Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Another one off the list

Cross It Off the List

We are at the Elks lodge in the Orange Park neighborhood of Jacksonville, Florida (map). There are four sites here with 50-amp pedestals and water, along with a difficult-to-access dump station, for $15 per night. One of the sites is permanently occupied by the on-site host; just as when we were here last year, it was just us and the host for the whole duration of our stay.

We arrived Saturday afternoon, got set up, and went in to have a beer and pay for two nights. While at the bar, I got pressed into service to fix the DirecTV setup, which apparently has been out since a storm last week. I think their switch box is fried, but I managed to get it working, at least for a while, by power-cycling the switch, which was miraculous enough, apparently, to warrant free beer. Free or not, we enjoyed chatting with the other Elks in the bar. We had figured to leave Monday morning, since our boat appointments were Sunday afternoon.

I mentioned here on Friday that we'd booked a rental car so we could drive up to St. Marys after Jacksonville, in order to look at yet another boat there. By the time Sunday morning rolled around, however, we had decided against even looking at that boat. We had been less than luke-warm on it to begin with, adding it to the list because we were going to be passing St, Marys anyway. When we reconsidered the cost and logistics of it, it didn't make much sense. Instead, our friends and brokers Curtis and Gill picked us up here at the bus and we drove over together to Lambs Marine here in town to look at the boat here, a 62' custom steel boat.

Even though that boat was well within our price range, leaving us a few dollars to spruce it up and fix some issues, it turned out to need a lot more than we wanted to do to the boat. Right off the bat, it would need stabilizers, and they'd have to go in underneath the master stateroom, a bigger project than ones that go in the engine room. The boat also rolled a lot more than it should have for a 150,000-lb boat sitting in a calm marina. And the amount of finish work required in the accommodation areas was overwhelming. It was a lot of boat for the money, and somebody will get a good deal, but it was not the right boat for us.

Sunday evening, after a somewhat disappointing day, we were considering a plan to bomb down to Fort Lauderdale over the next three days. That's because we got a call from a production company on Friday doing a special for the Travel Channel on custom RVs. They are doing a shoot Thursday of our friend Steve's Neoplan Spaceliner, and he had mentioned us to them, and they thought it would be great to get both of the coaches together in the same shoot. Had we been anywhere else in the country, we could not even have considered it, but here in Jacksonville it was certainly within the realm of possibility.

This is the third time we have been approached by someone doing a Travel Channel RV special. The first time, we went through a number of conversations before finding out that, basically, they wanted us to shoot the footage, write the copy, and then sign over all rights to them. Ha. After being soured by that experience, we basically blew off the next outfit that called. This time we were more open to the idea, because they were clearly sending a film crew, and, hey, we're trying to sell the bus, and you know what they say about no such thing as bad publicity.

We were still vacillating on the idea, in part because we didn't want to steal any of the limelight from Steve and his gorgeous coach. But more because it would mean flying right past boats and/or friends in Fort Pierce, Palm Beach, and possibly St. Augustine and Cocoa Beach. We'd still want to see those boats and those friends, necessitating a follow-up trip right back up the east coast, adding more mileage to see the boats and friends on the west coast later.

What ultimately killed the notion of zipping down to Fort Lauderdale for the shoot, however, was yet another boat, this one in Savannah, Georgia. Yes, we did in fact just come through Savannah last week, and it certainly would have been more convenient to see the boat when we were there. I just did not know about it at the time; my own fault, really.

In addition to our brokers keeping their eyes and ears open for boats based on what they know of our tastes and wishes, I've been scouring FSBO listings and "Yachtworld," what is essentially the worldwide "multiple listing service" of boats for sale, "yacht" or otherwise. Yachtworld is actually difficult to search, unless you are looking for a common model in a limited geography.

Since there is no "search for boats that might interest Sean and Louise" button, instead I need to run two to three dozen different queries each time. Unless you are a broker, Yachtworld does not allow you to store these queries in any way for use later. Instead I need to "modify" the query by hand over and over again, changing makers, keywords, hull materials, and geography to get the results to something manageable. If I don't do it this way, and just go with "common denominator" inputs, the return is in the thousands of results.

What I should have done, while we were in or approaching Savannah, was to broaden the search terms but limit the geography to Savannah alone, which might have turned this boat up while we were still there. The boat was just listed July 14, which is why I did not turn it up when I did my broader queries a bit earlier, when we were planning the route down the coast. So we just missed it. I caught it Sunday night, when I was once again re-searching the entire country after crossing the Jacksonville boat off our list of contenders.

The good news was that Savannah was exactly where our brokers went after they left us here in Jacksonville on Sunday, and we knew they would be there overnight. I caught them early enough to have them go preview the boat while they were still in town. Their report was quite positive and they sent us a number of photos. Based on the positive reviews and their comments. we decided we'd best go see it while we were still close enough to Savannah to do so without spending a fortune.

We decided to re-up here at the lodge for another two nights, book a rental car, and make the round trip drive yesterday just to see the boat. Between the rental car and the gas we spent $80 or so, whereas taking the bus round trip would have been $180. We also stopped at Skipper's Fish Camp in Darien on the way back for dinner.

This is another weird, one-off steel boat, and the asking price is right at the top of our budget. Not surprisingly, the boat needs some work that we could only do if we got it for considerably less money. Since it just went on the market ten days ago, the seller is probably not at a place where he's going to take that kind of offer, so we're just going to let this one simmer. Our experience with these sorts of boats is that there is a very limited market for them, and after this one has sat without any takers for a few months would be a better time to talk turkey. And so in the meantime, our search continues. We knew this could be the outcome, but it still made more sense to see it now when it cost us $80 rather than have to fly in or drive from even further away later, if and when they lower the price.

We turned the rental car back in this morning, and in a few minutes we will continue south, probably to the Elks lodge in St. Augustine. We've had a very nice four nights here in Jacksonville. In addition to looking at two boats and catching up with Curtis and Gill, we also had a nice dinner Saturday night at the University Club downtown, and Monday evening we met our good friend David, who just wrapped up the Red Cross relief operation for Tropical Storm Debby, for dinner at a nearby restaurant. He was kind enough to drive all the way here from Lake City just to see us before flying home to Ohio. We also made it back to the massage school here Monday for a pair of much-needed $30 massages.

Photo by fellinlovewithoutyou, used under a Creative Commons license.


  1. Wait, hold on, did I read that right - "we're trying to sell the bus" ??!! Darnnit, I've just started following your blog. Say it ain't so!!

    1. Yes, you read correctly. But never fear -- we'll be here for a while longer yet. We still have not found the boat of our dreams, and even when we do, I expect it will take several weeks if not months to make the transition. Once we've moved aboard, we will continue blogging, probably right here on this very blog. Of course, my ruminations will then probably be less interesting to RVers and more interesting to cruisers.

      Don't forget, there are also over 1,700 posts on this blog already, covering most of the last eight years we have spent on the road. (I somehow neglected to post for the first two months.) Even after we move onto the boat, that should keep you busy for a while! I've never counted up all the stats, but the blog comprises some 140,000 miles and probably well over a thousand different stops.

      Anyway, welcome to the blog, and to the world of RVing in general. Perhaps someday we will see you on the road.

  2. Your issue of not being able to save Yachworld queries got me thinking so I did some checking. Looks like you can perform a query on Yachtworld and once you have your results save the URL in your browser's Favorites. Each time you use that Favorite it will perfrom a fresh query of that website. Not sure that will help but thought I'd put it out there just in case.

  3. Canada just sold off two 70' fully functioning, seaworthy Coast Guard Cutters for $90K each! They could have been (and will be) converted to nice cruisers. The Government originally paid $1.8 Million each for them. Story here:


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