Since we are not going to get the new boat tax break for 2009, we are really starting to look toward the used market. Always a smart choice, but I think I was letting the tax tail wag the dog a little and getting excited about being able to do a semi custom, new boat.
So, now our options become even more limited. For the used boat choices we have the St Francis 50, Privilege 495, Lagoon 500 and the Lagoon 570. It is time to do another test sail. Poor us, I know. The boys are still all Gold status on American airlines. It is funny that our 3 year old fly's over 25,000 miles a year. (As a side note, coming home from Hawaii in October only Mandi and I got the upgrade. So the three boys all rode in "second class," as they call it. Pretty funny seeing Luke in his car seat with just his brothers. But the kids did great.)
Ideally, we can test two boats in one trip. We would like to charter the Privilege 495 and a Lagoon 570, both have to be galley up, over the same 10 to 12 day period in the Caribbean. It is really hard to find a galley up in these two models, especially for charter, in the same week, in close proximity. We have our friend Captain Dare, who was the captain on the Lagoon 500 we test sailed a while back, working on this for us. He has moved back to the states and owns and operates Sojourn Sailing, which is a yacht charter company for the Caribbean - great resource.
Since I found myself on the rant about my visit to China, great experience by the way, I am doing a separate post about the Prout factory. Bottom line, they will not be able to have a new boat completed for us by 2009, which was a goal relative to the special tax incentives. So for now, they are back down on the list until they have a few boats in the water and are proven.
This is a new factory for Prout in China, and many working there are not experienced catamaran builders. We were very impressed by the workmanship. The labor costs are so low, they really can spend a great deal of time on all the custom, hand completed type work. The owner, Jack, has an aerospace background, and some of the advances they are doing to make the boat light while still high end are impressive. And example is granite countertops, but with a very thin cut of stone on a honeycomb core, just like on high end private airplanes. We also liked the ability to do a semi-custom boat.
The final analysis is that we want a proven blue water boat. As this is a brand new boat, with brand new staff, in a brand new factory, we decided it was best to wait. If we were putting the boat in our marina and just taking short trips to Catalina, we would have jumped at the opportunity.
So we just return from China to visit the new Prout factory. We have been talking with them about building us a new boat this year. (see new equipment business tax break post.)
Although everyone says China's is crowded, and when visiting you expect it will be, you can't appreciate the full meaning of the word until you are immersed in it. On our last day, a Sunday which is the only day off in China, we decided to go to Macow before we headed over the bay to Hong Kong for the flight home. We ended up spending 3 hours clearing customs to leave China, then clear customs again to get into Macow - which is still China. There is no reason to this. Everyone is in a huge building that looks like an aircraft hanger, pushing and shoving. Lines don't really form. And there is no concept of personal space. Add to that I am 6'4" and Mandi is a 5'8" red head, we really stood out. And if I left enough space between me and the person in front of me so I could fold my arms, someone tried to squeeze in. To help kill the time, I pulled out my iPhone. Now I became very popular. People would actually pull my arm so they could get a better look at my personal digital assistant (PDA.)
By the time we finally got to the Venetian in Macow, all I could think was lets find the most empty restaurant in the place. We did, and ordered hamburgers.
Some observations of the Venetian:
1) Women don't gamble in Macow
2) People don't drink when they gamble. (I am used to the free drinks in Vegas)
3) There is no such think as personal space
4) It is always okay to stare at the freaky tall foreigner
For those of you who do not know, section 179 is part of the tax code that deals with equipment in business and the tax deductions. In 2009, if we can put new equipment to use in a business, there is a very, very good tax brake for the cost of the equipment. One such example would be a new sail boat into a charter business. So now we are looking for a new boat that meets our requirements that we can put into charter by the end of 2009. Any suggestions.....
After 3 boat shows, owning a 33 foot cat for 4 years, and 2 one week long charter in the BVI, we have our final wish list for the "perfect" boat for our trip:
A large cat for the family and company
4 Cabins and 3 heads minimum
Proven blue water sailor
Nice wood interior with good finishing's
Dedicated office area for Scott
Can be handled by 2 in most conditions
Based on those requirements, there are not many options. The biggest problem is the galley up. However, that is one of the items that is not flexible. Since we will have the 3 boys with us, no one wants to be lock down in a hull preparing meals. We see this a safety issue first and foremost. Secondly, it is about being social. At our home, the kitchen is the center of activities. We expect nothing different with the boat. Also, by having a galley up, it opens the mid hull area for an office for Scott.
The options as we see them:
St Francis 50 (see test sail blog)
Privilege 495 (or a 465 easy cruise)
Salina 48 (Fountaine Pajot)
There are others, but this is really our list. The others that qualify are more of the "sports car" and we are really looking for the "SUV."
The trip was great. It was part of our "test drive" process to select the boat for our 3 year trip. You can read our impression of the boat in the next blog entry.
As for the trip, we had a great time. We could not ask for a better crew, and being on a brand new boat is great. When we arrived, it was the end of a storm, and the wind was howling. After picking up a couple of SUP, we were off.
As you can see from the video, we did all the normal BVI activities.