|Baltimore, September, 1995
“Sell the freakin’ house, Jack. I want this boat!” This was typical of Kate Germain’s demure demeanor.
AT five PM, it was ninety-two degrees and humid on the pitted and scarred concrete pier at the Tidewater Yacht Service Center located in the heart of Baltimore’s inner harbor. Just across the way, the silhouette of the Orioles’ new stadium, Camden Yards, with that wonderful red brick retro look, stood loud and proud against the late afternoon hue. Kate was bone-tired and “glistened” profusely.
It had been three long days of crawling through a dozen boats with Anne Holcroft of Annapolis Yacht Brokers, who suggested they drive up to Baltimore to look over a unique motorsailer. And yes, it was more than slightly beyond the strict price range they had mandated, but definitely worth a look.
“You guys have been working hard here,” Anne had gently admonished, “now take a break and check out Baltimore Harbor just for the heck of it. I’ll hook you up with a great guy at Tidwater up there, and all it will cost you is gas up and back. Besides, I need a break too. Game?”
An hour or so later, they had found the yard. Now they were standing on the deck of a boat that seemed absolutely massive compared to their last boat, a thirty foot Catalina which was known as the biggest thirty around. This forty foot Island Trader had a length overall of fifty-one feet and a beam of almost fourteen feet. This was one big boat which had costly features and long-range voyaging upgrades that Jack had never even dared imagine owning.
Kate was determined to just say no to every boat Jack drooled over, and they’d get to go home without writing a check they clearly couldn’t afford. They really had looked at some nice boats. Every single one was beautiful in Jack’s dream-drenched eyes. As Kate was fond of saying, the big dope was ready to make an offer on every one that Annie had shown them.
Kate liked Annie and could really relate to her - young, aggressive, an avid boater like Jack and herself, obviously had some hard miles under her keel, like herself. Sadly, Annie had lost her soul mate, Jerry, and that just sucked. Now she was making the remainder of her voyage solo, and a single mom to boot. Gotta respect that.
Jack was dumbfounded. “What? Really? You serious, Babe? That’s great! She’s a stunning beauty, but can we afford this?”
“Well, not really, but let’s talk about it. And we obviously need to make sure we have a place to keep her back home. Let’s call the marina to see if there’s room for a boat this big out there”, which meant the small town with a big marina in Lake City, Minnesota.
The name on her transom was “Sojourn”.
Her interior was an invitingly cool seventy-two degrees. Outside, it was a steamy ninety-two. The local agent that Annie had hooked them up with was no dummy, and air conditioning on a boat was a novel and luxurious notion to Kate and Jack.
The mesmerizing effect was amplified by a warm glow cast by sculpted wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling teak joinery work that was a delight to behold. They were particularly enchanted by the hand carvings in the teak stateroom and head doors, the curved fiddles and pin rails gracefully embracing every horizontal surface, and the omnipresent teak parquet flooring. She was equally sumptuous outside.
She boasted lovely traditional lines and more glossy teak trim everywhere. She pleased the eye with a provocative upward sweep of her spacious foredeck, as it gently rose from amidships, foreward of the predominant pilothouse, to peak at the root of an impressive six foot bow sprit, the end of which housed two massive anchors poised no less than seven feet above the water on heavy bronze rollers. Their chains led back to an electric windlass designed to effortlessly raise and lower them.
This was one substantial little ship.
Jack wanted this boat too. “God, could this actually work?”, he was just now daring to hope. It would absolutely be a wet dream come true!
“We can only afford to offer a hundred thousand, Jacko, and that will be a helluva stretch. If he walks, he walks, and frankly, who could blame the good Doctor? If it were me, I’d walk!”
That night, they sat together on the slightly lumpy double bed at their oh-so-affordable motel, located less than six blocks from Annapolis’ famous town dock. During the seventy-five minute drive back to the motel from Tidewater, Jack and Kate tortured themselves, earnestly discussing doubts about whether to counter with another offer they really couldn’t afford, if the owner raised their initial ante.
If they only knew then that when (not if) they closed the deal on this, their dream boat, it would change their lives forever--irrovocably, precipitously and dangerously.