Friday, January 11, 2013

Cold Feet

Angie at the wheel of Small World

September 22, 2012
On Thursday we received the survey from Ed Rowe, and on Friday we found a message on our voice mail to call him. (With our being in Southwest Harbor, Maine, with sporadic connection to the web, communications were slow.) The survey, except for one thing, was very positive, praising the condition of Small World and placing its market value at $5000 more than our offer. (Replacement value of the boat was $650,000!) I called Ed on Friday. The one thing he couldn't understand, he said, was why Todd had painted the bottom with an ablative paint, one that is supposed to wear away with the motion of the boat, instead of a standard anti-fouling paint. Ablative paints, he said, were never used on sailboats and trawlers because they did not work as intended on hulls moving at slow speeds. He did not recommend trying to remove the paint, since this would involve sanding down the bottom and possibly ruining the barrier coat that Todd had put on.

We called Todd and caught him on a bus going to see a doctor about cataract surgery. We let him know that we were upset about the problems we might have with this. Since it was not a good time to talk, he said he would gather information for us and promised to get back to us later. 

At this time we were trying to work out the details of financing a 38 year old boat—not an easy thing to do, we were finding out. As the day went on, Angie and I discussed our misgivings and wondered if we should withdraw from the deal. Finally, in the evening, I told Angie that I was feeling very uncomfortable with the whole business. She said she was, too. As we talked it over, it became clear that the source of our discomfort was not so much the bottom paint (which Todd turned out to be right about) as it was questioning our ability to handle a boat of this size, with this much sail and so many complicated systems.

 Handling our Tartan 30, Escapade, had been like sailing a dinghy compared to Small World, a boat weighing in at 15 tons. Even though I once held a license for operating a 100 ton sailing vessel, the license was based on my knowledge of the law and my experience sailing smaller craft on the Great Lakes. Angie was also uncomfortable with the speed at which all of this was taking place, and I could see her point. We had hastily signed an agreement to buy the boat after a very (for us) inadequate sailing experience, taking her a few miles up the intracoastal waterway and sailing her back under very light winds. What's more, we didn't have our financing together and would have to take out a loan to complete the deal. That made us very nervous.

Finally we came up with a proposal that we hoped Todd and Gayle would accept. We would sail with them from Vero Beach up to St. Simon Sound in Georgia, where we were supposed to take possession of the boat, under their intensive tutelage. If at the end of that time we were not entirely comfortable with buying the boat, we would pay them well for their time, consider it a sailing seminar for us, and be on our way.

Understandably, Todd and Gayle were not happy with this suggestion. They felt, rightly, that we needed to make up our minds whether to go through with the contract or not. They were anxious to get back to the islands, (Georgia was in the opposite direction they would be going if we backed out of the deal ) and besides, what we were suggesting was far outside the usual procedure for buying a boat, not to say illegal. With some regret, especially since Todd and Gayle are such great people, but also with relief, we withdrew our offer. We just felt that Small World, as good a boat as she is, was not for us. Todd and Gayle graciously returned our deposit and wished us the best. 

But that didn't extinguish our dream.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, Jim & Angie —

    I just finished reading everything so far. Talk about suspense & human drama — wonderful writing, Jim! Plus, knowing nothing about serious sailing, except that it scares the #!$* out of me, it's fascinating to read from the safety & comfort of my study here on dry land.

    Wow. I feel bad that you guys had to "change course," but I figure that relief & peace of mind must be utmost factors in realizing such an undertaking.

    Now I'm in suspense as to whether you'll be looking for another boat...but whatever happens, I'm looking forward to the next chapter.

    ~~ Stan