A Kiwi couple's cruising adventures on America's Great Loop and around the coast of New Zealand

Monday, 26 September 2011

And the winner is………..

Carolyn arrived on time on Friday night (16th September) and in relatively good condition after 18 hours in the air from New Zealand to Chicago (via San Francisco). We got up early on Saturday and headed up to Kenosha to see the first Silverton 453 “Urban Legend”, which was also the very first boat I had looked at some three weeks before.

Then it was down to Dolton to see the Carver 466 “Epiphany”, before heading across Michigan towards Lake St Clair. We stopped for the night in a wee town off the I-94 called Paw Paw (yes….really!) and on Sunday continued to Harrison Township, where we met up with Hilary and Bert in the afternoon. They had shifted their Silverton 453 from the marina they were in to a heated indoor dock where their slip happened to be 2 down from the Silverton 43 we were due to see on Monday.

This boat, “More Graphic Gratification” was a lovely example of the model, with a custom hardtop which made it quite unusual. The owner took us out on the Lake for a run, but had an overheating issue on one engine which made us get back a bit late in making our next appointment in Catawba Island that day. This boat was the other Silverton 453 “Moor Fun” and, while she was a bit older than Urban Legend, there was a significant price difference. Unfortunately it was raining and we were tired and grumpy and it was getting late and we were told we were not going to be allowed a sea trial, so we didn’t give her much attention that day. It also became clear to us that we were running very short of time to make a decision before heading for home on Friday.

The next day (Tuesday) we saw the last of the finalists, the Cruisers 455, for which a sea trial had been arranged. Unfortunately Carolyn disliked the boat as soon as she stepped aboard, so it was pointless to pursue that one any further. Instead we went and had another look at Moor Fun and got estimates on equipment and repairs that would bring it up to a similar standard as the other 453. However we were still refused a sea trial without an offer to purchase being made, and we wanted to see Urban Legend again (on which the broker had arranged a pre-offer sea trial) before deciding. So…back to Wisconsin we headed, staying in Michigan City, Indiana, that night and finally finishing up in Milwaukee on Wednesday night. This is where Urban Legend was going to be brought to the next day for her winter storage.

We were taken down to Kenosha on Thursday (the day before leaving for LA) and had the sea trial back up to Milwaukee. Urban Legend went very well during the 2 hour trip and we got to play with all the toys with which she is so well equipped. And yes…..you guessed it…..she came out the winner. By 4.30pm the deal was done and UL was lifted out of the water and put away in her heated shed to wait for us to come back and start the Loop next year.

From the first time I saw her almost 4 weeks (and 3618 miles and 8 states) before, she had set the standard for the rest, and nothing bettered her. The Silverton 453 is a spacious, gracious boat and this one is a stunning example. (mind you I have to say that now, don’t I?)  The deal is still subject to a favourable survey, which I arranged prior to departing the USA on saturday, but I would be very surprised if anything bad turns up – I was fairly thorough in my own examination of the boat and it was useful having the input of people like Hilary and Bert, who know their 453 inside out.

She comes with all the usual standard features on this model, but for those who hadn’t looked her up on the yachtworld website, here are some of the additional bits n pieces she has.

10’ Zodiac inflatable with davits and 6 HP Mercury 4 stroke outboard (the ONLY boat I looked at that had a dinghy!)
Twin 480 HP Volvo electronic diesel engines
Auto Oil change system
13kW Genset
Double hard top (flybridge and Sundeck) with new plastic clears on the flybridge and glass enclosures on the sundeck.
Fully airconditioned INCLUDING flybridge.and sundeck
Central Vac
Trash Compactor
Oven and 3 burner top
Convection Microwave
……and a bath

And this neat little remote control for the bow thruster and engines, so you can park the boat while standing on the landing board, if you want!

Carolyn reckoned that the broker and I looked like a couple of kids with a new toy at Christmas when we were having a play with it after the sea trial!!

Here are a few more pics:

Master stateroom

Just kidding....that was just a posh motel room I was put into in Minnesota. (The mattress was so thick that you had to climb a set of steps to get into the bed...........true!!! - look closely at the pic!) 

Here is the real master stateroom - no steps but still pretty posh though

                           Galley and dinette                                   3rd Guest stateroom

                      2nd Guest stateroom                               Door to engine room

In the water, Kenosha 

                 Out of the water, Milwaukee             Transom with dink and outboard

Me and John, the broker

There are some things that have to be done to bring her up to how we want to use her. She is poorly equipped with ground tackle, (but then most of the boats I looked at are. They don’t use anchors like we do over here – if they use them at all!)  The 35lb Delta anchor will be replaced with a 45-50lb and the 6ft of chain and 100ft of warp will be replaced with 200ft of all chain. That way we may be able to sleep nights while anchored.

We arrived  back at home in New Zealand at 6.30 this morning, picked up Woody from the farm,  and I'm knocking this out so I don't have to tell all the interested parties one at a time. As far as the trip was concerned, I guess we can put it down as "Mission Accomplished".


I wrote the draft of this posting last night on Ms Word and am posting it today. This morning, the Surveyor rang (3.00pm Milwaukee time) to say he had completed the survey and only found 4 tiny items that warrant attention - which I can do myself when we return to the USA. He is an ex Silverton engineer and described Urban Legend as the best example of a 453 that he has ever surveyed. We are looking forward to his full report, but I guess we can take it from him that she's worth buying!

Friday, 16 September 2011

More on boat buying

I thought I should make at least one posting while in the USA on the buying expedition, and I shall do it now before the final decision is made. I left New Zealand at 9.30pm on Tuesday the 30th August  and arrived in Los Angeles at 3.10pm on Tuesday the 30th August. An overnight stay there then a 3 hour flight to Chicago the next day, arriving 2.00pm when I picked up a rental car.

The next day, jet-lagged to bits, I drove to the first appointment in Kenosha WI to see the first of the 37 boats on the shopping list. It was 37 degrees C (96F) and humid, so I was really feeling like crawling round in bilges of boats. On arrival, my first reaction was: “OMG, they are sooooo big – what in god’s name are we looking at boats this size for?” The first contender was a Silverton 453 and when we finally got aboard…..WOW!!!! So big and so posh. An hour or so later, and off I went to see the next one, a Carver 444 which had been high on the ”probable” list. Very nice boat….but soooo small (ain’t it funny how your perceptions change!). I was supposed to see 2 more that day, but the jet-lag and Chicago traffic sent me scurrying back to my motel at 5.00pm to crash for the night. The next day I got to see the 2 Carver 466’s that I should have seen the day before and made contact with Donna and Alan Huber, who had just bought Alchemist, a Carver 466 and who treated me to a tutu in it round the Lake near Chicago, taking in the sights. The following day (Saturday) I took the day off, and was honoured to spend it with Donna and Alan – we went to lunch at Lowries for the best Prime Rib in Chicago and that night went to a Looper’s get-together at Ellen and Woody (same name as my dog!) Sutton’s condo in downtown Chicago. Alan and Donna kindly allowed my to stay on their boat, which was within walking distance of the party, so after a great feed of Chicago Pizza and special beef, and great conversation with Loopers (40 of them turned up), we retired early as Alan and Donna had to get up at 5.00am to take their boat to Seneca.

Donna and Alan.
Excuse the blurry photo, but it was a blurry morning!!

Alchemist heading for Seneca

So at 6.00am, off I went towards New Buffalo MI while they headed off into the Illinois river system. I looked at 2 more boats that day, after which everything turned to custard (refer previous post!) and arrangements with brokers to view boats began to fall apart. It WAS labour weekend, I guess, so I should have figured it could happen. So I gave it all away after those 2 boats and headed back to Chicago. The upside of the day was that by this time I was able to eliminate about  5 models of boat off my list which cut the number of boats to see back considerably. At this stage I had seen only 6 boats (7 including Alan & Donna’s) and had driven 566 miles. I spent the next day arranging appointments for the future viewings and canceling appointments for the boats I had eliminated as unsuitable. (While I had 37 boats on my original list, I also had 31 brokers to deal with!).

The day after labour day, I flew to Minneapolis to see a business colleague,,,,,and to see a couple of boats on the Mississippi. Over lunch with the business owner I had come to visit, and after telling him of our Loop plans, he told me he had just bought a Silverton 43 and asked if I would like to see it. Of course, I forced myself to look at yet another boat (although it was one of the models on my shopping list that I had not yet seen) and, of course, it was in beautiful, pristine condition. He then told me that it was a Bank repo, and how much he had paid for it. I won’t say how much that was, but suffice to say I would have paid that for it, sight unseen, and would happily buy it from him today for $50,000 more than he paid and still have a bargain. The next day, at 5.00am I flew back to Chicago, picked up another rental car, and began the “asphalt Loop”, arriving that night in Paducah, KY at 6.30pm. Over the next week I viewed 14 boats in Pickwick Lake MS, Nashville TN, Louiseville KY, Port Clinton/Catawba Island OH and Harrison Township MI.

Aqua Harbour, Pickwick Lake.
The white "Yank Tank" is what the rental car company gave me to drive!
Beaut day at Aqua

In Harrison Twp, I caught up with another AGLCA couple, Hilary and Bert Eisbrenner, with whom I had been corresponding prior to leaving NZ. They were new owners of a Silverton 453 (another shopping list model) and I was privileged to also enjoy their company and insight into buying and owning one of the favoured few boats left on my shopping list. I spent a relaxing day with them and got to spend the night on their boat, before driving back to Chicago in preparation for Carolyn’s arrival tonight. 

Hilary and the Leg Lamp

Hilary and Bert
By this time I had seen all the boats to see and the list was down to 5 finalists in either Lake Michigan or Lake Erie/Lake St Clair. The boats are:

1 x Carver 466
1 x Cruisers 455
1 x Silverton 43
2 x Silverton 453’s.

There is also a Meridian 459 down in the Ohio River that is worthy of a second look, but the price would have to be modified to make the extra travel worthwhile.

This road trip has been another 1850 miles on top of the earlier 566, and we still have around 780 miles to go to see the finalists (1040 if we go see the Meridian). However, if all goes to plan, we should have settled on a Loop boat by the time we leave the USA by the end of next week.

But we all know about the best laid plans of mice and men,,,,don’t we?