I bought a boat, sight unseen. The boat was a Paceship 29, and it was a mess. The owner had a new boat arriving and his club was totally full...not a single
slip available. So he had to vacate his slip to make space for his new boat. He was already asking a very low price
, but everyone who came to see was off-put by the bent stanchions, and the ...well... mess. I mean this guy never tidied or cleaned up a thing.
I spoke with him on the phone
. A few email
to get a list of equipment
and assurances (like the engine
runs and the sails
go up and down) in writing, and I was ready to make an offer.
I was a 3 hour drive from the boat. I wasn't going to drive 3 hours, see the boat, drive 3 hours home, get my gear
, drive 3 hours back to the boat. The simplest way to do it was to buy it, sight unseen, expecting the worst. Then get the wife to drive me down with my gear
, and I would sail it home (about 150 miles of great lake).
I phoned him and as politely as I could offered him $100.
He didn't even flinch...he agreed on the spot. That made me nervous.
The following weekend, I loaded up a rental mini-van with all my gear...gps, flares, foulies, food
, handheld VHF
, lifejackets, etc...a mountain of gear. We drove to the marina and made the deal. I spent most of that day cleaning
. I removed a (tube) tv, full size microwave oven
, boxes of junk and more junk. And I cleaned. I went through tons of paper towels, windex, vim, rags, etc. However, in just a few (exhausting) hours, the wife left for home, leaving me with the boat, and my two small kids!!!!
Yes, I brought my kids
The first night was awesome...fireworks for canada
day. The next morning I started the engine
and headed out. I soon found that the ancient autohelm 3000
was impossible to use. Oh-oh...hand steering
. The atomic 4 ran, but even with no wind
we were barely making 3 knots. After about 3 hours, the engine revved and we increased in speed by another knot
. I think the fourth cyclinder had just kicked in.
I was aiming for Cobourg, but was happy enough to make it to Newcastle, about half way that first day. Thats also when I found out we had no fenders. I taught my kids
how to hitchhike that day, so we could get some dinner in town...there was no stove on the boat.
The next day I was up at 5am for an early start. The engine would not start. And it was the sunday of a long weekend. While my kids slept, I tried every trick I knew to get the engine going. Finally, I got it going...what a relief, and by 9am we were headed off into the lake in heavy fog
. We made it to Cobourg and had lots of time there to enjoy the canada
day weekend festival. The next day, with more experience under my belt, it took less than an hour to get the engine going, and we happily motored into the bay of Quinte. Halfway through the murray canal, while going through a swing bridge, the engine coughed, sputtered, and died...but just as my heart was exploding, it sputtered back to life.
At Belleville, we stopped for more gas. After filling up, I could not turn the ignition key, it just would not move. I sent my daughter for WD40 and pliers while the gas dock
people held my lines, urging me to get out of there since there was a lineup of circling boats waiting for fuel
. Again, crisis averted, and I learned a new trick with the key.
That night, my kids invented a new game
called "who has the worst boat at the marina". They would continue to play this game
at every place we visited from then on...and almost always won.
The last night we spent at anchor
at Prinyers Cove, a pretty spot, not far from home. We swam, cleaned, and ate every morsel of food
we had left on the boat. In the morning, there was an inch of water in the main cabin
. The automatic bilge pump
had failed and we were sinking. Thank goodness for manual pumps. Also, shag carpet has no place on a boat, especially when you are very slowly sinking.
Long story short, we made it home safely. I spent a huge amount of time in hardware
stores that summer, looking at fuel
line hoses and fittings. I bought new batteries, new stove, fenders, lines, and disconnected anything/everything from the electrical system
I couldn't identify. I ripped out the carpet below and replaced the automatic bilge pump
. The local boat store loved me and my credit card.
But we had some great sailing in the thousand islands that year. And with only a few exceptions, the engine ran great all summer long. After a while, I even started shutting it off while sailing.