Thursday, May 20, 2010

First Impressions of the Boat

I'm not very good at it, but I know the value of recording first impressions of things as soon as possible after an event; I know that the mind is not a perfect data manager. Yet, it's hard because the notion that my first impressions will fade and be overwritten and mixed with later impressions is not intuitive. Okay, Dream Catcher:

I was about 100 yards away when I first saw the boat in her slip, from the stern. It was exciting, but not really remarkable. Yet, walking down the dock she is on, from about 30 feet away, the height of the bow formed a very strong impression. Her bow was lined up with all of the other 40+ foot boats around her and the difference was dramatic. I took this picture of Eleanor near the bow, but it doesn't really do it justice.

I tried to take it all in at that point. The impression was satisfying. Though I had not even been aboard at that point, I felt immediately like our decision to make an offer on this boat, and to spend all of the money and time to come see it in Mexico, was just right; I felt strongly it was right.
Going aboard, everything seemed bigger than I imagined. The cockpit was bigger, the decks were wider. The lines and rigging were heavier. I sat in the cockpit for a minute, in different places, and I was relieved to find it felt comfortable--large enough and with coamings high enough.

She was a little rougher than I expected. The non-skid is faded and the paint lines not as sharp as I imagined. The brightwork was not.

I'm jumping ahead, but the engine was unbelievably quiet and smooth.

Down below, I was immediately satisfied. It was much more than I imagined. Not just in terms of space, but in terms of condition. The pictures on the listing make the interior woodwork appear dingy, dirty. In person, it looks great; I would feel comfortable moving my stuff right aboard--after some light cleaning.

The locker spaces are all dingy white and need to be repainted, all of them. The painted cabin surfaces, such as around the ports, need to be painted, dingy.

The plastic ports do not open and are opaque, nearly impossible to see through. Replacing these with opening ports (with tempered glass) will be an expensive upgrade (roughly $250 times seven ports), but probably near the top of our list--fresh air and visibility are important.

The teal-colored canvas dodger and coverings topside are not my favorite color, as I imagined, but down below, the teal-colored upholstery is not too bad.

All of the drawers and cabinets are solid and open smoothly--a mean feat given the harsh marine environment they've been exposed to since 1978.

I'm naturally skeptical, always waiting for the other shoe to drop, and I really didn't allow myself to openly enjoy being aboard Dream Catcher (we'll change her name with a proper ceremony soon after we all get down there) until the following day.

The aft cabin far exceed my expectations. There is standing headroom and then some (in an aft-cockpit boat!). There are two giant lockers that were not pictured in the listing. There is ample drawer space for the girls. It was pleasant to imagine them and their things scattered about in this space.

The latch on the door to the aft cabin did not catch when we were underway.

Underway...she seemed to sail nicely. The reefing lines are all run and had to be loosened to raise the sail. The lazy jacks seem to get in the way and were maybe too loose when we dropped the main to offer any assistance. The headsail has two patches, one massive, both in good shape. The main is original and there are chaffed areas around the foot, some broken threads.

The running rigging is stiff and dirty, but otherwise looks serviceable.

The autopilot worked well. The cable that connects the knotmeter to the sending unit is broken and needs to be replaced.
The engine was built no more recently than 1989, but looks like it is in really good shape, visually. There is some corrosion where the raw water joins the exhaust flow.
There were two full logs, piles of manuals, and stacks of service records with receipts aboard. In the short time I spent reviewing them, I could tell they were all very well organized.
The battery bank appears smaller than I imagined and may be overcharging, based on the hissing I heard and the moisture I observed on the tops of the cases.
You are not supposed to fall in love with a boat until after the marriage, but I held out at least past the negotiating stage. (Sellers in Mexico are at a disadvantage in this regard. When a sale is local, buyers usually go aboard and have a look at the boat before making an offer, making it more difficult for some, I imagine, to be less emotional during price negotiations, at the time it really matters. Buyers of Mexico boats must negotiate a price before ever stepping aboard, and perhaps falling hard...)
So, what now? We're back home now and the survey and sea trial and haulout ostensibly happened today. We have heard nothing. A couple of days ago the surveyor said to expect the survey report at a PDF file, via email, first thing Monday morning--it will be a long weekend for both of us.

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