Years ago when I got into motorbikes, I decided I wouldn't try to do things on the cheap, instead I would work my way up from small to large over time, regardless of cost, in the hope i'd stay alive, hence I ended up with a NS125r, RD350ypvs, FZ600, FZR600r, VFr750, CBR900Rr, TLR1000r, YZf1000, YZF750 - then another CBR900Rr & a VFR800i which are both sat in the garage as you read this! (unless you read this in 2013 by which time hopefully i've sold them!) - but as this grow slowly, stay safe, keep it fun approach had worked with bikes, I decided to use this approach with boats, afterall I know a couple of people that started big (24ft) scared themselves, ended up with big bills, & the boat was left rotting in a field.
I'd also been and viewed a swift 18 - which compaired to Whisper felt like the QE2! it was huge! twice as high and 50% wider!
Now being blonde & left handed, it's fair to say I see somethings in life different to other people, but also being 6ft 4 I needed a boat with long births - which is harder than you think.. it seems the less inside a boat the longer the beds.. Whisper my WWP 14 has 6ft 6 births! a bit like my Lotus Elise - a very sparse interior but i had tons of leg room, by the time bigger boats have small galleys, heads etc or are compartmented off, they all seem to have 6ft bunks, while the Swift 18 was a nice looking boat, & meant to sail well, I was concerned with the 48 turns of a screw to lower the Keel & having a small sink (bowl with a pipe into a water bottle) & stove this left the bunks far too short for me to sleep in with comfort, this again left me liking the design of the Leisure 17, as effectively the bunks run from the bow right down under the cockpit.
Right back to my point.
A leisure 17 was defo high on my list, although I was prepaired to heed the advice of the yahoo group and look at something bigger, I really liked the look of the 17SL's & knew if i rushed and bought a std 17, I would still be wanting an SL model ASAP - so I decided to wait, afterall I had Whisper.
I had been 'Ummin' and 'Arrhh'in for a couple of months over a Manta 19 up in the Lake district (Foxy Lady) but this had just sold, L17's kept coming up on Ebay in a variety of conditions for a variety of prices, sadly the clean ones were trailerless - something I couldnt have as I wanted to bring home for winter, A very nice L17SL came up with trailer - but no cushions.. after getting quotes of £700 - £900 to rectify that, I also left that one alone!
I put an advert on the Leisure Owners Club (LOA) for a "Wanted L17SL" & after about a month a guy contacted me about a boat named "Emma" - it was very very clean, had a lot of gear but sadly no trailer - oddly it was sat on his drive on it's keels somewhere in Essex, it looked like a very nice boat but the guy was definately a salesman, with a designated website etc just with pics of the boat - he also wanted silly money for it & then extra for the outboard, but it was something to think about, by then i'd found an old very tired L17 at the boatyard I keep Whisper, it hadn't moved for years, but was sat on a trailer! - this would be ideal for Emma, so I worked on contacting the owner etc to see what his plans were.
Meanwhile back at the ranch.....
Another guy contacted my 'Wanted add' with a 17SL up in Reading, Montserrat - as i'd never actually seen one in the flesh, we penciled that one in as first port of call on the road trip.
This trip was Portsmouth to Reading, then upto Ipswich to see an immaculate Hurley 20 'Blue Tit' then onto an old boatyard that seemed to have many other models of boats i'd like to view, namely a Leisure 20, Prelude 19, Fantasie 19 and Anderson 22.. well this turned out to be one hell of a day!
The 17SL in Reading was in pretty good condition, sat on a nearly new trailer - the guy was a bit of a numpty, knew nothing about sailing, in fact him & his brother had got the boat off their dad (who only sailed it in lakes in Wales) & only used it as a motorboat on the Thames, without the mast or sails etc. it had a new outboard, gps, & fenders from a 60ft'er! all this could be mine for a measly £3600 - big chunk of cash, but still £700 less than 'Emma' & it had a trailer!
After a quick Mc'Lunch we continued our road trip from Reading upto Ipswich, by now time was flying on by, sadly the traffic on the M25 wasn't.. it was mid afternoon, we were at Chelmsford & stuck in traffic for a bloody JLS concert of all things! - this held us up nearly two hours so we didn't get to the sailing club where the Hurley 20 was for sale untill late afternoon, the owner hadn't shown up, & no one else was around to let us in.. so all I could do after a 190mile drive was peer at it through a fence.. dam it! - we then went on to the old boat yard to view the other models.. well this yard seems to be where old boats go to die.. it was more of a graveyard than boatyard, it looked like most of the boats here were built by Noah as he was learning the trade that allowed him to perfect the Ark.
I forget which one, the Prelude or the Fantasie but instead of tripple keel, it had the two outer keels removed, fiberglassed (badly) over, then a large square lump of iron bolted onto the bottom of the center keel.. the guy was also selling 2 or 3 BEZ2's - the infamous boat that sadly cost the lives of a grandfather & grandson in Wales a couple of years ago - for this reason I wouldn't have one of those for free!.. so a lot tired'er not much the wiser (other than I really liked the inside of the 17SL) we set off home on the 200mile trip getting back about midnight!
The next morning, I decided to contact the owner of Emma & find out where it was, to go take a look - well the Law of Sods was working fine, as the boat was in.. Chelmsford.. under 2 miles from where i'd only sat the previous day for 2 hours in JLS traffic!! - I wasn't too keen to go back!
Now i'd been in contact with the owner of 'Emma' via emails & he'd sent me lots of pictures, he assured me if i could find a trailer 2 or 3 men could lift it off his drive - failing that I could probably get it delivered for £300.. (TBH by this time I was even considering sailing it back from Ispwich!) i'd managed to haggle him down to around £4000 if memory serves me right, with the outboat but still felt this was too much..without a trailer..
The next day Monty's owner phoned to see what i'd thought of his L17SL - I agreed i liked it, but said it seemed a little expensive (i was buying time, after all he'd contacted me through the wanted page and not advertised it yet) he said as his dad had lent it him, he couldn't sell too cheaply blah blah..
Sorry this is so long - it's nearly finished, if you need to grab a cuppa or take a nature break this is a good time..
By this time, i'd got the phone number for the old tired 17 at Wilsons boatyard, & been in touch with the old boy about it, he basically wanted rid & agreed to meet me the next day to discuss it.
The next morning, Monty's owner phoned again, having discussed with his dad, the lowest he could go to was £3100.
Now I like to haggle and wheel and deal, & part of the best bit of people contacting you through a wanted add is you have a slight upper hand, none of this 'oh i have 3000 other people wanting to come see it' etc that you get with cars, & one thing with the website for EMMA was it had no price... I told Monty's owner about Emma, & even sent him the weblink.. he couldnt' argue that it was cleaner & had more gear, & I may have suggested it was about the 3k mark - but obviously didn't have the trailer.. he said he'd show this link to his dad & be in touch.
That afternoon I met up with the old boy at Wilsons to talk about the Do'er Upper L17, the rigging looked nearly new, he assured me it had newly re-covered cushions, old sails & new sails & a lot of happy history, all this could be mine for a couple of hundred - too cheap to turn down, it would also give me the trailer needed for Emma, I could sell the cushions the sails the mast & boom etc to cover my costs! - it was a deal in the making, so we shook hands!
Later that night - Monty's owner phoned yet again, having shown Emma to his dad, they'd let me have her with the new outboard & gps etc all for £2600! - this is a good price for an SL & too good a deal for me to turn down! - so that is the story how I eneded up with 2 L17's in one day!!
To cut a very long story short - Emma's owner then emailed me to tell me it had sold - he even included photo's of it being launched by it's new owner and sailing away in Essex.
Then something odd happened, about 3 weeks later a guy responds to my (yet to be removed) 'Wanted Ad' about a Leisure 17SL called.. Emma.. & sent me a couple of photo's - clearly the same boat, & he was the same guy seen a couple of weeks earlier as the 'happy new owner'
He was very evasive of my questions about how long he'd owned it, but basically said he'd not had it long and due to his age decided he didn't want to go sailing any more.. sadly, if this was the truth he was also selling it a fair chunk cheaper than the original seller (although I don't know how much he paid for it)
I even considered, Selling Monty on for a profit, off loading Sabuci & using her trailer for Emma, but as I still had Whisper, I figured 4 boats, 2 cars & 2 motorbikes just a little too much!
The reason for this long blog post (sorry about that) is i've now been contacted by another new L17SL owner, called Graham.. & his boats name... well you can guess it!
He's also had boats in Wilsons boat yard before! & may consider bringing it down - I don't believe in destiny.. but it seems Emma was destined to be at Wilsons one way or another.. with an owner called Graham..