For me, the dream started when I was very young. My Dad bought the family boat when I was about 8 – a 1970 Winner 19 foot runabout. After he passed two years later, Mom (Rita) took over the captaining duties, but my older sister, Joanne, and I took over maintenance.
Because trailering the boat was a hassle, my Mom decided to moor the boat in a local marina that first season after Dad passed. Whenever I found myself there, surrounded by all those boats, I felt like I was in paradise. I enjoyed being there so much, I told my Mom the boat needed to be waxed every week or two. I found any excuse I could to hop on my bicycle and peddle the few miles to the marina – wax the boat, check the cover or dock lines, see if we left anything on the boat from the weekend before… The marina is where I wanted to be. My dream job at the time was to be a dock boy on the fuel dock, and be able to be at the marina all day, every day, looking at all those fine boats. I thought, maybe when I’m 12…
Mom took us out every weekend on that boat during the summer. We fished, we skied, we fell in love with the water. It was the shiniest boat on the LI Sound…
I never did get that job, although I tried, but I did come to know that one day, I wanted to own a boat large enough to live on – every day!
My sister came home from Girl Scout Camp one summer telling me that she had learned to sail! She had so much fun we decided we needed to get our own boat. The following spring, we pooled her babysitting money and my paper route funds and bought ourselves a sunfish. I was 11 and my sister was 14. It looked great in that dark marina garage, but we found it a bit more dull when we got it home where the oxidized gel coat was clearly visible in the daylight. It didn’t matter; a few coats of rubbing compound and some wax and she brightened up some.
We rented a boat rack down at the town boat launch, and my sister and I had the summer of our lives. We went out in that boat as often as we could – we had a blast.
The next summer or maybe the one following, we traded in that Sunfish for a brand new Force 5 sailboat. Now we were really having fun….
Anna Marie and I started talking about retiring on a sailboat about six or seven years ago. Although I have boated my whole life, my sailing experience was limited to small boats and Anna Marie’s experience was limited to what she had been exposed to as a child motorboating in Fairfield Beach, CT and while lake boating with me in CT on Candlewood. As a result, we decided to start with some sailing classes, and signed up for some ASA classes to be held in Newport, RI during the summer of 2012.
On weekends, we studied quite often that winter and the spring before. We were glad we did. Although a lot of fun, the exams were not easy. We had a grueling schedule of studying in the evenings, after making and cleaning up dinner, with a repeat in the morning before breakfast. The days were packed with sailing lessons and practical exams.
Our Captain, Jen, was very knowledgeable and a great instructor, but no one was cut any slack. Well, none of the adults anyway. She liked Daniel (Anna Marie’s Son) and he got out of some of the dirtier chores. But, he still had to study hard if he wanted to pass those exams, and he did.
We walked away from that experience knowing this is what we wanted to do.
We went to the Newport boat show that year, and we continued to take classes. The following summer we charted a boat out of Newport. The seeds were being sowed….
We took some more classes, we continued to charter, we read lots of magazines and books, and we continued to go to boat shows. We left every show with a new favorite, even though none of them met all the criteria we were looking for.
Then, one day a couple years back, I stumbled upon BeBe’s website. It was the first one I had ever found that listed costs associated with the cruiser’s lifestyle. Their spreadsheet was invaluable and helped us validate our plans from an economic standpoint. While browsing their website, I took notice of the boat they had and its numerous desirable features.
There was a newer Amel at the next Newport Boat Show we attended, and we came away with the feeling that we finally found a boat that had everything we were looking for. We knew we couldn’t afford that model, but were becoming close to sold on the Amel way of doing things. We had the opportunity to look at a used 2003 Super Maramu in April of 2016 (also in Newport) and came to the decision that we really loved the boat, but were trying to keep an open mind.
After looking at a Hylas at the Spring boat show in Annapolis, we said that’s it. We want the Amel.
A trip to Florida to look at a few with Joel Potter – the Amel Expert (and he really is) – gave me a great education, but we were going to have to wait until he came across what we were looking for: a well maintained and near perfect condition late model Super Maramu.
We got a break in July. After joining the Amel Owners Forum, I found out about a boat for sale that was in Trinidad. Within hours I was on a plane. I spent three days there with a knowledgeable Amel owner who knew both the current owner and myself. We went through the boat very thoroughly, and couldn’t come up with any reason not to make an offer. So we did.
After a couple weeks, we came to terms, and it is now ours. Let the dream begin….