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So, You Bought a Boat on eBay By Barbara Bates -


t is February 1, 2008. I’m at my computer and receive an email from Reggie, my husband (he’s downstairs in his office). “There’s just a few more hours left to buy the Cal,” he writes. He had found a Cruising Cal 36 on eBay a few days ago. It looked perfect for our future cruising plans. Yes, like so many, we talk about going cruising when we retire. In fact, we’ve talked and planned about cruising since we married almost 10 years ago. We’ve looked at boats at every opportunity, taken classes, chartered and gone cruising with friends. However, retirement is still a few years away and there is, of course, some things that seem to always stand in the way. This boat was recently refitted, plenty of headroom and long berth for Reggie (he’s 6’3”), and being “Old Cal Hands” we each had been dreaming and coveting it but never really talked about buying this boat. Occasionally one of us would say, “Have you checked to see what’s happening with the Cal?” or “That Cal is really nice.” I go downstairs to see what’s happening with the bids—not much, “Should we make a bid?” “Why not? Then we’ll know if someone has an automatic bid.” They had. “Hummmm,” followed by more quiet dreaming and coveting, and I return upstairs to work. It is close to the end of the day, there is nothing really pressing

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on my desk and it is Friday to boot. I go back downstairs. “Anything new?” He pulls up the eBay screen to discover nothing has happened. It looks like only one other person is bidding. “Let’s bid again. I’ll bet it hasn’t reached the maximum yet.” We were right! We stared at each other. “Maybe we should have a glass of wine.” While I’m upstairs getting our wine, Reggie goes to to look at other 36 Cals. We sip wine and wander through the virtual “Cal Boat Show.” Living in Montana, the number of cruising boats is quite limited. We learn that they are all more expensive and not as nice. We glance at the clock. Time is passing. “Has anything changed?” “No.” Reggie bids again and we are immediately outbid. We play this game for a while, then the tables turn and we are high bidder! We glance at each other and quickly look back at the screen to be sure. This time when we glance at each other, our eyes are wider and our mouths are agape. Time has passed. We call our friend Ace who bought a boat on eBay last year. He reminds us that, since we live in Montana, there is much more involved in purchasing a boat on eBay than just hitting “Submit,” which is really easy to do. “More wine?” “Oh, yes.” The boat had a “buy it now,” and reserve had not been met. Each subsequent bid, with this glass of wine, carries the same notification: “Reserve not met.” “Maybe we should talk about this. Do we want this boat?” “What would we do with it?” “We’d have to get it here.” We live in northwest Montana and the boat is in Fort Lauderdale. That is a long way away. “It’s really nice.” We guess at the reserve price and bid just under it. We want to see if we guessed correctly. We are right! Our opponent’s bid met the reserve. There is 10 minutes left. We plan our strategy. We’ll put in our next bid and hit “Submit” when there is just a few seconds left. We sit there quietly hitting “Refresh” to keep track of the time. At 29 seconds, I say, “Hit it.” “Now?” “Yes.” Silence. The computer freezes. We keep hitting Refresh, but nothing happens. “Did we buy it?” “I don’t know!” Seconds, that just moments ago had wings, now moved at a snail’s pace. Finally, the screen changes and shows “Congratulations.” Faces red, I see Reggie drop his head on the desk as I cover my face with my hands. Tentative laugher escapes. We look at each other. “What are we going to do?” “We really should have talked about this.” “Are you happy?” “I don’t know.”


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