Sunday, November 7, 2010

30 years later ... We've found just the right boat for us!

I was 17 or 18 when I first promised myself that someday I’d own a yacht. I was in love with ships and the sea and attracted to all things nautical ... the people, procedures and everything about boating. I got my first boat (a 1959 Dorsett ski boat) when I was in college, and have enjoyed owning a lake/ski boat ever since. At a young age, I crossed oceans in passenger ships, but never had exposure to the yachting life as a boy. I don’t know where my love for the sea came from, but it’s been there ‘calling me’ all my adult life and I went into the cruise business at 21 years of age (and remain with Cruise Club today) to stay connected to it.
Some years ago my wife Lee Ann and I were cruising the San Juans in a friend’s 91’ tug (a world war II battle tug that was an inspiration to experience). We stopped in Friday Harbor and visited a Selene Yachts dealership. After touring a Selene 53, my wife was unusually thoughtful on our walk back down the docks to the tug. When I asked what she was thinking, she asked if we could afford ‘that boat’ if we sold the house and everything else. Amazed (and excited) at the implications of her question (I’d long dreamt of living aboard and the life that came with that choice), I thought about it for awhile and answered “yes”. We decided to educate ourselves on what was out there. After first considering and rejecting an Ed Monk designed custom trawler in Anacortes, we set about looking at what the market had to offer. In years that followed, we visited dealerships and privately owned boats up and down the west coast, becoming intimately familiar with hulls from Nordhavn, Krogen, Selene, Defever and others. We thought we’d identified the ideal trawler for us in the Nordhavn 55 when the bottom fell out of the U.S. economy, our investments, and our dream of owning and traveling on a big trawler.
In the meantime, we’d become grandparents to three spectacular children, and realized that our original vision of selling everything and taking to the seas for months at a time was not going to fit in ‘Grammy and Grandpah’s’ lives. This, combined with the sobering realities of economic issues in our lives, gas prices that were more than $1.50 more than when we’d started thinking about this, and the cost of keeping a boat in a marina in California, got me to thinking about the idea of a trailerable trawler.
Now most boats that are trailerable aren’t trawlers. And most boats that are trawlers aren’t trailerable. We looked at other hull types including the Sea Sport, C-Dory and Osprey and, though we found things about each that we liked, concluded that these were more about fishing than they were about ‘exploring’, which is what we love. For a while there, I had pretty much given up on my dream of finding a boat .... a yacht on a trailer that was a true trawler.
Then, in 2005, I saw an add in the back of Passagemaker magazine for the Rosborough RF-246 Sedan Cruiser. In the ad, the boat looked similar to others we’d looked at, and so I dismissed it (fearing further disappointment) thinking it was another C-Dory or Osprey. I saw it again in subsequent issues, however, and decided to look into what a Rosborough really was. It was called the largest 25' foot boat out there. I dared not hope it was a trailerable trawler.
Without mentioning it to Lee Ann - who’d been an enthusiastic participant in the yacht-finding process, but was at the point where she didn’t want to hear about boats that weren’t a ‘real possibility’ for us - I did my research. I joined the Rosborough owner’s group online, and requested literature from the factory. I located all the boats listed for sale on the Internet and poured over the photos of each. I learned that there were two hulls - a high-sided version (HSV) and a low-sided version (LSV) - of this unqiue expedition trawler, and quickly decided I needed the high-sided version because of my height (6’4”) and both the ceiling height and the length of the V-berth. I learned about the different power configurations (diesel or gas i/o, single or twin outboards, power hull extension, motor bracket, or not) and decided I wanted either single or twin outboards (quite a departure from my long time goal of owning an inboard diesel) and the power hull extension (leaves more room in the cockpit by effectively extending the hull 2’ and providing a mounting point for outboard engines). I familiarized myself with the boat’s features list and options, and identified which ones I had to have, which ones I wanted, and which ones I could live without. By the time we were ready to shop for an RF-246, I pretty much knew the boat and exactly which features mine would need to have.
In doing my research, I had ruled out buying a new boat because of the price. The boat I wanted, rigged and equipped the way we needed/wanted, with a trailer, would be somewhere north of $200,000.00 with tax if ordered from the factory and shipped to California (yes, it’s the most expensive 25-footer out there too, and well worth it). So I focused on used boats. I learned quickly that Rosboroughs have an excellent resale value and that they retain it for longer than any boat in their (original) price range. I started watching the Rosborough owners website (the list of boats for sale there), the website, and regularly performed Google searches for RF-246’s for sale.
I first got my hopes up when I found a boat in North Carolina. It was a single outboard in excellent condition owned by a respected owner and it had a trailer. I spoke with the surveyor who’d recently inspected it, and had a conversation with my wife about getting it. This is when I first learned what a valuable commodity used “Rossi’s” are. By the time I’d discussed it with Lee Ann and emailed the broker back, it was already in contract to another buyer.
You’d think I’d have learned an important lesson there. When, some months later, a 2007 came available in Texas, I contacted the owner immediately. Certain that this boat was a candidate for purchase, I asked the owner if he’d accept a price, and he said that yes, he would. He was going to the Caribbean for a week and I could let him know for sure if we wanted the boat when he returned. I/we decided we wanted it and I began getting the money in one place for transfer to him upon his return, excited that we’d found a Rosborough that we could make ours. Turns out, for some reason, that he took another offer ($2500 less than mine) from a Canadian buyer who had the foresight to wire a deposit while he was still in the Caribbean. By the time he got back, all he could say to my revelation that we wanted to buy the boat was, “Sorry”. It finally registered for me that one needed to move fast and in a decisive fashion when it came to Rosborough’s.
A bit demoralized after the Texas experience, I retreated from the process for a few weeks. Then I came across a 2005 RF-246 in southern California. I’d seen it before - it had been for sale for months - and found it attractive, but overpriced. I decided it wouldn’t hurt to let the broker know what I had to spend and see where it went. The owner came down to my price, and Lee Ann and I decided to travel the 10 hours to see the boat in Ventura, CA. First, however, we made the 12-hour trip to OIympia, WA to take Steve & Eunice Robb up on their kind offer to experience “Iana”, their 2008 Rossi with a single Honda 225, on Puget Sound. On a glorious afternoon of cruising, with people that would become our first “Rossi Friends”, we enjoyed confirming that we ‘fit’ in the (very large for a 25-footer) Rosborough. The next weekend, we drove to Ventura and, though I had some concerns about the boat, put a deposit down and ordered a survey.
About the time I decided, following a survey and some agonizing over sun damage on that boat, not to buy it (a hard choice; we were ‘in’ the boat more than $2000 with our expenses to date), another Rosborough went on the market in Washington state. In my research, I had learned that the Northwest dealer for Rosborough, E.Q. Marine, was a force to be respected in the Rossi world ... and did things the right way when it came to planning, rigging and finishing an RF-246. I’d read through the many articles on Les Lampman’s website several times, and often wished I could just order a new boat from him, outfitted a la E.Q. Marine. The boat that was for sale was a 2007 that had been rigged by none other than Les (and Carl) at E.Q. Marine. The owner said it had just 30 hours (turned out to be 72 due to its use as a demo at E.Q.) on twin Honda BF150’s and he’d posted an asking price that was beyond what I could pay. I contacted Les and learned about the boat, then contacted the owners in Jackson, WY and offered them what I’d offered on the boat in Ventura. The polite answer was that they’d wait and see what other offers came to them. I had the opportunity to speak with the owner the next day and again made my offer, to which he countered another figure that was very fair but still out of my range. That evening Lee Ann and I talked at length about this, our fourth Rosborough purchase attempt; about this boat and how perfect it seemed for us; about how it felt that all of our experiences to date had led to this boat. We decided we’d cash in a retirement fund account and take the penalty, if the seller’s could afford to come down to a figure that was half-way between their most recent counter and our offer. I couldn’t sleep that night until I sent the owners an email detailing our revised offer and telling them how very much we’d like to be the new owners of their boat and what that would mean to us. The next morning, I rushed to the computer to see if there was a response, to find an email stating that we could consider the boat ours.
I wonder if Pete & Leslie (the owners) had any idea what those words meant to someone who’d spent 30+ years dreaming of owning a yacht, five years of planning to own this particular yacht, and who’d experienced three failed attempts to purchase RF-246’s in the recent year. I was elated and immediately (that morning) sent deposit funds to the broker in Deception Pass, WA. In subsequent days, I enjoyed several phone conversations with Les Lampman at E.Q. Marine (the boat had been there since new; the owners had traveled via small plane from Wyoming to use it). I planned a trip north (15-16 hours’ drive) to complete our purchase and to spend our first few wonderful days on Puget Sound and in the San Juan Islands of Washington (it was, we felt, serendipitous that we found the boat in WA, as this area was always one we’d planned to get to know once we had a boat and this boat was outfitted specifically for WA cruising). Since then, (in three short months) we’ve cruised the San Juan’s twice, completed a crossing of the Rosario Strait and Haro Straights to Victoria, BC, then trailered the boat south (2-day trip) and enjoyed cruising in the Sacramento Delta, the McLeod River, the Pitt River, Lake Shasta, and on San Francisco Bay.
We’ve found that we’ve fallen in love with this seaworthy and very liveable boat, and that she is even more seakindly and stout than we knew when we purchased her. I’ve learned while performing routine maintenance that her systems and rigging choices were all installed with forethought and care, and I’ve already benefitted from the wisdom that both Rosborough and Les at E.Q. Marine excercised when planning, building, rigging and equipping my boat. I couldn’t be more pleased with the RF-246 and we really have found a trailerable yacht that is a true trawler!
Now, on the occasion of her third month with us, I’ve decided to keep this blog for fellow owners and those who may dream of becoming Rossi owners (as we did for many years before we bought Kokomo) to enjoy ...

Wishing you smooth seas,
Steve Reeves

1 comment:

  1. it's wonderful that your dream has come true. you certainly deserve it after what you and your wife have been through in the attempting-to-purchase phase. i used to be a rossi owner but i took the next natural step - living aboard. nothing less would have made me give up my little rossi. always thought i'd someday get a trailer and a truck but ended up bypassing that part and just getting the big boat instead. despite that, i'm still part of the rosborough family.

    if our dreams are do-able, we can make them come true and it always warms my heart to hear this kind of story :)



San Quentin Prison

San Quentin Prison
One of the more 'captivating' sites along the Corte Madera channel . Rowers from Corte Madera are practicing in the foreground.