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Today’s Boat Buyer: Part I

Doug and Lynne Stebbins of Port Washington, N.Y., bought a new Nordic Tug 32 late last year from Wilde Yacht Sales, in Essex, Conn., after trading in the 25-foot Chaparral they had owned for a year.

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“The Chaparral had a 380-hp MerCruiser I/O that really went pretty fast,” says Doug Stebbins, 58. “Neither Lynne nor my son Gregory, who is 12, felt comfortable at the helm when the boat was planing at higher speeds. It wasn’t as steady as we’d like.”

The couple became interested in the Nordic Tugs line last fall and contacted Ben Wilde to make an appointment. “We both come from an avid sailing background, and we wanted something slow and steady,” says Lynne, 55. “Gregory sails, and we wanted something we could follow him during his races. He sails an Opti now, but will be graduating to a Laser soon.”

Lynne says the gas engine on the Chaparral typically burned around 12 to 13 gallons an hour. The Nordic Tug’s 280-hp Volvo Penta diesel gives the boat a range of 700 miles with its 205-gallon fuel capacity, according to Lynne.

Why did they choose to buy a boat now, in the midst of a recession? In part because they feel comfortable with their jobs and financial situation. Doug is a trial lawyer, and Lynne is an insurance brokerage lawyer in New York. They also said they got an offer they couldn’t refuse: three years of free fuel, dockage, storage and maintenance.

“It was something we couldn’t pass up,” says Lynne. “They also offered two weeks of training on the boat with the purchase. We realized if we had gotten more training with the Chaparral that we would’ve realized it wasn’t the boat for us.”

List price for the Nordic Tug 32 was $399,000, according to Lynne. One of the features that appealed to Doug was the combination of a heavier boat and a more efficient diesel. They were eager to sea-trial the boat in December, but knew that would be difficult with the New England winter setting in.

“We really wanted to find time to get the boat in the water,” says Doug.

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The dealer stepped up and played a key role in the sale, arranging for a sea trial in early December, when the Connecticut River was littered with ice. Doug says Wilde was very knowledgeable and managed to get the boat in the water with assistance of Brewer Dauntless Shipyard, also in Essex. The Stebbins bought the boat that very day.

“Doug and I have very good credit, so it was easy for us to get a loan,” says Lynne. “We’ve been married for 30 years, and we’ve always had a stable income.”

Lynne says they were able to negotiate a 20-year loan at an interest rate of 6.87 percent, with a negotiable down payment. The couple declined to say what they paid upfront.

“The bottom line is if we personally thought we were in real trouble [financially], there’s no way we would’ve done this,” says Lynne.

— Elizabeth Ellis

This is the first in a five-part boat-buyer series leading up to the Feb. 12-16 Miami International Boat Show. Tomorrow, meet Michael Boudreau of Glocester, R.I., who bought a 31-foot Pursuit center console after seeing one at the Hartford (Conn.) Boat Show.

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