* * *
After coming to a quasi-agreement with Steven on a price for Nice Pair, Kirk and I felt pretty confident in our prospects of becoming future catamaran owners. We can make this deal work, we thought. We’re so close.
In the span of a fortnight, our dream was flipped on its head.
The downfall, in fact, started at the beginning of our interactions with Steven.
He wasn’t exactly a straight shooter. Conversations with him ran around in circles. During negotiations, he’d try to rationalize his exorbitantly high price for Nice Pair by quoting the price of various upgrades done to the boat from when they were new.
The 55’ carbon mast was supposedly worth $65k. Sure, two decades ago. Today you can buy a brand new carbon mast for $35k.
Steven said he put $20k worth of parts and upgrades into the boat, and believed he should recoup 100% of this cost in the sale. Yes, maybe, if the boat was a house, and the upgrade was radiant flooring. But boats are not houses. They’re like cars. Cars get used and abused. Trying to sell a used car for more than its Kelley Blue Book value by promoting the couple thousand-dollar paint job it received 10 years ago doesn’t work. Especially if that car was just involved in a fender bender.
And Nice Pair’s fender bender? The R2AK in 2016. During this brutal 750-mile race from Washington to Alaska, the boom ripped off the mast, twice. Not to mention the rest of the wear and tear (i.e. chaffed Spectra rigging, temporary patches to holes in the hull from smashing against a concrete pier, dented/bent aluminum bowsprit from said collision with pier) the boat sustained whilst sailing through the harsh latitudes of the northern Pacific.
As far as we could tell, Steven’s head was in the clouds about how much this boat was worth.
Which seemed strange, considering how he treated his boat. During Kirk’s second trip to Seattle to help him get Nice Pair out of the water and onto a trailer, Kirk was aghast at Steven’s carelessness. In an attempt to detach a part of the hull, he couldn’t be bothered to find the right wrench to loosen the screws, so instead he started hacking a hole in the fiberglass to pry the section loose. Then, without warning, this 2×6’ box fell from eight feet onto the ground, cracking the fiberglass in several places.
Kirk was livid. “He couldn’t spend an extra two minutes looking for a wrench?” he told me over the phone. “He couldn’t spend five to tie a strap to lower the box properly? What else has he damaged that we don’t know about?”
The final straw was Steven’s closing remark in one of his last emails to us. This came after we had agreed on a price. This came after we conceded one of the sails in the inventory (a brand new screecher), told him to not worry about repairs he promised he’d do, and said we’d find alternate transportation to tow the boat across the country (even though he offered us use of his truck). After all of these concessions, this:
“The offer is standing at this time, but I wonder if I am doing the right thing. Every other day I am not sure I want to sell the boat.”
We’re sorry, you’re not sure what?
This guy doesn’t even know if he wants to sell.
That’s a problem we can’t help him with. We can’t convince someone to sell their property for a fair price when they don’t even know if they want to sell.
It took Kirk and me a few days to come to terms with the reality of our situation. Maybe if we had oodles of cash lying around that we didn’t know what to do with we could convince Steven to sell us Nice Pair, knowing full well — and not giving a hoot — that we’d get next to none of it back if we needed to sell her. But we don’t have oodles of cash lying around. We have a small sum we’ve worked really hard to save over the last eight years. We need to be sure that the boat we put our money into is a boat that’s going to float.