**Searching around a small world for the right boat**
**By Bob Tis**
**How do any of us find each other?**
My attorney, a feisty little bulldog of a character named Eric, had been looking for a sailboat for a long time. This kid we both used to know back in the day, when we lived in New Hampshire, quit the band and became a boat broker. Now Forbes Horton is the king of commissions and sells more boats in the maritime hub of Annapolis than most anybody else. He called Eric and said he had the perfect Tartan 37 for him at a fair price. Eric just got on a plane and bought that sweet boat. Unfortunately it doesn’t happen that easy for me. Forbes knows my budget, he never calls.
I was speaking with a fellow named Gary on the telephone a couple days ago. He was ensconced in the outskirts of Quito Ecuador, drinking coffee and listening to rock and roll on his computer. You could hear the birds chirping in his back yard. Gary is selling a very interesting sailboat. The designer of this 31 foot sailing vessel built it for himself in his yard in Long Beach California. He launched it and sailed it to Hawaii and then Fiji. He sailed back and lived on the boat in Alaska for a while and then returned to Long Beach. Gary bought the boat from the builder twenty years ago and trucked it across the country. He sailed it up and down the east coast and almost went to Cuba.
“I had my papers from the Clinton administration,” Gary told me. “I was so close.”
I told Gary that is why I wanted his boat, to sail to Cuba. Silence. I felt like I injured him with those words.
Gary said he and his girlfriend were in Key West. They were all provisioned and were going to sail in tandem down to Cuba with friends on another boat, when they heard a nasty clang in the engine.
They talked about leaving anyway but in the end decided to put a new engine in the boat and sail back home to North Carolina. Later Gary sailed back to Florida and cruised down the St. Johns River all the way to Palatka where he put his boat in dry storage. Life happened and he went on a vacation to Ecuador. He fell in love, got married and now is not really interested in coming back except for a brief visit.
Buying home made boats can be a real benefit sometimes because they are built to last. I bought a 33-foot bullet proof sloop from a guy in Boston in the early 1990‘s. When the designer and the builders of the craft were putting it together in their backyard in the 1950’s, fiberglass resin was a relatively new thing. The guys would take core samples of the boat down to Carson Beach in South Boston and fire a 12 gauge shotgun at the fiberglass. When the bullet didn’t go through the fiberglass they decided they had their desired thickness for the
Gary told me equally fantastic stories of his boat. Unfortunately dry storage didn’t work out that well for Gary. A freak storm lifted some of the tarps covering the boat and rain flooded the inside of the craft completely.
“All the electronics were ruined,” Gary told me. “If you really want the boat, I will fly up and help you rewire it.”
This guy clearly loves his boat. He sent me pictures of the water damage on e-mail while we chatted in real time.
“How old are you?,” he asked me. “I’m 64,” he said, “and I never thought I would live to see this,” he said of our technology.
I found Gary through a web site called BoatsandShore.com. It is a marine resource publication that puts together buyers and sellers of everything nautical. I was flabbergasted to find out that Donny Douglas, the guy who used to own the Rivers Edge Marina out by Hurricane Patty’s bar, started the web site. I went out to see him at his new location just off Holmes Boulevard in West Augustine. An affable Floridian with an easy smile, Don is making dreams happen for people all over the planet with his virtual boat show. I don’t know how he is going to make any money because the site is completely free. But, sometimes, when it comes to boats, money is beside the point.
(Bob Tis writes from his home in Crescent Beach. His books are available at LYMI Oddities in St. Augustine Beach or by e-mail via the contact form