77 Palmetto, FL. Selling Tranquility

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The bus bumped to a standstill 50 yards beyond the bus stop. We ran down and climbed aboard. As we slipped our dollars in the slot and collected our transfers the bus driver ran us through Bus Riding 101. “Please stand up and move toward the sign when you see the bus coming,” he said. “I don’t check the benches–just for people standing near the sign. Can’t start moving again until you go sit down.” We did and he did. The buses were great-we could go anyplace the buses run for a dollar. Transfers are free and they hold at transfer points until the next bus shows up so there are few delays.

Three buses and two transfers later we were out on Anna Maria Island at the end of the bus line. We set out walking, spending the day sampling beaches, walking streets to see homes and finding a great place for lunch. Eight miles later, feeling very tired we climbed back aboard a bus for the ride back to the marina.

A few days later, we rode the bus back out early one morning for breakfast at the Rod and Reel, a fishing pier with ramshackle restaurant up on what passes for the second floor. Believe they have been designated first structure to disappear if a hurricane gets within a hundred miles. It’s a classic greasy spoon with great food.

It hadn’t been our plan to stay in Palmetto for any length of time. We’d left Tranquility here while we went north for the holidays. As we returned, the first rush of phone calls in response to our ads began coming in, and we realized it would be difficult to sell a moving target. We signed up for another month at the marina and eagerly anticipated the line of buyers showing up with cash in hand to buy Tranquility.

One guy came and looked. From his questions it was evident this was the wrong boat for him. It was interesting to see him review the equipment list he’d previously printed out from our Web site and then ask, “It doesn’t have —” questions. He knew the answers in advance but asked about a windlass, air conditioning, water maker, gen set and other items not on the equipment list or the boat. We couldn’t figure out why he’d gone out of his way to come and look.

Enterprise now knows us on a first name basis. We picked up another rental car and drove over to see Odyssey, our new boat under construction. Not only was it fun to see, but useful for seeing how systems are arranged and plumbing and wiring run for future reference when we are having to sort out and fix any problems.

We took advantage of the rental car and headed for the Florida State Fair near Tampa. It seemed very strange going to the fair in February. For us state fairs were always in the fall. We were impressed with the Florida fair. Cracker Country filled with old Florida buildings and people doing old crafts like soap, rope and whip making was a unique fair exhibit. I was intrigued with the steam engine building with 8-10 running steam engines. Of course, being Florida, there was a huge display of “mobile” please call them “manufactured homes” said the salesman/person. We wandered the usual fair midway and food booths– impressed with the size. I guess all the midway and food people winter in Florida and set up at the fair for something to do. We topped off our visit with strawberry shortcake. They were huge– a small lake of fresh strawberries drowning the shortcake. It is peak strawberry season in Florida right now.

Phone calls rolled in. Most came from the northeast. Everyone was interested, but didn’t want to spend the money to come to Florida. We began to talk about taking Tranquility to the Chesapeake to sell her there since that was the area where the interest seemed to be.

We hung out a for sale sign. That attracted the usual tire kickers and people who were only interested in coming aboard to see the inside. I think they are the same ones who spend Sundays going to open houses. Our for sale sign also attracted a broker from one of the 5 brokerages at the marina. We had already been thinking about listing with a broker so the next day we went and signed up.

Ruth’s Aunt Edna came to visit. Remarkably spry, she was game for making the large step to come aboard Tranquility at low tide. We enjoyed her company, and the questions she asked indicated more than just a passing interest in our life style. A few days later she came back with her brother Stan and wife Jerry. They took us to visit family and treated us to dinner.

We continued to clean, fix little things and then rented a car and took another load of stuff to storage. Having a car provided an opportunity to stop in St Petersburg and see Laurent and Judy on Blitzen. They were exploring the West Coast of Florida this year before heading back up the ICW.

E-mail worked again. We swapped notes with Nancy and John on Innisfree. They are wintering in Panama City. They were off traveling by car and stayed with us for a couple of nights. We all drove down to Ft. Myers to see the Thomas Edison estate and the next day played tourist at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota.

Viewing activity on Tranquility picked up. Our broker brought a number of people aboard to look. The Miami Boat Show presented a showing conflict for our broker one weekend. We said we’d do the showing while he went to sell at the boat show. Mark and Pat showed up and stayed three hours looking and talking boats. We hit it off and enjoyed each other’s company. That evening we commented that they would be acceptable owners for Tranquility. Three days later we received an offer, contingent on a survey, which we accepted.

Linda and Steve were flying down to visit mom. We rented a car and headed to Vero Beach for a family reunion. It was fun time. We even found a park we’d never been before and found what might be a great anchorage with our new shallow draft. For us it was also a good diversion from our worries about unexpected problems a survey might reveal that could either kill the offer, or be expensive to fix. We didn’t think there was anything ,but worried anyway.

Bill, our broker, showed up with Ken and the survey of Tranquility began. Ruth headed toward the library, and I stayed aboard to answer any questions Ken might have during the survey. We headed out and put up the sails. I had a lump in my throat and felt very sad that Ruth wasn’t along for what might be a last sail on Tranquility. Ruth watched the sails go up from shore and had the same feeling.

The Travel Lift brought Tranquility out of the water providing a detailed look at what sitting still for three months can do to a bottom. Where there was antifouling bottom paint we were fine except for some slime. Unprotected areas like the depth sounder transducer and propeller were another story. The depth sounder transducer sported a 6″ weed. Barnacles grew in great profusion on the propeller and propeller shaft. While Ken sounded the hull, checked for blisters, and checked rudder condition, I worked at scraping off all the growth. We both finished at the same time and Tranquility went back into the water and back to the broker dock.

We passed the survey with just a few things to correct. A rigger replaced two cracked stay swages. We didn’t agree on the need to replace the exhaust hose but did it anyway once the broker indicated he’d pay for the hose. We did the grunt work of getting the old one out and new on installed.

We had a mini Goodchild (Ruth’s mother’s family) reunion. John, Jan and Karen came to visit and spend an afternoon aboard Tranquility. It had been many years since we’d seen them, and it was fun to be together again.

“Tyson, what are you doing?” remarked our server as she brought more coffee. Tyson, a beautiful snowy egret stood on our breakfast table staring intently as we ate. His yellow feet were just short of the salt and pepper shakers in the middle of the table. He had moved from the porch rail to a chair back and now to our table. We learned Tyson was a regular at the restaurant and comfortable being close to people. Tyson squawked and jumped back to perch on a chair back as our server poured coffee. As she left he immediately jumped back on our table, this time a little closer. I cut a piece of omelet, raised my fork slightly and then paused to look at Ruth as she commented about our visitor. Tyson jabbed forward and neatly removed the omelet piece from my fork. We chuckled in surprise and then shooed him back to the chair back since I wasn’t up to sharing with a bird. Turned out he was a picky eater. People at the next table offered him a piece of potato. He ignored it preferring to keep his eye on my omelet. With that start to the day we continued out on Anna Maria Island to explore Coquina Park and walk the beach before taking the bus back to the marina.

The realization we’d traded Tranquility, a 36′ sailboat, for an 8″ piece of paper; a cashiers check, left us feeling empty. As we accepted the check, we realized Tranquility was ours no longer. We walked to the bank and deposited the check. Then we went to lunch not to celebrate, but instead to speculate about what life will be like aboard Odyssey. For two people who had just sold our boat with perfect timing we were strangely quiet with a vague sadness. We’ve given up something close to us and it was hard to celebrate. We still have a week to live aboard, now the guests of Tranquility’s new owners. It will be a long painful week. We’re not used to being guests in our prior home.

That’s all from Tranquility.

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