So we were looking for a boat. We had been to the big sailboat show in Annapolis, been out on a friend’s O’Day on the Chesapeake a couple times, completed our NJ Safe Boater and American Sailing Association 101 keelboat classes, then rented a boat and spent several hours on Barnegat Bay. We were casually keeping an eye out for a used boat at a fair price, but “casual” eventually turned into a regular rotation on the used boat websites and a series of crazedlist RSS feeds from a few dozen craigslists that were churning out 30-50 possibilities a day. Most of what we were seeing were boats from the 70s in various states of disrepair. We were looking for something:

  • Small enough to trailer (trailering seemed like a less expensive option than renting a slip, both in initial outlay and in ongoing maintenance: no bottom scraping or painting, less wear and tear, corrosion, etc.)
  • Large enough to put us up for a weekend.

We weren’t expecting something brand new or something that could serve as our retirement home, but we didn’t think we were out of line holding out for something a step above a dinghy that hadn’t apparently been used as a planter. We saw a Catalina 22 listed a couple times in and around Baltimore that was out of our price range, but looked to be in great shape, complete, and advertised in an unusually coherent manner—it’s amazing how many people will list a multi-thousand dollar boat on Craigslist with a writeup that doesn’t include obvious things like the make or length of the boat. We dickered around with a couple people who were listing boats without trailers or motors or sails or rigging or who wouldn’t tell us the condition of anything, but it wasn’t really going anywhere realistically. Eventually, we started to see the Catalina 22 from Baltimore tick down. We’d get RSS feeds showing it dropping in price, until it eventually got down to 75% of the original price and snuck into the upper end of our price range. We contacted the seller on August 12th and set up an appointment for Saturday, August 15. At the same time, I contacted a member of SailNet.com, which is one of the larger sailing forums on the Interwebs. I had been lurking there for a while, and knew that some of the members had volunteered to look at boats for others who were either too far away to warrant a trip on a “maybe” boat or too green to know their aft from a hole in the water. The person who had claimed the greater Baltimore area was a guy named Dave who seemed very knowledgeable and friendly, and he agreed to meet us to take a look at the boat. We were pretty excited.

"Prepare to fend off the bridge abutment."