Days on Cruise: 320
Distance traveled: 16.3 miles
Travel time: 1 hour, 42 minutes
Total trip odometer: 6,340
15 months ago we were conducting a Sea Trial here in Florida as part of our process to decide whether to buy Next To Me; Tuesday, two days ago, we were doing it again, this time to help Jack and Sara decide whether to buy her from us. Almost unbelievably, the photo below was taken on the day WE were testing the boat to buy it in December 2011, and on that same day, Jack and Sara (our contingent boat buyers) were out on a training day with Captains Chris and Alyse Caldwell who took this photo! Who knew our lives would “collide” in such a wonderful way six months later, and now lead to their own Sea Trial and Survey of our boat?
The day of the Survey and Sea Trial, Tuesday, Tim the Engine Surveyor, Bill the Hull Surveyor, Curtis and Gill Stokes the boat broker handling the deal, Jack and Sara the Buyers, and Bob and Cathryn the Sellers all convened on Next To Me to spend a day testing and evaluating her so Jack and Sara can decide whether to buy her. It was a cool day, and lots of doors and windows were open as people came and went, crowded with 8 of us on the boat for 10 hours.
The Surveyors spent two hours checking things in the engine room, then we drove the boat to Crackerboy Boatyard nearby to pull her out of the water for an inspection of the hull, props, shafts and more. That took an hour.
Next up: the Sea Trial. This is where the two Surveyors tell us how to run the boat on the water so they can test its’ engine performance. We ran the boat at the usual 1200 rpms or about 9 mph; we ran the boat at 2200 rpms, “cruising speed” or about 18mph, the fastest we’ve ever gone; and then we ran the boat at Wide Open Throttle, 2800 rpms, by far the fastest we’ve ever run it in the 15 months we’ve owned her! And guess what? She hit 27.2 mph, this 30,000 pound thing, AND both surveyors, the boat broker, the buyers, and sellers were all smiles, as it was a smooth, comfortable ride. Wow!
The engine surveyor gave a hugely positive verbal report (to be followed with the results of the oil analysis and the formal final report) and left. The Hull Surveyor stayed a couple more hours continuing tests of the rest of the systems onboard. He left with a more cryptic verbal report with a promise of a list of “deficiencies” the next day and a final report by Friday. Long day! Happy, but tired, Buyers and Sellers to have this day behind us.
When we bought our boat, there were lots of things we struggled to figure out over the first 3 months, and we found this sometimes frustrating, so we offered to spend two days with Jack and Sara “showing them the ropes” on board Next To Me so they could avoid some of this frustration. That’s what we’ve been doing since the survey. Jack and Sara developed their own wish list of things to be explained, as did we, and the four of us started working through the lists. First up: Jack performed an oil change on the two Caterpillar engines and Westerbeke generator under Cathryn’s tutelage. That was 6 hours of work that saved $700 compared to hiring someone else to do the oil change every 150 engine hours.
One evening the four of us were invited to Chris and Alyse Caldwell’s boat down the dock for dessert, along with their two students on board for five days of training. We’ve all had great training at the feet of the Caldwell’s and enjoyed meeting their newest students.
The next day we continued orienting Jack and Sara on other components of Next To Me, but at 3:00 took a break to catch the lines of Jackets II, Stephen and Charlotte, coming into our marina where we met them, our first Looper friends, in January 2012, and today they were crossing their wake and closing their Loop! Stephen was grinning, Charlotte was crying, and we were all hugging in happiness and celebration.
Stephen and Charlotte below: the newest Gold Loopers! That night Jack and Sara returned to their hotel, understandably exhausted by the travel from Indiana followed by two very intense days on the boat, and we went out to dinner with Stephen and Charlotte following one last cocktail hour on their boat enjoying Charlotte’s fabulous, and somewhat famous, margaritas.
Today was the final day of Jack and Sara’s orientation on Next To Me, and it involved climbing up on the sundeck roof to deploy the dinghy, reviewing the use and settings of various systems on board (such as air conditioning/heat, toilets, combo washer/dryer), blogging and an actual pump-out of the black water holding tank, cheerfully performed by Jack under Bob’s direction.
At 4:30 the four of us settled on the Sundeck for a beer, and Jack and Sara High-Fived their absorption of a HUGE amount of information in short order, very successfully in our view.
Utterly astonishing, and overwhelmingly touching to us, Jack and Sara presented us with a gift to thank us for our friendship and willingness to spend time teaching them “the ropes” on Next To Me: a spectacular, gorgeous Weems and Plath gimbaled box clock.
An inscribed brass plate in the lid reads “The Great Loop Odyssey on Next To Me 2012-2013”. It’s so beautiful Cathryn was brought to tears and Bob had a genuine (rare) grin on his face.
So tonight the four of us went to “Chuck’s” for dinner, across the street from the marina, and sat at an outside table to eat fried shrimp and crabcakes, enjoy a beautiful sunset, and talk about topics other than The Boat, including our kids and upcoming plans for the remainder of 2013 for all of us.
We are SO grateful to have such friendly, smart, kind, generous people with whom to conduct the otherwise stressful business of selling a boat, and pleased that we have new friends, truly, as a result.