't be back until late July! Al Gundry is back from vacation now, so I'm going to call InterYacht tomorrow and ask him to help us instead. The last two weeks with Jill have been a complete and total waste of time!

Tuesday, July 6, 1999: I got in touch with Al Gundry today, and he told me that he would be pleased to help us again. Al was really great when Theresa and I looked at boats back in 1996, so I'm thrilled to be working with him again. We're even scheduled to see some boats this Thursday. (Imagine that -- a broker who will actually show us some boats!)

Thursday, July 8, 1999: Theresa and I drove out to Annapolis for the Thursday evening J/24 races, and we took the opportunity to look at a couple of big boats. The first was a 2-cabin Beneteau Oceanis 440 named "Genesis" - a nice boat, but with a huge main salon that wasted a lot of space. The second was a Morgan 454 named "Windermere" -- a fast boat, but dark inside and in fairly poor repair. Neither boat looked very promising. I sailed in the J/24 races, and we had no fewer than five things go wrong in a row (including a minor grounding). I think my J/24 is getting jealous!

Sunday, July 11, 1999: Theresa and I had intended to look at some more boats today, but Al (our broker) wasn't available. We met my cousin Joe and his wife later that afternoon for a nice, long sail on my J/24 - all the way out to the Bay Bridge and back.

Monday, July 12, 1999: Theresa and I drove all the way out to Rockhall, MD, today to look at the C&C44 "Nimbus". The boat was a nice model, but she wasn't very roomy for a 44-footer, and she wasn't in very good shape overall. At our broker's suggestion, we stopped by Annapolis on our way back to take a look at a 3-cabin Beneteau Oceanis 440, and we were pleasantly surprised. She was incredibly comfortable, and had a much better layout than the 2-cabin version that we'd seen the previous week. Al stated that she was no slouch in the sailing arena either. We also looked at another Morgan 454, but this one was a disaster!

Tuesday, July 13, 1999: After reflecting overnight on the boats we'd seen (including all the ones we looked at back in 1996), and given the fact that there really aren't many good boats in the 44' range with shoal draft, and given the current hot market, we decided to go ahead and make an offer on the Beneteau. Now I'm getting excited!

Thursday, July 15, 1999: After a bit of negotiation, we reached an agreement on the Beneteau Oceanis 440 "Serendipity". Theresa and I drove out to Annapolis to sign the offer letter and meet with our loan officer. We also visited the Shurgard facility in Annapolis and rented a climate-controlled unit to store our stuff.

Monday, July 19, 1999: Still no word on the loan application, but we took the Beneteau out for a sea-trial today, and had a marvelous sail. She moves well to windward - we were doing about 7 knots upwind in a 15-knot wind.

Tuesday, July 20, 1999: I called our loan officer today to find out if she had heard anything, and she said, "Oh, I thought you were sending me some additional documentation. I haven't submitted the application yet."
I was a bit put out, but I drafted some stuff and faxed it over to her. Maybe now she'll submit it.

Wednesday, July 21, 1999: A well-respected boat surveyor, Peter Hartoft, agreed to fit us into his busy schedule on short notice, and he had intended to do part of the survey today. He asked me to call him to confirm, but I didn't, and Theresa and I waited at the boat for an hour before I called him to find out that he wasn't going to be starting on it today. Bummer, but serves me right for not calling, I guess.

Thursday, July 22, 1999: We actually had the survey today, and it turned up several little problems, but nothing that seems particularly damning. Peter said, "Basically, this boat is in really good condition, with low wear, and I don't see anything to scuttle the deal". That's encouraging!

Friday, July 23, 1999: Still no word from the finance company, and we're leaving for the beach tomorrow morning. I'll call in from the beach for news.

Monday, July 26, 1999: Called the finance company, but no word yet.

Tuesday, July 27, 1999: Called the finance company, and learned that one of the companies has rejected my application! (Seems they were a little uneasy about our intention to live aboard without jobs. Something about it being too easy for us to vanish into the tropics. Can you imagine?)

Thursday, July 29, 1999: Called the finance company, and we have a boat loan!

Monday, August 2, 1999: We're back from the beach, and trying to get all our ducks in a row for the closing on Thursday: cash for downpayment, casualty insurance, etc.

Thursday, August 5, 1999: We went to closing today! I was hoping that the owner, Steve Schuh, would make it to the closing in person, since he and I both worked at Alex Brown & Sons back in 1993. He's starting a new job in Boston, though, and couldn't make it. Oh well. Al gave us a bottle of champagne at closing, and we took it back to our new boat! Wow! We finally own the boat of my dreams!

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