In mid-May 2021, we flew to Charleston. We had made an accepted offer on a 2001 Sabre 402 that was located in Hilton Head, SC, and we were going back there to look at her.

This trip was two-fold: David grew up in Charleston, and hadn’t been back in many years. And I had many nieces and nephews I had never met, and I had never been to Charleston. We spent 36 hours running around Charleston, seeing the Civil War era submarine “CSS Hunley”, and even went to a house party before we headed down to Hilton Head. We also had a lovely time spending a night with Sally, David’s mom.

CSS Hunley in Charleston

The boat we were looking at was our first time on a Sabre 402, other than the pulled apart one at Dustin’s shop from a few years earlier. The older couple that owned her had bought her new and cruised her for 20 years up and down the east coast. There were some DIY-type issues we had with her, but really didn’t think anything would be any issues for us. After all, we are also DIY kind of people, and we knew we could pretty much surmount any issues that we ran across.

The other fun part of this trip is that our broker, Allison, who we’d known for many years through Richmond Yacht Club, had since become a close friend of ours, so we were doing this trip with Allison. It’s always fun having a trip with friends, especially when it involves sailboats.

Hilton Head is VERY DIFFERENT sailing territory than the San Francisco Bay Area!

Hilton Head is an interesting place. It is mostly developed neighborhoods on a very thin island on the edge of South Carolina. It’s a short drive away from Savannah, Georgia. The weather was fantastic while we were there, not too hot, and just the right humidity. I was surprised to find out that during the Civil War, this island was the base of operations for the Union blockade of the Southern ports. Once the Union took the island, hundreds of ex-slaves moved to the island, where they could buy land and go to school. I wish we’d had more time to explore, but we were there specifically for the survey, which was happening the day after we arrived on Saturday.

On Sunday, we left the slip early and headed out for a test sail into the Intracoastal Waterway. Since I’d never been to this part of the country and had never seen the ICW, I was excited about this test sail – first sail on a 402 and first sail on the ICW. There was almost no wind, but after motoring for a while, David detected some wind off in the distance. We went over there, and picked up just enough to pull the sails and feel the boat.

This boat can SAIL, and beautifully at that!

The test sail was wonderful, and we were hooked. This was the boat we wanted.

The following day, we took the boat over to the haulout. Haulouts and yards are not very plentiful in this part of the country. The surveyor showed up from Charleston, and started his job along with his bag from Dunkin’ Donuts. I made a comment about the bag, and he said “of course, I’m from New England, gotta have Dunkin’ Donuts.” When I asked where, he said Gloucester, which is where my sister and brother in law live. When I asked if he knew Mike, he said “THE MIKE PARKER???” and I said yes, the one who works at Manchester Marine. Amazingly enough, Nick the Surveyor knew Mike and had grown up with my niece. Sailing… where you can go anywhere and know someone.

The boat was passing muster, and nothing really was a surprise until we pulled her out of the water. There were a couple of serious issues that were found during the survey that we were just not willing to deal with and didn’t want to fix along with the cost of shipping the boat to the west coast and the other issues we had already known about. It was at that point that we sadly decided to pull out of the contract and walk away from this boat. I had never had a survey go south before, though I hadn’t done that many surveys on boats anyway. Up to now, I believed that nothing could knock David and I off of any boat, but there were a few issues on this boat that knocked her out of contention.

A strange thing happened on the way to this point though. The 402 down in the Bay Area had dropped in price to within our range. It was still expensive (to us), but not much more than this boat would have been with shipping.

At that point, I started calculating the Persuasion Equation, and after talking with David realized we were better off buying the boat in the Bay Area.