Monday, June 30, 2008

The Birthday Party Shindig -- The Planning

I chartered a boat.

I wanted to charter a boat.  I'm not sure exactly where I got this brilliant idea, but somewhere along the line it dawned on me that I wanted to charter a boat for a few hours, fill it with my friends, and go sailing.  Really casual.  Just an afternoon out on the water.

Easier said than done.

I spent many long hours with google trying to find the perfect boat.  Size was an issue.  I was looking for a boat I could put 20 or 30 people on, and most sailboat charters fit 12 people max.  Or they were massive party boats to take more than a couple hundred.

I stumbled upon the boat I would ultimately charter fairly early on in my investigations, but I was put off a bit by the expense.  Largely because the boat hangs out in a more southern part of Southern California than I am -- so most of the local companies that listed it among their charters wanted even more money for it, since the cost of any local charter involved the additional cost of sailing it up to L.A. and back.

So I found some local charter companies and asked them what they would do for me for the number of people I wanted.  And they each priced me some sort of party boat, or yacht, or whatever.  The people at Hornblower Cruises wanted to do me a deal with a yacht for two hours, a brunch, bar service, a dance floor, etc.

I wasn't really sold on this.  (It sounded suspiciously like a Bar Mitzvah, when my ideal was something substantially more informal.)  But I got fairly far in the planning process with them, as they were convincing me that this was a good "grown up" thing to do for one's 40th birthday.  Until they started on about the fine print.

Fine print like:  Oh, your guests can't bring presents on the boat ("coast guard regulations"); so you'll have to lock all gifts in a car or something.  And there's no place to park your car near the dock either.  So you'll have to have your guests meet elsewhere, lock all your gifts in someone's trunk, and find some way of shuttling people over to the boat.

This was looking vaguely "last straw" like.  These people wanted a big pile of money to throw me a party that wasn't even the party I wanted, and now I couldn't even have presents?

I did a short survey of some of my to-be-invited guests and asked if they'd be willing to haul ass down to where the other boat was docked.  They would.

I called the people who charter said boat.  They gave me a price.  Parking is plentiful and free.  I said, "I know this may sound like a stupid question, but can you bring presents on the boat?"

She called the captain and asked him.  She called back saying that I could bring however many presents I wanted.  I got the feeling that both she and the captain thought I was a moron for asking.

(This stupid question stuck with me throughout the chartering process.  I think they knew me as the "idiot who asked about presents," because everyone I spoke to seemed to already know that I had asked this.  I finally mentioned this to one of the women at the charter place, and she assured me that this was not, in fact, the stupidest question they'd been asked.  Which led me to inquire as to what was the stupidest question they'd been asked.  Apparently you can charter the boat for a memorial service and burial at sea.  Someone asked where they dump the bodies.)

I booked with them.

I almost unbooked with them the minute after I booked with them, as everything I'd read on the internet said that the boat had a capacity of 36 people, but when I did the contract, she said it's certified for 36, but only holds 25 comfortably -- a statement which immediately lost me about 25% of my guest list.

But it was exactly the boat I wanted for the party I wanted, so I made the cuts and signed the contract.

Here's the boat I chartered -- she's called the Curlew, and I still think she's freakin' beautiful.

1 comment:

rdautumnsage said...

What a novel idea to celebrate your 40th. I think it will be a huge sucess and lots of fun. (Hugs)Indigo