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

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?

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