“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” — Frog, “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame.
“The two happiest days in a sailor’s life are the day he buys his boat and the day he sells it.”
So you want to buy a boat? It is the time of year when would be sailors start daydreaming about warm sun, cool water, and cruising the waters of Lake Texoma while communing with the earth and the sky. You pick up a boat magazine and flip through the pages and see yourself in every picture.
But wait, there’s more than that, a lot of things you never even thought about. To figure out what potential boat buyers should consider, it is important to ask the experts.
Randy Worstell, the yacht broker of Cedar Mills Yacht Club at Cedar Mills Marina and Resort in Gordonville, is the one who creates the listings and gets the advertisement out about what is available. He also makes sales.
In addition to bringing sellers and buyers together, Worstell shows the boats, takes prospective buyers on test rides, and arranges the financing and legal requirements to complete the transaction.
Worstell comes by the position by right of succession. His father, Rich, started the business at Cedar Mills and was the man behind the success of Valiant Yachts.
Until the business ended production in 2009 — brought down by hard economic times — Valiant was one of the premier blue water boat builders in the country. The Valiant connection was a logical one because of Cedar Mills’ position as the leading sailboat marina on Texoma.
“We focused on sail because of the company’s connection with Valiant, but we were sailboat dealers for multiple manufacturers,” Worstell said. “We sold power boats as well, but today, the power boats seem to have a stronger attraction. I think it has something to do with time; people just don’t have time to to really enjoy sailing. It’s a lot easier to just crank it and go. Still, I’d say we sell about 50/50 power to sail.”
Texoma is a good lake for sailors. Worstell explained that it is large enough and deep enough that a sailor can go from point to point without constant tacking, and the shoreline has a great many coves and inlets for a sailor to heave to and spend some quiet time.
Another factor is the availability of facilities for upkeep and repair at Cedar Mills.
“A lot of sailboats have come to Texoma because of Cedar Mills,” said Worstell.
Unlike many smaller lakes, Texoma is blue water friendly.
“You see a lot of blue water boats on Texoma,” Worstell said. “And the reason is Texoma offers a real good sailing area. It’s user friendly lake. Most of the lake is usable by sail, and all of the lake is usable by power.”
User friendly it may be, but Worstell said the lake also offers a lot of challenges.
“It’s not a light-wind lake all the time, sometimes it’s heavy wind and there are a lot of people on the lake, so it can be competitive too,” Worstell explained.
Perhaps the most important factor for a would-be sailor is to know what he wants to do on the water.
“The idea is to fit the boat to your needs,” Worstell said. “Some people want big boats because they want to live in them. Some people are more interested in day sailing; they can go out and spend a couple of hours on the water and enjoy it. They don’t need living quarters.”
Of the categories of sailors Worstell sees, the most common probably is the weekender. These people come up on Friday and spend weekends on their boats, so they need something in between the day sailor and the more luxurious accommodations of the blue water size craft. Fifty-five feet is about the top practical size for a sailboat on Lake Texoma, but vessels in the 40-50 foot range are more common. And if you have aspirations of a full-time life afloat, forget it. The Corp of Engineers, the governing authority for the lake, does not permit full-time living on a boat. Overnights are limited to a specific number of days each month.
When you figure out what you want from a boat, how do you find a good one to fit your needs?
“You want to find a good solid boat, one that’s been cared for,” Worstell said. “It’s pretty evident when you get on board if a boat has been cared for or has been neglected. You also have to think about the upkeep, the repair bills.”
Boats require upkeep, and surprisingly to some, the difference between sail and power on that aspect is not that much different except when it comes to the power plant.
“On Texoma, we might not change the oil on the auxiliary power for a sailboat but about once a year, since we don’t use the power as often,” Worstell said. “A power boat is more like a car, where the engine is in use all of the time.”
The decision to buy a boat, even a small one, is a major undertaking. Like so many significant purchases, it pays in the long run to deal with people who know their business, know their products, and have built a reputation in the community for fair and honest dealing.
Edward Southerland is a feature writer for Best of Texoma. For more information, visit BestofTexoma.com or www.facebook.com/BestOfTexoma.