The Insanity Starts
On a warm summer day in 2012 while visiting friends in Michigan, someone in our group had the idea to rent a boat and go for an outing on Lake Michigan. We had some fun and laughs and, on the way back to the dock, my brain had a thought that my filter did not catch, and I blurted out; "we should retire and live on a boat". Giggles and some eye rolls ensued and there were a few questions of how that would even work.
We went to dinner and had a few more thoughts on the matter and then without warning we had agreed that retiring on a boat would be a great idea. We slowly formulated a tentative plan of the earliest we could retire, and the proverbial snowball started down the hill.
We asked questions of the almighty Google and sought guidance from the wisdom of YouTube. We quickly determined that being retired on a sailboat was out of the question for us. We did not want to do that much work to get from point A to point B. I learned to sail when I was younger and recall that there was not a sailboat built that I could not easily crash and possibly sink; so, a power yacht it was. What do we do now…
Planning the Plan of the Plan
Now that we had the idea, we formulated the plan. We calculated the earliest retirement date, started watching the housing market, looking at yacht prices and making the first of many lists and spreadsheets.
We started looking at yachts and taking notes on the details. Using boats.com to find captains reports on fuel burn, weight and estimates we slowly narrowed down what we were looking to purchase. We did not need to go anywhere fast, but we also wanted to be able to get out of the way of any storm that may start brewing and heading our direction. We also did not want to have to overnight a Gulf Stream crossing when going to the Bahamas. Trawlers, at least good ones, had and still have a high resale value so they were out of the question. Fast moving, low profile, day cruisers were not an option because we wanted just a little more room and visibility while driving. We settled on a flybridge yacht and started looking.
At the time we were finding that yachts at the 10-year-old mark were around 10% of the original price making a new $2 million yacht around $200k. Most of these yachts had less than 1000 hours on the engines and we were getting excited and hopeful. We started planning to limit vacations and set a date for downsizing, selling the house and educating ourselves on the process. A few years of planning, research, boat shows and unfortunate seminars later, we were ready, then, COVID-19 hit.
The Pandemic Panic Rollercoaster
Safety bar check, please keep all hands and feet inside the ride at all times and enjoy the vomit inducing ride of your life. We have now cleaned up any credit issues, started putting away deposit money, cut our expenses and have started off loading items not "boat friendly" at garage sales and Goodwill. We did a video walkthrough with friends and family and put their request on a list, so we made sure people got what they wanted. After taking whatever dryer lint was left in people's pockets for the larger items that no one wanted, we were truly heading to our point of no return. We decided to reskin the deck in the backyard and make a few other upgrades to get the best offer for the house possible. We were all set and on track, nothing could stop us now. Well, maybe short of a global pandemic, but what were the chances of that, right?
6 months after the pandemic, the housing market started to shift, at 8 months we could see the trends were up to sell. Then there was a complete panic buying situation and we started getting phone calls from realtors asking if we wanted to sell our home. Prices were rising fast and we jumped in and sold. We had 90 days to move out and the final runs to Goodwill started. We downsized from a large home to a small apartment in the Seabrook Texas area. Now all we had to do was buy the boat...yeah right.
The job market was insane, no one had employees, no one wanted to go back to work. It seemed like everyone was waiting on the next government pandemic check that wasn't coming. Everyone except the thousands of people who somehow had access to a large disposable amount of cash to buy up every boat available...anywhere. For months we searched and watched as boats that were once $120k rose up to $200k. We watched bidding wars for yachts that had significant damage and needed major repairs. Boats that were considered unsellable were now a hot commodity. After getting a call not once, not twice but three times from our broker stating a yacht we were on route to see, was already under contract with a backup contract. We found a 1999 yacht that checked most of boxes, looked like there was minimal hull work needed. The yacht was in Maryland and we got a contract started, bought tickets to fly, set up a rental car surveyors and secured financing. We were flying out the next Friday and if all went well with the survey, we were planning our drive back to Texas with the yacht to start a repair and refit schedule. We went from having financing secured on a Monday to being told the bank decided not to finance anything older than a 2001 on Thursday.
Luckily we were still within the time frame to cancel the contract and get our deposit back. Unfortunately, the seller and his broker were upset even though we had no choice in the matter. We had wired our substantial deposit but they decided to mail us check back. Our deadline to find a yacht and start our adventure in mid 2022 was closing fast and we had to make the decision that if we did not have a yacht by the end of September 2021, it wasn't going to happen for another year, maybe two.
Getting Fit with Boat Yoga
Just as our hopes were all but lost, Our broker called to tell us he has a boat that is going to be listed in the morning. We told him to start the contract and we were on the way to look at it. We were lucky enough to have the money in the bank to transfer even though we had not received the deposit back from the boat we lost financing on. Luckily this yacht was in very good condition looked well kept and was just 30 minutes from our apartment.
We rushed through the process and had everything in place to make this yacht ours. If the yacht passed trials, we were moving forward. We immediately started ordering the hardest to find electronics that we knew had to be replaced on whatever yacht we bought, mainly the radio and AIS. We got our sea trial and haul out date within a few days and we started getting excited. We went to see her again and started making assessments of visible areas of concern and questions we wanted to ask the surveyor.
We were very lucky that the engines had low hours and both the mechanical surveyor and sea trial surveyor were saying that this was the best Carver they had seen in a long time. Everything was clean, everything seemed to be working. A few minor issues to start off, no working freshwater pump and a head that wasn't pulling a vacuum. The haul out revealed a small delamination spot and that was it. The majority of the items we had to fix on the survey report was relatively minor, things like, new fire extinguishers, new flares, replacing carbon monoxide monitors and a few other small items. The largest item was the raw water pump on the generator that needed to be replaced.
After a complete engine service and fuel polishing, she was ready to move to a covered dock for work. We started an extensive refit that took 35 days. We had purchased and had on hand the majority of the items we needed to complete the work. During the refit we found some items that needed some attention, but we got it completed with a minimum of delays. The major issues that slowed us down was a previous owner's extensive use of expanding foam to fix most problems they ran into. We were able to meet our deadline of moving onboard by December 1st of 2021. Once on board, projects were a little slower in completion, but we had less projects to complete.
We have her scheduled to be out of the water, April 4 through the 8th 2022, completing the last of the needed repairs and upgrades before departing on our travels…but that is a story you can see on our social media feeds.