What a difference day makes. At precisely the same time my deposit for the Lagoon winged it's way back into my account the offer for the Leopard 45 was accepted....no negotiation, no argy bargy, no more grey hairs just a straight forward....YES.
My new broker is Tony Brewer www.Littleships.com. I first was recommended him months ago and we spoke on Skype a few times about what I wanted. Needless to say I lost contact until someone recommended him agan when I was in Tortola. I called him, told him I had a broker but would like to catch up. It's his cottage Ollie and I are renting. He's a good bloke....for a South African.
He was honorable in regards to the fact I had a broker and a contract. No lunch cutting was happening....but he was also patient, knowing that I was increasingly pissed with that deal. Within hours of he deal being sunk....he had the boat, the price and the contract finalized.
His job as my broker is to now hold my little hand throughout he forthcoming process. His commission includes him flying to Baltimore with us. Reviewing the survey and setting up the paperwork, deregistration of the US flagged boat and re registration to Australia etc.
So that's it for now. The process has stated today. It's a good day.
I'm inspired to write this entry for the wrong reasons......but maybe in a short period of time they will be the right.
Buyers beware chronological process
1, Dec 29th 2011 - I signed a contract on a Lagoon 410 laying in St Matin with 09 rigging and sails and 08 engines. I paid a 10% deposit. I am in Fort Lauderdale.
2, Jan 4 I fly to Tortola BVI. And wait.
3, I'm finally told the Cat is in Martinique 300nm west of St Martin.
4, frustrated I search the web for this Cat and find an identical one in Martinique for €35,000 less.
5, I contact my "buyers broker" which by definition is the guy that's looking after my interests and he contacts the sellers broker to find its the same Cat.
6, Jan 10, I sign another contract with a 7 day acceptance clause....I wait. The day comes and goes.
7, Jan 19, I sign a revised contract for a slightly higher negotiated price. I fly to St Martin the next day.... and I wait.
8, Jan 24, after a couple of emails the contract is increased by the seller due to exchange rates. They send me a new contract. All I won't to do is head to Martinique and look at this Cat and check out two others that he same broker introduced me to. I request to see it. NO response
9, Jan 25, I accept the new price and again request to see the Cat. The broker wasn't me to countersigned the variation in the price. I state that I will do that in Martinique.
Needless to say I am getting to the stage where my gut instinct is in overdrive. I want a boat, I have the cash however believe that if they can stuff me around his much it will only get worse. I would have to pay over $2000 for flights surveys and accom just to see the boat. Oh and have been told it will need new engines, rigging and sails. If the owner of his Cat can ruin these rather robust items of a Cat in 4 yrs then the rest of the boat must be a dog. I still however want to see I and the other two cats. I want to go sailing.
10, I wait, I send another email, make another call and then send another email.
11, Today Jan 26th, Australia Day. I sack the broker but fear I may have to fight for the return of my deposit. Only two things go right. While still no word from the rather pathetic broker I receive confirmation the deposit will be returned.
......and I immediately engage another broker. Placed an offer on a Leopard 45, laying in the cold old US of A.
My gut is feeling is OK about his one. She is a beautiful big Cat. She is safe and robust. She is an apartment on water and she has almost everything we need already on her. I can afford her but she is 2000nm north of here.
I may know tonight if we have a contract count signed by the owner. Sweet.
01/24/2012, Sant Maartin
Ollie and I started were we left off 11 months ago in Nairobi...drinking beer and playing pool. I arrived into the famous Princess Julianna Airport in Sint Maarten (the Dutch side) three hours before Ollie was to arrive. I had time to grab a hire car, move into our small apartment and head back to the airport.....only to discover hat there are actually two airports, and Ollie will be a the other. So a mad dash to the other side of the island. One thing I love about islands is it is harder to get lost. I arrived an hour after Ollie arrived in this little airstrip on the French side. They were closing the airport as I arrived....but Ollie was sitting, relaxed and looking forward to our journey....skate board in hand?
Over three days we have explored the coast line. Pinapple Pete's for pool, Buccaneer's for rum and the Orient beach for.....well topless French women and (should be outlawed) budgie smugglers.
We picked up a French girl hitching to work at one of the bars there and she said, with that great French accent..."And at zhat end of zr beach (pointing north) it is nuuude.....but zey are not models". We thanked her for the warning and stayed away.
So the pool games....Ollie and I started a first to 100 8-Ball comp in Zanzibar in March 2011. I ran away with the first 8 wins with Ollie exclaiming "how can you beat me. I have been working at a bar in Amsterdam....and your older" . The game continued in Kampala and Jinja in Uganda then Nairobi in Kenya. The score at the end of the Africa trip was Ollie 23, me 28. We are competitive. I get soft fist bump from Ollie is I win and massive high five when he does. Just before he pots the black he has a massive smile on his face. He would be a helpless poker player.
Now after two trips to Pineapple Pete's the score is Ollie 33, me 37. We have joked about getting the final score tattooed on our arms with the the numerous countries visited in this world series listed.....but we feel that our arms won't be long enough.
So to boats. No word on the boats in Martinique. Today is the deadline once again and I will take my deposit back from the broker if the offer expires. Otherwise I'm obligated to inspect the boats and then either keep the deal going or pull out. But....in front of me is another contract. I won't sign it till the other lapses. BUT, it my ideal boat....it has everything and due to her 10 years of age fits my budget. She will need less work, will be safer for the pacific crossing and I will meet more people because she is so much more beautiful. But for all things of beauty you must go out of you way. She is on dry dock in Maryland just south of New York. It will be 2000nm trip in some cold water just to get back here. She is a Leopard 45. A little bent up but with water makers, genset, air conditioning, long range fuel tanks, holding tanks, radar, SSB radios....and the list goes on. Watch this space. Ollie may be heading to the US with his old man to continue our World Series 8-Ball comp.....and may the best boy win.
01/19/2012, Tortola BVI's
I spoke to Jules tonight and wondered why am I here? Missing someone is like guessing the future. When will I see her again, will it be the same and what will the world be like then. I also miss my kids, family and friends (including the yogi's). I'm am missing them more because of some uncertainty about when will I start the long journey home.
I'm living his week in a beautiful cottage facing the easterly winds in the BVIs. Elena, the owner has also been my island host (and taxi driver). She is relentless in showing off her island of Tortola. I've seen every cove, beach, bay and headland. A walk on the beach with Elena is an emu parade. We filled her jeep with plastic junk that has either been washed up on the shore dumped by un caring sea folk or discarded through car windows by the local "belong ers" (original settlers). It appears she is a rarity when it come to the environment here. I assured her that we will be very caring of the sea on our journey home.
While I write this the northern swell is lapping at the rocky beach just meters below my bedroom. I have time...so I count about 15 waves per minute break outside. I know from some silly quiz that in larger oceans they come in sets of 7 or 8 per minute. It shows to me the un-predictability of the ocean and a reason to not assume anything is what it is.
That includes buying a boat. I know this is a sail blog, but I won't go into too much sailing stuff this time as its all the same frustrating crap about brokers and boats. The previous offer lapsed because the broker said he couldn't find he owner to present my price.....he has since come back to me with a counter offer. Better late than never! So I shall pursue this yacht but maintain a healthy suspicion about her. And also knowing that there are two others for sale the same area....Martinique.
The journey continues....Tomorrow I'm off to meet Ollie in St Martin. I haven't seen him since we said out goodbyes in Nairobi 11months ago. This liberal French/Dutch island will be our base until be secure a yacht. I will get another sim card, hire a car and rent an apartment by the week. Almost normal.
Knowing I travel so well with Ollie and that's he is my first crew member to arrive in the Caribbean I think I can be truly optimistic that this is the beginning of the homeward passage....boat or no boat. With Ollie I won't have time to count waves or let the brokers get to me. Having family around will also alleviate missing Jules, Charlotte, the pub bands in Eumundi, the Spirit House in Yandina, and my caffeine addicted Yogi's.
So tomorrow I head west....and for the first time in 7 weeks it's actually in the direction of home.
Sitting on the dock in Tortola I at last have time for a quick update between signing a new contract on a cheaper Lagoon and looking at other Cats in the next marina along.
We launched Break n Win after six sweaty days on dry dock. She is an old Lagoon 36 and so there is always something to fix....but we then motored to Fat Hog Bay in Tortola to run he engines in and then yesterday we sailed. So I can now I have actually been on a Cat under sail. Strange you may say that here I am trying to buy a Cat having only just yesterday sailed one?
Well it was as always new...she sailed easily and fast. I can certainly see myself more clearly now hitting the high seas in one. She is so comfortable to sleep in, move around in and generally live in.....and this Cat is significantly smaller than mine will be.
We sailed directly to an outer island, had a BBQ off the back, snorked on a 1880 ship wreak and then sailed home to Fat Hog in time for happy hour at the Red Rock Bar.
The deal on the other Cat I made an offer on sank.....firstly I did some research on the boat to try and determine exactly were it is. To my surprise I found an identical boat in Martinique but this one was yet another $40,000 cheaper. On contacting my broker I found out it was the same boat I previously made an offer from.....so we tore up the contract and just now signed another for the same boat.
It's cheaper because it needs work done....but I would prefer to have new stuff on board than pay more for a boat and not know the history of its gear. I have Mark and Ollie to help clean and prepare her for the high seas...and it looks like even after I spend the required funds to get her safe, I will be well under budget.
That's it for now ...... We wait again. But at least I'm waiting while floating.
Those who know me well know that waiting isn't isn't easy for me...unless its waiting for Jules to get dolled up for a big night in Eumundi....then I am patient.
Firstly I am waiting for my broker to find out if my offer is really accepted for the 2003 Lagoon as opposed to they think it might be. Or are the engines 03 or 08 as advertised and is the Cat in St Martin or Matinique? will I have to pay in Euro of USD?
Secondly the Lagoon I am staying on is now ship shape and awaits a launch time. She is scrubbed, the hull painted with anti-foul and minor repairs made...Tom the owner and a Canadian is keen to escape the boat yard, sand flys and beer prices.....and I must say I'm with him all the way. He also has a date with a Tuesday night happy hour at his favorite bar in Tortola....only a few hours sail away. BUT we must wait for the launch which could take up to 24 hrs from now.
However if it sounds like I'm complaining then I'm not. The weather is ideal, company great and beers cold. I can think of worse places to be kept waiting. This is more like watching Jules getting ready for a big night in Eumund. Perfect.