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.


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  :-)


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.


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.


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.


Where to next?

12 Jan

Things I’ve learned: 2015 edition

At the end of last year’s season I had posted this list of Things I’ve Learned on my personal blog but I’ve decided it’s time for an update.


Now, with two seasons of cruising 5 weeks or more under our belts, we have “learned” a lot of things, some of which we already knew—sort of, and some we just thought we did. And of course some that never even occurred to us. So here’s my new list of things we’ve learned, in no particular order:

  • Reefing a roller furling main is more complicated than you think it should be
  • You never practice reefing your roller furling main when the winds are calm. But you should…
  • What is it they say about schedules being the most dangerous thing in boating? Yup.
  • Boats leak from the damnest places
  • Trying to find where boats leak from generally leads to profanity
  • Propane is either hard to find or right in front of your face: there is no middle ground
  • A wheeled grocery cart is a godsend
  • Check the dates on propane tanks and save yourself the walk
  • Wind against current is… interesting
  • Idiot lights are idiotic
  • Voltmeters are the devil’s tool
  • Sailing from start to finish is a great, great day
  • Ocean swell. Huh, who knew…
  • A little leak in the canvas is way more annoying than just taking it down and getting wet
  • Walk-through transoms are awesome. And you almost never get to use them
  • Finally having a dinghy that can get up on plane is more fun than strictly necessary
  • Things fall overboard
  • A 29 knot gust with too much sail out is scary-scarier-scariest
  • You can sail “quite fine” at 30° heel. But later you can’t really figure out why you did
  • Water slapping on your transom when you are tied up stern to the waves is really, really annoying…all night
  • Dolphins are the best. Two hours with the same two dolphins is transformative
  • My son has orca-fu. Four sightings in the one week he was aboard…
  • Things they don’t tell you about stern tying: stern tying more often than not includes: wet feet, losing track of the tender’s painter (and often the tender itself), ophidiophobia, leaks in the dinghy, bizarre knots in 240′ of line, coiling a wet, stinky bundle of 240′ of line, searching for rings below the water, climbing cliffs above the water, trying comically to pull on 100′ of line while floating in a dinghy, being exactly 2′ short when you get back to the boat, and interesting “discussions” between skipper and crew when the skipper is the one ashore
  • Stern tying is hilarious when other people are doing it
  • You can do 2 knots in 4 knots of wind, but you can’t do 5 knots in 10 knots of wind, you wouldn’t want to do 10 knots in 20 knots of wind and you don’t care how fast you are going in 30 knots of wind
  • The remote for the auto-pilot is addictive. You are left feeling very hollow when it stops working
  • Having extra fenders is great; stowing extra fenders is a pain
  • There are things you never seem to learn: leaving the hatch almost all the way open is not the same thing as leaving it all the way open. Yup, still hurts.
  • Seriously, where the hell am I supposed to stow the damn spare gasoline!
  • Pillows magically attract mildew
  • Other people’s diesel heaters can be annoying; yours is just comfortable
  • Just because the nice lady on the radio said back in on a starboard side tie, doesn’t mean you should stubbornly try, and fail, a half dozen times when the wind is against you
  • Other cruisers are suddenly very helpful with lines after you fail a half dozen times on a windy day on a crowded dock
  • 4 different crews working together trying to tie your boat up on a windy day on a crowded dock are actually much less effective than a single crew and a less stubborn skipper. Comedically less effective even…
  • Any completed docking without damage can be deemed a successful docking (or so I keep telling myself)
  • Battery monitors are mysterious and addictive, but not the devil’s tool
  • After September, you can never have enough blankets
  • Fleece sheets—fleece, not flannel—are the best thing ever in a cold, damp boat
  • The split ring from your keychain is not a good substitute when you break/lose a stainless steel one
  • In the narrow channels of the Broughtons, it often seems your mast is poking up into the low lying cloud
  • In the narrow channels of the Broughtons, sea planes quite often fly under the low lying cloud
  • In the narrow channels of the Broughtons, low lying cloud can be scarier than fog
  • Docks have gravity. Once you are tied up for a while, it gets harder and harder to untie in less-than-perfect conditions
  • A 14″ laptop screen is just fine. Black Books is just as funny
  • Nothing beats the evening light at Big Bay on Stuart Island. Seriously…every time…
  • Don’t trust that the work they said they were going to do at the top of your mast is the work they did at the top of your mast
  • Getting to the top of your mast is hard
  • The bottom of your dinghy is disgusting after a season trailing behind your boat
  • If you have 105′ of chain, then 105′ of chain is almost always the perfect amount of chain to put out
  • The difference between Roche Harbor and Garrison Bay is night and day. Together they make for a great couple of days.
  • Getting anchorage advice from fellow cruisers is great
  • Taking anchorage advice from fellow cruisers can be … dangerous

And here’s a few from the previous list that are so worth repeating:

  • Fridges in a sailboat are…quirky
  • BBQs make a real mess on the transom
  • Gauges that measure liquids (water, diesel, holding tanks) never seem to work
  • Powerboaters really are, well, oblivious

Tides. Huh. 

Stuart Island Community Association Dock

And this was fun…why?