Thursday, May 21, 2015

Journey to the boat

How Eximius Found us

I had been researching for a larger boat for a couple of years using all of the, today, usual resources, including: Yatchworld, Sailboatlistings, and what seems like all of the published magazines that we receive each month. It's a challenge to find the boat that meets both our requirements and expectations. It was getting old but perseverance is the only way to go.

Many of the friends that I talked to that had a sailing background often commented that you'll find the boat but the best boat will find you!

We bought books about how to inspect the aging sailboat knowing that we could not afford to buy a New boat (again). I knew that the 'new to us' boat would have a diesel engine, so I studied diesel engine mechanics (there's a really good series of videos on OffCenterHarbor.com ), we both studied books on Navigation, Seamanship, boat electronics, Docking, and the list goes on. All the while looking around the web to find suitable boats and gradually developing a priority list of 'must haves' so that we could whittle down the huge inventory of sailboats available on the web.

Gradually we 'designed' our boat. Several features were must haves: I favored the Single Spreader Mast: My opinion was that the simpler the mast, the stronger but did not go all out and opt for the shoudless Freedom boats. It had to have a Diesel engine, just don't like having a Gas fuel tank below decks. It had to have a Fridge Freezer, I like to have ice in my drinks! And it had to be from a major manufacturer with a solid web based support group. 

Our first sailboat was a 2005 Catalina 250 Water ballast and the support given by the Catalina-Capri-25s.org site has been incredible. There has not been a single subject of boat maintenance on our C250 that the site did not cover! and if a 'new' subject appeared, the responses on that site are excellent. 

We joined a sailing club locally and dove into it, getting involved as soon as possible, givers gain! The members of that club have been terrific. We have had the chance to sail on their boats, crew on races, socialize both in groups and private Dinners. They have made us very welcome. I can heartedly recommend joining a good sailing club. But get involved.

So we forged on with our search for that ideal boat. It has to be capable of taking us to the fabulous coasts of the bahamas,  to the multitude of anchorages along the east coast to Maine, and the fabled Annapolis sailing grounds.

During a stint at the Miami strictly sail boat show, I met a club member that had recently delivered a boat to stuart from the islands. Tom knew the owner had a boat for sale. I took the info but didn't follow up.

The search continued, we even started to plan; viewing boats in Miami, Tampa, Punta Gorda,  and elsewhere, but research indicated problems before we got on the road to see them.

Then, out of the blue, I received a call from Deke, he called me asking if I was still looking for a sailboat.

Deke's description of his boat was intriguing. We decided to actually go see the boat. He had heard from Tom, the club member I met at the show.

We drove up to Stuart Florida on Friday.  My boss was OK with me taking the day off. We arrived at 2:30 and met with Deke & Chris And quickly headed to their boat, a Catalina 34 Fin keel tall rig.

The boat was definitely special, not the greatest condition,  but loaded  and very well prepared for cruising. And as I said,  Special.

As we drove home with dozens of phone camera pics, we talked about the boat as we detoured to our Daughters home in Loxahatchee before going south back home.

There were so many "what if's" that my head was spinning. I missed two turns on the route despite having our route set on our truck's GPS.

All weekend we discussed the boat. Searching for slips was a challenge, but we found one in Fort Lauderdale. With a fin keel, we needed a depth of 6' else the boat would sit in the mud.

The boat had found us.