On April 10th I flew from NYC to Norfolk Virginia to finish the escrow items on the sale of a 2015 Bavaria 42 Vision that I had found in my role of “buyer’s agent” for a client from Katlynn Marina. Four years ago, I sold this client a Hunter 33.5 as his first boat, and he has been learning and working toward a retirement boat for the big adventure ever since. We have been searching for the boat that would fit his needs for over 6 months and looked at several brands that would fill the bill.
Finding the Boat
While looking for the boat, we gathered the important requirements the owner defined and searched the Great Lakes and eastern seaboard. It is hard to find used boats that have “all” the items on the list, so the buyer must be ready to make some compromises. Finding a boat that has been dutifully maintained and upgraded can be difficult as well. I always tell my clients that many boats are alike, but you are actually buying the previous owners’ “work ethic” when looking in the used market.
We found a loaded and very well-maintained Bavaria 42 in Cobb’s Marina in Norfolk, made a good offer, scheduled a marine survey, and closed the deal after a sea trial in the Chesapeake. There were a few items that could not be tested during the survey because of the potential of a freeze in early March so we established an escrow account and returned in April after the items had been addressed and we could prepare the boat to sail from Norfolk to its’ future home in Annapolis.
The owner and crew arrived on Friday to provision the boat, get familiar with the controls, and get their gear aboard. I sent along a bag with my life jacket and warm clothes just in case we got some of the harsh weather that was forecast. After spending Easter weekend in NYC with my daughter, I met up with the crew to sail the boat to Annapolis. Normally as a broker, I would not participate in the delivery of the boat—the owner would hire a professional captain for the trip. As the owner and crew have become good friends over the years, though, I volunteered to ride along and help with the navigation and boat handling.
The travel distance for Norfolk to Annapolis is roughly 125 miles as a straight line shot, but we needed to plan on motor sailing and stopping for the night for at least two nights. I spent much of my time using Navionics on my iPad to plan the route with destinations and bail out options if the weather turned bad. We all brought too much stuff, fearing the worst for cold weather, but as it turned out the trip was in shorts and light windbreakers with some good sailing and lots of motor sailing.
We sailed, then motor sailed up through the shipping routes, using the AIS receiver to help with collision avoidance through the various commercial shipping areas. We sailed up the Rappahannock river to anchor on a lee shore for the evening. Ever vigilant for the thousands of crab pots and fish trap areas, we picked our way up the river. We anchored in 12 feet of water for the night and very much enjoyed the sunset and great food prepared by the crew.
The target was the Patuxent River and we sailed in 18 knots of breeze virtually all the way there. When planning to sail the Chesapeake, you must keep in mind that to get off the bay, the only option is to sail up one of the several rivers to find sheltered harbors, and that takes lots of extra time to sail in and then back out in the morning. As we passed the PAX Naval Air Station at the mouth of the river, we were treated to many “touch and goes” by the Navy jets coming into practice. It was really impressive to hear the after burners kick in on the turns as the jets passed right over head.
We were concerned that the 20-knot breeze would be difficult for our lee shore anchorage, but just before dusk the wind stopped, and it was a calm perfect night. The cooks did another excellent job and as we were having dinner, a race committee boat came up close to us to finish the Solomon Islands Wednesday night series. The wind had almost stopped and the race boats were ghosting up to the finish line right in front of us. Before dark, we emptied three 5-gallon cans of diesel fuel into the boat. Having the extra fuel was going to be critical for the next days’ windless trip to Annapolis.
Our last stretch was a long motor with bright sun and warm breezes. Occasionally we would see dolphins and great flocks of birds on the water; it was a leisurely ride. As we approached Back Creek, the boat traffic picked up and we had to pick our way up through the channel and look for the gas dock and pump out. After we completed our gas dock task, we began to check out the map of Port Annapolis Marina and tried to locate the rented slip the owner had secured. The slip was on the inside of the fingers, and the only approach was to motor by the slip, put the boat in reverse and use a combination of bow thruster and slow backing to turn 90 degrees into the slip.
The locals were impressed that it only took us three times to get the boat into the slip. Most new boat owners never get the time to practice backing and measuring the combination of backing turns and boat speed—something we should all practice. After the crew got our showers in and we were all cleaned up we went off to Davis Pub in Eastport for dinner and a reliving of the details of the impressive docking.
Charting and Preparation
Lessons learned on this voyage: preparation is key for dealing with the many challenges that come up on a delivery. Even though I have only visited the Chesapeake in the Annapolis area, I was prepared via charts or in this case Navionics for the many bail-out options and general layout of the key navigation areas. I use an iPad with Navionics and Active Captain to explore the areas and with animation/automation, the software can present the course, route, and tracks needed to feel comfortable. Using 2D and 3D options along with visual tides and currents is a great planning resource. If you have never used electronic charting software, you will be in for a treat. With all that said, the Chesapeake is still a really big area with lots of obstacles and watercraft to keep a look-out busy. Great trip, happy buyer, and lots of memories.