I am a notoriously sound sleeper. I’ve slept through many a New Years celebration, thunderstorms, even the odd hurricane. But the night after I purchased my first boat, a 1961 Rhodes Chesapeake, I found myself in the unique situation off staring up at the ceiling.

All I could think about was my recent purchase and the affects it would have on me. My bravery that had been front and center earlier in the day faded as every sleepless hour passed. Was this smart financially, will I even be able to sail it, and can I really restore it like I was so certain I could?

The next day after a few winks of sleep, I turned my focus to the Web, determined to find the answers to all those questions. Terms like bill of sale, notary, registration, insurance, sales tax, and winter storage cost seemed to reach out from my monitor and slap me across the face. I quickly realized that buying a boat would take more than a check and a handshake.

Now in a cold sweat, I decided the first thing I needed to find was a local mooring to keep the boat for the few weeks after the sale. An hour of searching and a few phone calls led me to Clark’s Boat Yard in Jamestown R.I., which was only 10 minutes from my apartment in Newport. The price was right, the staff seemed friendly over the phone and their website boasted stunning images of Newport Harbor and the iconic Pell Bridge.

As quickly as I began daydreaming about this location, I ran into a obstacle. The hiccup was Clark’s required insurance before renting me the mooring. A bit of hunting on the Internet led to a patient woman at a local insurance company who informed me I could recieve coverage immediately as long as I got the boat surveyed first. Great, right? Well not really.

You see, in order to get insurance I needed a survey, but in order to get hauled and get the survey, I needed insurance. Jeeze!

My next call was a second one to Clark’s, this time not as a frazzled madman but as someone calmly looking for advice. When I explained to them that I was in over my head they patiently provided advice on insurance and the type of rider I should try to get. A phone call to Boat U.S. with this information about a rider in mind and I was insured.

The following night, I met with the boat’s owner to finalize the sale, which thankfully went rather smoothly. A few forms and the big check later, I was officially a sailboat owner!

The (now previous) owner even offered to come along on my maiden voyage to make sure I got it to Jamestown all right. An offer I immediately accepted.

Reflecting on this series of events, I realize now that I have already committed my first mistake in boat ownership, which is trying to figure everything out at once. In this sport, I don’t think you ever really have it figured out. There is always more to learn, and there is ALWAYS someone out there who knows more than you. Lucky for me, I have found that many seasoned boaters are generous with their time and advice.

My first sleepless night

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