Love at First Sight
As the years passed, our vision of our dream boat changed, shifted, and evolved. What started as a 46 foot monohull, eventually morphed into a catamaran. We came close to pulling the trigger on a purchase many times, but it just didn’t make sense. Being landlocked and Dan’s limited vacation time just did not make it feasible to own a boat. So we waited…and dreamed…and prepared.
When we reached the point that Dan considered retiring, we started combing the ads. No rush….we still had lots of time. Boats came up but none sparked that fire inside me. It’s a lot like buying a house. When it’s right, you just feel it down to your soul. This was an important purchase, and it had to be just right.
One day, Dan was scanning the Facebook Lagoon owners group (dreaming) and up popped Zoe. He was super excited….me, I was a little more reserved. I had grown tired of looking at boats that just didn’t feel right….or they did and they sold immediately. Dan walked me through the pictures, and now I became very excited. It was priced to move and move fast. There was already a potential buyer coming to see it….noooooo!
We waited with baited breath to see if the owner would accept our offer (contingent on seeing the boat, a survey, and a sea trial). What ensued over the next few weeks was an emotional rollercoaster, filled with highs and lows. Here is where the story gets interesting….
Zoe was in port for the winter in Tunisia. Tunisia?! I’m not sure I even know where that is! Zoe was priced for a quick sale because the owner decided to open a boutique hotel in Morocco, and the proceeds of this sale were funding that deal. Wait, it gets better. He was under a tight timeline or his deal would fall through and there would be no sale of the boat at this great price. This meant we had to see the boat, do the survey and sea trial, commit to the contract, and the boat HAD to fund within a couple of weeks. Impossible! We were booked on a flight to Madrid and then on to Tunisia that weekend. Everything was arranged to take place on Saturday and part of Sunday with us flying home that day.
When traveling to places unknown to me, I typically do a scan for travel advisories.
I found that Tunisia was partly ISIS controlled, and the state department warned against Americans traveling there. Are you kidding me!? After an unsettling ride from the airport to the marina, through a bombed out town that reminded me of pictures of Iraq, we arrived at our hotel and made arrangements to meet Zoe’s owner. Fortunately, the marina was several hours drive east of the troubled areas.
She was everything he had said, and the pictures were actually true to what we saw. We loved her. Our host rolled out the red carpet, allowing us to spend hours on Zoe. Visual approval….success. Now for the survey and sea trial. The next day we spent a grueling 8 hours as our Tunisian surveyor went through the boat with a fine toothed comb. Surveyor gave her a big thumbs up….great condition. Next came the sea trial. In the very tight marina, the skipper wrapped the prop on the sand line. We had to pull the boat back into her slip (playing bumper boats as we went) and try to find a diver to cut the line away. Now mind you, we are scheduled to fly out in a few hours. The owner is freaking out that we’ve come this far and now the deal is going to fall through. A diver is quickly found, prop unwrapped, and off we go. We only had limited time to sail, but that’ll do. Out we went, hoisted the main, unfurled the jib and let loose the huge gennaker….now, we were even more in love. We still had time for the all-critical haulout. This is where they lift the boat out of the water so the surveyor can inspect the hulls for damage or other issues that would otherwise be unseen. Crawling around underneath the almost 24,000 pound boat, hoisted high in the air, was interesting to say the least. But at the end of the day, Zoe was in tip-top shape.
Gut check time. Are we doing this? Is it really happening? Our life savings was on the line, and we had one shot to get this right.
We signed the deal and got scrambling. Paperwork had to get moving so money could move, and money wasn’t going to move without a clear title and bill of sale. So, you have two Americans in Tunisia using a Croatian boat broker, buying a Dutch flagged boat from a Frenchman, needing to reflag her American and up to Coast Guard regulations, and get her moved out of Tunisia to Croatia. Here is where the hurdles really began…but that is a story for another day.
Haulout of Zoe as part of the pre-purchase survey