The Accidental Purchase – part 2

View from cockpit of sailboat.

Clearing the waters

OK, before we continue the story, I feel I should address some of the comments that have come across on Facebook and on this site. Lots of folks have opinions about participating in auctions and I feel I may have not accurately presented my eBay experience.

Firstly, I was NOT bidding on boats just to try to drive up the bids. I was always bidding on boats in the hopes of actually making a boat purchase. We don’t have a huge budget and we understand how eBay works. You bid, you win, you pay. Otherwise, someone else who wants it more will win.

Sadly, there are a lot of operators on eBay that use automated tools to run up the bidding at the very last second. We’ve missed out on making a boat purchase many times. My method was to place a bid on a decent boat and hope / pray / beg that I wouldn’t be outbid. We were really close to owning a boat about a month ago and were literally outbid by someone using some software within the last five seconds of the auction. If you want to have complaints about someone on eBay – these are the people who deserve your ire.

Secondly, I blocked out the final price of the boat because I know that always draws a lot of judgement – both good and bad. When it was apparent that we might actually win this auction, we both went into extreme research mode. We wanted to find out everything we possibly could about this type of boat. We researched their history, their resell values, and tried to determine if we were stuck with a dud. We’ll reveal the final price eventually but we want to wait until the survey is complete before we do.

Getting there

Shortly after the auction closed, the charity that had auctioned the boat called. All I needed to do was arrange payment and they would give me the contact info for the previous owner. They forwarded their warranty policy. This was a form to acknowledge that lots of donor boats are junk. The engine may or may not work (even though the listing specifically stated it did). We were given 6 days to visit the boat, or have an agent check it out, and file a complaint if we felt it wasn’t as advertised.

Long story short: I paid the bid price, they turned over the info, and I started the process to go visit the boat.

Normally, this would be no problem. But, as I mentioned before, I was sitting just south of Richmond, VA and scheduled to fly home to Florida in 2 days. I called the airline to try to add a hop up to the Northeast but, they wanted a thousand dollars for that privilege. Nope. Not doing THAT.

I was able to get the airline to push my scheduled return flight back by one day for a much more reasonable fee. But that would mean getting myself to the Northeast and back on my own.

Thanks to my hectic travel schedule of the past 2 years, I had a BUNCH of reward points though IHG hotels. I was able to get a room in Connecticut at no cost. I added another in Richmond the following day, at no cost. After a quick call to the rental car company, I added a day to the rental and was all set.

I just had to wait for the class I was in to finish and then hit the road. No problem. Just a 7 hour drive through the DC area and NYC, a quick check of the boat, and a 7 hour drive back to make my next flight. Good times.

And, that’s exactly what I did.

The donor

As it turned out, the previous owner is an older gentleman in his 80s. He is no longer able to take care of the boat. His son figured it was easier to take the donation value of the boat. Putting her up for sale at this time of the year is a bad idea. Paying another $2000 to store a boat you don’t use over the winter is an even worse idea. They were very upfront about any issues on her and seem to have kept meticulous records.

The boat, at 45 years old now, has only known 2 owners. The gentleman who donated her has kept her in great shape over the years. According to the records I found onboard, he and his wife had her since the early 1990s. Apparently they were using her to race around Long Island Sound and along the East Coast for awhile.

Visiting the boat

Friday morning, I woke up super-excited! The previous owner wasn’t available to meet me at the boat but had arranged for the keys to be available for me to take a look around. The purpose of this trip wasn’t to perform a survey or anything – it was just to validate the purchase and get a general idea of the condition. I was ready to go and checked out of the hotel in about 30 minutes!

Driving through the small Connecticut towns was an experience in itself. I’ve not spent much time in that area and will certainly want to go back someday to visit.

When I pulled in to the marina, they were expecting me and pointed me in the direction of the boat. Knowing she was a donation and that photos can be edited I was starting to get really anxious. I made my way down to the end of the dock and my heart leapt.

Walking down the dock, I passed several derelict boats. There were several boats that were floating but that had obviously seen their better days. There were brand new boats that probably cost more than our home. But there, sitting in the very last slip, was OUR boat. The boat I had only seen in photos and was unsure if it was even real. Until now.

Does she need some work? Sure! You don’t pay this little for a boat and not expect to put some work into her. Does she sail? You better believe it! Will she work for us? We’ll see – we’re setting up the survey now and will have plenty more to tell you when that takes place.

In the meantime, I managed to quickly film a couple of minutes worth of video while checking her out.

Until next time! Cheers!!

How to accidentally buy a sailboat

Ok, I freely admit that I never expected to actually win a sailboat auction on eBay. I’ve been playing this dangerous game of window shopping for older boats and placing bids. It’s a great way to waste some time on a Sunday morning while we catch up on our favorite YouTube sailing channels.

My bids are never much more than the current high bid. I always get outbid in a matter of minutes thanks to automated bids. Always.

I’ve probably placed bids on 20 or more boats over the past few months but I always get outbid really quickly.

That’s precisely what happened last weekend as I was window shopping and getting ready for my trip to Fort Lee, VA. Heather and I were watching sailing videos and my silly self was doing some harmless bidding on eBay. I was being outbid quickly and I just figured that nothing would ever come of it. Another lovely Sunday morning spent with my sweetie and no harm done.

On Monday I got an email from eBay that said I was the high bidder on a boat again because bids placed after my last one had been retracted. What? How does that happen? I always thought all bids were final. How had I suddenly become the high bidder? How much longer would I remain the high bidder?

The listing still had another 24 hours to go. Oddly, most of the “watchers” were no longer interested. No one else was placing bids. This was truly odd. But – i had almost won a bid once before only to be greatly outbid in the final 5 seconds of the auction. We weren’t getting our hopes up. Not this time.

The boat I was bidding on was an older boat – a 1974 Paceship 32. From the pics that were online, it looked to be pretty well taken care of but that can be misleading. The previous owner had donated the boat to charity and they were auctioning it on eBay. No need to get the hopes up. Hell, it probably didn’t even have a working engine if it was donated.

Tuesday afternoon, shortly after my classes were over, I checked eBay to see if it was still there. Had they pulled the listing? Why was no one outbidding me?

Then I got an email from eBay. The auction had 15 minutes until ending and I was still the high bidder. Whatever. Someone will swoop in.

The next message was a pop up on my phone. I had won. I don’t even know how that happened.

I have a theory that someone’s autobidding drove away the other watchers and I got extremely lucky. We’ll see how that plays out. Maybe it was my ruthless persistence. Maybe someone checked out the boat in person and decided it was a rusty misrepresented hulk.

Whatever it was, I was now getting a phone call from the charity that auctioned it wanting to know how I’d be paying for the boat. Once they received payment, I’d be sent a Bill of Sale and have 6 days to dispute the sale as a misrepresentation.

Ok, great. I’m in the middle of a military class and scheduled to fly back to Florida on Friday. The boat is in Connecticut. I’ve never even been to Connecticut. Now I have to completely rearrange my trip, figure out to get there, and go make sure this thing actually exists.

And that’s when the Real Fun begins …

Five things to know about driving in Turks and Caicos

A few years ago, during a visit to Provo, I captured some dashcam video that showed us driving from the resort to the beach. It was a cheeky little 5 minute video put together more as a test of the action cam than anything else. Naturally I put it on YouTube just to preserve that fun little trip. It was put up on my personal channel long before we started the whole Daydreams Afloat project but has somehow gathered over 15,700 views as of this writing.

We put our heads together to try to figure out why this little video would even be that popular. After all, it’s just dashcam footage that doesn’t really show anything. That got us to thinking that perhaps, what people are really looking for is some usable information about driving in Turks and Caicos. Since we’ve spent considerable time driving around those islands, we put together this little list to help out the traveler who may need some extra info. Without further adieu, we present:

The FIVE  SIX most important things you need to know about driving in Turks and Caicos:

  1. Driving is on the left here. Turks and Caicos is part of the British West Indies and driving on the left is the norm! While driving on the left may be intimidating at first, it’s really not that different once you get the hang of it.  After about a half hour on the roads (and perhaps exiting a roundabout into oncoming traffic, once) I figured it out and never have had another problem.Some of the rental cars available on the island have the driver’s seat on the right side. These cars are identical to the cars we’re used to in the U.S. (gas pedal is on the right, brakes on the left, etc.) but the driver sits on the other side of the car. Just like in the movies! Whenever I get lucky enough to get one of those cars, I usually find myself opening the door for my wife a lot. I really didn’t approach the car from the wrong side, at all. I’m just a gentleman like that.
  2. There are NO traffic lights in the entire country! Anywhere. On any island. Not even one. All the intersections either follow left first priority or are roundabouts. There are LOTS of roundabouts and you have to remember that the traffic flows clockwise in them. If you are entering a roundabout, oncoming traffic is from the right.  Many that seem like straight through intersections on the smaller 2 lane roads. Just be careful when entering any roundabouts since cars that are already in the roundabout have priority.
  3. Speed limits are all marked in MPH. The speed limit signs are circular signs with a red border and a number inside. Rental cars on the island are typically equipped with Km/h speedometers. You will need to do a quick mental conversion when you’re out driving around. The most common speed limit is 40 MPH (which is 64 km/h). Residential areas are marked at 20 MPh (which is 32 km/h).
  4. On multi-lane roads, like Leeward Hwy, the RIGHT lane is the fast lane. Don’t be a lane hog and watch out for those who don’t quite understand the speed limits!Speaking of the roads, not all the roads are paved! Expect to go off road a bit on hard coral roads.  Some of the best beaches on the island are accessible only by these unpaved roads.
  5. Watch out for the speed bumps! Some are really big and not well marked. Some of the speed bumps are very wide, as they are elevated pedestrian crosswalks. Keep slow and keep an eye out.  Speed bumps are very prevalent in the big resort area of Provo and in the newer residential areas on the east end of the island.
  6. Finally, it’s sad that we have to cover this issue but, drunk driving has recently become a major problem. The local lawmakers have just recently enacted legislation to deal with it. Effective July 1, 2018 breathalyzers are in use and are stringent enforcement has begun. Legal limits are the same as much of the US at .08. One other thing to be aware of is the legal drinking age in the TCI, as well as the rest of the Caribbean is 18.

Ok, that wraps up the top six things we’ve encountered as drivers in Turks and Caicos. We shot plenty of video during our most recent visit to the island and plan to put together some video examples of each of these. We’ll update this post when we do.

If you’d like more info, feel free to contact us though Instagram.

-Dwayne and Heather

Annapolis Spring Boat Show


Annapolis City Dock
AnnAnnapolis City Dock from the water

Oh Annapolis, the city that seems to be made of brick. This fair city, hosts not only the nation’s largest in-water sailboat show each October, but they host a smaller boat show at the City Dock each spring.

I was completely wowed when I visited the gigantic United States Sailboat Show last fall and expected much of the same. That show is billed as the largest in-water sailboat show in the US and it was definitely a multi-day affair. Expecting large crowds, we made our way over toward Annapolis on Friday evening and grabbed a hotel. Early Saturday morning we started working our way toward the in-water fun.

Once we hopped off the shuttle, we quickly realized that the Annapolis Spring Sailboat Show is considerably smaller than its big cousin. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though and it sure didn’t stop us from having a great time. We boarded lots of boats and it was actually easier to get aboard some of the catamarans. I completely skipped those during the fall boat show due to lengthy lines and large crowds.

Looking over the list of boats that were on display, I counted nearly 60. All the boats were open for us to explore and explore we did! There were also a number of tents set up with vendors selling boat-related gear.

We didn’t go to the show expecting to buy a boat. The new ones are way out of our price range! But, we were able to get a lot of ideas and really enjoyed checking out the interiors of boats we’d normally never get to board!

We visited the show on both Saturday and Sunday. Regular admission to the show starts at $18 per person (discounts are given for children under 12) with special prices for 2 day tickets and VIP sessions. The shows also offer Cruisers University classes that seem to fill up pretty quickly.

Thomas Point Lighthouse
Thomas Point Lighthouse

 

 

 

 

Near the end of each day, we took a harbor cruise with some of the vendors that operate from City Dock. On Saturday, we took a cruise with Watermark Cruises around the harbor area and out to the Thomas Point Lighthouse. The cruise was really nice and the crew were great and kept us informed of all the things we were seeing.

Along with the lighthouse, we were able to circle around the grounds of the US Naval Academy and witness some of the training equipment they have positioned there for our future Naval Officers. We’ve decided that our next trip to Annapolis will include a tour of the Naval Academy grounds – if for no other reason than to witness the Crypt of John Paul Jones.

On Sunday, we took an evening sail with Schooner Woodwind aboard one of their 74 foot sailboats. Even though there was only a light wind, this magnificent boat slipped very quickly through the waters. We spent nearly 3 hours sailing all around the Chesapeake Bay and had a great time talking with the crew and enjoying the atmosphere.


Getting there

Schooner Woodwind

If you drive in from out of town, it is highly recommended that you park at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Downtown Annapolis is very tight with small roads, lots of one-way streets, and limited parking.

Plenty of signs are posted as you make your way into the city directing the traffic toward the ample parking that is set aside at the stadium.

Be prepared: parking is NOT free. Parking at the stadium costs $10 each day and includes free shuttle service between the stadium and the Annapolis waterfront.

If you are visiting via the water, the mooring field is open during the Spring Boat Show and a dinghy dock is right next door. The mooring field is cleared during the Fall Show to make room for all the extra displays!

Worth the trip?

After our initial disappointment at how much smaller this show was, we truly felt it was a great experience. The lines were minimal and we were able to board all the boats we wanted to see. This also allowed us more time to get on the water and enjoy some quality time aboard. Given that there were nearly 60 boats on display, “smaller” is a term relative to Annapolis.

That said, we can’t wait for the show in October!

More Information

Annapolis Boat Shows

US Naval Academy

Watermark Cruises

Schooner Woodwind


Our favorite place – Turks and Caicos!

Why go there?

If we must be tied to land, we’re going to get an escape to the ocean as often as we can! For the past few years, we’ve made a pilgrimage of sorts to Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

We first visited this small island nation on our 10 year anniversary via a Carnival cruise. We loved the destinations along the cruise route but didn’t particularly care for being on a cruise ship all that much. The chill vibe and relaxed atmosphere of Turks and Caicos greatly appealed to us and we wanted to learn more.

When arriving by cruise ship to Turks and Caicos, all ships stop at the cruise center on Grand Turk. While it is a lovely facility, it is VERY “touristy”. Like everything else on a cruise, it seems designed to get you to spend your money in a manner that maximizes profits for the cruise line. Our preferred method of travel is to get out and meet the people of the countries we visit. It felt really artificial to be confined like that. At first, we were afraid to venture outside the cruise center area because the cruise line made it feel like that was the only “safe” area to be in. Once outside though, we found exactly what we expected to find: normal people going about their everyday lives, trying to put food on their tables and working really hard to do so.

We decided, while on that ship, that we really wanted to visit this country again. It just took us a while to figure out how to get there and where to stay. Now that we’ve figured it out, we return to Providenciales as frequently as possible!

Our trip

Since Grand Turk, our original arrival point in Turks and Caicos, is so far away from the international airport, we typically stay on Providenciales (aka Provo). This sparsely populated island, of only about 23,000 people is home to the majority of resorts in the country.  The international airport on Providenciales is serviced by many of the major US and international carriers. You will need a boat or a flight on a small island-hopper to get to any of the outlying islands.

We always stay at smaller out of the way places, but many people prefer the all-inclusive resorts. We always rent a car to get around but bicycles and scooters are available in many locations. We’ve run the numbers and found that we save a lot of money doing it this way. Since all beaches in the country are public, we get to enjoy the same views and waters as those paying thousands more than we could ever afford.

During our trip in 2017, we shot some video to show just how insanely beautiful the beaches and island were. This was my first attempt at editing any video so it’s a little rough around the edges. Please bear with us, while we hone our craft.

The majority of the video below was compiled before Hurricane Irma struck Turks and Caicos in September 2017. Due to extensive building codes and regulated construction, no loss of life occurred throughout the entire island chain when either Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Maria struck. Tourists and residents alike pitched in to help the country rebuild. The island tourist bureau has announced they are officially “open for business”.

We’ve already booked ourselves another visit to Turks and Caicos in 2018. Hopefully soon, we’ll able to avoid the airlines and get there under our own sails!