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Old September 8th 03, 09:49 PM
Dionysus Feldman
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Default The best laid plans... we'd ignore -- a boat buyer's story

We had been planning to drive to the UP last weekend, but we had also
been thinking about this new boat thing. There was one that looked
perfect for us -- too small (24') and too old (1977).

We talked to the local mechanics who had worked on her. She was owned
by someone who owned a marine supply store. It was the end of the
season, and she hadn't been launched this year. Everyone in town knew
how well she'd been taken care of. It's just that her price is much
higher than comparable on the internet, and NADA, by about $2500. Her
mechanic pointed out that the trailer was worth $1800.

On Thursday my girlfriend, bless her heart, announced that we should
just buy the boat that had been saying "Buy Me" every time we'd driven
by. And then we should take her from South Haven along the coast to the
Mackinaw Bridge, staying at an intermediate marina on Friday night (e.g,
Manistee), and in Petosky on Saturday night.

So we went down to the store and began negotiating. The owner was not
happy to negotiate. It's not that she didn't want to lose her boat,
it's just that she felt that I was low-balling her. She wouldn't budge
ten percent -- and she was taking it personally. "Everyone says it's
worth more than what I've got it listed for". I pointed out that no one
else had made a serious offer, and that a boat is only worth what
someone else is willing to pay. That did not endear me to her owner.
She offered to agree to my price if I would "just take it", but I told
her I wanted a sea trial, and that I'd be willing to pay $100 for the
sea trial, purchase or not. So I left her a check for most the boat --
not to be cashed -- and a promise of $200 cash when she completed her
sea trial. She was extremely upset with the fact that I was unwilling
to give her more than 90% of her asking price.

We knew we needed a few things. We got a "waypoint" book, a couple of
life jackets, and a book on how to be a powerboat sailor. We couldn't
find stove alcohol except at the owner's store, and we weren't going to
buy ANYTHING from that woman. I mean, she's rude and nasty and

The next day we went over early and dragged her and her son and law to
the boat ramp. The weather was supposed to be clear all weekend, and it
was Friday. We looked into various marinas along the Black River and we
think we found a place to park -- oops, dock. It's pretty far from the
lake, but it has a nice backwater with no current for easier par^h^h^h

Launching was almost as easy as a ski boat. Two problems: 1) the plug
was missing and 2) the arm for the trailer was missing. Things are
easier if you own a boat supply store, though, and we were launched in
no time. I put $83 worth of gas in before we launched and gave the son-
in-law $6 for the launch fee.

She started right up. Being plugged in all summer kept the batteries
nice and strong.

My GirlFriend and the owner drove to the marina, and we boys idled up
the river to meet them. I learned how to use a depth finder, and I
noticed that the steering was "sticky". It would take an effort to
start any turn, but then the effort stopped.

The dock was pretty high -- we're going to need to mount a ladder in
order to get in and out. After docking and tying up, we loaded some
life vests and other key equipment. After coming on board, the owner
didn't realize that when she decided to give her son-and-law unnecessary
advice on the starboard side of the boat it threw the boat out of trim.
Finally I handed her the stern line and used my own weight to keep the
boat trim so that she could wander where she wanted.

We never left the dock -- apparently the steering cables froze and we
couldn't turn the outdrive at all.

After all that we chose to drive to the UP and go camping. Along the
way we read each other boat handling instructions and brainstormed boat
names. She'll be ready for us Tuesday or Wednesday, and I asked the
mechanic to check the baffles (whatever that is) and the engine
compression -- and bill me separately.

Even in a Durango, we only used about $50 worth of gas going up north.
In this boat, we expect to cruise at about 25 mph, and use about 15
gallons and hour. For a 300 mile -- one way -- trip, it will cost a LOT
in gas.

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