The Previous Owner

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  • JOHN COOKSON
    Afourian MVP, Professor Emeritus
    • Nov 2008
    • 3501

    The Previous Owner

    Here's a PO story that will blow your socks off.

    My boat is a 1980 model that was built in 1979. It was purchased by the first, original owner in late 1979. I bought the boat from him in 1982 and have owned it (and the late model A4)ever since, 29+ years.
    Since I was paying cash I didn't need a survey. I took a friend along who knew a lot about A4s for the pre purchase inspection and sea trial. Before we left for the sea trial I asked the PO where the dip stick was so I could check the oil. The PO said he didn't know where the dip stick was! Almost dropped my load right there. How much maintenance did the brand new engine have while the PO owned the boat? My guess is none. Not even an oil change!

    I asked the PO where the wrench was to loosen the fuel fill cap. He said he didn't have one. Right after I bought the boat I noticed the tank gauge was on empty so I headed for the fuel dock. Got almost to the fuel dock and the engine died. Was able to drift down wind and tie up at the fuel dock. Moment of panic in my new unfamiliar boat hoping all the time that I had just run out of gas. Gassed up and got the engine fired up. All was well. I think the PO had bought a sail away package that included a tank of fuel and had never, ever fueled up!

    Anyway this leaves me with an advantage over most forum members. I know the entire M&R (maintenance & repair) history of the engine. Nobody but me has ever done any M&R or so much as touched the engine since the boat was launched - ever. Yes, I've fallen on my face a few times but that's another post..........

    Let's go sailing.

    TRUE GRIT
  • Dave Neptune
    Afourian MVP, Professor Emeritus
    • Jan 2007
    • 5063

    #2
    PO story

    John, I too have a PO story regarding my A-4. I had a cashiers check in my pocket for a down payment to buy a 1972 E-35MkII and would tender the rest when she passed inspection. While on the way down the dock to meet the owner and as I walked past another 1970 E-35MkII that was far better equiped and there was a bit of noise on deck from raised voices. As I passed one of my PO's (there were three) tumbled off the bow and onto the dock in a rather serious fist fight with one of the other owners . My self and another guy on the dock got them parted which was quite a struggle in itself. The third owner was still on the deck trying to keep the wife of one of the owners and the others "GIRLFRIEND" apart. Well a long story short I got a fantastic deal as they accepted my down payment check + $3,000 cash. I got the Volador for about half what the other one was going to cost.
    Those three idiots bought the boat from a Doc who raised her extensively (13 bags of sails in great shape) after he had a heart attack. They owned the boat for almost 6 years and she never left the slip. All three were keeping the boat secretly instead of taking their girlfriends to a hotel and none of their wives new until that day.
    Well the engine was frozen tight and the next day the water was over the floor from leaks from the shaft log. They wanted their battery charger back and I said fine . Not only was she frozen but all 3 batteries were shot. The first purchase I made was for a battery and a bilge pump. I figured with the money I saved I could drop in a diesel and still be ahead so I wasn't to worried. I spent a couple of days with a dead blow hammer once I got the head off and got her spinning, replaced an exhaust valve and did a valve job. She's been running for me for 27years now. Truly an amazing engine!!!
    The other boats owner called me that evening and wondered what happened to me, boy was he surprised and disappointed. I didn't tell my wife so I could suprise her and that didn't work out well either. She liked the other boat which was Blue trim and the Volador was green trim. She did perk up a bit when I explained the equipment advantages but she didn't like me not telling her or the green. At the first haul out I went to pick up the boat and it was taking a few extra days to get done. The yard said they were having trouble, however the trouble was that my wife paid them to redo the stripes in maroon, I almost didn't recognize it.

    Dave Neptune

    Comment

    • jtsails
      Senior Member
      • Dec 2011
      • 27

      #3
      Dave,
      I like your wife!!!!!!!!!
      James

      Comment

      • Mo
        Afourian MVP
        • Jun 2007
        • 4519

        #4
        Feet up on the desk talking on the phone.

        January 2007 I was sitting in a small medical clinic in the Canadian Arctic. Things were slow and I started surfing the net....boats.com to be exact. I've always been partial to C&C's so I start looking.

        I spot this 1976 C&C 30 that was the same color as my C&C 24 sitting home on the hard in Halifax. Immediate interest, so I pick up the phone and call. The boat was in Cotuit Mass. and the owner proceeds to tell me her history. He is second owner of 2 years. Previous owner to him was and engineer and bought it new. He confirms "everything in working order".

        At this point I tell him that if he is a man of his word ... so am I and if it is as he says I'll buy it. We agreed on a price on the boat being as he stated. Gave him my email address and told him to send me info where to send the money....this all happened in a 15 minute phone call.

        The email with his banking info arrives and I call my wife. I ask her to run to the bank and sent money to this account in the US. WHAT? WHY? ANOTHER BOAT? ....I'M NOT DOING IT.....at this point I told her that I'm the one sitting in the middle of nowhere making the money and if she doesn't like my boat she can go to work....she went to the bank and sent the money for me.

        In May, Memorial Day Weekend, myself and 3 friends leave Halifax and drive to Hyannis Mass. It's the first time I see the boat and it is rough. Had a good look at it and decided that it needed some work. We had planned to sail it home but I would not put anyone in peril on iffy gear...so I called a transport company to haul it to Nova Scotia.

        We drove back to Halifax and I started building the trailer that I still use today. I knew I'd have to overhaul allot of things on the boat and need the capability get her home, launched etc..so the trailer was the answer (in photos). Sort of said ***...I'm in this much money anyway.

        The boat arrives 12 July (finally) and I work on her 8 hrs a day for 8 weeks...everyday...initially Melinda is pissed but I did the outside right away to make it pretty and she is soon bringing me a beer as I work in the heat.

        The engine I left until last as it was reported to be in good order...NOT... I did a bit of an overhaul on that and the previous owner was a man of his word refunding some cash (he offered) once I told him the engine wasn't working. Launched the boat 8 weeks after her arrival in Halifax. Since that time have only had to do general maintenance and bottom paint. I never did meet the previous owner personally but I did get a good boat and I did get a good deal.

        The pic below is the day I launched her...I think Melinda got over it.
        Attached Files
        Last edited by Mo; 12-08-2011, 10:43 PM. Reason: resize pic
        Mo

        "Odyssey"
        1976 C&C 30 MKI

        The pessimist complains about the wind.
        The optimist expects it to change.
        The realist adjusts the sails.
        ...Sir William Arthur Ward.

        Comment

        • Laker
          Senior Member
          • Sep 2010
          • 458

          #5
          My PO was a faceless entity who had gone on the lam to Florida ; I suspect messy divorce. The Columbia 34 was snowed in at a yard in Milwaukee. I had a difficult time getting the companionway open do to snow & ice incrustation , and when I finally gained entry I was treated to a horror show of mildewed carpet , dog smell and cigarette butts. However , I immediately fell in love with the lines , the vast cockpit and deck , and the classic interior layout. (Note : I crewed a Pearson Vanguard in my younger days and was quite smitten with that boat.) The boat was filthy , the teak was rough , several hatches were shot , the wiring was a rat's nest , A4 compression was 75 on the forward cylinder and less at each one going aft with a stellar 48 on the back cylinder , and I hated the stumpy rig , BUT , I had "Boat Of My Dreams" syndrome steering me. PO wanted $18,000. We settled at $13,500 and I probably overpaid.

          Now , with new/used A4 , all paint surfaces and teak finish , new wiring and plumbing , dog kennel sole replaced w/ teak and holly , and a tall carbon fiber rig , I have erased all PO evidence. Finally , it is my boat.
          1966 Columbia 34 SABINA

          Comment

          • Marian Claire
            Afourian MVP
            • Aug 2007
            • 1769

            #6
            The MC has had two POs. In the mid 60s R Shaw began building her in Raleigh NC. RS had grown up on the NC coast and survived the lean times by living on a 17 ft sailboat he built. He would harvest oysters, crab, whatever and trade for potatoes etc ashore. The MC was his seventh and largest boat. At the same time another man D Timothy was planing to build the same boat. He had purchased plans from Charles Wittholz. One day as DT drove thru a Raleigh neighborhood he recognized the lines of the boat taking shape. He stopped and that began a long friendship. They worked together on the boat for the next 7 years and she, then the Martha Kay, was launched in 1972. After 20 odd years RS decided he was to old to use the boat and DT's wife decided she would purchase her for DT. And she was renamed the Marian Claire. DT did most of the nice wood work you see on the interior of the boat. He also did some upgrades to the 1965 A-4, EI, electric fuel pump. He dreamed of taking her south and to the Bahamas. Life got in his way and he never made it that far.
            Thru a strange twist of fate, thats another story, Linda and I became the third owners. DT had one stipulation when he sold her to me. He made me promise that when I sold her I would make sure the new owner would take care of her. I had the privilege of meeting RS before he passed away and DT, RS and I swapped pics and stories from original construction to my rehab. I kept DT notified during my trips south and after his death his wife told me how much he enjoyed the E-mails.
            Last spring as I made my way back from the Abacos I anchored at Allans Pensacola Cay. There is a signing tree there, a place to leave remembrances of boats, crews, trips etc. On a ribbon I wrote "IMO R Shaw and D Timothy owners and builders of the S/V Marian Claire"
            Dan S/V Marian Claire
            Last edited by Marian Claire; 12-09-2011, 11:27 AM. Reason: spelling

            Comment

            • Mo
              Afourian MVP
              • Jun 2007
              • 4519

              #7
              Well done Dan.

              Nice Post Dan. I need say no more.
              Mo

              "Odyssey"
              1976 C&C 30 MKI

              The pessimist complains about the wind.
              The optimist expects it to change.
              The realist adjusts the sails.
              ...Sir William Arthur Ward.

              Comment

              • ndutton
                Afourian MVP
                • May 2009
                • 9777

                #8
                The "eye"

                My P.O. was unknown to me at the time of purchase but I learned much about him shortly thereafter.

                He was the original owner for 28 years and lived aboard although I don't know for how long. His age and reduced mobility made life aboard a problem if not downright dangerous so accordingly the boat was sold.

                Little thought went into his modifications beyond function. Wires were strung on cup hooks and plastic holders everywhere, all screwed into either the teak or fiberglass. The battery charger was a little taller than the space where he mounted it so he cut out half of the teak shelf. The chosen spot for the paper towel holder was obstructed by a tall teak searail. Solution: relocate the holder? Nope, cut out a portion of the searail. His wiring was a fright but in truth, no worse than the factory. He had a passion for crude aluminum brackets to hang everything, fashioned from hardware store stock. He cut the front of the nav station out and put a small fridge in there. It was held in place with a length of anchor chain strapped over the top. No kidding. There was no repairing that either, an entire new nav station had to be built.

                It was clear the mods were done with rudimentary hand tools, a typical condition for liveaboards. It's possible the quality of his work could have been better with a well equipped shop at his disposal but the more I think about it, probably not. He didn't have the "eye."

                The work involved in undoing his handiwork required repairing/replacing all the damaged shelves, rails and such and all the screw holes. I counted 400 holes, half in the teak and half in the fiberglass liner. There was no fixing the shelves and rails, they had to be replaced.

                To borrow Laker's comment, the boat became mine the day I hauled off five truckloads of stuff.

                edit:
                Remember, someday you'll be the PO.
                Last edited by ndutton; 12-09-2011, 12:35 PM. Reason: added dire warning
                Neil
                1977 Catalina 30
                San Pedro, California
                prior boats 1987 Westsail 32, 1970 Catalina 22
                Had my hands in a few others

                Comment

                • Ajax
                  Senior Member
                  • Jul 2011
                  • 520

                  #9
                  I'm glad my story is boring compared to some of the nightmares you guys are telling.

                  My Pearson 30 was on the hard, and I negotiated with the son of the registered owner, who agreed to my terms and signed it over to me. The boat was clean, and came with a full suit of sails. Nothing crazy.

                  The boat was very... basic. Not equipped for racing or anything, only primary winches, no boom vang, no tiller tamer or autopilot. It was marginally equipped for spinnaker flight with a pole, and pole lift, but no foreguy, and a tiny spinnaker built in 1968. The very tired main has no reef points in it.

                  The Atomic 4 spun to life easily after sitting un-touched for about 2 years, and has run well for me since. It does need an oil change and a valve adjustment though.

                  I slapped some fresh bottom paint on it, replaced the shaft packing and went sailing.
                  Last edited by Administrator; 12-09-2011, 11:55 AM.

                  Comment

                  • Jesse Delanoy
                    Afourian MVP
                    • Dec 2006
                    • 236

                    #10
                    John, it's good your PO only had three years in which to damage the engine.

                    Anyway, my experience is, just because you're not financing a boat purchase doesn't mean you don't need a survey. I've gotten one on each of the three boats I've purchased, was damn glad I did each time, and sold two of them to folks who didn't think they needed surveys.

                    Comment

                    • ndutton
                      Afourian MVP
                      • May 2009
                      • 9777

                      #11
                      My survey did more bureaucratic harm than good.

                      Upcoming thread on survey stories??
                      Neil
                      1977 Catalina 30
                      San Pedro, California
                      prior boats 1987 Westsail 32, 1970 Catalina 22
                      Had my hands in a few others

                      Comment

                      • ILikeRust
                        Afourian MVP
                        • Sep 2010
                        • 2212

                        #12
                        My boat had four, and possibly five, previous owners. The good thing is that everyone kept all, or at least most of, the paperwork and passed it along to each subsequent owner. So I have a file box full of all kinds of old paper.

                        The bad thing is that it seems most of them were loathe to actually discard ANYTHING.

                        Just recently, I went through the paperwork and cleaned some stuff out that was completely obsolete and moot. For example, there was a big user manual for a Loran. Well, there are wires on the boat that I presume once, a long time ago, were connected to the Loran, but it's looooong gone. From some of the paperwork, the Loran was added in the late 70s/early 80s. But obviously none of the POs could bring themselves to remove either the old, abandoned wiring (which I have since done) or discard the completely useless manual (which I have since done).

                        I also found paperwork in there for an old battery charger that is nowhere in sight and a few other items that are no longer on the boat.

                        I've reported before the miles of wiring I keep finding that are connected to nothing - or - worse - connected to power at one end and then disappear off into the boat with nothing on the other end. I still have some wires to trace, but I have removed a bunch of that kind of nonsense.

                        I have found several interesting "repairs" or "modifications" - can't tell whether they were done by the immediate PO, who I bought the boat from, or one before him, but I have yet to see one that was done to what I would consider "workmanlike" standards. Sort of functional, yes; but neat, tidy, aesthetically pleasing - eh... not so much. Some of them also seem kinda half-assed to me. E.g., if the cabinet door catch is worn out and no longer catches the door, what should you do?

                        (a) Go buy a new catch to replace the old, worn-out one
                        (b) Slap a big hunk of duct tape across the door to hold it shut
                        (c) Whittle a little piece of mahogany and screw it into the face frame of the cabinet to function as a turn-catch on the outisde of the door to hold it closed.
                        (d) Take the door off and throw it away.

                        I suppose I should be glad he didn't do (b) or (d), but he didn't do (a) either. There's a little hunk of mahogany screwed to the face of the cabinet that you twist to open the door. It's clearly not original and kinda clunky. I figure someday I'll replace the old catch.

                        Another example - the door between the head and the V-berth originally opens forward into the space between the V-berths. But some PO made an extra "filler" piece to bridge the gaps between the V-berths so that the entire V-berth space can be made into one big bed. This filler piece occupies the space into which the door would have to open. So he put the hinges and catch on the other side of the door to make it open into the head instead of into the V-berth. Only problem is it's not very neatly done, and it makes it awkward to use the head, because it's already a teeny-tiny space, and the door from the galley opens foward into the head. So you have to close the forward door first, then squeeze your body out of the way of the other one to close it. I probably will fix that, which might require some woodworking to repair the big hinge mortises he made in the door.

                        The cool thing is that my box of old boat paper includes the original invoice for the boat. She cost over $15,000 in 1968, which is equivalent to about $130,000 today.
                        - Bill T.
                        - Richmond, VA

                        Relentless pursuer of lost causes

                        Comment

                        • ILikeRust
                          Afourian MVP
                          • Sep 2010
                          • 2212

                          #13
                          Originally posted by ndutton View Post
                          My survey did more bureaucratic harm than good.

                          Upcoming thread on survey stories??
                          My insurer (Boat US) wanted a survey, which I had done anyhow, for my own info and for potential bargaining position, because it also included an market value appraisal.

                          So you don't need a survey only if you finance the purchase - what about your insurer?
                          - Bill T.
                          - Richmond, VA

                          Relentless pursuer of lost causes

                          Comment

                          • edwardc
                            Afourian MVP
                            • Aug 2009
                            • 2511

                            #14
                            I'm an amateur genealogist, and good at tracking down people, so when we bought the boat, I made it a project to track down all the previous owners and contact as many of them as I could.

                            I managed to determine that there had been eight (!) previous owners, and identified seven of the eight (well, really eight of nine, as there once was a pair of co-owners). Of them, the original owner had died, and I located and talked to the second, third, seventh, and (of course) eighth owners. I recently tracked down the sixth but haven't talked to him yet.

                            When I called the second owner and he answered, I told him I was trying to locate the Richard Muller who had once owned a Pearson 323. There was a moment of blank silence, and then the answer "Well, yes, that's me, but that was over 20 years ago!". He was delighted to learn that the two non-sailors that he had sold it to had managed to not sink or destroy it.

                            It turned out that he still had a folder full of boat papers and photos (!) and would be happy to send them to me! The photos were a gold mine, showing various equipment changes that had accumulated over time, as well as photos of the original owner.

                            Of them all, only the seventh & eighth had done any significant engine or drive-train work, and the engine had never been rebuilt. They both had passed on two large binders full of information and manuals.

                            The engine was originally running well when we bought her, but improper winterization by the PO resulted in small undiscovered head & block cracks that eventually led to a catastrophic failure halfway through our first season, in the middle of our first week-long trip.

                            But now, thanks to Don and his crew, and all the fine folks here, we have a reliable rebuilt engine that we expect to get many years of service from.
                            @(^.^)@ Ed
                            1977 Pearson P-323 "Dolce Vita"
                            with rebuilt Atomic-4

                            sigpic

                            Comment

                            • JOHN COOKSON
                              Afourian MVP, Professor Emeritus
                              • Nov 2008
                              • 3501

                              #15
                              Originally posted by ILikeRust View Post
                              So you don't need a survey only if you finance the purchase - what about your insurer?
                              Bill
                              I've thought about this - insuring a boat without a survey. But it happened. They insured it for the price I paid.
                              Maybe it was because I already had a boat insured with them? Didn't ask. Never found out. Just left it alone.

                              TRUE GRIT

                              Edit: My memory is a little fuzzy after ~30 years but I do remember somebody - I don't remember who, when, or where - said that for sure somebody from the insurance company came down and looked at the boat to be sure they were not over insuring a junk boat.
                              Last edited by JOHN COOKSON; 12-09-2011, 06:06 PM.

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