Today we became the owners of a beautiful 1998 Manta 40 catamaran.
If you recall we first saw a Manta last December at the end of our first and most hectic East Coast Boat Shopping Tour. We fell in love. We could easily imagine ourselves living on such a boat, even though we were well aware that the worst thing you can do is limit your boat search to one particular model. Pffft!
The boat we saw was older than we wanted to buy. It was missing some critical equipment that came standard on a new boat but had been removed by a previous owner. On the plus side, it was pristine and well taken care of and it had the largest solar array we ever saw and a massive high-quality battery bank. And it felt like home. While we were pondering, the boat was sold.
We searched the meager used boat market and found no more Mantas. We learned that only 128 were made, and of those only about 15-20 are of the age and version that we thought we could afford. So with typical obsession, I scoured the internet to find those 15-20 and see if we could shake one loose. Almost immediately I found this blog and spent hours reading it. What the heck, we said, and I wrote to the owners, who had just arrived in Antigua after crossing the Atlantic. Congrats on your circumnavigation, we said, and by the way, are you selling your boat?
A few days later we got a confused reply. No, they were keeping the boat. We were disappointed, but Christmas was coming and after that we decamped to New Jersey to hunker down for January and besides, we had other boats to see. To our surprise, a month after our first contact, we got another email from owners Danielle and Roger. They were considering selling! Well, well.
And so began a months-long low-speed off-and-on negotiation. They were still cruising in paradise and maybe not entirely certain about their future plans. We were getting desperate to find a home, and spending too much money wandering around looking for boats and living in cheap motels. They wanted to cruise until June. We wanted to start our cruise as soon as possible. There were times when we thought this just wasn’t going to work because we didn’t want to commit to a boat we couldn’t have for months and they didn’t want to cut short their cruise if we didn’t commit.
Our stress level rose and fell on a nearly daily basis. We did the best we could to keep ourselves distracted, and we kept looking at other boats. By this time the Manta community knew we were searching and we got several calls about later models just coming on the market. Those boats were out of our price range, but we were glad there were people looking out for us. Keep at it, they said, don’t give up. And so we waited.
Eventually, we couldn’t hang around Florida any more and headed back up north to sort through our stuff and arrange for a mover. On the way we looked at a couple more boats and even tried to paint ourselves into one. But we knew in our hearts that the Manta was the boat for us, and all we could do was wait some more.
Finally, four months after we first read their blog, Danielle and Roger arrived in Florida and we raced back down to Stuart to see the boat. She was everything we hoped for and we spent a whirlwind couple of days on surveys and estimates and last-minute negotiations and paperwork and all the dozens of other boat-buying details. And now finally, today, we are the owners of this fine vessel, our Escape Velocity.
It took us 21 years, 7 months and 27 days to get here. And Jack looks right at home already.
Danielle and Roger’s circumnavigation is a good read, especially their convoy passage through the pirate-infested waters of the Arabian Sea. Start here. We’re grateful to them for taking such good care of their boat, and for putting us through a pretty intensive boot camp that took the edge off the steep learning curve we face aboard our new home.