Sunday, March 16, 2008

Boat Quest, Part 9

Sea Hawk, a Valiant 40 for sale in Fort LauderdaleThe last weekend in November, I was searching for Valiant 40 sailboats online and looking beyond the and YachtWorld. com listings I routinely checked, when there she was: Sea Hawk! The very same boat I had motored past in Fort Lauderdale with John Kretschmer in January of 2007 (see Boat Quest, Part 7). The listing was brief, just a single photo (the one above), a list of features and a price of $49,000, but it included the phone number I had miscopied ten months before.

I vacillated a few days and then called the number. No answer. I left a message saying I knew the boat and I knew John Kretschmer and I was interested in finding out more. I waited a few days but never got a call back. I called again and got in touch with Harvey, the owner. He apologized for not calling back; he had just returned from the Bahamas. We talked for twenty minutes about how we each knew John, and about Sea Hawk and what was going on with her. Harvey listed off the included sail inventory and custom equipment, and said he was in the process of replacing the existing Westerbeke diesel engine with a rebuilt one. It sounded like a big project. I asked why the price was so low. He said that Sea Hawk was one of the Valiant 40 "blister boats" but that unlike most of the others with the blistered fiberglass on their hulls and topsides, hers had never been repaired. I knew the problem was purely cosmetic so I wasn't put off by it. The idea of buying a Valiant 40 for only $49,000 was too exciting.

Harvey asked when I could fly down to take a look. I hadn't thought that far ahead yet and said so. He suggested I contact John and have him take a look on my behalf. I said I would and asked if there were any other photos I could look at in the meantime. He said he would email me some. We agreed to stay in touch and ended the call.

I emailed John to tell him I had found Sea Hawk online and ask if he would be willing to drop by to take a look at her. He replied that he would. John is the author of Used Boat Notebook: From the pages of Sailing Magazine, reviews of 40 used boats plus a detailed look at 10 great used boats to sail around the world, so if there was anybody whose opinion I could trust, it was his. He called me after he had had a chance to talk with Harvey and look at Sea Hawk in person. He said that Harvey was still in the process of replacing the engine but that even with the mess involved in that project, she still looked "really rough." This surprised me. I said that I had closely studied the 49 photos Harvey had emailed me and that she didn't look too bad, maybe just the victim of deferred maintenance that could be rectified with solvent, varnish and plenty of elbow grease. He said if I was really interested I should fly down and take a look myself.

So I emailed Harvey and asked when he would be available during the upcoming weeks, by this time late January to early February. He didn't respond. I figured he was in the Bahamas again. About this time, in mid-January, we made the trip to the Animal Cancer Center in Fort Collins to get the diagnosis on our dog Charlie's cancer. When we found out how serious it was, Nan and I agreed to postpone any trips to Florida for now. The boat could wait. It was more important to be home taking care of Charlie.

Harvey finally emailed me back a couple of weeks ago. He had spent all of February in the Bahamas, but he was back and available if I wanted to fly down and see the boat. This time it was me who didn't respond. I just checked the listing site,, and Sea Hawk is still available for sale.

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