Preface: The boat that would become La Vie Dansante had a terrible name when we found her, but renaming a boat is serious business.
Since man first took to the sea, sailors have sworn there are lucky boats and unlucky boats, and that the unluckiest of all are boats whose names have been changed without adequately appeasing the gods.
As legend has it, every maritime vessel is logged by name in the Ledger of the Deep and is known individually by Poseidon (or the Roman, Neptune). Before a vessel can receive a new name, the former name must be purged from both the Ledger and Poseidon’s memory.
The story of the purging and renaming of La Vie Dansante includes both tragedy and comedy, and is much deserving of its own post! Since the old name is introduced here, however, we need to set up a preventative protocol. To preclude Poseidon’s wrath, we’ll use an obscured version – F** I****a – to refer to our boat’s former name.
Hint: The first word in this two-word name is the opposite of “skinny” and rhymes with “bat”. The second word is a large lizard common to the tropics and rhymes with “I wanna”.
OK, so at Poseidon’s continued pleasure, let’s get on with the story …
As Fall 2018 rolled around, we found ourselves all kinds of eaten-up with the promise of a nautical life. We’d come away from Annapolis with matching nautical bracelets to keep us mindful of our quest, we had at least two sets of boat hats, we excitedly purchased two Hobie Mirage Eclipses (which are AWESOME) for our eventual deck, and even got matching tattoos of a watery compass rose with each other’s initial as the cardinal heading!
Now, all we needed was a boat!
Our false-start in Annapolis had set us back to our online comparisons of different boats, although we were seeing Fountaine Pajot and Bali boats fast becoming our favorites. Interestingly, we saw a boat resurface that had been for sale previously, then fallen off the listings – a 2013 Fountaine Pajot Helia 44 owner’s version.
We’d seen the original listing a couple of months prior, but it had since disappeared. The same boat with the horrible name – F** I****a – was now listed by Atlantic Cruising Yachts. I called the number on the listing and wound up talking with Bobby Allen, an ACY broker based in Annapolis. Since the vessel was located in Fort Lauderdale, Bobby arranged for the local ACY broker, Joseph Buxton, to show us the boat if we could get over there. We were interested enough to quickly book a room and jump on a plane to the Yachting Capital of America – Fort Lauderdale, FL.
We met up with Joseph, a friendly and knowledgeable guy, at ACY’s small facility along one of the many residential canals that make up a chunk of suburban Fort Lauderdale. He explained to us that the current owner had placed F** I****a in ACY’s Business Yacht Ownership program, but now wanted to purchase one of the new Fountaine Pajot Astrea 42 sailing cats. To pull it off, he needed to sell his 2013 Helia first.
The “Business Yacht Ownership program” basically meant that F** I****a had spent charter fleet time in the Bahamas. Although we knew she’d have issues springing from tough charter duty, the Helia 44 is FP’s most popular model to date and had pretty much everything we were looking for. Built for blue water, many sail from France to buyers in the US on their own bottoms.
We found what we expected on F** I****a. While every system we fired up on appeared functional, she was definitely in need of some TLC. Her bimini and sailbag were ripped and faded, her trampoline was eroding, her running rigging was old, stiff and chafed and her cockpit was weathered … and that was just what our novice eyes noticed!
Still she was a solidly built, sleek boat and we were getting excited at the prospect of making her our own. We shared ideas on how to fix her up over lunch – for starters, maybe some new decking and new maroon canvas to go with her new name!
After lunch, we made a final pass by the dock to capture one more pic before heading to the airport for our return flight home. Now it was time to stew on it a little and, perhaps, figure out the right way to buy a boat!