"In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take."

TrawlerFest 2016 Review.

On Saturday, 10/1/2016, we made our way to the Bay Bridge Marina for PassageMaker’s TrawlerFest 2016. It was rainy and chilly before we even left the house, but, we figured it might be a good opportunity to get some time to climb around the boats we’ve been studying on the internet. So, we decided we would definitely go. About 2 hours later, we were on Kent Island, pulling into the parking lot of Bay Bridge Marina. As predicted, the rain and fall chill in the air kept the crowd to a minimum, which was pretty nice, actually. We got to board a Nordic Tug 32, which we have determined is just a bit too small for our living-aboard needs. The layout wasn’t so much the downfall, as was the lack of space. Specifically, space to walk around the bed and storage space near the bed. The only other Nordic Tug at TrawlerFest was a Nordic Tug 44, which, of course, was beautiful. Much more space, but, a bit too large. We think the sweet spot with Nordic Tugs for us will be the 37 or 40, but, we’ve yet to be able to board one to confirm our suspicions. I noticed a 40’ Endeavour that I figured we might as well take a look at, as it was the right size for us. BIG MISTAKE. This thing was BEAUTIFUL. The fully-enclosed pilot house with sectional sofa, flat screen TV, beer fridge and doors that open up to let air in on beautiful days really did it for me. Unfortunately, the price tag associated with these beautiful boats is much too rich for our blood, even if we could imagine ourselves living, quite comfortably, aboard. (P.S. The Endeavour is also too wide to fit the slip we’re looking at so that made it a bit easier not to whine about wanting it.) We didn’t find any American Tugs in the in-water displays, which was a bit disappointing, as Josh feels like the American Tug 34 may be our golden egg. There also weren’t any Mainships, which was a bit disappointing, too.

But, for our first boat show, I feel like we gained some valuable information: 1 – the 32’ Nordic Tug is just not enough space. So, we’re going to strike it from our list of options. [Revised list of options now includes a Mainship 34 and an American Tug 34.] 2 – We’d really like to have a second stateroom for increased storage opportunities. 3 – We don’t need (and don’t really want) a second head. 4 – Galley up is the way we want to go. Galley down seems too much like punishment. And, galley up connected to the salon gives a more “open” feel. We spend the majority of our time in our kitchen and living room now, so, it’s pretty important to us to have them connected and “up” when we move aboard. 5 – Catamarans are most likely going to be too wide (and too expensive) for us at this point. 6 – When going to a boat show in the rain, take a raincoat instead of an umbrella, let your purse in the car and don’t wear socks.

After we finished up at TrawlerFest, we made the short drive to Piney Narrows Yacht Haven, as they welcomed us to come for a visit while we were in town. We pulled up to the security gate and explained we were there to visit. We were welcomed through the gate and pulled up to the office. I took a moment to take it all in and determined that even on a cloudy, rainy day, Piney Narrows Yacht Haven was pretty inviting. From the beginning, we got good vibes. It didn’t look like a run-down trailer park, but, it didn’t seem too “fancy,” either. Things appeared to be in good repair and things were clearly signed (which is important to me, as I get lost pretty easily.) We entered the office and met Joe, the general manager with whom I corresponded a few weeks ago. Joe appeared to be an easy-going guy, with bright eyes and a firm handshake.

We learned a few things about PNYH pretty quickly: 1 – There are 270 slips and approximately 90% of the slips are currently occupied. 2 – There are about 30 live-aboards currently living at PNYH and more are welcome, without waiting list or extra fee. 3 – If we buy our slip, PNYH will lease it out for us, collect the lease payments, take 10% off the top for their fee and then send us a check for the rest. Of course, leasing the slip is not guaranteed, but, with a 90% occupancy rate at the end of September, I feel pretty good about it. 4 – If we choose to have PNYH lease our slip for us, they set the rate. The rate will be higher than the yearly operating costs, which means we should be able to make enough to at least pay the yearly operating costs for the slip if we lease it out through PNYH. 5 – The $500 / year special assessment for the fuel bulkhead will be removed in January 2018, when the loan is full repaid. 6 – While we were in the office, a FedEx driver came in with a package for one of the PNYH tenants. Joe had no problem signing for the package and ensured the drive that the package would get to the tenant. So, it appears as though mail and package deliveries are no problem. 7 – Joe informed us that the PNYH Yachtsmen’s Lounge is available for rent for special occasions and guests, for $60 per day. Joe provided us with some documentation about the marina, including the marina association by-laws and rules, and invited us to take a walk around and check the marina out. We walked from one end to the other, stopping along the way to take special note of some things. 1 – It’s clean, in good repair and appears secure. There are readily accessible dumpsters throughout the marina for disposal of trash. The docks aren’t falling apart and have recently had “problem boards” replaced. The security gates were closed and latched, and cars coming in were using key cards to open the gate. 2- It’s quiet. For having 30 live-aboards and a 90% occupancy rate, it was QUIET. We saw a handful of other people trekking from their vehicles to boats while we were there, but, that was it. There’s a highway that’s not far from the marina, but, the road noise seemed minimal. 3 – There’s a nature trail right outside the marina, which would be perfect for walking the dog. 4 – The Chesapeake Heritage Center is right outside the marina’s main entrance. (Must research this more to see what this is all about). 5 – Slip I-02 seems like it should work pretty well for us. It’s close to parking lot, bathrooms and laundry facilities. It also appears to be pretty sheltered and away from the main channel were most of the activity will take place. There’s a boat currently in I-02, but, we’re unsure if it’s the slip owner’s or if it’s being leased. 6 – There are assigned parking spots for each slip, which is pretty nice. We should never have to worry if we’re going to be able to find a place to park. We talked, at length, throughout our time at PNYH about whether or not it could be “home” and, I’m pretty excited to say, we’ve decided that YES – it could (and probably will be) home!

We need to crunch some numbers and make a final decision about how much we’re going to offer for the slip and then plan our next action step. The slip was recently reduced and is currently listed at $15,000. Batting ideas around on the way home, we’re thinking about offering $8,500 near the middle of November and see how it goes. Hopefully, the owner is looking for some extra money for Christmas and our $8,500 offer will be accepted. I always try to envision the best-case scenario, and that would be it. On a more realistic note, I hope not to pay over $10,000 for it. I feel like it would be a good bargain at $10,000 or less and I’m all about bargains!

Saturday before we headed for Kent Island, we took a truckload of “stuff” to the township’s fall clean up event, which was especially helpful in getting rid of a malfunctioning mini-fridge without having to dismantle it or pay to get rid of it. This past Sunday, the yearly-winter-remodel-project began. Josh started working on the master bedroom, removing trim and priming the walls for paint. We also cleaned out our closet, AGAIN, and I took 3 trash bags full of “stuff” to the Community Aid donation box yesterday on my way to work. Where does all this stuff keep coming from?! Josh will be in North and South Carolina this week for work, so I plan to continue working on checking things off my to-do list. My focus right now is making paper disappear and going digital with absolutely everything I can. I really didn’t realize how much paper I have hoarded but am pretty invigorated to make it disappear now that I bought this new quicker, portable scanner that doesn’t tie me to our old flatbed scanner for hours on end.

The US PowerBoat Show is coming up in Annapolis, MD the weekend of 10/14 – 10/16. Josh decided that instead of getting “stuff” for his birthday this year, he wanted to go to the PowerBoat Show. So, we booked a hotel room at the Best Western for Saturday night (10/15) and will make a weekend celebration of it! We’re hopeful that we’ll be able to board our two remaining options (Mainship 34 and American Tug 34) during the show. I’m also pretty excited because I heard there will be some “pet-specific” vendors in attendance with cool stuff for cruising pets. Fingers crossed for decent weather and a good show!

I almost forgot…Saturday, on our way back from TrawlerFest, Josh suggested that I start writing about our journey through this process. Amused, I suggested that HE start a blog and start writing about our journey and then I brushed the idea off (pretty well, I think). He still has no idea that I’ve been writing for about a month now.

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