How It All Happened

We had no expectations that this trip would become the story of buying our first sailboat.  Originally, we were down doing a survey and a sea trial on a different boat, a trawler.  Afterwards, neither Shannon nor I were very excited about that particular boat.  Shannon woke up early that next morning, we talked about our experiences and perspectives and decided to pass on the trawler.  Since we had only seen one the boat, we jumped on one of the yacht listing sites and just so happened to notice the listing for Banjo.  Neither of us had ever seen or been on a CSY before and she looked fantastic.  We decided to give the broker a call the next morning and, if he was available, possibly stay down another day to have a look.

In the morning, Shannon called and it just so happened that Banjo was a fairly new listing and the broker was coming from Alabama to have a look that very afternoon.  We requested a showing and the broker kindly obliged.

Our first few minutes aboard Sailing Vessel Banjo

We showed up to the docks and met the broker, walked down and met one of the owners as she was leaving the boat to head up to the clubhouse.  Shannon and I boarded the vessel after exchanging pleasantries.  We walked the deck and were immediately impressed with how wide the side-decks were and how everything seemed to be well laid out.  Everything had been very well maintained.

A tour of Banjo

Stepping below, we were shocked at the sheer size of the cockpit and fiberglass hardtop bimini.  There must have easily been a foot or more over my head.  The helm was well organized with its instruments easily view-able and arranged with the chart-plotter to center and depth and wind surrounding.  All the lines were led into the cockpit and were within easy reach of the helm.  “This should make single-handing much simpler,” I said to myself.

Down the companionway aft, we found the master stateroom with its mammoth bed, head, nav station and ample storage.  Banjo is a walk-over CSY, therefore the only entrance to the aft cabin was through the cockpit.

Back through the cockpit, we entered the spotless main salon through the forward companionway to see the galley to port, refrigeration and electrical panels to starboard, an “L-shaped” settee to port and a pilot’s berth to starboard.  Forward to port, we found the second head with its separate shower stall enclosed by 2 entrances.  And finally the forward stateroom with its additional storage and V-Berth.

This is the one

Shannon and I reached the forward stateroom at the same time and we looked right at each other and, in unison, mouthed the words “I LOVE IT.”  I asked if she was comfortable making an offer on the boat and she nodded.  We were going to put in an offer and hope to soon be buying our first sailboat.


Making our way back to the cockpit, we found the broker and his wife sitting comfortably in the fully Strataglass-enclosed cockpit.  There had already been one offer on Banjo but that the offer was surprisingly low and was rejected.  We looked him dead in the eye and made him an offer on Banjo at that very moment.  His response was “are you serious?”  We reaffirmed our offer and the broker said, “let’s go present the offer to the owners.”

Total time on-board Banjo at this point… about 9 minutes.

We made our way to the marina clubhouse and the broker introduced us to the owners and Shannon and I stepped aside as the broker presented our offer.  The owner paused for a few seconds as Shannon and I held our breath.  He said “that offer is acceptable,” and both of our hearts nearly stopped.  The broker chuckled and said “wow, I have never sold a boat that fast before.”  We all laughed.

There was an explosion of excitement as the other owner came over to meet us.  There were smiles, and a few tears from both the female owner and from Shannon.

Marine Survey and Sea Trial

We all agreed on trying to have survey and sea trial a couple days later and the broker told us he had a great surveyor that might be willing to do the survey on a Sunday.  He called the surveyor and, while dialing, told us his name.  Interestingly, it was the SAME SURVEYOR hired previously for the other boat.  We jumped on the line and made all the arrangements for our upcoming survey and sea trial.  Before leaving, filled with excitement, we tip-toed back down to the dock for another quick peek.  The sailboat next to Banjo was named “Surreal.”  Indeed.  We couldn’t stop grinning and laughing.


We all met around 10:00am and did both the survey and sea trial with Banjo underway.  Feeling her gentle motion, we were instantly and even more deeply in love with her!  We said continuously how much we hoped there was “nothing too major wrong with her” that would have spoiled the deal.  We proceeded through the rest of the sea trial and Shannon and I both had a chance at the helm.  Banjo responded beautifully, even in the 22 knot gusts crossing the bay that morning.

After several hours out sailing and motoring around, we reluctantly returned to the marina and departed to shore to await the surveyors report.  A few days passed and we were on pins and needles the whole time.  Finally, the surveyor called and gave us the news.  “There are a few minor issues but I was unable to find many deficiencies with this boat,” he said, and the boats value was excellent.  There was an audible and excited celebration yell that could probably have been heard from miles.  We spoke for a few more minutes and hung up with the surveyor.  Immediately following the click of the phone, we celebrated with a little dance, and with kisses and laughter.  More kisses and smiles followed alongside a touch of shock that “this just got real.”

Closing the deal

Two weeks later, we closed on Banjo and completed buying our first sailboat.  The closing was bittersweet because we could tell the prior owners truly loved this boat and had shared many wonderful memories aboard.  But their new plans included exploring the US by road and were all set to begin their new adventures passing the torch to us for Banjo’s future.  Whew!!  Such an honor and such responsibility, but we were up to the task!  They mentioned how they had hoped to “find someone that would love and care for Banjo as they and the previous 2 owners before them, had and would continue her legacy.”  The ,followed with “we believe you two are exactly what we were hoping for.”  It made us feel fantastic to have been named and accepted as “Banjo’s New People.”

Sharing the news of buying our first sailboat

We immediately shared the news of the closing with our family and friends!  We sent a text to one such long-time friend, Clif, who is hand building a custom 46′ Wharram Tiki Catamaran in his backyard.  The text was simple.  It stated that we finally found our boat and the picture shown above was included.  He texted back and asked “Is that a CSY?”  “Yes, it’s a 44′ CSY named ‘Banjo,” we replied.  Less than a minute later my phone rang.  “Get the F*ck out of here,” he exclaimed, “I have put about 5000 nautical miles on that boat!”  “What?! Really?!” We were in shock.  “Yes,” he continued, “I was once related to the second owners and I didn’t know Banjo was for sale again.  But I can’t think of a more perfect boat for you both!”  Shannon got chills when I relayed the message.

We continued to explain how everything happened with the boat purchase and Clif volunteered himself and his wife Tami to come down and help us sail her back north the following week. Serendipity!!

Conclusion and new beginnings

Needless to say, after almost 20 years of hoping and planning on my part, and at least 10 years of hoping, planning and searching for a sailboat together as a couple, THRILLED was an understatement!!  We could not believe we were so fortunate to have found such a wonderful boat, within our price range, that had had such considerate and dedicated owners during the entirety of her 40+ years.


The shock wore off.  We put a plan together to get her moved back home.    We will tell you that tale soon!

As an aside, we would like to thank Mike Hagan at CYA Maritime Services and Preston at Whiteaker Yacht Sales for everything they did to make this dream a reality for us!  We highly recommend them both.  If you are looking to buy your first sailboat, or your twentieth, whether it be motor or sail.  Mike is, without a doubt, unequaled in his knowledge and thoroughness.  Thanks again to the both of you!

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5 Thoughts to “How It All Happened”

  1. Andrew Denmark

    Banjo and her predecessor berthed at Sailcraft, my marina since 1971 which I sold in 1995. Her owners, Len and Susan, were literally like brother and sister to my family and were my first slip renters in 1973, first with a Coronado 35 and then Banjo (CSY 35). Put some miles on her myself, including winning First In Fleet with her at the very first Oriental Cup Regatta, on a day when most boats were double and triple reefed and no one could keep a spinnaker up without broaching. Banjo is a tradewinds boat and we had 20 college kids aboard, single reef, #2 jib on the furler, and were busting 10 knots upwind while everyone else had spreaders in the water. Banjo is one tough boat! I’d feel safe in her anywhere.

    You guys have an almost legendary boat in the Oriental area. Len died a couple of years ago and Susan still owns and operates Harbor Specialties in Beaufort, N.C. Len and I were both Marines, shared a love of bluegrass (he played banjo & I flat picked guitar). We were not so good but we made a lot of people laugh and prevented them from becoming alcoholics (ahem.) Many, many memories of festivities aboard, falling headfirst into the giant icebox & couldn’t get a handhold to get out, much more. I spent most of the last week of Len’s life with him and his death has affected me profoundly … one helluva’ man and a real, honest-to-God, no BS, guy. Len put a lot of himself into Banjo you’ll discover. He and Susan were a big part of what makes Oriental such a great place for anything sailing. Please come visit.

    Banjo lived in the corner slip (at the junction) at Sailcraft for many years. My little Cape Dory 27, Rhiannon, was right next to her for probably 20 years. I lived in the house immediately next to Sailcraft and built the boatyard and marina from the ground up starrting in ’71. Those were the days, for sure. I moved to Broad Creek 20 years later, bought, rebuilt, then sold a beautiful Bowman 36 ketch by the name of Unbound. Then moved to the west coast 4 years ago after selling the Bowman. Still have Rhiannon at Searbour Marina in Oriental.

    Old age has caught up with me and I’ve probably bored you with all this. You have a heavily constructed, stable, easily handled, and very livable boat. I urge you to take her and fulfill your cruising dreams. Don’t wait until you can afford it or you’ll end up like me, old, beat up, and in the way.

    Godspeed, you guys. Keep posting your adventure, please …

    Andy Denmark

    1. Sailor

      Wow!!! Thank you Andy! What a fantastic post! We love hearing about Banjo’s history. We heard about Len’s passing and were sad that we never got to meet. You are welcome to come visit anytime. We would love to have you aboard anytime.

  2. Andy Denmark

    Where is Banjo berthed? Oriental or close by? I’m coming east to visit and work on Rhiannon, my little Cape Dory 27 (She lives in Slip A-1 at Sea Harbour Marina.)

    Let’s stay in touch and get together, for sure.

    Thanks for the come back!

    1. Sailor

      We are currently in New Bern. If you send us an email through the contact page, we can swap info.

      1. Andy Denmark

        Okay, I could have deduced that by your pictures. Where in New Bern? Northwest Creek by chance? My email is: eastingdown@gmail.com.

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