Written by Ann Prete
January 2016

What a transition 2013 was for our family. My husband Harry and I retired, we sold our Massachusetts home of 33 years, and we helped our son move into a condo on the Cape with all of our furnishings—turn key! Then we moved onto Cheeta, our 34-foot Sea Ray Amberjack. Talk about downsizing!

Our goal for the next year was to travel south exploring the ICW from Cape Cod to Florida in the hopes of finding our southern coastal dream home. After completing our round-trip adventure and returning to our homeport of Sandwich, Mass., we decided to ditch the land dream and focus on buying a bigger boat.

In August 2014, Harry talked with our boat dealer about listing Cheeta over the winter. Three days later, he called back with a potential buyer. to prepare her for showing, Harry washed and scrubbed her exterior while I packed up, cleaned and polished her interior. She smelled new. She looked new. her curb appeal turned heads. she sold in a week! Fortunately for us, our son welcomed us in for a few months before we headed to a condo on Anna Maria island on the gulf coast.

Our search for our dream boat had begun. Harry and I talked about what we wanted in our next boat. Important factors to me were a refrigerator, a freezer and a centerline queen-size bed. Harry wanted a hardtop and twin diesels. what we were not about to give up from our 34-footer included a central vacuum, deep-galley cabinets, a swim platform and plenty of storage above and below deck. Considering that the ICW has many low bridges and open waterways that can get nasty in a blow, we focused on Downeaster boats and express cruisers, both offering a low profile, speed and a comfortable ride.

Via the Internet we were able to put together a list of about a dozen potential used boats. In October 2014, we drove south to Anna Maria Island, stopping along the way to see boats on our list.

Allow me to say that pictures have a way of distorting reality! Our eyes and noses told us everything we needed to know. Holding tanks reeked of raw sewage, refrigerators contained rotting leftovers, cabinets were stuffed with junk, boat paraphernalia cluttered staterooms, and mold spores spouted everywhere. Some of these boats are still on the market with the caption “clean boat.”

Of the dozen boats we boarded, only two passed our smell-visual litmus test. A 42 Tiara and a 42 Sabre. The Tiara was out of the water and her size so impressive I remarked, “This boat has an attitude. A sassy attitude.” Thus the name Sasea was born for our next vessel. The 42 Sabre was recently Algrip, the engines tuned, and the décor in the salon and stateroom updated. It had all of Harry’s must-haves, but the one feature she lacked that I was unwilling to give up was a central vacuum system.

It was now December 2014, and we needed to make some moves or possibly be homeless in 2015. The only boat that remained on our list was a different 42 Tiara that had come on the market in August 2014. This boat was located in Harbor Springs, a beautiful coastal town on the northernmost point of Michigan’s southern peninsula. Ironically, everyone we met on Anna Maria Island had come from Michigan! In early January 2015, by sheer luck, our son got a work-related assignment in Michigan, creating an opportunity to see this boat.

The winter of 2015 was the coldest on record in the north. On Jan. 14, Harry flew to Pellston, Mich., with temperatures reading minus 20 degrees. Harry drove 20 minutes before the car defrosted enough to turn on the heat. Ann and Harry’s new boat Sasea. By the time he arrived in Harbor Springs, the car had begun to produce heat, and it proved to be a good day to buy a boat!

On April 27, we returned to do sea trials. Lake Michigan was still frozen over, and icebergs floated freely in the harbor, making for a challenging sea trial. We managed to scope out an area long enough to run full throttle (40 knots) and get up on plane. We had considered bringing her home over water through Canada’s North Channel and Trent-Severn Canal System, but with ice-covered waters and no early signs of melting, we had her hauled home overland, which created many more challenges. It required two escorts from Michigan plus two state police escorts to get the boat to her final destination in Wareham, Mass.

Sasea has been a real delight. We spent this past summer running day trips in Cape Cod Bay, anchoring for the day to take a swim; to Buzzards Bay, grabbing a mooring for an overnight off Bassets Island; and to Nantucket Sound for a weekend trip to the islands. We are currently underway running south to Florida. There have been no surprises in her cruising performance, her salon and galley provide all the creature comforts of home, and there were no leaks in her hardtop hatches during the record rainfall in South Carolina that was part of Hurricane Joaquin’s remnants. I guess you could say she lives up to her name: Sasea.