BRIBING THE BEST MARINA IN TOWN TO GET A SLIP!

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Now that the final price had been agreed upon, we had to finalize financing and insurance. We’d been pre-approved for 60% of the purchase price (that’s all that firm does on boat loans) and we’ve been saving up for awhile so we were all set there. The broker assured us that doing a boat loan is easier than getting a mortgage. Well, that may be true as far as the number of signatures that are required but, otherwise, it was quite a mess of paperwork. We got through that unscathed.

We’d also gotten pre-approved for insurance. That was easier. We double- and triple-checked that we had hurricane coverage. We didn’t want to have to move the boat to another country, or far up the Eastern seaboard, if a hurricane was approaching. With homeschooling our two youngest children and running a business, along with having adult kiddos nearby, and our first grandchild on the way, that just wasn’t going to work.

If a named storm is going to hit us, we must have the boat hauled out at a local boatyard. If that happens, we’ll go stay with our daughter, who is 45 minutes away. However, her home is in a Class A flood zone so, if a bad one is coming, we’ll pack up the kids and pets, and head to Orlando. Captain Stan  says we really don’t need to leave the marina if it’s anything lower than a Category 2. We’ll make that decision if and when the time comes.

Now, we just had to find our new “neighborhood.” A place to call “home” for our new floating house.

Since learning about Captain Brian’s dock fees at the St. Petersburg Municipal Marina only costing $700/month, we’d had our eye on a spot there. Not only was it the cheapest place in town but it has an incredible view of Tampa Bay AND the St. Petersburg skyline! And, there’s plenty of grass and a playground for the children.

We’d visited the marina office in early December, and paid the $50 fee to get on the waiting list. Here’s how it works. You get on the waiting list. Each time a spot opens up, they start at the top of the waiting list. The person at the top has a specific amount of time to pay to get the spot. If they don’t, they move on to the next person on the list, and so on.

Unfortunately, they told us they’re doing major repairs to many of the docks and that the wait was estimated to be two years. TWO YEARS!!! We had a spot at The Harborage but, it costs twice as much. At this point in our lives, we were trying to downsize all of our expenses. Saving $700/month would be HUGE!

Another problem with The Harborage is that they don’t currently have a pump-out boat. So, you have to either walk to the marina bathrooms if you have to do # 1 or #2, or you have to drive your boat to the pump-out station when your tanks start to get full (and smelly). That was a HUGE negative for us.

We’d heard from several residents at the municipal marina that, if you call them once a week, you’ll get in a lot faster. Well, I had a better idea! Heh… Richard is the chef in the family. He makes all of our delicious meals and he makes THE most AMAZING gigantic chocolate chip cookies! (Hint: Double chocolate chips, double vanilla, and a small sprinkle of salt on top.)

It had been five months since we’d gotten onto the waiting list. Richard and I showed up one morning in May with a large Tupperware of his gigantic, scrumptious, homemade chocolate chip cookies. One lady in the office said, “Oh! Why did you bring us cookies?”

I coyly replied, “To bribe you with, of course.”

We talked to another awesome employee, who shall remain nameless, and they looked through the list of names. They had two spots available, and were waiting for responses from them.

Now, I’m not sure if it was the scent of warm, delicious, mouth-watering chocolate chip cookies wafting through the air or what…but they then said we were #3 on the list! If even one of the people in front of us passed on a slip, we’d get one!

Magically (or maybe not so much), just two weeks later, I got the amazing phone call. We had a slip! It had only been six months, not two years!!!

We eagerly went in the next morning, signed the paperwork, paid our rent ($770/month because our boat is a bit larger than Brian’s), and we had a new home! After we left the office, we drove to the dock to check it out. We were way out near the end. The slip was so empty. Almost forlorn. There was a very large motoryacht on one side, and a sailboat on the other. It sure didn’t look like “home” but I remembered that none of the houses we’d purchased immediately felt like home, either. In fact, when our daughter and son-in-law purchased a new home, she’d made a comment that it just didn’t feel like “home” yet. I’d told her, at that time, that it definitely would feel like home about three months later.

We gleefully went back to the apartment, where we’d already started packing, and getting rid of stuff. After all, we didn’t need to move any furniture onto the boat! It would be our fourth move in six years. And, hopefully, our last.

NEXT: CAPT. RON DIES FROM A HEART ATTACK…A WEEK AFTER WORKING ON OUR BOAT 🙁