March 8-10, 2013 – Road Trip: Part Four (Last One!) – The Tayana

The Tayana.  The last of the road trip boats.  Recall Tayanas are Taiwanese-built boats, hand-crafted, so each one is unique, with a reputation of being sturdy as hell, built to survive the Apocalypse.  This one certainly met that mark.

Pics from Phone 764

Her size and stature were definitely impressive but the remainder I would have to describe only as interesting.  Kind of like when your blind date is described to you not as a smoking hot number but, rather, as “really interesting.”  (But I guess that’s better than “Well, her size and stature are definitely impressive.”).  There were so many things on the boat that the seller had rigged just for him that we just couldn’t see ourselves on it.  For example, the helm.  My God.  That thing had more instruments and gadgets on it than a NASA spacecraft.  You couldn’t even really see beyond it to look out on the waves or water.

Pics from Phone 768

(Yes, that’s the helm, I promise, look closely).

Another was the nav station.  There were panels upon panels of buttons, levers, toggles, etc.  It looked like you could conduct nuclear fission right there on the boat.

Pics from Phone 774

And, the seller was left handed, but the nav station was starboard, so he had rigged a special pullout slat for his elbow so he could write left-handed.  He had also installed a swivel stool for the nav station because it had no seat.  And, the nav station was all the way forward almost to the V-berth.  Definitely not ideal if you’re in the cockpit and need to get quickly to the radio or electronics or your charts.  And, the couple had been cruising on it for about ten years, so the thing was bogged down with buckets, bottles, straps and jerry cans.

Pics from Phone 764

Just a lot of little things that made her not quite right.  Plus, I feel sorry for the Tayana, anyway, having to follow the Hinterhoeller.  She just didn’t stand a chance.

Phillip and I had our minds made up.  We clamored back in the car to make the drive home, only to find we had stumbled onto Daytona Beach during the famed Biker Week.  We saw more leather and chaps in that one drive than I’ve seen in a lifetime (and I grew up a cowgirl), but the leather hydes were more human than bovine.  These women were weathered!

Pics from Phone 784

Biker babes

But we finally made it out of the Biker debacle and back onto the interstate and got our broker on the horn to put in an offer on the Hinterhoeller.  It was a long haul home but we were about as giddy as kids on Christmas morning.  We had found our boat!

March 8-10, 2013 – Road Trip: Part Three – The Hinterhoeller

Feeling refreshed from the coconut drinks in St. Pete, we headed down to Punta Gorda to check out the Hinterhoeller.

Pics from Phone 669

Hinterhoellers are Canadian-built with a reputation as solid, sea-worthy vessels.  We were looking at a 1985 Niagara that was primarily a one-owner.  The seller, Jack, had owned it since 1989 and you could just tell he loved that boat.  It was extremely well-cared for.  Polished and clean, organized and tidy.  She was most definitely Jack’s baby.  And, for good reason.  Jack had sailed the boat several times in the Mackinac race (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_Huron_to_Mackinac_Boat_Race) from Lake Huron to Mackinac Island, MI (a 290-mile freshwater course) single-handedly.  As a result, just about every system on the boat was streamlined and rigged for quick, easy, single-handed use.  He and his wife were now retired and and, as tough as it was for them, after decades of wonderful sails on the boat (from quick weekend trips to month-long voyages) they were ready to retire from the cruising as well.  Jack greeted us with a bright smile and big paw handshakes and jumped right on the boat with us to tinker around.

The Hinterhoeller had a spacious cockpit with plenty of room to kickback and stretch out at the helm.   To use the old cockpit/living room analogy – where the others had felt like the stuffy, formal “sitting” room you keep at the front of the house for show, this one felt like the comfy den in the back with the old, grungy couches where everyone piles in on Saturdays to watch the game.  It was just so damn comfortable.

IMG_1211

We felt the same about the galley and saloon down below.

IMG_1215

IMG_1212

IMG_1213

(And, a fun little boat fact for those useless knowledge junkies out there – much to my surprise, turns out the word saloon originates not from the old swinging doors, whiskey-busting joints you see in old westerns, but from boats!!  It’s true – it has to be – it’s on the internet: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/saloon).

It also came with a hard bottom dinghy and a 15 horse-power, 2 stroke outboard.  A rare find, and a bonus that had our broker salivating like a kid in a candy store.

Pics from Phone 668

Phillip and I felt the same (minus the salivating).  We were like teenagers with a crush, secretly doodling pictures of the boat in our Five Star spiral notebooks with little squiggles and hearts all around it.  It was all we could think about.  It was all we could talk about.  Looking back on it, it’s probably a good thing no one else made that trip with us, because they probably would have jumped right out of the Prius and hitchhiked home.  Phillip and I were enamored.  Images of the two of us with our hands on the wheel while the boat glided through crystal green waters filled our heads all the way to Daytona.

Pics from Phone 936

We still had one more boat to check out on this trip, the Tayana – a beast of a boat, but we both had a sneaking feeling we had already found ours.

March 8-10, 2013 – Road Trip: Part Deux – The Pacific Seacraft

Let’s see … where was I?  (With all the yard-selling, hog-tying and other Naan-sailing events I’ve been throwing in here, it’s easier than you think to forget).  Ahh, yes.  Day two of the Road Trip.  It was Saturday morning and we woke refreshed in St. Pete, ready to look at two old boats.  The 1990 Pacific Seacraft in St. Pete and the Hinterhoeller in Punta Gorda (another hour and a half haul). 

Pics from Phone 557

So, the 1990 Pacific Seacraft.  We were looking at this one to compare it to the 2000 model we had taken out for my first sail a few weeks back.  It must be true what they say – you always hold a bit of a soft spot for your first (that or a blissfully-skewed image at least) – because if the 2000 Seacraft was akin to my hot, high school boyfriend, the 1990 was the pot-bellied, balding version of him at the 20-year reunion.  Just not the same spark.  The 1990 also had not been well-maintained (think hair loss and weight gain for a boat), and it was all wood below so it felt very dark and constricted. 

Pics from Phone 584

We were interested but certainly not enamored.  Thankfully, we had a couple more to look at.  We also had a few hours to kill before we had to meet the broker in Punta Gorda, so we wandered around St. Pete a bit and stumbled onto a quaint little Farmer’s Market (http://www.saturdaymorningmarket.com/).  You’ll be thrilled to know I found it a complete happenstance that they called it the ‘Saturday Morning Market’ and we were there on a Saturday morning.  “Phillip, can you believe that?  What a coincidence!”  Phillip winced a bit from my wicked intelligence.  It is scary sometimes how smart I am.  Just scary.

But, we had a fantastic time toodling around that appropriately-named little place.  There was great art:

 art

Great food (we split a mouth-watering Margherita pizza):

 Pizza 1

And great drink (cocunut water right out of a coconut!):

 Coconut

(Yes, that’s Phillip and I.  We look that good.  It’s the coconut water.)

But, we had to pack it up and get back on the road.  The Hinterhoeller had certainly wooed our broker, and we were eager to lay eyes on her.  So, it was off to Punta Gorda for round two of the road trip boats.

March 8-10, 2013 – Road Trip: Part One – The Drive!

A lot of people have asked me: “A sailboat? Really? Nights and days on end, stuck together on a tiny, little boat? Annie, are you sure?” And, I can tell you, the best way to find out if you can spend hours cramped in a tiny space with someone without beginning to plot their slow, painful death, is to jump in the car and cover 1,200 miles in one weekend. That will tell you real quick. And tell us it did. Phillip and I, despite all odds, had a fantastic time.  Road trip!!

We had three boats to look at in three days:

1.  A 1990 Pacific Seacraft (same model as the “Mercedes” we had previously considered but ten years older and about half the price): St. Petersburg, FL.

2.   A 1985 Hinterhoeller Niagra (Canadian built, a new one for us, but one our broker repeatedly said he had a “really good feeling about”): Punta Gorda, FL.

3.   A 1989 Tayana 37 (recall this is the “tank with sails” builder and this boat reportedly had “all the bells and whistles”): Daytona Beach, FL.

It was going to be quite the haul (know that I debated saying “quite the hull” to really capitalize on a cheesy joke, but I decided to forego it):

Map 2

http://goo.gl/maps/YTSrB

We left on a Friday afternoon, right after my first visit to the knee doctor.  Good news it was not a torn ACL like I thought (I had been down that road before with a gymnastic’s injury to the left knee in high school and knew what an ordeal that would be – not to mention, an appalling hindrance to my sailing endeavors!) but I did sprain just about every ligament in there, particularly my MCL.

Knee

My knee was filled with fluid and had a range of only about zero to thirty degrees. Yeah, exactly … not much.  But, he drained that puppy and it felt like he sucked the spawn of Satan out of my knee.  (Yes, through a syringe.  Spawn are small.  But, word to the wise, don’t ever Google “spawn of Satan” looking for an image … just don’t).  Then he slapped a brace on me and sent me packing.  So, Phillip and I, and the newly-engaged torture rack on my leg, hit the road.

We made it down to Ocala, Florida around 9:00 p.m. and stopped at Amrit Palace, a tucked-away little gem of an Indian restaurant (http://amritpalace.com/), to gorge on some incredible chicken tiki masala (recipe for the foodies out there: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/chicken-tikka-masala) and piles of soft, warm Naan bread.  We finally made it to the hotel in St. Pete around 11:00 p.m. that night, exhausted from the trip but eager to get up the next day and poke around on some beautiful boats!  The morning would begin with a visit to the 1990 Pacific Seacraft in St. Pete, with the Hinterhoeller in Punta Gorda slated for the afternoon.   We crashed hard, without any meds, while visions of sailboats danced in our heads …

March 7, 2013 – Knots Landing

So … I assume, to sail, you have to know how to tie a bunch of knots.  Big, thick, heavy ones, used to swing the rope around your head like a lasso and launch it out to save a drowning deck hand, as well as small, quick, handy ones, that you can tie in less than two seconds flat and throw your hands up in the air when you’re done – like hog-tying a steer.  (For the head-scratchers: http://youtu.be/7t6-LRJ_JRc.  And, I hope you didn’t miss the commentary at the end “These are some fresh, lost, wee-looking little kicking boogers here today!”  Good stuff).

But – back to the wold of sailing.  Someone shouts “Grab that line and tie a monkey’s fist in it!” and I should know what to do, right?  Right.  Of course!  Any sailor worth his salt would.  So, Phillip and I decide one night to delve into the wonderful world of knot-tying.  This is knot (pun intended) the most entertaining way to spend the evening, I can assure you, but it does pair well with a glass or two of wine.  Three at most.  After that, you begin to lose dexterity and cognitive function and find the next day that you got a little too creative with shoelaces, apron strings, and any other tie-able things around the house that cannot now be un-tied.  Trust me; I speak from experience.

So … knot tying.  I recommend mastering the bowline.  It’s a simple, easy knot, that holds tight but is easy to break free, and it can be taught in all of two minutes (three post-wine).  A cleat hitch, used to fasten lines securely to cleats on the boat or dock, is also a must.  A figure eight is also great to stop a line from running through a pulley, and the clove hitch is a given to tie the boat to a piling.

There are many more knots you could spend hours learning, but I’m assured there are only a handful you will really need on the boat.  As for the other 800 fancy ones you could spend hours mastering, you’re likely to completely forget them anyway when you-know-what hits the fan and there’s even a remote chance they would come in handy.  In all, I recommend spending an evening with a good knot-tying book and some string to conquer the basics. And, while I recommend pairing many things with wine (because, let’s face it, it just makes everything better), in this case you’ll find the bottle (a full one, so drink slowly!) serves as a good wrap-around base to practice the essentials.  Like the bowline shown below!

Wine knot

Master them on land, and you’ll be a whiz at them on the boat.  There will also be many other skills to practice and pick up along the way – splicing, for one.  But, that’s another post for a nicer day.  You’ll need to suffer a few knotty ones first, so get to it!  Cheers!

March 6, 2013 – On the Hunt for a Good ‘Ole Boat

While the Pacific Seacraft was undoubtedly a quality boat, we were still struggling to justify the price.  It was going to require some serious penny-pinching for us just to get the boat and another disheartening sum to get it in cruising condition.  Instead of “Yes, I’ll have the veal scallopini, please,” we were going to be that embarrassing couple that brings their own PB&Js to the restaurant and then cleans out the table condiments and the mint bowl on the way out.  You really don’t get invited back much after a scene like that plays out, trust me.  So, after some thought and a smart nudge from our broker (thanks Kevin!), we decided to take a look at some “Toyotas,” i.e., older, more affordable boats that boasted the same cruising capability for half the price.

One of the first boats that fit this bill was a Morgan 382 that had just come in from a circumnavigation.  Yes, that means exactly what you think it means.  All the way around the world.  Not only is that just awesome.  Period.  But the fact that the boat had been used, really used, and had proven itself, was definitely a confidence-builder, and it was priced well.

puerto seguro

But, others had the same idea and were chomping at the bit to see this boat too, so we had to move quick.  Luckily, Phillip already had a trip on the books down to Panama City where they were docked so he squeezed in a detour to the marina to check it out.  Sadly, though, it had two major downfalls.  The cockpit benches were cut out on each side to allow maneuverability around the massive (a.k.a. big, honking) steering wheel.

CIMG3268

Meaning, you could not stretch out in the cockpit.  This was a deal-breaker for us.  As Phillip explained it to me: “The cockpit is like your living room.  It’s where you’ll spend most of your time.  It’s got to be comfortable.”  So, the T-shape cutout in the cockpit was a big downer, but that wasn’t the only thing.  Phillip also found, while it was beautiful, the galley and salon felt tight and cramped, even for a 38-foot boat.

CIMG3250

Like I said in the beginning, you just know when you step on the boat, and Phillip knew when he stepped on this one that it wasn’t right for us.

So, the Morgan was a no-go.  But, to optimize Phillip’s time in PC, our trusty broker had lined up a viewing for him of a Tayana 37 that had already sold but was still in the marina and available for some good poking around.  Tayanas are built in Taiwan and are hand-crafted, each one of them, which makes each one unique, and the woodwork is exquisite.  Think carvings and shapings worthy of an old Spanish chapel.  They’re also sturdy as hell.  It’s like a tank … on the water … with sails on it.

Tayana 37

Phillip really liked the build of the Tayanas so we decided to add them to the list.  In all, we knew we were pleased with the quality and performance of the older boats, not to mention the affordability, so a Toyota it was going to be.  We were now squarely on the hunt for a good ‘ole (emphasis on ‘ole) boat!

March 3, 2013 – Knee Schmee, Let’s Ski!!

Phillip and I had a ski trip on the books for some time and the time came to hit the slopes while we were mulling over the decision to put in an offer on the Pacific Seacraft.  Phillip and I are now convinced that the best place to ponder a big purchase has to be the ski lift.  We spent a good bit of time in the blistery cold imagining ourselves laid out on the sunny deck of a sailboat.  Big Sky Montana it was and another first for me.  Skiing!  What an incredible feeling.  It felt kind of like my old inline roller skating days (minus the stone-washed jeans and a side ponytail) but completely different.

After a few lessons, I picked it up pretty quickly but unfortunately took a gnarly tumble on a big powder day and, sadly, did not have a yard sale (for those of you scratching your head right now: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=yard%20sale.  And, just for fun: http://youtu.be/bVhCefQL-fs).

Unfortunately, my skis stayed on and my knee took the brunt of it.  I heard an audible pop and she swelled up about the size of a cantaloupe.  But, thankfully, skiing was about the one thing that didn’t hurt her so I kept at it.  We spent 10 fantastic days in the mountains.

Pics from Phone 490

Phillip skied from the top of the summit (11,166 feet!) several times, once in an almost total white-out, claiming only 5 foot visibility.  After a few après ski drinks by the fire, though, that, of course (as all good stories do) evolved into “I could barely see my boots!” then “Not even my glove right in front of my face!”  Or so was the tale …

Pics from Phone 495

I played around on the greens, then graduated to blues and dabbled once or twice on some blacks before the week’s end.

Pics from Phone 483

We had a fantastic time and forgot, for just a moment, about our boat-buying endeavors.  Although an annual ski trip is now a must, we eventually had to head back and make a decision about this boat.  We returned to Pensacola, I called the orthopedic doc and told him I was busted, and Phillip called the hook-mouth broker and told him the Pacific Seacraft was probably outside our budget.  I was on the mend and we were still on the hunt.