Boat Shopping Should Be Fun

“It should!  It should be a fun experience,” she said.  “Not a frustrating one.”  

Pam Wall told me this, just recently when I was speaking to her over the phone to get her contribution for the Gift of Cruising announcement video.  We’re getting so close I knew I had to get my ducks in order!  And, Pam said this sort of off-the-cuff, but it stuck with me:

“Boat shopping should be fun.”

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Many of you out there may be boat shopping now or will be soon and maybe you’ve found the whole experience stressful, overwhelming, aggravating.  I’m here to say: “Don’t!”  The shopping is a fundamental part of the whole cruising experience.  You are finding your boat, your vessel, your ticket to world travel.  She will carry you, protect you, enlighten you.   Once you begin to sail her, learn her finicky ways, crack open her chest, her ribs and start working on all the tiny little wires and hoses inside, you will see she has a soul.  She will become the most integral part of your cruising plan.  If it takes time to find her, then it takes time.  Don’t rush it.  Savor every bit of the journey.  

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Looking back on mine and Phillip’s initial boat-shopping days, I realize it’s a good thing I was so blissfully ignorant about the whole cruising experience then.  It freed me from over-analyzing the boats we stepped aboard and worrying too much about whether I would want a drop-down table or a permanent one, whether a separate shower stall was “a must” or whether we simply had to have a generator.  Because it was all so new to me and because I really didn’t know what life on a boat was going to be like, I just went with the flow and soaked it all in.  Phillip was saddled with the task of worrying about everything, but he really didn’t.  He had a few key features he knew he wanted.  Aside from that, all that was required was an affordable, well-maintained seaworthy yet fun-to-sail boat that “felt right” when he stepped aboard.  Those were his very words.  So, that was my only indicator: which boat “felt right” to me.  It eliminated all stress from the equation.  

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This one certainly “felt right” to me.  The interior of our Niagara 35 before she was gutted at the yard.

With that factor gone, our boat-shopping experience turned into an adventure.  In fact, it was so much fun, the story that came out of the first boat we looked at─you may recall the tale of my very first sail, HookMouth and “I’m buried to port!”─still stands as my first post on this blog: February 16, 2013 ─ My First Sail.  It was also my first article published in Cruising Outpost and even made its way into my first Amazon best-selling book, Salt of a Sailor.  If a story that good can come out of it, surely it’s an experience worth savoring.  

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Pam Wall inspired me to write this post as I worried many of you who are boat-shopping now may be cursing the whole endeavor.  Maybe you’re finding it frustrating, irritating, stressful and my goal is to turn that around.  “Boat-shopping should be fun,” she said.  Try to treat each new boat you look at as worthy of being “The One,” assuming it─as it must─”feels right” when you step aboard.  If it doesn’t, give it the opportunity to at least become a great story to tell some day:

“Remember that boat we looked at in Tarpon Springs?”  

“Oh Lord …  and the owner.  What was his name?”

“Oh yeah.  Sammy the self-proclaimed snake-handling expert.”

You never know what can come out of it.  Savor it all.  Your boat is out there waiting for you.  I can assure you.  And, you want to find her, not a “she’ll-do” filler because you grew weary of looking.  Be patient.  

You can’t hurry love.

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WHOA.  Only $10 more to go.  This is happening kids!  Who wants the last opportunity to say you were part of it when it all started?

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