Buying a Seaductress

The first time I ever saw her, she was veiled in white shrinkwrap, high on her cradle where she had spent the bitter Vermont winter. In fact, her owner Shrinkwrapped at Champlain MarinaJoel Bradley said, she hadn't been in the water in three years. It was late April, 2003. I had been searching for the perfect S2 35 foot center cockpit boat since the previous December. On this particular jaunt I had already looked at two other 35C's near Baltimore, but this one, Seaductress, was of particular interest because she had been so well kept. Joel was her original owner, and freshwater Lake Champlain her only home. Only 35 of these sailboats were ever built, and she was hull number 32, a perfect 1987 vintage.

In all we looked at eight different 35C's: two in Florida, two in Maryland, one in Texas, one in Tennessee, and Seaductress in Vermont. I made a spreadsheet listing points for this feature or that, but in the end I just had a gut feeling Seaductress was the boat. I called Joel, negotiated a sales agreement, and started looking for a marine transport company to move the boat from Vermont to Tennessee. I submitted dozens of online forms and made phone calls, but few transporters seemed eager to make a firm commitment for Vermont. Finally I hooked up with Atlantic Marine Transport out of Florida, who were taking a boat up to New York and looking for a return trip. By this time Annie and I were so tired of staring at airfare and hotel rates that we decided to go for broke: during a flurry of phone calls and faxes on a Thursday afternoon, we contracted to move the boat and bought airfare from Atlanta to Boston for Saturday, planning to drive up to Burlington that afternoon.

Captain Joel

Joel was the perfect host, even putting us up at his "camp" (actually a very nice home near the lake) and taking us for a great test sail on Sunday.

Looking forward on Lake Champlain

We had seven people aboard for the sail, which was a "farewell" for Joel and his family. It was a perfect sailing day on Champlain. Annie and I hadn't seen so many sailboats in action since visiting San Francisco Bay.

Looking back towards the Cut, Lake Champlain

We made one tack in order to get through "the cut" and then circled around a large island, making 7-8 knots under a reefed mailsail and genoa. I tried to explain to Joel that although the season was certainly longer, we just didn't see that many days to match this one back on Lake Chickamauga. We found no real problems during the test sail and so immediately began preparing the boat for loading soon after we got it back to the dock. Annie and I worked two long days getting the boat ready, padding and securing everything down below. Champlain Marina's Manager Bruce and his right-hand-man Bentley removed the mast, then hauled the boat and had it hanging in the lift, waiting for the truck before Annie, Laura, and I had to drove south to Boston to catch our flight home the next day.

Bob of Atlantic Marine Transport Bob Paquette of Atlantic Marine Transport has been hauling boats for a lotta years, and from the tales he told, he's not somebody you want to mess with in traffic. Bob kept in touch with us during the four-day journey and arrived right on schedule at Island Cove Marina in Chattanooga. The bill for his services was around $2,400. Total expenses from start to finish (including mast unstepping, hauling, launching, restepping the mast) put the total cost of the move at around $3,200.

The boat arrives at Island Cove Marina

The stressful part of the unloading, for me, was getting the mast off the side of Bob's trailer and up onto the boat. I had pictured having to carry it onboard after launching, but the folks at Island Cove came up with the idea of using their forklift to get up on deck while the boat was still on the trailer. First I had to climb up the trailer and pull myself up the stern so I could let down the ladder, then try to get a board stapped on the pulpit and enough padding underneath so that the pulpit and stern rail didn't have to take all that weight. But everything went smoothly and soon Bob was backing the the trailer towards the water.

On the lift

Island Cove's 40 ton travelift had no problems with our 14,000 pound boat, a lightweight compared to some of the gigantic motor yachts they haul. We didn't have champaign, so the best I could do was the record the moment the keel touched the surface on the lake on videotape. Maybe one day we can watch the video and drink a toast then.

Motoring towards new home

Island Cove is 16 miles downriver from the boat's new home at Sale Creek Marina, but she made quick work of this last part of the journey. We were excited, tired, happy, and had achieved our dubious goal of becoming broke, at least financially. So far we haven't regretted it for a second.

Copyright © 2007 by Rodger Ling. All rights reserved.