Table of Contents

  1. s/v Rachel J. Slocum
  2. Meeting The Owner
  3. Due Diligence
  4. Unconventional Transaction
  5. Next Steps
  6. Lessons Learned
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Project Slocum Part 1 of 5 in a series of write-ups on our boat purchase adventure. In December, we first came across sailing vessel Rachel J. Slocum. Now in February, we can begin to take the next steps.

s/v Rachel J. Slocum

Over the past month, we have been hyper-focused on executing on my exit strategy from work. With the upcoming trip to Ft. Lauderdale to check out the boat and meet the owner, we are simultaneously excited and trepidatious about this next step.

While Andrew has purchased a boat in the past, the materiality of this purchase is exponentially greater. This vessel is also meant to be our home for the decades to come, so it’s important we do what we can to ensure she’s the right sailboat for us and to mitigate risk.

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Meeting The Owner

When we first checked out her website, we were delighted with the information shared about the vessel as well as about the owner.

Given that she is a 50 foot custom-built staysail schooner who has been lovingly maintained by one owner for 30 years, it was infinitely more important to us to gain as much sailing knowledge from the original owner than validate the feature list and maintenance history.

Wing-keel designed by Dave Pedrick (America's Cup)
Wing-keel designed by Dave Pedrick (America's Cup)

Rachel J. Slocum is a fast 8-knot cruiser in any wind and sea condition and at every point of sail. She has completed a world circumnavigation via Cape of Good Hope & Cape Horn, including fast crossings of the Pacific Ocean (seven times), Indian Ocean (twice) and Atlantic Ocean (twice). Everything works. No upgrades, repairs or tweaks necessary. This boat will get you to your destination quickly, safely, and in style.

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Due Diligence

Since late December, we have corresponded with the owner who was staying in Nevis in the Caribbean. We made arrangements in mid-March to see the boat when he and his wife would be back in Florida.

While Andrew and I devoured every pixel of information we could on the owner’s website, we quickly came to the conclusion that what we saw in the design and feature selection of the boat came from a very purposeful and thoughtful owner, who placed a high premium on the sailing capabilities of the boat while still ensuring that he and his wife would be sailing in safety and comfort across the high seas. 

We subsequently learned that his choices and decisions stemmed from the following:

  • every good idea learned from sailing a different yacht over 9 years was incorporated
  • a childhood raised among boat yards in New England (his father owned Concordia Boat Yard and Marshall Marine)
  • resources to commission legendary yacht designers (Tanton, Pedrick) and builders (Ta Shing) to create a bespoke sailboat
  • time to monitor its design and construction each step of the way

s/v Rachel J. Slocum is not just an owner’s boat… She is a shipwright owner’s boat.

We also got a kick out of being able to track her whereabouts on AIS

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Unconventional Transaction

She was first put on the market May, 2019 with a bold caveat to potential buyers:

Not for sale to U.S. residents while in U.S. waters.

As we mentioned before, we are new to boat ownership, so while on one hand we felt good about the fact that this disclaimer may be a deterrent for other buyers, it also created an interesting opportunity to learn about an unconventional transaction (at least, what we thought was unconventional, on the face of it). 

Early in our correspondence, the owner suggested that depending on our sailing plans, we could have an opportunity to mitigate the tax impact by purchasing his company rather than the vessel itself.

Luckily with my background in finance and working on multi-billion dollar deals, this also didn’t raise any concern. We viewed this as another opportunity to learn about the boat buying process, while exercising previous due-diligence muscles, so to speak. Hence the title of this post and blog series, “Project Slocum” is a nod to names given to transactions to ensure some level of secrecy before any public announcement. 

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Next Steps

The transaction will likely proceed as follows:

  • We evaluate her during the first visit.
  • Make an offer contingent on satisfactory marine survey and sea trial.
  • Owner secures insurance, hauls out the vessel for cleaning and new anti-foul coat, replace used sails with new spectra sails.
  • Complete pre-purchase marine survey and sea trial in Florida.
  • Assuming she is bristol and the final price agreed, transaction closes.
  • Sailing part of our adventure begins!

This timeline will likely take place over the next 6 to 9 months as we likely don’t want to take possession until after the hurricane season ends in Florida/Caribbean. We also need that amount of time to downsize (i.e., sell off assets such as cars, furniture, and personal items) until we are left with only the things we want to take with us aboard.

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Lessons Learned

Over the past few months, we have read blogs of other couples who choose this lifestyle, and it seems like they pursue this goal at a breakneck speed (e.g., taking place in a month or two). Andrew and I want to take a less aggressive timeline to make this transition. We’re in no particular rush, and if we lose this opportunity due to timing, then perhaps it wasn’t meant to be, and we’ll move on to Plan B (Project Sirius).

The point in all of this is to enjoy the journey and not the destination. 

Thanks for reading!

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