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Ballard Sailor

Day 3 & 4 of Boat Shopping, Southern Chesapeake

Rating: 54 votes, 5.00 average.

Wednesday morning, day 3 of boat shopping, started early with an almost 3 hour drive South to our first appointment in Deltaville, Virginia. An O’day 28 that looked to be in good shape from the photos, and she was. The boat was clean, organized and cared for with the old OMC saildrive removed and an outboard on the transom. Plenty of storage space, a nice galley and cushions with good covers. We left this boat slowly while looking over our shoulder, $6500 was a good price - she moved to the top of the list.

Next up, just across the small bay from the O’day was a Columbia 8.3. A good solid boat with a Honda outboard and nice lines. She looked good until you went below and found a dark and dank interior with a headliner falling off and leaks and repairs everywhere. We moved on quickly without taking any interior photos....

Then just down the road was the boat I had picked for the day, the one I had my hopes on, a CS27 (Canadian Sailcraft). She looked good from the outside, nice paint, dodger, solid deck, a very seaworthy looking boat. Below we found some problems. The bulkheads had gotten wet in the past and had began delaminating at and near where the chainplates attached for the shrouds, not good. Then under the floor boards we found a large amount of oil and diesel which didn’t bode well for the motor, damn. My hopes for the day shot down, we moved on to Urbana, Virginia, a few miles down the road.

In Urbana we found a nice solid looking Tanzer 27. Painted blue, she showed white underneath through a myriad of scratches and spider cracks, but still she looked solid. Down below was a very functional interior with enough space to do what we wanted. Not a beautiful boat, but it looked like it would do what we wanted it to, cruise. Then, the owner told us he already had an offer and it was getting surveyed Saturday - he couldn’t have told us that on the phone? Off to Norfolk we went.

An hour or so later we arrived at a Navy base marina to sunny warm 84 degree Norfolk and a good looking C&C 29 MKII for $9500. The deck and hull looked good but the bottom looked tough, like it hadn’t moved in 4 or 5 years. I know the growth is quicker down here in the warm water but this didn’t look good, yet our hopes were still up. Once below our hopes dwindled. She needed a lot of stuff replaced, stove, pumps, head. She need cabinet work and bright work and the engine was overheating. Yet I liked the platform. I offered him $5000 in an email later and never heard back from him - guess it was too low....

A few miles down the road we arrive at a marina on the side of the freeway that had a very sharp looking Pearson 30 for sale. She had good paint, solid deck and a bottom that didn’t have too much growth on her. Below we went and immediately after opening the hatch we found problem #1 - the owner was a smoker. Not a smell or coating you can get out of a boat very easily. Then, upon further exploring the bilge was oily, the cushions shot and covered with sheets and not much storage. This would make someone a great daysailor for the asking price of $3900, but the interior needed help and I feared the Atomic 4 was on its’ last legs.

Next up was a Dufour 27 listed at $8500. I like these Dufour’s, they’re seaworthy French boats with a ton of deck space and a well laid out interior, but this one was tired. It looked to be all original, 1973 original, sails, ropes, cushions, etc. A “Stock” boat that hadn’t been used much but was stuck in an era generations behind today’s technology. I’m glad we went to see her, she is a piece of ocean sailing history, but sadly, not the boat for our trip.

It was then time to head across town to our last stop of the day, a Hunter 27 listed for $5000. The pictures looked nice, with a dodger and red paint job, so we made the short drive through the evening Norfolk traffic - an hour that should have taken 20 minutes. But we had no schedule so we enjoyed the slow tour of this confusing seaside town. Once at the Hunter the let down was quick. The nice red paint? Rolled on by what looked like a 1/2” nap roller, not a good look. A quick view through the locked companionway showed a very messy interior that had Jennifer jumping right off and saying simply “No.” Enough said. Time to head off to our hotel down the coast at Virginia Beach.

The off season - I’ve never been to Virginia Beach but you could tell it was a busy beach town in the summer and a sleepy little town in the winter with its’ quiet streets, closed amusement parks and empty boardwalk. There’s something about the feel of a closed down quiet offseason beach town that is exactly the same no matter where in the world you are. That sense of waiting, the half empty bars where everyone knows each other. The bored cops with no rowdy 20 somethings to chase around. The same everywhere.

We had a great dinner late Wednesday night at a local bar after checking into our hotel. Steak medallions on a nice big green salad, a very tasty treat after a long day on the road looking at boats. We followed dinner by a walk on the beach with Mac where we fortunately found a grocery bag to help us pick up all the garbage we found strewn across the tidelands. It looked to be left by sunbathers, why is it people think we can dilute the sea with garbage and nothing will come of it?

We talked and talked about all the boats we had looked at over the past 3 days and kept coming back to the C&C 29 and the O’day 28. I emailed the C&C owner a low ball offer, not expecting to hear back from him. A good expectation since I didn’t hear back from him. Then we called the owner of the O’day 28 and set up test sail for Thursday mid morning. If all goes well, this may be our boat!

We woke Thursday morning packed and headed North back towards DeltaVille. As we went we convinced ourselves more and more that the O’day was the one, she looked good, was well maintained and the right price at $6500. We didn’t think the owner would move on the price as he had others scheduled to come see her, but she still looked good. Once aboard, the outboard fired right up and we headed out the shallow channel to the bay for a sail. Already it was pushing 80 degrees and with bare feet and shorts we hoisted the sails in a fresh 8 to 10 knots of wind.

Creak, groan, creak, I kept hearing from below as I struggled with the helm. This boat had a ton of weather helm. My arm was quickly becoming sore holding the tiller and the only way to reduce the helm was to flog the main. This would be a tough boat to sail for 6 months. I handed over the helm to the owner and had a look around. The leeward shrouds were very loose as I looked up the mast expecting to see the tip leaning off to leeward with such loose leeward shrouds. Nope, the mast was perfectly straight so I looked over the side of the boat below the chainplates and saw a very substantial pucker. The mast and shrouds were pulling the side of the boat in, substantially. Below I went to check and view the bulkheads moving around in their slots creating quite the racket. The Bulkheads are not structural and are forward of the chainplates, but it still didn’t seem good. With the weather helm and the boat flexing more than even the SC33 Muffin and the flex creating an absolute racket down below we headed in somewhat deflated about having to choose not to move forward on the boat. She looked good and was maintained but she wasn’t the boat for our cruise. Besides, Mac couldn't navigate the companion way without help, not good...

We piled in the van, melancholy, the decision made, we headed North to Philadelphia and our weekend’s visit with Jerame, Jennifer’s brother, and his wife and kids. There will be more boats, I’m sure....
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