Monday, May 27, 2013

The Search For A Trailer

Now that I knew where my boat was, it was time to work out how to get her back here.

Chip had given me some detailed instructions on what equipment I would need, and the procedure for getting it loaded. It weighs in at just over 3000 lbs., so it wouldn't be an easy task.

So, not having much money to spend, I jumped on Craigslist to look for trailers. Now, if you have never looked for a 16'+ dual axle, flatbed trailer, let me tell you, they're expensive! I could get a used car for the price of a trailer!

Everything I saw was out of my price range of $500. The boat trailers were cheaper, but they were all for smaller, lighter boats. I needed something that would support a car or truck, not a little fishing boat, or rowboat.

I finally came across one on CL that was about 75 miles away, in the town of Cedar Creek Lake, for $600. A little high, but worth a look.

This one was home made from a travel trailer, so it had a strong frame. The guy had used it for several trips hauling cars and pickup trucks from Arkansas, so I knew it would hold the weight of the boat.

It was in rough shape, but that didn't bother me. I needed a trailer, and had already decided to buy it. Since the spare was damaged, he offered to sell it for $550. I asked him if he'd do $500, and he said sure!

Woo-hoo! Right in my budget!

Then, when I went to hook it up to my wife's F-100 pickup, I hit the first problem. The travel trailer used a 2 5/16" ball. her truck was 2".

So he gave me one! No extra cost!

OK, great. Then the second problem. A 2 5/16" ball has a 1" shaft, and the mounting hole in the truck was 3/4".


Well, I was going to just buy a receiver hitch for the truck, and come back another day. He said that he would call his son, and have him drill the hole larger. Don't you love it when someone volunteers you for something like that? I thought his son would refuse, but he was a nice guy and said he'd do it (free!).

Off we went to the next town over, where his son lived. His son thought he had a 1" drill bit for the job. Nope.
He suggested we look at Lowe's down the street. They only had one for $35.

I figured it was worth it, and was going to buy it, and the guy selling the trailer wouldn't let me. He paid for it!

Cool! Nice people!

So, back to his son's house and got the bumper drilled. Back in business!

We went back to the trailer, and I got it hooked up. Piece of cake!

Then Ron, the seller of the trailer, asked me of I was serious about buying a receiver hitch. I said that I was, and he said he'd sell me a brand new one that he had for $25. I couldn't pass that up, and when he was looking for it, he found a passenger side mirror that would replace the broken one on my wife's truck.

He just threw it in with everything else! More freebies!

Ron was a big help, and a great guy! He really helped make this all possible. Thanks Ron!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Finding Her Again!

I had been searching for her since 2007. I had been told by a friend that all the boats were gone from the Marina (Lake Palestine, Texas). I tried to call someone to find out about it, but I couldn't reach anyone.

They had all three of my phone numbers, and never bothered to call and let me know. I even went out there in person several times, but no one knew anything about it.

I had been hoping that they moved them to another location for safekeeping. I was willing to pay storage fees if necessary. I just wanted her back!

I asked around, posted Craigslist ads, offered rewards...nothing! This went on for years with no results.

Finally, I was able to get the manager on the phone. He denied that they ever even had a marina there! He sounded very nervous about it all, and said that he would ask the owner about it, and get back to me. Nothing.

I was playing around on Google Maps one day, and I like to mess with the satellite view. Well, that day I was playing around, looking for something in the Lake Palestine area, and saw a boat at the non-existant marina! MY BOAT!

Boat at marina
Larger view of boat in slip

It was the only one left at the dock, in exactly the same slip that I had it! I even had other pictures of it there from years before, proving that it was there at one time. I had them dead to rights on it, so I called them again the next day.

The manager, tried to deny it again. He said, "Look, I told you, I've been here since 1999, and we never had any marina, or any boats here!"

I told him that I found the aerial view on Google Maps, and it showed my boat at the slip. Dead silence. Busted.

Then I told him that I had other pictures of the boat at the dock, in the same slip. All of a sudden, he remembered that they used to have a little marina with a few boats, but they were all gone now. Duh! I know that! I just want to know where mine went.

So, he asked me who I bought it from again, and I told him it was Chad. The guy was a friend of the marina owner, so he told me to call Chad about it, and gave me the number.

He was scared since I had proof now, and I think he was in a big hurry to just get rid of me! Or maybe to change his pants!

(From what I heard, they "confiscated" several boats when they closed down. I'm not sure how many they sold as "abandoned" boats, but I kept my registration up in case someone tried to get a bonded title for her.)

I called Chad's number, and left a message. Chad's brother Chip was the one that originally restored the boat, and then traded it for another boat that Chad owned. I bought the boat from Chad in 2003.

I finally felt like I was getting somewhere on this quest. Later that weekend, I went online and did some searching for Westerly Nomads, just for fun since I had a feeling that I was getting mine back soon.

While I was searching, I found a link to a Facebook page that had a Westerly Nomad for sale. I went to the site just for kicks....IT WAS MY BOAT! It was even the same picture I used in my Craigslist ad!

I spent a few hours that night trying to find some contact information. It wasn't on the FB page. Strange, how can you expect to sell anything if you don't have contact info.

Anyway, I was able to find an email address for Chip, and I sent him an email about it. he replied the next morning:

Hello Dean,

Yes I have the Nomad. It was brought back to me because I once did a complete restoration on it and when it was brought to me, it was considered abandoned. I paid no money for it. It is kind of funny that you ask about it, I have been trying to get it out of my yard for a few years now, and this last week, 4 people (including you) have asked about it. I told 1 guy, just come and get it, he is supposed to get it this weekend, so you emailed me just in time. I will put him on hold and you can come get it if you want. It is not going to be an easy task, it is not on a trailer and I live in Sherman, TX.

If you have never moved a boat of this size and type, then this will be a major task. If you are serious, please contact me at xxx-xxx-xxxx, if I don't answer, leave a message and I will call you back.


I called him as soon as I got the email. I was excited! We talked for quite a while, and he was glad to know that it would be going to someone that appreciated her. I told him that I had the title, and even kept all the registration current, even though I didn't know where the boat was. He never even knew it had a title and registration. He thought it was abandoned.

He agreed to hold her for me.

I finally found her again!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Tragedy Strikes!

In 2006, tragedy struck, not only for me, but for the United States as a whole. It was the 'Great Recession' of 2008. Yes, it was 2006 when it all really started.

Gas prices going up, the Real Estate stupidity and everything else was in 2006.

Then in 2007, after the political change in the US, the tax incentives for the oil production companies were abolished and gas prices skyrocketed!

When the gas prices kept going up toward $5 a gallon, no one was able to buy anything, therefore, no one was selling or doing other business. The tourism industry failed, as well as the automobile industry in the US because people weren't buying SUVs anymore, and couldn't even afford the gas for the ones they had sitting in their driveway.

No business lead to less jobs, that lead to less buyers, so there was no need for more employees, etc. Then, because no one was working the Real Estate and stock markets collapsed, and in 2008 the US economy hit the bottom. Everyone was begging Big Brother for a handout.

And perhaps what happened to me was my punishment for what I was doing to other people as my line of work. After all, how can anyone steal people's souls without some form of repercussion? Sound a little dramatic? Well, the word that we have for soul came from the Greek 'psuche' meaning mind, will and emotion. The same root as we get the word psychology from.

Anyway, I was in the advertising business, stealing souls (mind, will and emotion), and putting people into the bondage and slavery of debt. I know debt is wrong. I hate it, but my job was to sell people things that they really didn't need, and couldn't afford.

And I got caught in the snare too! My income was barely comfortable at the time, but we were getting by. We were buying our house, and our cars were paid for. I was able to keep any credit cards paid for each month. My slip fees were paid up. No problem.

Then came the problem.

People stopped advertising, or cut way back. Unfortunately for most small businesses, advertising is the first thing to cut when everything gets tight. What most business owners fail to see is that if their customers don't hear about them, they forget the business exists, and the business ceases to exist from a lack of customers.

Because of that, my income decreased really quickly! First by $450 per month, and bit by bit to about half of what I was making before. That was the beginning of having to use credit cards to live on. Big mistake, but my employer promised to pay all my back pay plus expenses. (As of this writing in 2013, that amount is over $100,000, and I haven't seen any of it.)

The next year, we went through four cars! Major mechanical problems that caused us to have to buy replacement vehicles. Needless to say, things got a bit tight. I fell behind on my slip fees, at first because I had no way to get out to the lake to pay them. Then, they got pretty high. When I finally got a running car, I went out and paid up a few hundred dollars, and explained the situation. The lady was sympathetic, and was willing to work with me.

Problem solved! Right? NO!

Later that year, her son decided to close the marina after some flooding and structural damage to the docks. Perfectly understandable, but they never called me to let me know! They took my boat and gave it back to the previous owner and told him that he could sell it again and make himself some money!

I didn't know that the marina was closed, and that my boat was gone, until a friend asked me where I moved it to! I asked him what he meant, and he said that the marina was gone, and all the boats were removed.

I immediately went down there to find out what happened, and there was no one to talk to. The store that I paid the slip fees to was closed, and no one was at the marina/RV park office. I called several times, but all I got was the runaround.

I kept trying for years. I made sure that I kept the boat registration current, just in case someone tried to get a title. I offered rewards.


My beautiful boat...was gone!