Buy, Buy, Buy!

When Capt. Shop-Right rounds up a new ride, there must be an epidemic.

I got a call the other day from my pal John, who admitted with enthusiasm that he had invested in another boat. John has had as many boats as King Solomon had wives and admits that he isn't even sure of his current fleet tally. I confessed to him that I had bought a boat as well and, as enablers so often do, we began picking on another sufferer (Jon), assuring ourselves that his addiction was far worse. "Looks like our old friend Jon has taken a long swim in Lake Stupid," laughed John. Hmm…I wonder? John and Jon are two of the best yacht brokers in the business.

You may remember Jon ("Telltales," March 2009) as the fellow who was searching for a Bertram 37 similar to Anhinga. Jon had been threatening to unbolt his swollen wallet for more than a year, but he is a certified tightwad, or-as he prefers-"a value-conscious shopper". Jon convinced me the time had come to spend and I abandoned Thanksgiving leftovers to join him on his quest to "steal" a 37. The effort came to nothing since the boat had already been "stolen" by another bottom dragger. Jon, however, is a bloodhound and, focused on the opportunity at hand, he soon found another 37 in distress.

I was north of the border when Jon e-mailed me pictures of her holed up in a Florida boatyard - the sort of place where boats check in but don’t check out. She looked better than I expected - perhaps that was because of the sorry sleds in her company. When he suggested how little he intended to pay for her I gagged, “You better have an EMT on hand when you make your offer - her poor skipper is going to have a stroke.” In a serious tone, Jon listed her many deficiencies and suggested the huge investment he would be making to “save her.” “She’s in a sour state - her generator is encased in rust and her freezer is soaked in a slurry of putrefied bait.” I accused him of practicing his pre-purchase chisel on me. “Coyle, I’m actually doing this poor skipper a favor by making an offer at all,” he insisted.

Jon is one of the best salesmen I know and when he sells himself, anyone left at the table is doomed. Still, it was demoralizing to hear that Jon's paltry offer had been accepted. It seemed Anhinga's value had headed south faster than the peso. Jon assured me that Anhinga was a 10 and that he would have to peel off quite a few greenbacks before he could join me on convoy duty at Plantation Yacht harbor in Islamorada. Perhaps, but as I studied the pictures more closely I wondered. "Are you sending a truck for her?" I asked. Jon admitted that he had already brought her home on her own bottom - he claimed she just made it.

Apparently her name was Spending Time and many of Jon's peers are having a hoot watching him struggle to secure his billfold – it's now Jon's "spending time," they laugh. Maybe so, but Jon knows boatyards offer good value these days and he's got 30 years of "broker's booty" buried in his garage. It's the swag that sellers had no use for and buyers didn't want – Jon's a squirrel. Bottom line is that Capt. Shop-Right might be a better fit for the transoms of Jon and John's new rides.

Another yacht broker pal called yesterday, announcing his intention of investing in a larger trawler – he’d been sitting on his wallet for years. Folks, something’s up when smart (cheap) yacht brokers drain their banks on new boats. I figured that when I took delivery of our new 18-foot Hewes next week, the admiral (wife Nelia) would keelhaul me. Either I’m looking pretty darn savvy or Lake Stupid is going to be crowded this season!