10 July 2016
Maraya, a 53' Cheoy Lee Pilothouse Motorsailer, built in December 1989, and traveled from Hong Kong to the west coast of the US in January 1990.
Maraya has had several owners in the last 26 years. Some have been kind to her, and others have let her sit in neglect. She hasn't had much love in her last few years in Key West, and many parts of her have deteriorated to the point that it would only be a serious admirer of her heritage and pedigree that would save her from being relegated to the scrap yard.
I've been fixated on the 53 and 63 Cheoy Lee Motorsailors for many years. Maybe it's a sickness and unhealthy, I don't know. I've been ridiculed and chastised by friends and acquaintances many times for my fascination with this one type of boat. Only a few dozen were ever made, and it's very rare that a nice one ever comes on the market for a decent price. Usually if they've been maintained and upgraded they sell fast and for far more than other comparable boats of the same age. They are beamy, roomy boats with twin engines and a sailplan that make them fairly decent sailboats and also efficient motor boats with a lot of luxuries not found on other boats of that size. Huge salon, master stateroom, large cockpit, flybridge and pilothouse make these boats unique. Hydraulic winches, Hood roller furling Jib and in-mast hydraulic furling Main make these boats a short-handed dream.
Maraya was listed for sale for several years. At first I only glanced at her online specs due to what I thought was a rather high price, pretty much outside of my budget. Over the next 18 months I saw the asking price come down somewhat, so I called the broker to see what he knew about her. He was somewhat cautious in his praise for the boat, only telling me that her condition was not quite as it appeared in the listing and I should come down to Key West and see for myself.
I made the long trip from the Pacific NW, and was a bit shocked at how badly she had been neglected. I was saddened to see what had once been a beautiful boat left to decay in the hot Florida sun. Her paint was faded and rough, her teak decks completely shot with missing wood and screws sticking up everywhere. The head sail had been rolled backwards on the furler and was shredded from UV. The interior had numerous damage to cabinets and teak wood work from numerous water leaks around windows and hatches. The once nice parquet floors were a patchwork of plywood and odd woodwork covered with carpet. Two dry rotted bulkheads fore and aft were going to be very expensive to replace as well. I struggled to find anything that actually worked as advertised.
She once had an autopilot but that no longer worked. She had B&G wind instruments but they were inoperative. The masthead sensor was gone. The radar had a scanner but no display. Only one of two radios worked whatsoever. Her A/C systems only had 1 of 4 working. Toilets were broken. Water maker installed but broken. Washer dryer listed but no longer installed. Dingy and motor nothing like listing. Hydraulic Boom Vang gone or stolen. Nothing at all seemed to be working. She was a mess. A grand lady who's best days were past, or so it seemed.
It was obvious that the owner would never get the price he wanted for her, probably not even half the price. But despite all that, I thought I could still see the core of a decent salvageable boat that begged to be saved. I really wanted to be the one to resurrect her. To make her right. There were so many boats in Key West that were just left to the weather and to rot away in the sun. I couldn't bare to see that happen to Maraya. She's still a head turner, only 26, too young to let go to hell.
Prior to making an offer, I paid for a well regarded boat yard owner to come down from FLL to give me a bid on what it would take to restore her. His bid was rather shocking, and I nearly passed on the whole deal. I really didn't want to get into a project boat of this magnitude. I'm too close to retirement and all I really want is to sail away on a nice boat into the sunset, without a lot of grief and heartache.
The broker convinced me that the owner had had a change of heart, and had decided to entertain any offers. I knew that I didn't have an unlimited budget for this boat and I couldn't afford to spend more to fix her than what she would ever be worth. If I could get her for a reasonable price and the money spent to restore her did not exceed her market value then if would be a decent investment. I decided to float what I thought was a completely low ball offer, adjusted for the cost of restoring her. I was pretty sure my offer would most likely be rejected. I was almost relieved to think that if he rejected it, I would be spared the cost and aggravation of restoring this tired, neglected, sad boat.