Once in a Blue Moon

By Don Hutton and Paule Senechal

The story of how Don and Paule acquired Blue Moon.

What recently happened to my wife Paule and I is too much of a moment in our lives to let pass without some reflection, introspection, contemplation … and maybe a bit of soul searching. It involves a story … so here goes …

Our move to Gabriola in December of 2011 was for a number of reasons including truly wanting to connect with people and community as we aged, getting into a climate where we could breathe, garden, walk, fish and generally enjoy life year around without freezing fingers, noses and toes shoveling and plowing the white stuff… and where we could navigate a boat over the unfrozen waters year around. So, two years before the move with our house still for sale we sold our 20’ aluminum boat in the Yukon figuring we would get a larger one down south, at least something with a cabin. So it came to pass that within 3 months of the move last December, we acquired a brand new welded aluminum 22’ fishing boat at a dealer in Victoria, complete with cabin, sleeping arrangements and a porta-pottie. Nice to look at, fast and served the purpose … of day use … which we figured, living 10 minutes from the dock, would be our main use of a boat!  However, not long after we bought “Sea Lover” we joined the Silva Bay Yacht Club and participated in our first cruise. Turned out it was for 6 nights and 7 days. We were excited to be with so many other like-minded boaters between ports and anchorages … and yet we started to envy the space they had to sleep and lounge and the conveniences when cooking and … well … doing other business. Looking at our smaller ‘day-use’ craft we began to realize maybe we had been a bit hasty in our quick acquisition.

Oddly, on one of these cruises last May we ran across an old acquaintance from the Yukon in Montague Harbor who had moved to Nanaimo 2 years ago and they told us they had also made hasty purchase of a gem of a boat called a Camano Troll. It was 31 feet long, a ‘fast’ trawler made for the last 25 years in Vancouver ideally suited for a couple complete with all the necessary amenities. We fell in love with, AND … it was for sale … AND they wanted to downsize after realising they actually wanted a trailerable boat they could haul behind their new motor home. How excited we were figuring we could maybe trade them ours as part payment for theirs. We looked at theirs and they came and looked at ours … and liked it … would think about it and get back to us. We agonized for a few days, then a week, then another week waiting for the call but alas … we never heard back from them!

We were quite disappointed but nevertheless we continued to participate in cruises … and day trips. As summer wore on we began to think seriously of trying to sell our boat and acquire a more suitable ‘cruising’ boat for the longer trips we were getting involved with. Over the next couple of months we wrestled with the idea of trying to sell our boat privately in a ‘down’ market… and also with the idea of paying a 10% commission to a broker.

In late July we changed harbours from Silva Bay to Degnen Bay and decided then to rent a 30 foot slip with power even though we still had the 22’ boat, thinking that we were going to change that someday!

Then … about a week before a planned 3 week cruise to Desolation Sound with 16 other boats from the Silva Bay Yacht Club, we decided to put our small craft up for sale with a broker… and see what happened … believing strongly that absolutely nothing would happen if we didn’t take the initiative … and at the very least ‘put our dream out there’!

Next, on August 27th, I made a quick trip to Nanaimo for last minute supplies and to pick up a For Sale sign from our new ‘Broker’ to attach to our boat during the cruise. It was much too big to permanently attach to our ‘smaller’ boat so I stowed it in the cockpit thinking I might be able to display it at docks or when anchored.

We set off on August 28th from Silva Bay to Pender Harbor and made a dock over there in about 4-5 hours, keeping our speed slow to stay with some other slower moving boats. I decided to not go to the trouble of attaching the For Sale sign at this dock. Our destination the next day was Westview in Powell River but we had to turn back because of big seas and wait another day.

Upon arriving in Westview we tied up at the transient dock in the South Harbor and this time I did attach the For Sale sign even though we were at one of the more distant docks; and then Paule went for some last minute grocery shopping to stock up for Desolation Sound … and ‘the guys’ went to visit the local bakery.

On our way back to the dock we (the guys) met an older couple at the top of the gangplank who said they had noticed the For Sale sign and asked if we were moored there and if we knew who owned the Hewescraft for sale. I said I did and did they want to buy it? His response was “maybe”… if I was interested in buying his boat? “What do you have for a boat?” I asked. His response was a Camano Troll 31! My heart jumped almost out of my chest… what year I asked … 2006 he replied. Having pored over almost every listing for Camano Trolls in the Pacific Northwest for the past 4 months I knew what the going price was for every year model so responded “Well … might be a little rich for our budget … but at least let’s take a look”. So he and his wife and I headed off to our boat to have a look. They were quite interested and especially his wife when she noticed that she could have her own hydraulic seat when underway.

About this time Paule arrived with several bags of groceries wondering what was going on, and soon realized … as did I … that our dream of finding someone with a Camano Troll who was also interested in our boat for trade was right there in front of us at our fingertips. Were we still dreaming … or was this real?  After about an hour going over everything on our boat in detail we were becoming quite anxious to see the “Camano”… so off we went to the North harbor which was where the Powell River permanent slips were. On the way we started asking a lot of questions about who they were, why they were selling and without being too cynical … trying to find out if all of this was really for real. We learned that they had lived and worked in Powell River for most of their adult lives and had retired and were spending more than half the year in southern climates. They had just lost a deal for the sale of their Camano because a planned sale on the other end didn’t work out and, that they were heading south on their annual trip in a little over two weeks. They were finding the stress of having a boat in the water for the 7 months they were away and paying moorage, power and caretaking quite costly and more than they cared for in their stage of life.

Their boat was immaculate … even though they were actually living on it for the moment. Within minutes they produced documentation of ownership, maintenance records, and everything else needed for us to realize that this was not only real … they were actually trying to sell US on a deal … that seemed too good to be true. It turned out they had their Camano previously listed with the same Broker as us and, he had actually sold them the Camano new in 2006.

So we figured might as well bring all of this back to our financial reality … and we told them that we had actually figured out in advance what we could spend over and above what we got for our boat if and when it sold.  Didn’t seem to faze them when we shared the figure … so we sat down to talk how we might make the deal work.  By about 10:30 pm we had arrived at a potential deal where all of us were satisfied … and we agreed to sleep on it and come back together the next day. The only hitch was would our broker allow us to get out of our listing contract (10% of the sale price) since this was our initiative and our contract was less than 10 days old. They sent us back to our boat that night with a 4” thick binder full of Camano and equipment documents and their log book.

He was at our boat at 7:00 am the next morning with coffee and all excited, full of questions about our boat, more information on his boat … and ready to do a deal. We got hold of our broker mid-morning and he was all excited too noting that he had sold them the boat new … and that in all his years in the boating business he had never heard of anything quite like this deal that was taking shape. He made a very generous offer to not only allow us out of the contract for his costs to date, but also to help us with the sale documentation. Our potential buyer/seller agreed to split that commission … and we shook hands on a deal around 10:30 am that morning and agreed to get together again in one week to trade boats after we had made arrangements for the money, insurance and official transfer documentation. We jumped in our boat and caught up with the rest of the cruise in Desolation Sound a few hours later.

Our heads were spinning. Was what we just did real … or some dream? It was almost impossible for us to even comprehend let alone understand that we had just made a major, complicated and exciting sale and purchase for everything that we had dreamed about back in Montague Harbour 4 months earlier. We pored over every little chance detail that made it all happen trying to find the logic … the chance meeting with old Yukon friends in Montague, renting a 30’ slip, listing our boat 10 days earlier, the For Sale sign and me pondering whether or not to hang it up, the extra day in Pender Harbour, the chance meeting at the top of the gang-plank, their unique set of circumstances that prompted them to sell at that time and their asking price that made it all possible.

Most puzzling and enticing of all was to learn later that when we shook hands on the deal … it was the August 31st Blue Moon which is the rare second time there is a full moon in one month. How was it possible that we had seemingly by chance met a couple who wanted our boat and had exactly the boat we wanted … and that we came to a deal where everyone was happy, AND on the Blue Moon?

Was it really just chance … somehow doesn’t seem so! Our first thought was that we have a ‘couple of Moms’ in spirit who in real life ‘would have’ and ‘could have’ concocted something like this … and yet???  We are not really superstitious and are ambivalent on miracles but we have developed a felt sense of faith and spirituality in and with each other.

More likely was that we both shared the same energy, passion and love of boating, and we were pretty clear with each other, and anyone who cared to listen, in what our dream was all about. We also both recognised and understood that simply talking about our dream wouldn’t make it happen and that by putting our boat for sale and, putting our intentions out to the world, we shifted our energy and maybe some other energy that put this whole thing into motion…???  Who knows?  But, in our hearts we both know that our synergy in a boat and on the waters somehow played a big role and that it was just ‘meant to be’ … and the rest is history.

One week after we shook hands on the deal, we travelled from Squirrel Cove on Cortez to Powell River … and swapped boats. We couldn’t believe how much stuff we had crammed in the little 22 footer … and how much room we had in the 31 footer. After completing the paperwork and finances, we left Powell River around noon and travelled 5½ hours to Vondonlop Inlet on Cortez to join the rest of the boats on the cruise.

Several days later in Gorge Harbour, also on Cortez, we held a renaming ceremony attended by about 25-30 skippers and mates on the cruise. In our 20 day cruise we had 19 days of sunshine and fair winds and, one day of heavy rain and wind … the day of our ceremony … which we attribute to calling forth Neptune, God of the Sea and Aeolus, God of the Winds.

We called our new boat BLUE MOON.

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