Boat owners, buyers wait for time to cry 'Sale ho'

April 27, 1995|By Ellen Gamerman | Ellen Gamerman,Sun Staff Writer

You can buy the Naughty Lass or put money down on the Great Dog, but Snake Eyes is off-limits and Hope has no asking price.

All four boats were stored in cradles at marinas in Shady Side and Galesville, the objects of desire for boaters who sell and resell used craft in an annual spring ritual along the Chesapeake Bay.

"Bigger and better, that's what we want," said Joe Ketterer, who is selling his 42-foot motor yacht docked in Shady Side. "My wife didn't like the last one."

The official shopping season begins today at City Dock in Annapolis with the annual spring boat show. There, bidders and browsers will check out more than 150 new and used boats.

In early April, newspaper classified sections begin to fill with advertisements promising the ultimate dream boat. Owners begin sending their boats down the river with "For Sale" signs slapped to the hull. Still more wait patiently while a tide of buyers floats through boatyards looking for deals.

Chad Muse is confident he'll sell the Bilge Rat, his 19-foot Silverline motorboat, in no time.

"Even though it sunk last week, it's a really good boat," he said. The Bilge Rat was submerged after its outboard motor stuck in the mud at low tide and didn't free itself as the tide returned.

Mr. Muse, a mechanic at Parrish Creek Marina in Shady Side, said he hopes to get $650 for the boat. "It's a fixer-upper. I was just kind of hoping someone would come to the marina and snatch it up," he said.

Boat vendors, still recovering from the recession and a &r short-lived luxury tax in the early 1990s, say used boat sales indicate the overall health of the marine industry.

"You see all these older boats for sale and it's really a good sign," said Jeffrey Holland, a spokesman for the Annapolis Spring Boat Show.

Used boat brokers tell stories of customers going through 20 or 30 vessels in a lifetime.

But some boaters stick to their craft like barnacles and mourn the day they have to say goodbye.

"It's going to be so lonesome, not having our own boat out here," said Priscilla Kluckhuhn, 73, who is trying to sell the family's power boat. Her husband, Fred, lost the vision in his left eye and could not back the cruiser into the pier at their waterside home in Annapolis.

This is not the first time Mrs. Kluckhuhn has gotten emotional. She cried when she and Mr. Kluckhuhn sold their 47-foot sailboat, Miss Pris, three years ago.

"That was just the grandest boat in the whole world," she said. "Tears were streaming down my face when the new owners pulled away down the Severn River."

At a marina in Edgewater, a boat belonging to Liz and Ken Goldsby awaits a new owner. The Virginia couple sees the sale of the 26-foot Chrysler sailboat as the end of their newlywed life.

"It's a little bit of your pre-parent past you have to get rid of," said Ms. Goldsby, who worries that 3-month-old Zachary won't be safe on board when the boat is away from its slip.

"We bought it from people who also had just had a baby," she said. "At the time I remember thinking to myself, 'Why can't they just take the baby along?' But now I know I wouldn't feel comfortable with him on it," Ms. Goldsby sighed.

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