Skip navigation

It’s a Challenger 40, plus a little extra because of the extended pulpit, and it’s supposedly for sale.


I was finally able to pin down the seller (who shall remain nameless, but not faceless, for reasons to be disclosed) to a date and time for a deeper inspection, and got up early to make the 220-mile drive down to Puerto Penasco, on a Valentine’s Day morning.

10 minutes late. I hate being late for appointments, and I had no one to blame but myself. I was met in the parking area by the seller’s maintenance man, Ernesto, who had quoted me a price of $35,000.00 for the boat about a month ago. It seemed like a reasonable starting point for negotiations. Walking down the gangway, there’s the seller, poking his head into the companionway.

“Mr. Smith?” I inquired. He turned around, and replied “You must be Tom. C’mon aboard.”

Shake his hand, and tell him thanks for taking the time to make this boat inspection possible.

He had a man down below, messing with getting the motor started, and I waited while Mr. Smith turned the key and pressed the start button.

Nothing’s happening. I can hear a fuel pump ticking, but nothing else.

“These are new batteries”, explains Mr. Smith. He sticks his head back down the companionway, asking his man about the glow plugs, and after a few minutes, the starter’s cranking, and the Nissan diesel fires up.

“I totally rebuilt that motor”, he claimed, twisting the throttle. “I pulled it from the boat, took it up to my home, and rebuilt it. New throttle cable, too.”

“That’s great”, I said. “I’ll be looking at the motor soon, but I’d like to start way up top, checking the navigation lighting, the standing rigging, running rigging, etc., and work my way down.”

“Sit down, Tom, and let’s talk.” So I sat. “What are your intentions, here?”

“Well, Mr. Smith, I intend to do an informal survey of this boat so I’ll have an idea of what she has, what she needs, and so forth. If she passes my inspection, I’ll hire a professional surveyor, and then go from there.”

Right about then, I happened to glance at the portside mizzen shroud chainplate, and near had a heart attack.

Problem 1

See that pin sticking out on that toggle? See the shadow of the cotter ring on the coaming behind it? The pin was barely hanging on to the inboard side of the toggle, and I pointed it out to Mr. Smith.

“Huh” was his answer, and pulled out a pair of channellock pliers, and started whacking away at the head of the pin. Maybe he didn’t have a hammer.

The pin didn’t move, but as I looked at the situation, it seemed as if the pin’s bevel was still slightly situated. Thank goodness for that cotter ring, for now. It was the only thing standing between Mr. Smith and a very bad day.

He gave up trying to tap the pin home, so I picked up his makeshift hammer and gave it a few whacks myself. I’m happy to say that the pin did move inboard, with the bevel ramping up and through the toggle.

I looked very hard at all the remaining chainplates.

This kind of inattention to critical detail doesn’t look very good on you, Mr. Smith.

“Let’s talk price” he blurted. “I want $45,000.00”.

Remembering his maintenance man had quoted me $35,000.00, I ignored the subject of money, saying I’d prefer to keep plugging along with my inspection at this point in time. I think Mr. Smith felt as if he was losing control of the sale just then.

“You don’t really want to buy this boat, do you?” he asked.

I told him I was definitely interested, but as it was only the first boat I’d been able to look at, and there’s a huge selection down in San Carlos that I still have to see, I just couldn’t commit to the purchase right now.

“What makes you think I’m not serious about buying your boat?” I asked.

Well, he didn’t have much to say to that, except for the fact that he’s bought and sold a lot of cars, so he could tell when a potential buyer wasn’t really serious.

Yah, I’ve dealt with a few used car salesmen, before. This is akin to the technique of telling a potential customer that he can’t afford the item in question, hopefully causing the customer to want the item even more.

Boats aren’t cars, Mr. Smith, and as much as you’d like to correlate the two, cars don’t sink when they’re operated in their intended environment.

I went on with my inspection, finally getting a look-see below decks.


I guess those two meters on the top right explain why the motor didn’t want to start right away. Very low amperage coming from the batteries. There’s no charging system beyond the motor’s alternator, if there’s any alternator at all.

The rest of the photos I took down below turned out terribly unfocussed, so please forgive me.



Seems like a lot of storage space, with cabinet door hinges barely hanging onto the frames. An hour with a screwdriver would be well-spent.

Digging deeper, I opened up the sole where the stuffing box was located, and watched it drip a fair amount of water into the bilge. Another spot where a few minutes of attention wouldn’t suck.


“Tom, I have to leave now, so you’re going to have to stop” called Mr. Smith. WTF? Barely an hour into what I’d hoped to be about 3 or 4 hours of inspection, and I’m being thwarted!

I climbed out into the cockpit, and asked if the anchor windlass worked. “Sure, it does.” I then asked if he’d ever anchored out in his boat, causing him to start talking about the need to get to his condo, as his wife was waiting to go get some lunch.

Once again, I asked him if he’d ever anchored out in his boat, this time a little more pointedly.

“No, we haven’t. I gotta go, now.”

“I’d still like to do some more inspections in the future, if that’s okay, Mr Smith.”

I’ll email the guy, but I’m gonna be less deferential to his schedule than I was this time. So I drove a couple hundred miles to look at a boat for about an hour.

So what?

“Hey”, says Ernesto, “you want to look at this boat for sale over here?”


It’s an Ericson 35-ish, and the owner lives in Tucson.

We shall see.

I spent the rest of the day putzing around the cabin of my boat, trying different speaker configurations for her, then hit the malecon for some dinner.

Slept on the boat that night, on the hard in the yard.

Long about 0230, loud, live rock ‘n roll music awakened me. Then at 0330, a chorus of police sirens picked up the slack, lasting for what seemed to be about 20 minutes.

Car chase, maybe?

Finally at 0530, someone in the area started singing love songs to his paramour, I think.

Later that morning I buttoned up Sovereign, and headed home.

At least it’s not a boring drive.



  1. well- boat #2 is way prettier ! so there !

    • #2’s easier to singlehand, that’s for sure. 😉

One Trackback/Pingback

  1. By Fighting Entropy | tom's space on 23 Jan 2016 at 10:39 am

    […] quick swing by the Challenger ketch, still for sale, then back over to Marina […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: