OK, it's been 8 months but we've been busy. This trip was relatively short compared to the last two 1100+-mile trips, but still worthy of review. But before we begin the trip, you might be interested in how we decided on the Gulfstar and how that process went.
As we mentioned in the February 11 post, we sold the Roughwater and had to find another boat. After lots of states and lots of miles, we had narrowed our search to a 42 Grand Banks, a 52 Vista, several 43 Hatterasses, and we've known all along we loved the 44 Gulfstars. The Gulfstars in general have lots of positives - beautiful lines, huge aft deck with hardtop (the earlier models), stand-up engine room, relatively small and reliable Perkins engines/decent fuel burn, a beautiful all-teak interior, windows that don't leak, tons of storage space, upper and lower helms, wide and protected walk-around (for Rhonda), walk-around queen in the aft cabin (versus split bunks), two full heads with showers/tub, decent size galley with full-size refrig/freezer, 500 gal fuel (700+-mile range), 250 gal water, 100 gal holding tank, and much more. Note also that the fuel/water/holding tanks are all fiberglass and molded into the boat (versus iron/steel/aluminum that leak after time and have to be replaced).
In addition to the above, the Gulfstar in Corpus had several things in its favor - a flybridge hardtop (vs canvas), naturally aspirated diesels (no turbo), a second generator belted off of the port engine for use while underway (without having to run the stand-alone gen), a 100-gallon per day water-maker, a fuel polishing system, 3000-watt inverter, canvas/screens/isinglass in decent shape for the aft deck, a meticulously maintained interior with bamboo floors in the salon (we hate carpet), very nice hard-bottom AB Dinghy with davit and electric-start 15-HP outboard, relatively recent bottom job with top-of-the-line bottom paint, new batteries, mostly freshwater history, reverse osmosis drinking water purification system, everything worked, it was close to where we wanted to be (Galveston), and had nice owners. Don't laugh about that last one - it makes a big difference. The couple had bought the boat in Florence, AL (about 30 miles from our home), had owned it about 10 years, and mainly used it for trips to the Bahamas. It was docked in their back yard in Ingleside On The Bay (pic below). They had accumulated many years in life, had some medical issues pending, and decided it was time to get out of boating.
On the negative side, the exterior needed some cosmetic work (most of which I can do (and enjoy) and the electronics were dated. I'm not a big fan of fancy electronics anyway. Give me a depth finder, radio, and paper charts and I'm good to go. This one had 2 depth finders, 2 VHF radios, a chartplotter, GPS, autopilot, pinwheel speed-log, radar, hailer, RC spotlight, rudder position indicator, and compass (again, dated, but they all worked).
So, we made an initial offer that was refused. The owners countered but we felt like we should check out the market some more before agreeing to anything and off we went. After all the miles and all the states we checked out (buying a boat is not like buying a car with all the dealerships a few blocks from each other), we felt that the Corpus Gulfstar was still the best choice for us. So we headed back to Corpus, spent lots more time on the boat, still liked it, and decided it was worth it to split the difference between our initial offer and their counter. We also had an agreement that the owners would allow us to move on to the boat after closing and have a week at their dock to familiarize ourselves with the boat before departing for Galveston.
We arranged for the surveyor with a recommendation from a boater I had communicated with on the internet who was familiar with surveyors in that area. Man, was this surveyor good - started at 8:30 in the morning and finished at 6:30 PM. I was also impressed that the owner wanted to do the haulout at a marina 20 miles away when there was a lift and boatyard available just around the corner from his house. If he was confident about a 40-mile/4-hour sea trial, that boosted my confidence level also. (I think he also probably wanted one final run before giving up the boat). So, off we went. Here's a pic of the owner as we headed down the GIWW.
I had contracted with the marina to haul the boat and pressure wash for inspection. As soon as she was out of the water, it was obvious the pressure wash was not necessary. The bottom was in great shape - another good sign. Here she hangs in the sling.
The boat ran great the entire trip, the survey report was good with no major deficiencies noted and only a few recommendations. We closed on September 27, 2011 - boat owners again.