Monday, April 23, 2012

The 'What If's'

Analysis Paralysis - (n.) Refers to over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation, so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome. A decision can be treated as over-complicated, with too many detailed options, so that a choice is never made, rather than try something and change if a major problem arises.

So we went down to Merri-Mar Yacht Basin on the banks of the Merrimac River in Newburyport on Saturday to climb aboard "High Hopes" the 1981 39' Mariner that we'd found on Yacht World. High Hopes' story is bittersweet, she'd been loved and sailed by a local couple for the past 15 years and lovingly cared for in the off-season by Merri-Mar. About 2 years ago the elderly gentleman took ill. The folks at Merri-Mar and his wife were determined to get him out on the water in High Hopes at least once in the Summer of 2010. They launched her and the husband and wife went sailing 2-3 afternoons that summer. She was put "on the hard" in the yard in Fall 2010, covered in shrink wrap like she's had done every year they've owned her and there she's sat since. The gentleman got sicker and sadly passed away last month. His widow is now putting his boat up for sale. We climbed up on the ladder, through the hole in the shrink wrap and aboard this gorgeous but worn looking lady.  So, needless to say this boat needs some TLC. She needs a good scrubbing, her portholes opened to some fresh air, she needs someone to love her again. 

But that's not with every boat we'll look at in our price range, she needs some more involved work too. Her sole needs replacing. Yes, this boat needs a sole. The sole of a boat is the interior cabin floor and High Hopes' floor is showing her 30 years and her 2 years in the boat yard. She's got some water coming in and her floor is showing signs around where the floor meets the interior cabinets, etc. 
Her teak floors are not looking well... 

Notice the discoloring on the teak floors where it meets the cabinets?

This is the starboard settee looking aft, the bilge is under that hatch on the right. 
Now lucky for us Tim actually has replaced soles before down in Florida when working as a shipwright. But the boat broker said the million dollar thing, "You have to be ready for what you find once you rip up the floor." And with a 30 year old boat that might not go well. 

Replacing floors is one thing but this boat also needs a full electronics upgrade. She's sailed in sight of shore the last 15 years and has never needed full GPS, satellite, chart plotters, etc. etc. that we'll be needing to take off to points south. The electronics for a boat have come A LONG way since the 80's and we want to be sure we have the best, most reliable electronics we can for safety. Plus we'll certainly need to install a stereo system throughout the boat - I mean what would Tim & Jill be without our tunes!?
That's some pretty outdated electronic in the Nav Station
There are some really GREAT things about High Hopes too -she's got a great layout below deck. Lots of space, high head room, big aft cabin, 'spacious' galley, certainly live aboard quality. Plus there's a little set of stairs (companion way) to get below deck rather than a ladder so Toby Dog will be happy. 
Great, workable galley, lots of counter space & I love the little tile backsplash!

Comfy, roomy main salon, see the stairs out to the cockpit?

Roomy, airy aft cabin with tons of light & this was under shrink wrap!

So now comes the wonderful world of the "what if's". What if we buy this boat and we find rotted out core in the hull? What if it needs total stanchion replacement above deck? What if the engine is shot from sitting for 2 years? What if we run out of money to do all she needs done? Some of these questions would certainly be answered by the Marine Survey which we'd get done after we put in an offer. We'd have 30 days to get the survey done and then either adjust the offer or walk away based off what we find out. But still, as my best friend Catta texted me - "The What If's will eat you alive." She's a solid boat. She's got a great layout below deck. She needs some TLC and elbow grease. She'll need some substantial cash flow to do more. This much we know. It's the unknown that we're grappling with. We are trying to avoid 'analysis paralysis' because we could end up doing nothing and never fulfill this dream we have.

As we discussed it all over beers on the Brown Cow's deck I said this, "Inherent in this entire plan is risk, buying a 30-year old used sailboat, retrofitting it and sailing away is risky. There is no way around that. We just have to either accept the inherent risk and move forward being OK with it or we need to walk away from the plan." There's no process we can go through, no algorithm on a computer we can run or pro/con list we can make that will minimize the risk and that's the beauty in all this - THIS IS WHAT LIVING IS ALL ABOUT! Nothing ventured, nothing gained. We want stories to tell in our 70's and we won't get those stories if we don't take some risks, some leaps of faith. However, we can be smarter about the amount and severity of the risks we take on which is why we're planning on hiring a boat broker to work with us. Someone who looks at used boats for a living and can tell us what things will cost to fix and what's just not worth wasting time with.

 Let's face it, buying a 1975 Volkswagen Bus from a hippie from northern Maine with no inspection or anything was risky but look at the rewards and fun that has reaped! 

So, we still have VERY high hopes and haven't ruled out High Hopes as a potential but we also agreed that we need to see more boats as a point of reference and hiring a boat broker is our next step. We are excited and very willing to take on the incredible adventure that is part of buying a used boat because for us:

"Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure!"

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