23 March 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Broker

Wow, we've been back from our trip to Annapolis for nearly a week already. And what a successful trip it was!  Although, it was touch and go at first.   Bobby, the broker we came to see, the broker who knew we were coming, took us onto exactly 3 boats: 2 FP Liparis and one FP Mahe-all docked in his agency's marina.  One of the Liparis we couldn't even get into.  When we asked him to make a phone call so that we could--on our own-- see a boat that was similar to the kind we were thinking of buying, he demurred, saying that it was all the way on the Eastern Shore.  Because, after all, we'd only flown 660 miles, why on earth would we want to drive 20 or so.

We left with the distinct impression that Bobby preferred clients who were in the market for boats north of the one million dollar mark.  Or, at least he was saving his broker brilliance for when we were ready to buy.  But how are we supposed to get a sense of which boat to buy if we don't look at a bunch of boats first?

What was supposed to have been a two-day initial fact-finding mission was over in two hours.  What to do now?  We'd decided to go the Smithsonian: Jane had been wanting to visit the National Portrait Gallery and I can always find a museum to love.  But something just kept gnawing at her.  She even had a hard time sleeping which happens less often than do blue moons.  (I also had a hard time sleeping which is s.o.p. for me in hotels and unhelped by the 23 percent of the double-bed I was attempting to occupy while aslumber.)

"We came to see boats," she said the next morning.  "Let's make some phone calls and see if we can see some." Hell hath no determination like a woman shopping for yachts.  So ipad and smartphone and GPS in hand, we headed off to the Boatyard Bar and Grill, which thanks to the free wi-fi, gave us everything we needed to scour Annapolis and the surrounding environs for boats in our price range.

Enter, Sail Away Catamarans.

On our way over, we agreed that we'd downplay the whole Bobby thing, so that they wouldn't think we planned to waste their time--they are trying to sell these things, after all.  No sooner do we sit down with Tommy (who shall heretofore be known as "Tommy the Tremendous"), than he asked if we'd seen any boats yet.  We tried to be as vague as possible..."Yeah, we talked to a guy about some Fountaine Pajots..."

"Was it Bay Yacht Agency?" he asked without hesitation.

"Yeeessss...." we said, rather floored that he figured it out that fast.

"Was it Bobby -------?"

"Uh...yeah."  We felt like we got him busted, but mostly we were shocked.

"Well, we're gonna show you..."  He mentioned a bunch of names, but to be honest, I was only half listening at that point, still in awe of his supernatural detecting abilities and momentarily overwhelmed that we were being catered to by a yacht broker.  Now this is more like what we had in mind.

All in all I think we saw about 7 boats from 6 manufacturers.  All of them shown to us by one of the new brokers at the agency, Rich (who shall heretofore be known as "Rich" because after spending a lot of time trying to find a superlative that begins with "r," we came up empty).  Rich showed us 3 different catamarans in their yard and then took us to a boatyard where we saw 4...or was it 5...boats on the hard.

Climbing all over boats is thirsty work, it turns out, so we stopped for drinks at a convenience store, which Rich went in and bought (compare to Bobby, who couldn't manage to scrounge up a Diet Coke for Jane), and after going back to the office to look at some prices, Tommy picked up his girlfriend, Amy, and took us out to dinner.  Hello!  Who's yer broker, now?

Back home on Thursday and a drive up to the U.P. (that's Michigan's Upper Peninsula, for those fortunate enough to not ever need to know that bit of geography) to retrieve our ancient Bahamian mutt from grandma's.  Work for me on Sunday and all of the background planning and work needed to actually stop, drop, and, roll into new lives.  The time gets away from you.

In April (a little over two weeks, actually), we're off to Ft. Lauderdale to 1. avoid being cold on my birthday and 2. look at more boats.  Then back to Annapolis in May to charter a boat with our awesome new brokerage agency to see what it's like to actually be on a cat underway and stuff.

Next up: teaching Ean to swim.  No, really.