Finding SOLUNA

To say that I scoured the internet for boats on a daily basis would be an understatement.  My daily routine consisted of a series of expeditiously completed work tasks crammed in between excessively long drawn out sessions of boat searches, as well as, detailed boat search centered email strings between my friend, Jason Ellis.  Jason had recently purchased MIMZY, a Dean 440 that is located in St. Thomas, USVI.  He is currently chartering MIMZY out of Red Hook, USVI, until he and his family move aboard full time this summer. Please check out their site

During a few of these wandering e-mail strings, Jason mentioned a boat (a Maxim 380) that he had seen and had met the owner.  The boat had recently been put up for sale and Jason sent me the link.  I looked at the link and instantly liked the boat.  I tried to contact the broker, but to no avail.  The link stayed up for a long time, but was finally removed and I assumed that the boat was sold.  Over the next several months, I looked into this type of boat and liked it more and more.  I continued to search for these boats, as well as the Voyage 380, and larger Voyages.

About a year later, I got online to commence my first of many searches for the day, and I recognized the first boat on the list.  The original post for the Maxim 380 was back online.  I immediately e-mailed the broker and called the listed phone number.  It took a day or two, but the new owner called back.  I received some additional information about what happened to the boat over the last couple of years, and made arrangements to come see the boat.  The boat had sat on the hard since the original post, and had not been maintained for some time.  I didn’t know what to expect to see, but I definitely wanted to take a look.

This was how I found her. Her name was “Painkiller”.  She was a 2002 Maxim/Voyage 380, and had been in the back of the storage yard at Pensacola Shipyard for two years, next to a broken down dredge and a metal scrap yard. She looked pretty sad and needed some attention.  I spent a grand total of 30 minutes on board and realized that her bones were good, but a boat sitting on the hard for a long time is a scary proposition.  There are a lot of unseen things that could be catastrophic for a not-so-deep refit budget.  However, having the personality that I do, I made an offer on the spot, which was quickly accepted.  I immediately thought, “Oh, that’s not good!”

After leaving the shipyard, I headed back to the airport and called Jason to let him know what I had just done.  His response: “Haha, Sucker!”  …I have wonderful friends.

I spent the next several days looking up purchasing contracts and marine surveyors in Fla.  Since neither of us, seller nor buyer, were using brokers, I was going to have to navigate this process on my own.  I found a surveyor that had a good reputation and scheduled a survey/sea trial.

On the day of the survey, I receive a call from the surveyor asking me to call him immediately. This was not going to be good news!  I returned his call and he proceeds to tell me that the boat can not be sea trialled due to faulty bilge pumps in both hulls and multiple leaky thru hulls.  That, coupled with the fact the no sea water was being pumped through the engines, meant that the boat had to be pulled out of the water asap.  I thought to myself, I need to walk on this one right now.  I asked him to finish the survey with the boat out of the water and send me his report when completed.

He sent me his report and I preceeded to pick it apart for several days.  I showed it to my family and my friends to get their take on the boat.  I got every response from  “Run Away!” to “Buy it Now!”.  Well, that clarified everything…….  Here are some items that were listed as Priority Defencies:

  1. Both propellers are badly fouled, and show corrosion damage. Starboard propeller
    shows corrosion both at edges and center of blades, and should be replaced. Both
    Sail Drives are missing collar zincs, which should be replaced.
  2. Bottom paint is depleted in areas, and appears ineffective. The bottom should be
    cleaned, prepared (minimally, sanded), and a compatible bottom paint applied.
  3. The LPG locker is the port cockpit locker. The tank is not marine grade tank,and is
    not secured. No pressure gauge showing leakage was sighted.
  4. Various thru hull fittings below the heeled water line were stiff or inoperable, and not
    double clamped.
  5. The engine raw water hoses are not double clamped on the Sail Drive side.
    See “4” above. Excessive rust located at starboard mixing elbow where raw
    water is injected.
  6. The StatX fire extinguishing system in both port and starboard engine compartments
    are dated “04”, and not tagged as recently inspected.
  7. The engines cooling systems are not in good operating condition. The starboard raw
    water pump is inoperable (no water in exhaust); the port engine exhaust includes
    steam at normal but not under load RPM.
  8. Bilge pumps were inoperable, or operated only in manual mode. Manual bilge pump
    pickups were not screened.
  9. No smoke detection alarm was noted.
  10. No carbon monoxide detection alarm detected.

After reading the survey countless times, a multitude of internet searches/email strings about refit options, and a few stiff drinks, I decided to move forward with purchasing the boat.  I could not find anything that could not be fixed with a little (or a lot) of work and watching some YOUTUBE videos.  Amazingly, my wife was on board and we were able to re-negotiate the purchase price to allow more room for additional refit.

We decided to name her SOLUNA, (Sol=sun Luna=moon).  We have two boys that are emmensly different, but both amazing in their own ways.  Tripp is our oldest and never slept very well when he was little.  We spent countless nights outside with him looking at the moon.  Because of this, we started calling him “The Moon”.  Carrick (our youngest) slept well almost immediately, and woke up with the sun…..every day without fail.  He still does to this day!  Naturally, we started calling him “The Sun”.  So we did the most logical thing we could to keep our kids grounded and humble, we named our boat after them.

And with that we owned a boat, closing a few days after Christmas.  I texted Jason to let him know that we closed and the boat was ours.  His response was something to the effect of, “Congratulations! Welcome to boat ownership, the dumbest decision of your life.”  Again…..Wonderful friends.

Next Post: The Refit Begins….I need Rum!




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