Ten years ago we became the proud owners of a 46 foot 1999 Viking Sport Cruiser (Princess Yacht) named Miracle purchased from a friend. It was bought during the pits of the recession when he was looking to upgrade to a larger boat. His problem was that no dealer wanted to tie up capital in a trade. I knew the boat was obsessively and meticulously taken care so I took this ten year old mint condition boat off his hands for $275,000 on a handshake. (It listed new for $1.2 million)
We call the Miracle our “go-boat”. In ten years we have cruised to the 1000 Islands and Montreal, up to the Lake Champlain, up and down the Hudson River a few times, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Block Island, the Chesapeake Bay and all the way to Buffalo on the Erie Canal. (You can read about these cruises in this magazine or by emailing me) On board we have enjoyed both the long distance cruising along with countless days and overnights on the Long Island Sound.
While the boat is beautiful to look at on the outside, two years ago the Miracle was showing some age on the inside. Knowing that, we visited the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show to see about a possible replacement. After spending nearly a day hopping on and off boats it was decided we really wanted to stick with the Princess Yachts. The problem was the $1.4 million price tag was out of the question. Even waiting for a couple of years of depreciation still made it still expensive. Realizing that a nearly new boat was not going to happen we decided that night to look into refurbishing what we had. On the second day of the boat show we spent a lot of time in the vendor tents looking at electronics, beds, heads and more.
After the boat show we went back on board the Miracle to review everything that needed to be replaced, what budget we had, and how long we would be able to keep her.
Interior: After ten years most of the window seals felt loose and worn out. The main cabin hatch had leaked and was marginal with the silicone “gooking” I did to keep the water out. Also, for some reason Princess put the main hatch with the hatch opening aft so we were never able to catch a breeze while on the hook. The carpeting inside was worn and in need of replacing also. After calling around we found Strong’s Yacht Center (www.strongsmarine.com) in Mattituck able to do the work needed. It was also a bonus that they use to deal in Princess Yachts. Their staff replaced all the window seals and flipped the hatch 180 degrees. While they groaned a bit on the difficult custom carpet replacement and wall covering repairs, they did a great job. We were good on window leaks and carpet for another 10 years. Kudos to their crew! For better lighting (which draws less power) they changed out all the mini ceiling bulbs for LEDs. They did the same for the anchor and navigation lights.
For sleeping we replaced our worn and water stained mattress using Quality Custom Linens of Essex (www.qualitycustomlinens.com). They picked up the mattress to use as a template in manufacturer the new one. We upgraded to their QCM latex deluxe 7 inch mattress and after our first night’s sleep, we regretted not getting this sooner
Motors: The Miracle has CAT 3208 motors that are in fine shape. They had an easy 1550 hours on them due to the previous owner and myself always cruising between 2100 and 2200 RPM’s. While the motors sounded good there was some needed work to budget for. At Safe Harbor of Glen Cove (www.byy.com/marinas/glen-cove-yacht-yard-glen-cove-ny) where we dock our boat, their mechanics replaced all the big water cooling hoses. This is something all boaters should do when you think they are showing some age as a bad hose can flood a boat. Two other problems arouse in the motors that needed to be dealt with. While laid up for the winter work at Strong’s I mentioned I had a small cooling leak. This lead to the replacement of two water pumps. In looking at them I was amazed I made it through the past season as some pieces of the pump where nearly rusted through.
Heads: We had two issues here. The first was the waste lines started to breakdown and smell. The other was one of the original heads started to lose suction and show wear. Safe Harbor of Glen Cove did the difficult and smelly job of replacing all the lines of various sizes in very tight quarters. Under the advice of Aqua Star (www.aquastardistributors.com) of Farmingdale, two Sea Land Vacuflush toilets were installed
Electronics: To replace the original electronics that were having issues, we chose Garmin (www.garmin.com) because we were impressed with their products, the staff’s patience with us at the boat show and their ease of use. For the lower helm we used the larger 12 inch screen model 7612xsv. On the upper helm, which is used 98% of the time, the Garmin 7610xsv was flush mounted in the console while the 7608 was mounted on a stand and angled towards wheel for easy viewing. The reason for two units on the upper helm was to keep confusion to a minimum and not have too many applications run at one time on one screen. At night I would run radar on the smaller unit because I did not have to look down. During the day in shallow areas I would view Garmin’s forward looking transducer model Panoptix PS51TH or switch to the chart on a close up setting. We saved a few thousand dollars by passing on Garmin’s auto pilot and having the existing auto pilot interface with the new system. This worked for straight line navigation only. Sea-Curity (http://www.seacuritysystems.com) of Lindenhurst did a fine job expanding or closing holes on our consoles on the install and rewiring everything. They also did the cleanest job of mounting our Garmin’s VHF 300 AIS and the GHS10 hand held radios.
During the radar install we had Sea-Curity remove the KVH domed satellite receiver and shorten the radar arch. This lowered our boat by three feet allowing us to get all the way the Buffalo on the Erie Canal that summer. With Wi-Fi, 4G and 5G easily available at docks and on the hook the satellite receiver was something not needed. If we watch TV we connect via Wi-Fi or through our cell phone hotspot to our Slingbox at home and watch whatever we have on the DVR or cable box. Netflix is also easy to get anywhere. We were thrilled to sell the domed receiver and all the old electronics on eBay netting about $1500 of what I considered found money.
The last things needing installation was a Samplex 600W inverter so we did not have to run the the generator for charging phones and computers on the hook. We completed the electronics restoration with a new Clarion stereo, speakers and a compatible Cirrus connection.
Gel Coat: Two years ago we noticed the gel coat showing wear in different areas. After going over the entire boat we found a dozen areas that needed attention. This ranged from thin spider web like small cracks to 1/8” bigger splits in some curved area of the fiberglass. There were also a few minor chips. The reason to deal with this is because the splits and cracks will expand bigger over time. Getting these fixed and then putting a coat of polish and wax over the Miracle was the icing in the cake. She gleamed.
With the refurbishment completed we look really good inside and out. We also feel safe on the water knowing the important things were taken care of. Our invoices added up to just shy of $60,000. By continuing a good maintenance program on all systems we believe we bought ourselves at least several years of fun on the water. At that time we will reevaluate our options of buying that 2017 Princess when it is 10 years old and has depreciated greatly. On the other hand who knows? I was recently encouraged about our boats life while having our exhaust repaired in the Ponquogue Marina on a stop in Hampton Bays by the 1985 Viking docked next to us. She was 15 years older, still running and still looking good. It showed good maintenance and proper refurbishing can add many years to a boats life. Fair Seas!