Pulling It Off

We talked excitedly about the boat during our drive through Upstate New York, the birthplace of my dad's love for sailing. There was no doubt that we wanted her, but how were we going to do it? My wife and I certainly didn't have the money, and my parents wouldn't have the money without the sale of a piece of property that they had had on the market for a couple of years already, and it didn't look like it was going to sell anytime soon. And yet we plotted and schemed - and prayed.

By the time we arrived home, we had decided how much we could afford, where the money would come from, and where we'd keep the boat once we got her. We'd keep her in St. Joseph, less than a mile from my home, that way I could work on her and ensure that she'd be ready for summer cruising and my parents' weekend visits during the fall. As far as payment, well, we opted for a boat instead of replacing an antique baby grand piano that had been destroyed in my parents' house fire. No one played the piano anyway, so we decided the money would be better spent on the boat - a no brainer. The insurance settlement amount dictated how much we were able to offer so, offering over 10,000 less than the asking price, we saild our prayers and held our breath, hoping against hope that the owner would go for it.

His reply was bittersweet: "I really have a great feeling about you and your family," he said. "I enjoyed our sail together, and liked the way that you guys seemed to click with the boat. It's important to me that she go to someone who really appreciates her, but a couple recently looked at her and said that they're very interested. I really need to get more money for her than your offer, but let's see what their response is. If they offer more, then I'll have to take it. If not, I'll contact you."

My heart sank as I read his email. I felt sick. I knew there was no way this couple would offer less than we had. Three days passed before we received a response from the owner: "The couple's finances fell through. Why don't you make me the best offer you can afford and I'll see what I can do."

I called my dad and offered to sell my Toyota Land Cruiser - a real sacrifice - if he needed me to contribute funds to sweeten the offer. It was a weak attempt, but I'd decided to do anything to make the deal happen. He graciously declined and informed me that he was going to reply with his initial offer. "Are you crazy?" I asked. "There's no way he's going to go for it." I knew she was gone.

The Verdict

"Well, bud, the fat's in the fire," the email message from my dad read. "If he goes for this, we've got ourselves a Cape Dory 36." I checked my email religiously - every five minutes, practically - hoping to find the seller's response. I couldn't concentrate on anything else. I dreaded his reply and yet I craved it. What would he say? Would he present a counter offer? What then? We'd offered our max, there was no room to negotiate. Would this dream vanish into thin air like smoke?

Then the email came: "I'll go ahead and make the arrangements to have her hauled," he said. "If you're interested, I know a good shipper who will transport her for a decent price...."

"So she's ours?" I thought to myself. "Could this be? Was he really going to let her go for that price?" I picked up my office phone and called my dad. "Congratulations, bud," the voice on the other end said. "We're the proud owners of a Cape Dory 36!"

For the next half hour or so we planned what would happen next. During the following days, I made arrangements at a local marina for storage, checked slip availability, and began a to-do list. First of all, we'd have to change her name.

Ariel sounded better, much better.

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