Since we are in “the business” we did have an advantage of full access to data on boats. Also we regularly attend and work boat shows so we have personally seen almost everything that is out there. That being said, it is still a challenge to decide which type of boat you want for the Loop and we looked at and considered slow trawlers, fast trawlers, express boats, motor yachts, power cats and all the different manufacturers of each type. We looked at older boats and late model boats and even a few new boats.
Eventually we narrowed our selection to either a power cat or a motor yacht, and we felt smaller than 40’ would be too small and over 50’ probably too large. We wanted two engines and an air draft of not more than 17” and a fairly shallow draft.
Understanding that there are many other opinions out there we really appreciated all the info on the AGLCA blog group on boats for the loop. We travelled to many places and Shows and looked at a lot of boats. Some time in FL was scheduled for our search as it seemed there were more boats for sale there at the best prices than anywhere else
In late October we planned a trip to the Gulf Coast and also scheduled a couple more weeks in Dec one on the Gulf Coast and one on the Atlantic Coast just in case we needed the time to look at more boats. Traditionally we spend the end of Dec in FL so even if we found a boat we knew we would still put the time to good use.
On our trip in Oct, we had tire problems on the way down, even after having everything checked before we left NC. So our first day’s adventure was stopping near Ocala, FL and replacing all 4 tires which were splitting and losing pressure. So our first picture of our boat search trip and our first major expense was our car on the rack with no tires waiting for new shoes. A couple of hours and a $1000 lighter we continued on our search.
The first place we stopped to look at a boat was Marina Jacks in Sarasota, FL. It was a 2005 Sea Ray 40 Motor Yacht with very low hours. We liked the boat a lot and told them depending on the week we would stop by again on our way back the following Saturday. So we had one boat we liked and a number of others lined up to look at. The rest of the week we looked primarily at power cats and we also liked the concept and some the specific boats we liked and others we felt were not for us. We talked to the other brokers representing the boats and we were our own broker. We continuously checked all the web sites for new listings, etc. At the end of the week, we stopped back at Marina Jacks and spent several hours checking out every hold, closet, cabinet, electronic device, etc., and then just sat on the boat to see if it “felt” right. At the end of that visit we made an offer on the boat and drove back to NC. The boat was offered by Sarasota Yacht and Ship Services, Inc,( www.SarasotaYacht.com) and they were great to co-broker with during the sale and have been very helpful after the sale helping us learn the area, recommend service people, etc.
By the end of the next week the offer was accepted but the seller wanted us to do the survey and sea trail promptly so the boat would not be off the market and then found not able to pass the survey. We lined up a general surveyor and engine specialist in the Sarasota area and Jackie and I drove back to Sarasota for the survey and then back to NC a day later. The survey went very well and while we were very tired, we felt good about our choice.
We were able to get a slip at Marina Jacks for a couple of months and left the boat there. We took possession of the boat in early December and began to do all the things to make the boat ours. We renamed it NAUTI DREAMS, had it cleaned and waxed, arranged for more electronics, add a few outlets, Satellite TV, etc, etc.
We love being at Marina Jacks and it is probably the nicest marina we have stayed. Great facilities, very helpful staff, great location and a large number of boat oriented service people to help us with the changes we wanted to make. Our timing was great because the second night there was the Holiday Parade of Lights and we had front row seats from our boat slip.