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We parted ways with Aquila giving last glances over our shoulders to her and wondering if she might be “the one“. Bill drove us back to the brokerage office and opened the doors to a Beneteau 411 (boat #2 for the day) that was on the hard right behind his office. Shelly and I stepped below and took a look around, but realized quickly that the 411 just wasn’t for us. We had been aboard several 411’s in the past and while we like them, they just don’t fit us. One bonus was that this one had an aftermarket bow thruster. Something that we’ve been considering ourselves.

NOTE: A bow thruster is a little propeller and motor that faces to the left and right up under the front of the boat. It makes it far easier to maneuver around in tight marinas when you can turn the front of your boat with a little joystick.

We shook hands with Bill and headed west across St. Pete to meet with Leo (Bill’s counterpart) out near Treasure Island where we found “Nani Kai” tied up and looking completely spit-shined.

“Nani Kai” was the biggest reason we drove the 600 miles to St. Pete so it felt a little like it was the pinnacle of the day for us when we stepped aboard. We knew she had suffered from a nearby lightning strike that had fried the boat’s electronics, but she was in the process of getting all new gear: a more advanced chart plotter, new and better resolution sonar, and new gauges, etc… They were even changing out the port lights (windows). Needless to say, we were excited.

The boat was beautiful. We spent over an hour on her looking in every cabinet, checking chain plates, looking into the bilge, and crawling into the engine compartment. Despite a few minor issues with a dripping stuffing box and a corroding heat exchanger, we eagerly sat down in the salon with Leo and drafted up and offer.

We were finally buying a BOAT!

The offer was fairly priced (even the broker thought so) and we set it to expire at the end of Tuesday the 24th. We were so confident that we had found “the one” that we canceled the showing of the last boat, a Beneteau 413.

We left Leo to write up the offer and get it in our email boxes for e-signatures while we headed back across town to our hotel. By the time we walked into our room at the Ponce my phone chimed. The offer was waiting.

Whipping out our laptops, Shelly and I read it quickly and signed. With smiles on our faces, Shelly looked at me and said, “We’re finally buying a boat!”

To celebrate we walked over to Fresco’s by the Municipal Marina for a cocktail and an early dinner. We talked endlessly about the offer, what would be next, what we needed to get together for the closing in a month, who we might hire to help us captain her back home to Pensacola, and even checked out the route on our phones.

After dark that evening we took a walk on the waterfront to look at the pretty sticks (admiring the sailboats in the marina), and talked about what it was going to be like once we were living aboard “Nani”. As we walked past Fresco’s (something we hadn’t done before) and rounded the corner I immediately recognized the street from earlier today!

“Shelly!”, I grabbed her by the hand. “This is the marina where we saw Aquila!”

“What?!”

“Yes! We’ve been within a hundred feet of her all afternoon!”

We quickly walked past about 6 boats and sure enough, Aquila was tied up right next to a larger Beneteau. Neither of us could believe we had spent the last 24 hours nearly right next to her and didn’t know it.

Needless to say we spent the next half hour leaning against the fence admiring her and talking about the whirlwind day. Before leaving and heading back to the Ponce, Shelly looked at me and asked, “What if Aquila ends up being the one.”

I just shrugged, but the irony wasn’t lost on me. We had come 600 miles to make an offer on what we thought was the right choice, yet this one had been snuggly docked right next to us all weekend.

So, with nothing left to do but wait, we drove out of St. Pete Sunday morning and drove the 600 miles back home. The owners had until Tuesday to either accept our offer or counter, but as it turns out, life had other plans for us and the counter offer would never come.

Continued in part 4… Click HERE

SailingIntoTheBlue

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