“God’s timing is always perfect.”
There came a point in this boat buying process when I HATED hearing that phrase from anyone, even though I have said it many times to others. However, there came a point when it was the last thing I wanted to hear. God surely knows what He is doing though, because now that we have closed on CATNAP, our new-to-us 1997 Fountaine Pajot Tobago 35 catamaran, I find myself getting a little chuckle out of the whole thing.
Here’s the story…
When we sold our house in Ohio in April we were fairly certain the Beneteau Oceanis 440, a beautiful monohull sailboat conveniently located in Charleston, SC, was going to be the vessel for us. In appearance she was beautiful and spacious with a fair amount of room for all of us. If we had to go the monohull route (for the record I always wanted a catamaran but accepted God’s plan either way) this would be a good one. The funny thing about appearances though, much like with people, they are not everything and there is always more to a person—or in this case a sailboat—than appearance. The survey was a disaster! It really felt like Murphy’s Law in action, as nearly everything that could go wrong went wrong; beginning with the power on the boat not working at the dock in the marina. That should’ve been our sign, but we already hired the surveyor and paid for the haul out, which combined totaled around $1,000 USD so we carried on with the survey. Needless to say we decided to walk away from the vessel and start over. In the meantime, we would continue living with TJ’s family (seriously, they are amazing for letting all of us move in with all our stuff) while we looked.
At the end of May my mom came to South Carolina and we went to Florida with Vivienne so I could look at several catamarans. After closing the door on the Beneteau, God appeared to be opening doors for catamarans again. Stopping to see a few catamarans in Saint Augustine first, traveling further South to Fort Lauderdale to see a few more, then across to Marco Island to see one more—all within four days! In total I saw 10 catamarans in that small amount of time. (Talk about cramming a marathon into a sprint!) If you are ever in the market for any type of floating home I do not recommend doing it this way, as it is quite overwhelming! I also do not recommend the company or broker we used but that is personal preference. When a broker answers 90 percent of my questions with “I don’t know” that broker quickly gets on my “crap list” and will never be recommended to anyone. “I don’t know” is the most unprofessional answer anyone could ever give and to not even attempt to find out the answers makes that broker even more unprofessional. End rant.
I digress, CATNAP was the third boat I saw on Friday and the fifth boat I saw in total, so she was right in the middle of the overwhelming pack, but she was quite memorable. Within a few moments I was in “boat love” and knew she could be the one for us. The boat I saw immediately following CATNAP was also a strong contender, but she lacked air conditioning, which is a big deal for us with a toddler and two dogs heading to the Caribbean. On Saturday I decided I needed to see CATNAP again because she was well within in our price range and had a lot of things we wanted, including a brand new autopilot and chart plotter combination that was nicer than what we planned to purchase. I called the broker and set up an appointment to see CATNAP again the following day, Sunday morning. After the Sunday showing I knew I wanted to put an offer in on her and called TJ, who was at work in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, to discuss our offer price and the next steps. By the end of the day on Sunday we had officially made an offer and the next day were given a fantastic counter offer, which we happily accepted, putting us and the vessel under contract to purchase.
Less than two weeks later I was back but this time with TJ for the survey and sea trial of CATNAP. I had never been on a boat that needed to radio for bridge openings because the mast was so high! We navigated the rivers around Fort Lauderdale, requesting bridge openings as we went along, until we reached the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) and headed out to sea. A real sea trial! Off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, the water was clear and blue; mirroring what one might see in the Bahamas on a cruise. TJ took the helm and I meandered around on deck looking over the side to see the coral reef below and catching a glimpse of a big sting ray! My face hurt from smiling so much because we both knew CATNAP was the boat for us, our future floating home. The sails looked great, the deck was strong, the vessel was spacious, and we were both in “boat love”. She had been well-loved over the last 19 years and her cleanliness showed it. The interior was beautiful, with new salon seat covers (vinyl, an upgrade from the cloth I was going to cover them with) and extremely clean.
On the sea trial
Once we headed back inshore and reached the boatyard for the haul out we were feeling confident in our choice and couldn’t believe CATNAP could be ours! Once she was out of the water our broker cleaned the fouled propellers (many, many barnacles had collected from lack of use) while the surveyor went to work checking the hulls for soft spots and moisture. While we do have a few minor areas that need work (a few blisters, a small crack in one keel, and a moisture in the rudder—which apparently isn’t uncommon) overall the hulls were in pretty good shape, too. It was settled, we would be purchasing CATNAP! Next came the bureaucratic paperwork process of getting the vessel registered with the US Coast Guard in our name and the financial end of things. Purchasing a “yacht” is similar to buying a house. The survey is the home inspection and then all the paperwork follows. However, our broker (bless her heart) messed ours up and extended our closing date by two weeks. Originally we were going to close and take possession on June 10th but because she didn’t ask some, what would appear to be pertinent questions, we had to extend it to June 23rd. Finally, at 1620 on June 23rd CATNAP officially became ours! While we were—and are—very excited I honestly felt like this:
“You’ve just purchased a new floating home! What are you going to do next!?”
“Take a cat nap.”
And I did.
For two and a half hours.
Below are a few photos of the sailboat and layout of the vessel. Once we are in Florida and on CATNAP I will take some before (not decorated) and after (decorated) photos and videos to share. Hopefully that will also help give some of you a better idea on the size inside because that has been a common question, “How big is it inside?”
This is a slideshow of four photos:
The whole process was stressful and emotionally taxing, just like buying our house in Ohio, as we were in a race against the clock to get all the paperwork completed before 1630; otherwise things might not have worked out. Once again, God came through with His “Last Minute Miracle Timing” and everything worked out according to His plan. We now own this beautiful sailboat that will be our floating home; taking us on adventures and creating a place for family bonding. We couldn’t be more excited for this next chapter in our lives and the opportunity to witness to others about how God’s plans (and timing) are always perfect and we took this “crazy” opportunity He afforded us. Thank you for your prayers, positive thoughts, and supportive words as we took this huge leap and thank you for your continued prayers as we prepare to move her from Florida to South Carolina and beyond.
Par la Foi,
**All things are possible for those who believe. ~Mark 9:23**