We purchased Aquarius in Ft Lauderdale at Hendrick's Isl. from Dale VanZant in January of 2002. We had found an ad for the boat on Boater's Classified. She was the only 50'+ sized boat we could find that was affordable, listed at $5000. There were a series of photos and a brief description. The mizzen mast was laying on deck. The engine didn't run. The hull was reported as solid though, so we decided to drive down and look at her. We made an offer of $3000 with a $300 deposit, contingent on buyer's inspection. The offer also included a promise to take her to sea again some day.
I drove to Ft Lauderdale along with my two oldest sons, Eugene and Mikhail and found our way to Hendrick's Isle where the boat was docked. I looked over the hull and deck and she looked sound. The bow sprit had been taken off to reduse her length while in storage. She hadn't been hauled for a bottom job in at least ten years, we could see that there was three to four inches of oysters and barnacles on the bottom. I had brought along a battery to try and turn over the motor and when we hooked it up the motor turned over with good compression. It even came with a dinghy. We decided to complete the purchase.
The seller was a short old hippy named Dale VanZant. He had purchased the boat from her builder and first owner six years earlier in 1995 at River Bend boat yard in Ft Lauderdale to use as a live aboard. He had dreams of restoring Aquarius and sailing her, but wasn't ever able to make the investment of time and money. He did live aboard with his family of six for a number of years at River Bend. He had the boat towed to the Hendrick's Isle dock in 1999 after River Bend had invited them to leave.
We soon learned that Dale had to sell the boat, as he was unable to pay the dock rent any longer and still owed for two months. He had made a deal to give Aquarius to the landlord, Chuck, if he couldn't pay by the end of January. The landlord was going to scrap her for salvage, and was a little unhappy to find out that we were buying the boat just three days before the end of the month.
Unhappy might be an understatement, Chuck was ballistic about it. He tried to evict us on the spot. He kicked at Mugsy, our dog. At one point he started to threaten me physicaly, but common sense must have taken hold. We called the cops to settle him down. We decided that we definately did not want to continue renting his dock, and started a search for a new berth for Aquarius in Ft Lauderdale. Our search took us all over town, with Dale serving as our guide. We were fortunate to find a dock one block away, on the Isle of Venice, at an apt building. The new dock was $50 a month less at $400, and came along with use of the pool, laundry room, and showers!
Although I had the engine running and could steer with the emergency tiller I wasn't very confident about motoring Aquarius past a lot of expensive yachts over to the new dock on her own. We called Sea Tow and made arrangements to have them tow to us to the new dock on the last day of the month. A one block tow cost over $300. I thought car towing was expensive !
With our new purchase safely at the dock we left for home, to make plans for her restoration...
(c)Copyright 2002 by Eugene Kashpureff