I think most good stories start out “on a dark and stormy night” and this is where the story of the Serenity, at least in her current form, begins. It was indeed a dark and stormy night on the evening of 10-October-2014; a foul wind blew out of the Northeast, bringing with it destruction and roiling the waters of Bullfrog Bay into a tempest. Serenity sat in her moorings at G-dock in Halls Crossing Marina, her name in stark contrast to the conditions around her. The waves quickly overwhelmed the wave break and soon were crashing into and over the sterns of the houseboats in those unprotected end slips. All shipped water over their transoms, but Serenity was crippled by two inoperative bilge pumps and rapidly succumbed to the weight of water in her bilges, sinking right there in her slip. The storm and her sinking were chronicled here on Wayne’s Words Message Board, in this thread.
The Serenity was refloated and hauled into dry storage at Bullfrog just a couple days afterwards. While I am not privy to the details, the insurance company declared Serenity a total loss and settled with the ownership group, taking possession of the vessel in her current state.
Enter our hero (that’s me), who several months later was innocently looking to purchase a share in a multi-ownership houseboat in either Bullfrog or Halls. With the recent birth of my son, I was looking to get back into boating so that I could share some of the great experiences from my childhood with him, and, in my book, there’s no better place for boating than Lake Powell. I had been looking at boats for a month and had about a dozen likely candidates that fit my criteria, so I took my dad and we headed down to Bullfrog to look them over. One of the boats happened to be stored in Bullfrog Dry Storage and, while we were looking at her, the gentleman managing the storage yard suggested we take a look at this boat that the insurance company was looking to sell after a failed attempt at moving it to Las Vegas for a refit and sale.
I love boats, and I love looking at boats, so of course I took him up on the offer to look over Serenity, never really considering that buying her was an option. He said that he thought the insurance company was looking for about $11,000. I figured that was probably a starting figure and that they would auction the vessel off for between $20- and $30-thousand, not really something that I would call a great deal. She was in pretty bad shape, as you can see from the photos, but you could tell that it was a good solid boat that could be refit. I had always dreamed of buying an old houseboat and refitting her into my ideal houseboat with all the bells and whistles, but my dreams had always started out slightly more modestly looking at 40- to 50-ft steel pontoon boats, not a fancy aluminum mono-hull.
He gave us the contact information for the person handling the sale for the insurance company and we headed back home with our short list of boats that I was considering buying a share on. On the way, my dad and I discussed the Serenity and started working out rough guestimates on how much it would cost to refit her in a worst case scenario (spoiler: we were low). I told my wife about it and, to my surprise, she said we should buy it. In the meantime, my dad had contacted the insurance company representative and she had sent over the Serenity’s last survey prior to sinking, the insurance claim report, and the estimate for refitting (well north of $100,000, which didn’t seem reasonable). So, now I found myself considering purchasing Serenity and I realized that I didn’t really spend too much time looking her over (didn’t check to see if the engines were seized or really look too hard at any of the systems) and I took no pictures.
I was still hesitant to commit to refitting a vessel down in Bullfrog, but my dad talked me into making an offer to the insurance company that we couldn’t get hurt on. We called and he asked if they would accept low-ball offers, the representative laughed and asked how low-ball the offer was…$5000, we offered $5000; I was sure that they would decline the offer on the spot, but she said she would check and get back to us tomorrow. Now I figured they would counter our offer the next day or outright reject it. Nope, the next day she called back and said you’ve got a deal.
I sent her a cashier’s check for $5000 and she sent me the signed title (actually a bill of sale, the previous Missouri Title, and an affidavit stating that Colorado doesn’t require a title for boats). I found myself the proud new owner of Serenity…now what? Well this is where the real fun began and I will chronicle that in several parts, because there’s just too much fun (or is it phun) to fit into just one blog post. Rest assured that there were many points when I found myself wanting to scream “Serenity Now!”
Until next time, here’s wishing you fair winds and following seas.
Brent Pounds has over a decade of experience in the maritime industry and has been involved in recreations boating since he was a child. See the About section for more detailed information.