I saw the advert in mid August 2014 (there’s a copy here: SY Joss – Retreat details). The first thing that caught my eye was a selling price of £1, the second was that it was a 40 foot ketch (I wanted a ketch of 35 foot) and finally I realised I knew the boat – it was just a few hundred metres down river from our own mooring. A closer inspection of the pictures showed that it would need work – plainly for £1 there had to be a catch. I moved on in my browsing and shortly after found a schooner on the Hamble that was £9000 to a good home. In nearly 10 years of scanning boat adverts I’d scarcely seen one such advert never mind two. The schooner was wood but fully epoxy sheathed – this sounded worth a closer look. I showed both adverts to my wife as expected the response to the schooner was not good “its wood”, then she looked at the 40 foot ketch and said “oh that’s quite nice”. Referring to a sail boat this was a phrase I’d not heard before – maybe I shouldn’t dismiss it as too much of a project after all. I went back and looked at the advert more closely – clearly it wouldn’t do any harm to investigate a little.
The price of £1 was of course notional it was a boat that had been arrested by the Admiralty Marshall and it was to be sold by sealed bid at some point in the future. The £1 was to register interest. No there were no more details, no the history of the boat was unknown, and no I couldn’t go aboard for a look around. I dithered, at times it seems too good an opportunity to miss, at others I had images of drug runners reclaiming their boat in the dead of night. The family were all enthusiastic with the exception of my wife who now realised she had said the wrong thing more out of a sense of politeness I suspect than any real enthusiasm. By mid September a decision was made, I put in a bid – the closing date was still not clear, it seemed the Admiralty Marshall was uncertain. Another month passed and the closing date arrived. I was told that nothing could be said “until the fat lady sings but it looked like there was a chance I might be in a favourable position”. Clearly the broker was a diplomat.
Two days later the bid was accepted and a further two days later we were the happy owners (well most of us were happy) of a 40 foot steel ketch. And the schooner on the Hamble? – already sold when I enquired.