In 2013, we took our boat Sea BLyS to New England for five weeks. As you can read from our blog posts for this period, we had a fantastic time. We also learned several important things on this trip. One, we loved long-range cruising. Prior to this trip, our longest voyage had been our trip north from Florida right after we bought the boat. While we enjoyed cruising the Chesapeake Bay, we really loved our long-distance cruise to New England, seeing new places (or old places from the water), and spending time together on the boat. Two, Sea BLyS was the perfect boat for the bay. However, it did not like the rough water of the ocean. While it handled fine and could take the rough seas, it was made, in our opinion, for calmer waters. Three, while being together on Sea BLyS for five weeks was great, there really was no space on the boat for us occasionally to be apart, and all couples need some separation. Moreover, the space to just relax was more limited than we would have liked. Four, we ate out a lot on our trip to New England. We realized the galley in Sea BLyS was perfect for breakfast and lunch but not really big enough to make dinner every night for weeks. We needed more counter space, a larger stove and a bigger refrigerator.
Based on our trip, we began to think about what our ideal boat might be. Our criteria included a larger salon and ideally one that had a lot of natural sunlight (Sea BLyS’s salon was below deck), a larger kitchen and better staterooms for our adult children. We also wanted a boat that could handle rough seas and was made for ocean cruising. To get what we wanted, we realized that we might need to make some tradeoffs. To get the space and stability we wanted, we felt that we probably needed a trawler design rather than a sport cruiser. This meant giving up the ability to cruise at 20 -25 knots and still get good mileage (1 knot per gallon). Neither Ade nor I were sure that I could adapt to going only 6-8 knots without going stir-crazy. Also to get the space that we wanted, we were going to need a boat that was probably longer than Sea BLyS. Ade was adamant that any boat longer than 50 feet would not be acceptable – too hard to maneuver and too expensive to maintain. Finally, while we realized that the net proceeds from selling Sea BLyS would not fully cover the cost of the new boat, we did not want to put a whole lot of more money into the new boat. This meant we were going to look at used boats. We also wanted to make sure we sold Sea BLyS before we bought a new boat or that a sale was imminent.
So, with these criteria, we created a multi-page checklist, and with that checklist we went off to boat shows. Over the last few years, we had both read extensively about the pros and cons of various boats and had some idea of what boats might meet our needs. Our first stop was Trawler Fest in Baltimore. Katherine our daughter came with us. We toured almost every type of boat on the docks – American Tug, Nordic Tug, Nordhaven, Krogen Express, Kadey-Krogen, DeFever, Selene, Beneteau and others that I can even remember. We even look at boats that were larger than Ade wanted including Azimuths and Flemings. Ade carried our checklist on a clipboard and took extensive notes on every boat. They all had things we liked but several really struck us as what we might want.
We really liked the Kadey-Krogen, especially the 48 AE. The boat seemed to have all that we wanted with only a few caveats. The standard version had only one head, and we really wanted our own head in the master stateroom. The boat was also a single engine, and I worried about docking the boat as well as the lack of redundancy in the propulsion system. Also the boat was fairly new, so there were no used boats available. We thought we might be able to afford a new boat and spent a lot of time talking with the dealer about the boat.
We also really liked the Defevers. The engine room had great access and the layout of the boat, particularly the master stateroom, seemed to have what we wanted. The guest stateroom had a v-berth, which we did not think ideal. The dealer, however, was great and we spent a lot of time talking with him.
The last boat we really liked was the Fleming 55. Of course this boat was 60 feet in overall length and Ade was adamant that it was too big and too expensive. Even she, however, had to admit that the boat was beautiful and had everything we wanted. Katherine and I loved the boat. As a bonus, the dealer, Burr Yachts, was also great. Kevin Althoff from Burr Yachts spent a tremendous amount of time with us going over the engine room and all the features of the boat. I was hooked; Ade was just nibbling; Katherine was laughing at us.
So it was time to think about what to do. We went home that night and promptly decided that we needed to go back to Trawler Fest the next day and look again. Back we went and looked again at the American Tug, the Kadey-Krogen, the Defever and the Fleming. All the dealers remembered us, referring to Ade as the Lady with the Clipboard. We decided that the American Tug was just too small but the other three were all in the running.
One week later, it was the Annapolis Boat Show and we were back looking at boats again. Our first stop was the dealer who had sold us Sea BLyS to tell him that we were thinking of selling our boat and to ask for his help. He is a terrific guy, and we were sure that we would be able to sell the boat soon. Then it was off to look some more. We toured the Defever and the Fleming again. We still loved both boats and talked to the dealers about visiting them and getting a sea trial. Ade was slowly beginning to soften on the Fleming – maybe it wasn’t too big but then again…
The Kadey-Krogen was not at the boat show but there was a Kadey-Krogen open house at a nearby marina. So the next day we were off to visit Kadey-Krogens. We spent all morning looking and talking with the dealer. We really liked the boats but were still troubled by the single engine and the single head on the 48AE; also if we wanted the 48 AE, it looked like we would need to buy a new boat.
So we were alternately excited and depressed. We decided it was time for a closer look at the other two boats that we really liked but had not yet thoroughly explored.
The next week we went to Eastern shore to look at DeFevers. We spent a full afternoon looking at the Defevers, including a brand new Defever Euro 52. There were many things we really liked about the Defever but we were not in love with the layout of the second stateroom. On the other hand, the DeFever was much more affordable than either the Kadey-Krogen or the Fleming.
A few days later, we went to Burr Yachts in Edgewater to look at Fleming 55s. Kevin was there and gave us a complete tour of all the available boats. We went out on a 2001 Fleming 55. The first thing both Ade and I noticed was how stable the boat was and how easily Kevin maneuvered the boat out of the slip. Both Ade and I took turns driving the boat. It was so different from Sea BLyS – not as quick and responsive but incredibly stable. I could see Ade’s resistance to the size of the Fleming beginning to crack. The interior and living space of the boat were everything we wanted. The only downside was the age of the boat. It was in great condition but Fleming had made a significant upgrade in the engines in 2007, switching to common-rail electronically controlled engines, and had made other improvements over the years.
We went home to contemplate our choices. We were in a dilemma. All three types of boats were great and all had pluses and minuses. However, the only minuses we had for the Fleming was the length of the boat and its age. The 2001 Fleming was in our price range but the newer boats were considerably more than we wanted to spend. We talked to a number of friends who had Flemings and they all raved about the boat. We could both feel the lure of the Fleming sucking us in like a Sea Siren.
So Ade and I continued to stew over what we should do. I kept reading about Flemings, looking at the Burr Yacht website and thinking about what we should do, when I happened to notice that Burr had a 2007 Fleming 55 for sale. I emailed Kevin to get the specs and the price – way more than we wanted to spend but the pictures of the boat were very appealing. It had everything we wanted and then some. We poured over our financial records trying to decide whether it made sense to spend this much on a boat. I was there but Ade was definitely not sure. In addition, we had still not sold Sea BLyS. But we both agreed that we should look at the boat.
Two days later on a Friday afternoon we went to look at the 2007 Fleming 55. We got to Burr Yachts a few minutes early and walked down the pier to the boat. Kevin was on board showing another couple the same boat we were interested in. The other couple looked at us and we looked at them – I could feel the competitive fires burning bright. Ade turned to me and said, “You don’t think we need to make an offer today do you?” I said, “We might!”
As soon as the other couple was done, Kevin gave us a quick tour and took Ade and me out. The boat slid easily and gracefully out of the slip and up the South River. Everything about the boat was perfect – the interior features, the mechanical upgrades, the electronics in the helm, etc. If we bought this boat, we both thought that there would be almost nothing we would need to change. We returned to the dock and Ade and I again toured the entire boat. We were hooked. We asked Kevin to leave us alone for a few minutes. Ade and I looked at each other and knew we wanted this boat and that we had to make an offer that night. We walked up to the Burr office and told Kevin that we wanted to make an offer that night. I think he was very surprised but within an hour we had signed the papers. It was 7:30PM and we made our offer conditional on getting an acceptance by Monday.
Ade and I went off to dinner wondering what the heck we had just done. It was an anxious and hand-wringing weekend. Would we get the boat? Should we get the boat? Are we crazy again?
Monday morning came and still no answer. I talked with Kevin but there was no response yet. Then at 1:00pm, Kevin called. Our offer had been accepted.
We were thrilled and terrified. We still had not sold Sea BLyS, but sold or not, a new adventure was about to start.