Buying My First Sailboat

It was a historic day on July 27th, 2004 when I bought my first sailboat, a Tanzer 22. After taking sailing lessons from Doug on his Hobiecat 16 and a USPS course I felt ready. I also read several books:

"Your First Sailboat"
"The Everything Sailing Book"
"Sailing the Basics"
"The Squadron Boating Book"
"Start Sailing Right" (a video)
and most importantly "Quit Your Job and Move to Key West"
(I'll tell you that story over a beer sometime)

After one of my sailing lessons, Doug and I walked around the boat yard and spied a T22 for sail (I mean sale). It was in pretty bad shape but you know how those "first boat rose colored glasses" work. I kept thinking "It just needs a little elbow grease".


I didn't buy that one but I did like the large cockpit compared to other boats that size. I considered a MacGregor and an O'Day but a little research on the Internet convinced me that the Tanzer was a great boat based on the active Class Association and reviews. I searched the classifieds in "Points East", "Soundings", "Uncle Henry's" and eventually found my boat in the local paper classifieds. I drove down to Biddeford for a look.

My first look at "Surefire" at her previous owner's home:

This boat, apart from being dirty, was in pretty good shape. It had a good sail inventory (8 sails) and the interior was perfect. After a little haggling (not much really) I agreed to buy the boat (Yahoo!). The boat was delivered to my house (thank goodness because the minivan did not have a hitch) and I spent the next 3 week cleaning her.

The big clean-up back at the ranch:

None of the running lights worked but I only had to clean the contacts, change the bulbs and lens, and we were back in business. The knotmeter was DOA and after some diagnostics I determined that the transducer was dead. It was a challenge to track down a new one but thank goodness for Google and DMI Marine. The new transducer slipped in really easily and works like a champ. Another challenge was the missing top cap for one of my winches. I ended up contacting the very friendly people at Lewmar and they found one to fit my antiquated (but still functional) winch. There were many little things to buy (flares, seat cusions, fenders, GPS, charts, VHF radio, a trailer hitch, the list is endless.....) I also needed a slip and after much searching found one at South Port Marine. I figured that if I doubled the cost of the boat that would be what it would take to get it in the water. I was pretty close. A lot of elbow grease later and we were ready to launch.

"Surefire" launch, August 2004:

The drive to the marina was harrowing to say the least. It was the first time I ever pulled a trailer and boy, was it making funny grinding and clunking noises. I drove it the 10 miles to the marina at 10:00pm so the traffic would be light. It actually wasn't too hard to pull. The minivan is AWD with self-leveling shocks and has the tranny cooler (I never got it over 35mph anyway).

Raising the mast was going to be wicked easy according to the manual. Just put all the stays on, connect the hinge bolt, and walk forward raising the mast as you go. RIGHT!! Not only did I bend a chainplate but I looked pretty silly with the mast over my head, standing in the cockpit, trying to figure out how to get up on deck. Luckily, Cory from SPM took pity on me and helped me out. With three guys the mast went up no problem. I tensioned it up as best as I could with the Loos tension gauge type B (really the wrong one, need a type A but the boat came with it). The launch went pretty well but I could not get the motor going so we were unceremoniously towed to our slip.

I had arranged for my instructor, Doug, to go out with me that evening for a shakedown cruise and wouldn't you know it, there was no wind!!! Hey, we were out there and that's better than being on dry land! The biggest challenge was getting in and out of the slip (thank goodness for fenders and bumpers) and getting in and out of the marina (very narrow channel especially at low tide). We actually ran aground coming back under motor. We managed to free ourselves handily but at least I wasn't at the helm. Heaven forbid I should run aground!

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