Saturday, February 2, 2008

Boat Quest, Part 7

Boat Quest, Part 7: Valiant 40 'Sea Hawk' in Fort LauderdaleAfter researching the Valiant 40 cutter-rigged sailboat and deciding that it was the best boat for what I had in mind, in terms of size, design, sail layout, equipment and price, I faithfully scanned the listings looking for an older one with a five-figure asking price. Due to the fiberglass blistering problem with some of the mid- to late-1970s Valiants, there were bound to be some bargains out there.

We took a few vacations during this time, around 2001 to 2007, to Florida, Mexico and the British Virgin Islands. Whenever we were near the coast or on an island, I would be on the look-out for Valiant 40s, but I never spotted one. This isn't too surprising since only 200 or so were ever manufactured.

It wasn't until I went on my Fort Lauderdale to Bahamas sailing trip with John Kretschmer that I was finally able to see a Valiant 40 sailboat in person. As the crew was getting acquainted on the first day, John asked each of us what kind of boat we owned. When he came to me, I explained that I had grown up sailing in Wisconsin and that I owned a vintage 1969 AMF Alcort Minifish but that I was hoping one day to buy a good, used Valiant 40. "What an interesting coincidence," he remarked. He knew of one for sale that was parked along New River in Fort Lauderdale, and he knew who the owner was. He passed it every time he moved his boat from its usual mooring spot farther up the river. We agreed to take a look at the end of the trip.

Five days later, after returning from our successful passage to the Bahamas, we tied up in front of the Downtowner Saloon on New River. The rest of the crew departed, but I stayed on John's boat Quetzal overnight to keep an eye on her. The next morning, John returned and the two of us piloted Quetzal up the river toward her mooring. At the wide spot where the river branches into its north and south forks, John pointed off to port and there she was, the first Valiant 40 I had ever seen. We motored over closer to get a better look. She looked worn and weathered, like she had been sailed hard for many years and then parked for many months. "Sea Hawk" was painted on her stern, and there was a badly faded for-sale sign taped to her wheel. John looped around a second time so I could try to write down the phone number from the sign. As we pulled away, I snapped the picture above. Sea Hawk is the boat with the rounded stern and blue trim between the two other boats in the center of the picture, which may be viewed in a larger size by clicking on it.

I wish I had also taken a picture of the for-sale sign because I didn't get the phone number written down correctly. When I got home, I tried calling it and found that it was not in service. I emailed John, and he said he would try to stop by and get the correct number for me, maybe call the owner himself to say hi and get reacquainted. Time went by, and John and I exchanged periodic email messages, but I never did get that number. After several months, I figured the boat had probably been sold to someone else and that I should just let it go.


A Guy said...

HI John, I bought Seahawk about 3 years ago, she's now up in Annapolis Md on Spa Creek.

Peter Cane

John Lichty said...

That's great to hear, Peter! Thank you for letting me know.