A couple of weeks ago I “hit the wall” regarding the
Loop planning and it all started to get a bit daunting again. There is a lot to buying a boat anywhere and the plan to “go over and buy one next June” suddenly began to develop a lot of flaws. Firstly, there are just so many of them and they are so spread around except for the ones we thought we really wanted, like the Meridian 459 and Carver 444 of which there are very few and they are spread even further around. Then I came to the realisation that, in planning for the Loop, you have to have a starting point and a starting date – neither of which are possible until we have a boat ready and waiting. Finally (and I should have thought of this earlier) everyone in the Great Lakes region puts their boat away in a heated shed or wrapped up on the hard over winter because it freezes up there and they don’t go back into the water until after May. If we want to leave in August, and have a month or so to shake down the boat before we leave, that only gives us a month to find, and buy a suitable boat – and that just ain’t enough time! Chicago
So, it was time to revisit the whole boat buying plan and we began by widening the criteria for suitable boats. We wanted a cockpit, but there are only the 2 mentioned above that have them with the layout we want. Do away with the cockpit requirement and suddenly you have 14 to chose from. These are:
Carver 444CPMY (cockpit) or 396
Carver 456 and 466
Cruisers 4450/455, or 405/415
Silverton 43 and 453
Sea Ray 420AC
The next thing was to look at the territory we had been searching.
Canada, the NY river system, and the lower Mississippi became just too hard to manage, so we restricted it to just the Great Lakes and upper and Tennessee/Ohio river areas. This brought up around 40 boats on our shopping list in an area that would require around 2000 miles of travel to see them all. We then started contacting the various brokers to ensure that the boats were still available (the vast majority were!) before making plans to travel to the Mississippi and look at them before they all get shut away for the winter. USA
The upshot of all this is that I will leave NZ on the 4th September and fly to
Minneapolis where I have some business to do (and there are a couple of boats to look at!) and then to . There I will pick up a rental car and drive down to Pickwick Lakes, Chattanooga, Nashville, Louisville, Cincinnati, up to lake Eerie, Detroit and around Michigan before returning to Chicago. Below is a map of the area with driving distances (in miles) and where the various boats are. At this time I have 37 boats to look at in 8 days – although some of them may be dismissed beforehand once I see what the models are actually like. Carolyn will fly across to Chicago on the 16th, by which time I will have a short list of suitable boats for her to look at. We then have another 7 days to decide which ones we would consider making an offer on before we fly out on 23rd. Chicago
Once a purchase is finalised the boat can be stored away for the winter (although it probably already will be) and we will have a starting point and time to aim for. We will also know what is needed to provision her and, if necessary, can send a shipment of stuff from NZ rather than buying it all over there. eg only one of the boats on our shopping list has a dinghy, so I could ship my (deflated) RIB and brand new 5HP Mercury outboard over, rather than sell them here. We could then put a lot of other stuff in the crate to make it worthwhile. We can also get the New Zealand registration carried out while we are still here, which will be a lot easier than trying to do it by “remote control” from the USA.