After taking quite a series of classes I was sailing as often as I could. I was going on club sails a couple of times per month, racing on the clubs racing team, and a couple times chartered a boat overnight and stayed at anchor somewhere in the bay. One thing that was elusive, was travel. It was out of the question to fly somewhere and charter a boat there. The cost of the plane ticket was prohibitive, and seemed to counter the whole point of sailing. But in Southern California we have Catalina Island. It is close enough to drive to Southern California from San Francisco, has warmer weather, and is a great boating destination. So, with a friend from Modern Sailing, Travis, I booked a charter in October of 2015 from Marina del Rey. The plan was to drive to LA, provision (buy food), then sail to Catalina for the weekend.
Meanwhile, I was boat shopping. I can’t count how many boats I looked at on the Internet. I bought books on buying and outfitting a boat for ocean sailing. I also worked out the finances. I had enough equity in my home to get a loan for $100,000, and could, at least in theory, rent my home for enough to pay both the mortgage and the HELOC loan. So, I figured I could spend $40,000 to $50,000 on a boat, $20,000 to $30,000 on upgrades and repairs, and have $30,000 left as a sailing kitty to live from as I traveled.
I only seriously looked at or considered very few boats. The first I seriously considered was on lake Michigan. The advantage of that is that it was fresh water, and that because of ice was hauled out and stored indoors during the winter. It was a Pearson 365, and was very clean. It was (at least from the pictures) like new. I looked into what it would cost to move it to the West Coast, and contacted a survey company to inspect it for me. During discussions with the seller he got cold feet. I don’t think he really wanted to sell the boat, and was hoping to sell it to someone near him, so he could still be involved with the boat.
The next boat I looked at was a Morgan 382 in Alameda. It was in bad shape, and because of that really overpriced at $45,000. But I looked at it in person, and spent time on the boat taking pictures and taking notes. I really like the boat a lot, it met my requirements for a boat I would sail the oceans on, and was of a reputable design. I just didn’t like this example as it was in such bad shape.
So, I started looking specifically for the Morgan 382. I found several examples in Southern California ranging in price from $30,000 to $49,000. For $30,000 they looked slightly better than the example in Alameda. For $49,000, Eliana II looked perfect. I made an appointment in September to look at her and flew to (guess where) Marina del Rey. As I expected, she boat looked great. The current owners had done well maintaining Eliana, and everything looked new. They were in the process of a restoration or refit, so it had been stripped of all aftermarket instruments. The standing rigging had been replaced. The engine had been replaced, and all the interior and exterior teak had fresh varnish.
I quickly estimated that it would be at least $50,000 to bring the $30,000 boat to this condition, so this was the one to buy. I didn’t want to offer full price, but also didn’t know how to negotiate a boat so I offered $45,000, explaining that it would cost me several thousand dollars to move the boat to San Francisco. The offer was accepted, and I was left wondering if I paid too much. I likely did, but got a great boat nonetheless.
I returned to Marina del Rey about a week later. As part of the sale process, I hired a surveyor to inspect Eliana and look for problems. He spent several hours opening every panel, looking at wires, the engine, and inspecting the rigging. I should have asked more questions, but didn’t know what to ask. This is a good time to bring the smartest boat friend you have. At the end of the in water survey, Eliana was hauled out at a nearby boatyard, and the surveyor spent another couple hours inspecting the underside, and tapping the hull with a hammer listening for signs of hidden damage.
This was all pretty close to the weekend I had chartered another boat from Marina del Rey to sail to Catalina Island. The question certainly came up, “Should I take MY boat to Catalina?” I had decided not to. My boat did need some work, not much, but at least the jib sail needed replacing as it was badly torn. But it also did not have a dingy or bbq grill, and those would be tough to bring with us in the car. As luck would have it, the week of our trip, the charter company called to cancel. They were concerned of weather reports of high wind and big seas that weekend. My boat was larger than the charter boat, and of a design better for the conditions, so at the last minute we opted to sail Eliana to Catalina.
Travis borrowed a dingy from the club. We managed to pack everything in my Honda, including his girlfriend, who literally was packed just any other supplies we brought. The poor girl sat in the back seat, and had so much packed around her and on her she was completely buried. We arrived at Eliana in Marina del Rey in the middle of the night, and slept on the boat. The entire next day was dedicated to getting Eliana ready.
Travis is an experienced sailor, and gave Eliana a thorough once over. Much more than the surveyor did. We went to West Marine, and I spent over $1000 on little things. A bucket, oil filters, oil, coolant, a BBQ, a hand operated water pump. I located a used jib sail a few hours drive away. While Travis took my car to buy the sail, I took an UBER to the grocery store to provision. After a long day, we finished everything we could, and left the dock at 1am. Thus beginning my boat ownership and an amazing Halloween trip to Catalina Island.