25 Apr

Whose Boat Is It?

A Summary — after revisiting our boat for the first time

We landed in YVR and took a cab to the South Terminal and Seair’s docks. The only real excitement was that I had stowed my reader laxly in the front pouch of my backpack and after it toppled off the pile of luggage, I no longer had a functional ereader. Luckily I have all the books stored on both my phone and laptop, so recovery would be easy.

A 15-minute flight across a glassy calm Strait of Georgia and we had landed in Nanaimo where it was raining intermittently. We humped our luggage the two hundred yards to Stones Marina and went searching for our keys. The folks at Nanaimo Yacht Charters have opened up a chandlery on site in addition to their boat yard, and the keys were waiting at the front counter. Then, after a little less than a year, we were back aboard Never for Ever.

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First Impressions

It was weird. Lovely, but weird. The boat seemed barren: missing all the small comforts with the enclosure packed away and small reminders of her long winter sleep everywhere. She was “ready” to go but not for us.

As we hauled our bags in and started poking around, one thing became pretty obvious. She wasn’t same boat we had left behind. It was the small things like a different winch handle, a new fender, new cutlery and even new garbage cans that soon started to irritate us. After living aboard for a year we had grown accustomed to a certain routine and the small things were going to dictate that these routines would have to change or adapt. There was no logical reason to change out our small, squat bathroom garbage container that wouldn’t tip for a tall, unwieldy one that didn’t fit anywhere in the head. Was there?

It didn’t last long—the irritation, that is. We just need to make the mental shift from boat owners to charter boat owners. While Never for Ever is still ultimately “our” boat, she is no longer our boat. She belongs to a wider community now and has more than one set of caretakers making decisions based on a broader set of criteria. I’ve run into this at jobs a lot; as long as I’m the sole decision maker, things get done my way. As soon as there is a team, I have to make allowances for how things get done and base my definition of success on whether the team accomplishes the goal, not how. I can do that. Eventually.

Adding Stuff

The boat was prepped for charter so there was a full set of sheets and towels aboard. We decided to forgo immediately hitting our storage locker and instead go buy some provisions.

Two things. We didn’t check what was already supplied and we didn’t check our (deliberately extensive) lists of what was in storage. My excuse is we were tired and just wanted to get it done. So we hopped in the courtesy car and headed out. Unbeknownst to me L’s intention was to hit a Chapters first so I could replace my ereader. We ended up driving a few miles further down the Island Highway than I had intended, passing a SaveOn, a Thrifty Foods and yet another SaveOn before we reached our destination. A hundred dollars or so later we were finally wandering up and down the aisles looking for the perfect size package of rice— not so small that we would run out early, not so big that we would have too much left over after two months.

As I mentioned our failure to follow the “prior planning prevents…” maxim I so enjoy spouting meant that I didn’t realize we had tons of foil and ziplock bags aboard and things like salt and pepper and cling wrap — and more foil — in storage. We didn’t waste that much money, but it is a bit irritating to make mistakes you had gone out of your way to try to prevent. C’est la vie, I guess.

Back on board we stowed our purchases, desperately trying to remember where things went and failing. We knew the brown sugar was in the wrong place but neither of us could remember where the right place actually was. This happened again and again until we gave up and just started stuffing things in lockers. Which, now that I look back, is pretty close to what we did the first time we provisioned the boat.

Then we stowed most of our gear, stuck the rest in the garage (v-berth), made the bed and crashed for the night.

Retrieving Stuff

The next morning started with a lot of running around and by the time we knew it we were needed at the head of the dock to go have lunch with L’s parents.

Eventually we made it back the dock and grabbed a cart. Time to start hauling. We had both silently decided not to bring most of the stuff back on to the boat and then be both not so silently reneged on those intentions. Every bin contained something that would make the boat a little bit more homey — a little bit more ours — and so it all made its way down. The only things we left behind were spare pillows, the blue-and-gold duvet, the set of fleece sheets and the other sets of extra sheets.

Down at the boat we unpacked each bin — we’d been diligent and efficient last spring and they were all labeled. I think maybe four or five items went back into the bins to head back up. As we unpacked we stowed the gear, trying to remember where everything went. Over the next few days a lot of stuff shuffled as we slowly remembered where we had stowed things…usually when we unconsciously went to grab something and it wasn’t where it seemed it should be.

And we did go back and grab the fleece and cotton sheets a bit later, leaving the locker essentially empty.

And after all that the boat slowly transformed from a strange and slightly alien environment to once again take on the warmth and familiarity of home. It’s weird how a glass jar of pens or a shelf of books can redefine your space. By the end of the day we were home…mostly.

Whose Stuff Is It?

As soon as we arrived I started going through lockers to see what was what. I found a couple of new buckets, then found the old ones crammed way back in the transom locker. The bits and pieces of random line I had left behind were gone and replaced with new and different bits and pieces of random line. Half our kitchenware had been replaced with new substitutes (like our lovely red kettle), and the safety gear that had been stuffed in one locker was scattered among many. The silverware was new as were the trays it was stowed in, our cheap 4-slice Coleman toaster was gone, replaced by one of those lovely compact single-slice toasters (while we appreciated the “upgrade,” who wants to make one slice of toast at a time?), and our two glass and four plastic wine goblets had been replaced by a matching set of — smaller— plastic wine glasses. All in all it was an improvement over what we had left behind but, in another way, it was just not what we had left behind. And that was something akin to irritating.

As time wears on you notice more and more. Our low profile Camfano heater was replaced by a smaller yet taller model. I liked the Camfano :-(

And the small things get under your skin more. The properly sized frypan had been replaced by a larger and more cumbersome (albeit more practical for larger groups) frying pan that negated the ability to use all three burners. And our dish rack was missing, which changed the ritual of doing dishes. And the rituals are important and change is bad and well…

All this pettiness really did have the potential to start to sour. I was actually surprised how much I cared. But in the end, a deep breath or two, and actual conversation reminding ourselves of the difference between expectations and perceived reality, we started to settle. The boat was ours. But it was obvious the the stuff was not, and could not be, ours any longer. Not if the charter company was going to be able to provide consistent and quality service to their (and I suppose our) customers.

Some of this extended to larger boat systems as well. A winch handle had been changed out, one of our propane tanks was different, the tie down for the outboard was missing and we’d acquired an extra fender. They had even repainted the measurements on the anchor rode, but used a different system.

Over the few days at the base we kept bumping into things that weren’t quite right and kept reminding ourselves that the wrongness resided in our viewpoint and not the reality we were struggling against. It mostly worked and we mostly got used to it. And of course the people at NYCSS are great and never once looked askance at our constant notes and emails enquiring into this, that and the other thing.

Fixing Stuff

Like all boats, some things needed to be fixed. It’s interesting to note that while all the big systems had been well maintained, a lot of smaller items had escaped notice. For example, the corroded seal in the windlass had been dealt with (saving me a few boat bucks since the parts for the old Simpson Lawrence were hard to get and I’d been afraid we would have to replace the whole thing), a few leaks (which had apparently been a bigger problem than usual with the unusually wet winter) had been fixed, the cushions were cleaned and all the mechanicals serviced and maintained. But we noted right away that the dinghy painter was worn in the centre, two of the bungie cords for holding locker lines were frayed and worn, the tether for the water filler cap was broken off and the knob on the BBQ regulator was stuffed in a cockpit locker and cracked in half.

It makes sense. All of those little items were either too small to attract attention or not likely to be noticed unless you were using the associated system. We’ve spent four days settling in so far and I am still coming across small things like this. The only real issue was a white-and-black wire that had snapped off the ring connector on the buss bar in the aft cockpit locker. I have no idea what it did as everything seemed to be working, but I had them recrimp a new connector anyway. And now the shower drips annoyingly when there is pressure in the line—I guess I will have to fix that. Not having my tools (see previous post) is totally annoying.

I bought 40 feet of floating poly line and replaced the dinghy painter, replaced one of the fender lines and screwed back on a panel that had been missed. NYCSS dropped off a new outboard lock, a replacement winch handle and a new knob for the BBQ. We took a look at the filler cap tether and decided it would take too much effort to fix so tabled it for now, and they dug up the missing cushions for the settee after we noticed they weren’t aboard.

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The List Continues

We finally cast off for the short trip down the channel to anchor in Nanaimo Harbour. The sun came out and the winds died and it was a beautiful day. And the list of things that had changed continued to morph. The smoke detector was missing. Granted, it was irritatingly sensitive, but was it missing because it was broken or because they just forgot about it when repairing the leaks? The engine alarm didn’t sound when I shut down the engine, which is a bit worrisome. And my funnel for refilling engine oil was gone. That’s annoying.

But we are off. And it’s aboard our very own boat that is now messily cluttered with our stuff and frankly, who cares what toaster we use. What’s important is what we bring with us in our souls and minds and what we leave behind as we move forward.

The conclusion? I’m satisfied and so’s my perennially sensitive co-skipper. We are declaring our charter partnership a success for now and are just happy to go sailing.

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25 Feb

A Tale of Two Videos

Nanaimo Yacht Charters has taken a brand new Lagoon 42 into its fleet — man that’s one beautiful boat, I really, really want to take it for a spin — and the owner has been busy trying to promote it with a Youtube Channel and a Facebook Page. One of the things he has done is shoot a few videos with Ian and Beth MacPherson, two of the principles over at NYCSS. Well, for those who don’t know it it, one of the ways I’ve made my living is as a graphic professional and frankly, the graphics on those videos were killing me. So since I needed to brush up on my After Effects skills anyway, this spurred me to offer to put together some intro’s and outro’s as a refresher that they could use. This 2 minute video was the result of that.

I also worked on some motion graphics for Never for Ever for my future movie-making efforts and finally posted a video round up of our sailing trip to the Broughtons on my Youtube Channel. It’s a work in progress but I bought a GoPro knock off and hope to do a lot more filming this year.

Then the owner of Water Dragon (the new Lagoon) contacted me to see if he could have a copy of the promo as well. After a bit of back and forth he also gave me the file for the Q & A video (sans intro since I shamefacedly admitted it was that which had spurred me to start editing video again) and used it as another project. I recut it, added a few flourishes, tried to fix the lighting and essentially learned a whole lot about how much I don’t know about Adobe Premiere.

Still, it looks ok and I think it actually is a great video for anyone who is tinkering with the idea of chartering. I certainly would have like to see something like this back when we started toying with the idea of learning to cruise. I really couldn’t believe how easy it was. So take a look. (If you’d like to see the original to compare the before and after,  it can be found here.)

18 Nov

Boat Charter Season Update

Well it’s fall and Never for Ever is all prepped for winter. And that means it’s time to take a look at how her first season in charter went. As a bit of a preface for those of you who aren’t familiar with the charter business, or at least aren’t familiar with the charter business in the PNW, let’s review the business model and expectations.

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The Charter Biz

The boat charter business consists of a partnership between the owners of boats and the charter company operators. The charter company  agrees to market and facilitate their use as charter boats for hire. They also agree to maintain the boats and provide storage, winterization etc. In exchange they take a percentage of the fees charged and also make a profit on any work and maintenance that is done to the boats.

In the PNW, unlike the majority of the rest of the world’s charter business model, a lot of the charter companies actually own some of the boats in their fleets. This can be good and bad I suppose. They might promote their own boats over yours — so I guess not having your boat in direct competition might be good, but it also suggests, at least to me, they have more of a vested interested in the business.

In the Caribbean or other parts of the world where chartering is common, the long charter season means that an owner might potentially make a profit, or at least be able to cover the costs of mortgaging a new boat — there is plenty of arguments online about whether or not this is advisable and I certainly can see a case for not letting every Tom, Dick and Ahab use and abuse your new boat. But here in the waters of the Pacific Northwest, the season is relatively short with only July and August being considered prime earning months with June and September being more of a shoulder season. Therefore the expectation is more one of breaking even, paying the costs of ownership and having someone look after the boat when you are away. And it means there is a room for well maintained, older boats to be placed into charter.

So if you own a fairly popular model, older boat that you wouldn’t mind taking the risk of letting strangers skipper her around the Salish Sea and you can’t use her full time, there are a lot of benefits to considering putting her in charter. A big one for us, since we are 1000+ miles away and in the near future will likely only be sailing on one or two trips a year, is having a boat prepped and ready to go when we arrive. No need to budget a week or more getting her ready. We also receive a minimal discount on work done since Nanaimo Yacht Charters also operates Nanaimo Yacht Services with their own haulout facilities.

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Dollars and Sense

But on to the bottom line. Our insurance was costing us about $900/year, moorage was looking to be around $4000 annually. I am going to throw in another $3000 annually for maintenance (although I think that’s conservative). That means our cost of ownership for the 2016-2017 would be at minimum $7900, not counting any work or maintenance we would need to do. The other option we had considered after we finished our year of living aboard,was selling her. In that scenario, assuming we continued to sail at least 2 weeks every year, we would have been looking at an outlay of around $6000/year. So if we intended to keep getting our sailing fix we would be looking at anywhere from $6000 to $10,000 a year if we hadn’t decided to  put our boat in charter.

But, after just one short season (we turned the boat over at the end of June), our total bill —covering the period until next June — just arrived at it comes in at around only $900. In our favour. That’s right, we actually made a profit. I couldn’t be happier. And we fully intend at this point to spend up to two months sailing her next year in May and June — that would be a $20,000+ touch if we tried chartering.

But let’s break it down. The numbers are approximate and the list of work done isn’t comprehensive, but it will give you a good idea of what went into a three-month season in charter. It also doesn’t bring things like depreciation or lost income from the money if I had invested it in something else besides a boat.

Weeks Chartered Net income
1 $1500
1 $1700
2 $3100
1 $1700
2 $2500
2 $2500
 Total income $13000
Annual costs & Work Completed
repair heater
haulout & zincs
spring cleaning
adjust stuffing box
oil change
new head hoses
new macerator
oil change
work on steering
Annual insurance
12 months Moorage
 12 months Shore power
 Total Costs $12100

 

Total Income $13000
Total Costs $12100
 Total Revenue $900

img_7018Conclusions

So at the end of this season, I walk away with around a thousand dollars for the privilege of owning and using a boat on the magnificent west coast of Canada. Of course I need to replace the windlass and have a few more items on the wish list to do so I wont see any profit after all  but… And there will likely be a bit more in the way of winterization and spring commissioning costs so maybe it would be more fair to call it even for the whole year.  If I was a bit more boat proud or Never for Ever was intended to be my “forever” boat I might be inclined to think that the engine hours and inevitable wear and tear added a significant amount to the actual deficit, but I’m not and it doesn’t really. And since it is an older boat depreciation is much less of a factor than if it was brand new. All I know is that if the domestic situation allows, we will board her again next May and enjoy two months of worry-free sailing and if the luck — and the marketplace — is on our side, next fall I might even walk away with an extra $900  in my pocket instead. And that’s my definition of a good deal.

Update

I just got an email from NYCSS and it turns out they had sold my old spare anchor for me, mistakenly charged me extra GST on my insurance and forgot to bill us for the storage locker we rented. So it turns out rather than $900, they only owe us $600. Still, not too shabby …

Disclaimer: I am a notorious “rounder” of numbers and the most incompetent accountant I know. I actually had to call them to find out if I owed them $900 (like I stated in the original version of this post) or they owed us $900. None of this is intended to provide anymore than a reasonably forthright account of how I view our financial outcomes after our first season. Your mileage, as they say, may vary.


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09 Jun

Manual Boating: a putting-your-boat-in-charter update

As we worked our way north we had stopped in at NYC (Nanaimo Yacht Charters & Sailing School) to check in and make arrangements to turn the boat over to them before July. Previously I have discussed putting Never for Ever in charter and that time is fast approaching. In fact, after talking it over with Lorraine when we stopped in, we all decided we would bring the boat in on June 19th and be completely off her by the 23rd. That would give everyone time to clean her top to bottom and make sure any remaining things on my to do list were done before the first charterer boards on June 30. Last time I asked, Never for Ever has been booked for about 6 of the 8 weeks available in July/August. Not bad for a new boat in the fleet. That does mean we have less than 2 weeks left to explore Desolation though.

We also need to haul her and survey her as much as possible to ascertain her state of being as she enters charter and avoid any possible conflicts in the future. There are a lot of little details like that that I want to take care of to avoid having any fuss later on. I have a lot of trust in the crew at NYC and we have a good working relationship, but the more we have documented the less potential for conflict there is.

Never for Ever Yacht ManualSo as we hung on the hook in Von Donop Inlet, one of our tasks was to finalize the revisions to the official charter manual. This manual includes all the standard charter info and then details the systems on our particular boat, as well as documenting any how-to’s or processes we deem necessary for safe, fun and easy use by people who will be aboard for as little as a week. It is an amazing exercise to think through all the systems and steps and then try and record them in a coherent and orderly manner. I found it particularly fascinating to uncover all the small routines that we had internalized and reexamine some of the unconscious habits we had gained. While for most owners it would be a lot of work for little gain, I would almost want to suggest that everyone go through the exercise. Certainly if you were selling your boat it would be an massive boon to the buyer. Take a look at the end of this post to see the Table of Contents as it stands now.

Also as a result of this exercise, my next task — not specifically meant for the charterers — is going to be discovering and recording all the vestigial systems that previous owners had added or removed, things like the breaker marked “Battery Charger” that does nothing as far as I can tell. And hopefully we will remove some of the old wiring while we are at it.

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I am also trying to finish off as many of the outstanding chores as I can, working on the dinghy (fixing the oarlocks), repairing dings and gouges and cleaning some of the accumulated dirt. One of the things about charter companies is that they are so helpful and accommodating you forget that everything has a price tag and it all gets billed back to you. We do get discounted rates on labour, but I want to do as much as possible myself to avoid unnecessary charges. And frankly I want the boat to be in as good a shape as possible for the charterers. Nothing is more frustrating than the small annoyances that could have been avoided. It’s relatively easy to forgive or at least accommodate major issues like breakdowns — there are always established mechanisms to resolve those — but having to deal with piddly things like broken latches or flaky equipment is just annoying and rarely comes with any recompense. So I want to avoid that as much as I can and hopefully build up some good will.

And I really am hoping that we can make enough money to invest in a few things as well, like upgrading the canvas or adding a TV back to the boat (it used to have one and wiring is still there). But I guess we will see.

Battery Update

We spent 4 nights at Von Donop and left with 11.5 volts and 53% of capacity showing on the battery monitor. According to the “amps used” meter we had used 217 amps of our usable 225 amps (out of 450 amps available). For those of you who don’t already know, the health of a lead acid battery is best maintained by not running them below 50% capacity or 12.2 volts. Unfortunately an accurate voltage can only be measured after the batteries have rested with no load for 12 hours or more — something virtually impossible to do if you are actively using them. When we installed our battery monitor last year it involved placing a shunt in the main connection from the battery which allows the monitor to measure the amount of current that flows through the system. Theoretically this gives you a more accurate way to gauge the state of the batteries. Previously we would only go three nights without at least running the diesel for an hour or two as the voltage would be reading 12.2 or 12.3v. Now, given our total 450 amp/hr capacity and more accurate measurements, we are able to go for 4 complete days without any sort of charging.

BatteryMonitor

So when we left Von Donop, we decided to head back to Gorge Harbour (approx 2 hrs) rather than make a run for Lund (approx 4 hrs) to pick up some supplies and charge the batteries. As a result we ran the diesel for around two and a half hours and our 50-amp alternator managed to put 76 amps (30.4 amps an hour) back into the batteries and bringing us back to 70%. Pretty good considering the alternator isn’t really meant to work that hard. One of the options we are considering is upgrading to a 100 amp alternator with a smart regulator. This would put more amps faster into the batteries and allow us to get a few more nights without having to go to a dock for a full charge. The other plans include adding some solar or buying a portable generator. Oddly enough all three methods of getting more juice involve roughly the same investment: around $1200.

So right now it appears one full day/night is 12% of capacity or around 55 amps which mean running the diesel for at least an hour and a half. I am not sure how much the revs need to be to maintain that but we ran at 2400 rpm most of the way to Gorge. That gives us 4 solid days which is pretty good and we can likely street that if we do some travelling in between.

The next few days

We ate the Floathouse Restaurant while we were at Gorge. It’s still early season so the food is a bit more pub than it is in high season where the menu is much more sophisticated and pricey, but that suited us just fine. The dock also had a few more visitors than when we’d been in the harbour the week before. The season is starting to pick up.

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The next morning we cast off and motored (still no wind) into Desolation Sound proper and headed for Grace Harbour. As we entered the harbour there was only one big powerboat and two other sailboats — no need to stern tie as there was still plenty of room. We tucked into the far end of the bay as far from everyone as we could and settled in to enjoy a couple of days of hot weather and sunshine.

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Over the next few days a few boats came and went and they inevitably anchored as close to us as they could. This is a well-documented and (and bemoaned) phenomenon in the cruising world. People always want to cluster rather than spreading out and enjoying a little solitude. It reached its peak on the third day when 4 sailboats arrived from the Gibsons Yacht Club and immediately dropped anchor beside us. Then a fifth one came in a few hours later and hemmed us in on the other side. This last one made us a bit nervous as the wind had built up and shifted south; our anchor and rode had spun 180° so we weren’t too sure of where everyone’s anchors were and were a bit apprehensive about the possibility of dragging. That stormy night we had 13 boats for company in the harbour, but thankfully they mostly left and were only 5 the next morning to enjoy the sun that came back out.

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Desolation Sound means it is warm enough to swim. Still a bit chilly though — Brrrrrrr!

One bright note was the boat that anchored closest to us from the Gibsons flotilla turned out to be Ocean Grace (Larry and Sheila) whom we had met on the Broughtons flotilla a few years ago. We’d also run into them last August in Squirrel Cove — just another one of those ‘small world’ episodes. They came over in the afternoon for a visit and we caught up and got to show them the boat as they hadn’t seen it last year.

We plan to stick out the full four days and leave for Lund to hopefully pick up some produce, as we are down to one onion, one clove of garlic and half a root of ginger — I’m not sure what that means for dinner tonight, but I am guessing it will be something pasta-ish.

And of course we need to charge the batteries again.

Never for Ever Operation Manual

Table of Contents

  • THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
  • NAVIGATING AND SAILING IN TIDAL WATERS
  • AREA WHISKY GOLF
  • QUICK REFERENCE GUIDE
  • VESSEL SPECIFICATIONS
  • SAFETY EQUIPMENT
    • Life Jackets
    • Flares & Air Horn
    • Wooden Bungs
    • Flashlights
    • Fire Extinguishers
    • First Aid Kit
    • Emergency Tiller
    • Life Ring & Floating Line
    • Lifesling Rescue System
  • ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION
    • Engine
    • Starting And Stopping The Engine
    • Engine Salt Water-Cooling System
    • Changing The Raw Water Pump Impellor:
    • Operating The Gearshift/Throttle Control
    • Engine Alarm Systems
    • Tool Kit /Top Up Oil Spares 14 Batteries
  • NAVIGATION AND ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT:
    • Speed And Depth Sounder
    • Speed Log
    • Autopilot
    • Garmin FishfInder
    • GPS
    • Radar
    • AC Panel And Shore Power
    • Battery Monitor & Inverter
    • Troubleshooting Low Batteries
    • VHF Radio
    • Stereo System: Sony Media Player
  • ON DECK
    • The anchor windlass
    • Spare Anchor
    • Propane
    • BBQ
    • The Water Tank
    • The Diesel Tank
    • Holding Tank
    • Tank Systems Monitor
    • The Outboard Motor
  • SAILS AND FURLING MECHANISMS
    • In Mast Furling
    • Mainsail Reefing & Furling
    • Downwind Preventer
    • Genoa Furling
  • BELOW DECK
    • The Stove
    • Smoke Detector
    • Microwave
    • Refrigeration
    • Water Pressure System
    • Cabin Heat
    • Hot Water
    • Bilge pumps
    • Shower Drain Pump
    • Toilets
    • Holding Tanks and Macerator
    • Dinette Table
  • GENERAL SAFETY ISSUES AND INFORMATION
    • Locker Lids
    • Propane
    • Barbecue
    • Outboard motor gasoline:
    • Thru-Hulls & Drains
  • CONTACT INFORMATION
  • RETURNING THE YACHT
  • DE-BRIEFING AFTER THE CRUISE
    • Photographs
15 Jan

The Beginning of the End

When I was boat shopping last year I came a cross a fellow selling his Tartan 41 after a year’s sabbatical with his family. Actually it wasn’t yet after. He was still 6 months from the end but he had already started to make plans. I was a bit shocked at that but, now that we are half way through our own sabbatical, it makes a bunch more sense. So now we too have been planning what to do come  the end of our year in July and it looks like we have officially decided.

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The three options we considered were:

Keep the boat. We’d be responsible for paying all the costs and maintenance and hopefully be able to sail her 4-6 weeks a year. But that’s not really enough sailing to justify owning a boat.

Sell the boat. The Canadian dollar is low but since boat prices are pegged to the U.S. dollar that means it is a good time to sell. We might even break even on the sale (minus all the costs we put into her). But then we would be back to square zero and, given the cost of chartering, likely back down to a max of 2 weeks sailing a year.

Put her into charter. We keep the boat but put her into charter with a local company. We are still responsible for all the costs but hopefully we get some revenue from her to offset costs. This means losing a substantial portion of the sailing season, but hopefully we still get 4-6 weeks on the shoulder.

Well, as of yesterday, we have officially decided that we are going to put her into charter for a couple of seasons and see how that goes.

The Nitty Gritty

1910274_139793357213_6655930_nMost of our chartering in the past has been done through Nanaimo Yacht Charters and we have a pretty good relationship with Ian, Shari and Lorraine who own and operate the business. I had done a lot of research when we first started chartering, so it was a no brainer for us to start there and, after a bit of asking around, it didn’t look like we would find a better home for Never for Ever.

They have a range of boats for offer already but it looked like the Hunter 386 would fill a good niche for them. And we know from personal experience how good their customer service is. Nanaimo is easy to reach and within striking distance of Desolation, the Sunshine Coast and the Gulf Islands. All in all I am happy with our decision. So, starting in July this year, you too can cruise the PNW and help add to Never for Ever’s story. Just click here for the listing  :-)

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At Last — the first boat we ever chartered from NYC

So what’s the deal? Well, we are responsible for turning over a fully functioning, well maintained yacht to them, equipped with a standard set of accessories like plates and cutlery, tender, outboard, safety equipment etc. and they then become responsible for maintaining the boat and finding customers to charter her out on a week by week basis. We still bear all the costs of moorage, insurance, parts, labour etc. but also receive around 60% of the revenue (See more here). They look after her in the winter season and we don’t have to worry about pretty much anything. The guys at NYC —and pretty much everyone we talked to here in the industry— are pretty upfront that, with our short season, we are unlikely to see a profit, but should, on average, pay all the maintenance and upkeep costs. Putting your boat into charter in the Caribbean or the Med with a company like Sunsail or Moorings can often pay enough to also cover payments on a new boat but that is unlikely here. That’s why you rarely see brand new boats offered for charter in the PNW. The risk, for us, is that the value of the boat will decrease over time and usage and we won’t get any of our money back out. Still, as an older boat, she is more likely to hold her current value than a newer boat would and we won’t have the costs of chartering anymore.

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Stones Marina, where NYC keeps it’s fleet.

We are allowed to take her out whenever we want with the understanding that they have her available for at least 10 weeks and that we don’t monopolize the high season of July and August. Which makes sense because we would just be negating the whole reason for putting her into charter in the first place. We would also be responsible for turnover costs just like any other client: cleaning, boat checks etc. But the upside is that we can just show up and the boat will be ready to go. If we were on our own it would likely be a several days (or more) of maintenance and prep every time we came back to the coast before we would be able to go sailing. So if we restrict ourselves to May and June we should be able to get the best of both worlds.

The only real downside is the risk you take with letting any old yahoo take the boat out. But hell, only a few years ago we were one of those yahoos and isn’t that what insurance is for? Still, NYC is responsible for vetting charterers and ensuring they have the minimum required skills and experience.

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One of the nice things about NYC is their courtesy car.

So What’s Next

Aggravatingly enough, this does mean a few more costs to us. Obviously we will have get Never for Ever hauled and checked over before we turn her over. We will also have to invest in some cutlery and plates, a few more life jackets and replace some extra stuff like flashlights and some tools that I don’t want to leave behind. The only real big hit is that we are asked to supply a complete set of charts and navigational tools that then become the property of NYC. I get the reasoning behind it (it’s very likely to be lost or damaged through wear and attrition), but I just bought all that stuff for myself and am not sure if I want other people wrecking it and replacing it is costly. Still, NYC has offered to arrange storage for us if we want to keep our personal stuff there for our use when we are out. I will have look at the cost/benefit of that before we decided. And of course, any toys or bells and whistles we leave behind adds to the desirability of the boat and makes us more money.

But we still have 6 more months for ourselves to go. We are hoping to get in a bunch of sailing trips in February and March and are tentatively thinking we will cast off again permanently in April. I’d love to hit the Broughtons again but Puget Sound, The Broken Group off Ucuelet, and Desolation Sound are all on the list.  Now that the deal is done, we can focus on enjoying our time and experiencing even more of this amazing region before the real world once again intrudes.

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Where to next?