We got the call from Rick, The Boat Exchange driver/hauler out of Lexington, S.C., whom I had become good friends with over the past four days as Eternity was heading home. Heading home as in the boat was manufactured in Marion, S.C., only 75 miles from my home in Summerville. After several calls to the Beneteau plant, I got to know the parts manager, Todd Crawford. Todd knows these boats as if they were his children. He told me everything I wanted to know by looking up some parts based on the hull ID, year and model. He even knew the features of the boat from the factory. I was so surprised to find out that even for a boat almost 20 years old, Beneteau had what I was looking for with regard to replacement parts. Better yet, they were usually in-stock and shipped the same day.
Rick was my eyes and ears as far as the first look at the boat. I was wondering why it took four days to drive from upstate New York to South Carolina. It's only 1,153 miles! It turned out there were some things I didn't know, like wide-load sailboat haulers are limited to daytime driving. Due to height restrictions, there are only certain roads they can travel. And, some states require lead and follow wide-load escorts. Rick's first impressions of the boat were very positive. Eternity was supposed to arrive at 6 p.m. on October 15, 2015. My best friend, who going to allow me to work on the boat in his crane yard had gone home for the day and the rigging crew would not be back until 6 a.m. the next day. Because of insurance and haulers rules, I couldn't climb up on the boat while it was in the truck cradle. I was so excited to get inside and see what she looked like. Pictures are worth a 1,000 words, but I wanted to put my eyes on her.
I walked around the outside of my dreamboat, and she was exactly what I'd been searching for. Her lines were beautiful. She was a solid boat with enough room for my entire family of six, and with a median depth keel, we knew we'd be able to journey to places far away in comfort and security. Standing next to a 44-foot boat out of the water on a custom hauling trailer, I marveled at how big she was up close. Wow, what a great new beginning. I couldn't wait to get started! The boat of my dreams was now in front of me, and the only thing on my mind was going sailing. The eight to 10 months of rehab that would be required aside, all I could say to my wife was, "When can we get her into the water? I want to go sailing!"
- Todd Beson, guest contributor