Wednesday, January 30, 2013

How We Found Amara

Setting out to buy a boat is no easy feat.  Especially when you are new to the whole boat scene.  Every person that dreams of buying a boat goes to one site,  This is where Martin and I would spend countless hours at night going through all the boats available on the used market.

Next, we went to boat shows where all the newest boats just out of the factories would be on display.
At the Cannes Boat Show in France.  Martin is checking out the storage space on the Lagoon 560
After all the boat shows, Martin and I decided that we were probably going to purchase a new boat in the 50-foot range.  However, out of the three models that we ultimately decided on, none were available in the time period that we needed them.  All of the boats wouldn't be coming out of production until March 2013.  This made it hard for us because the ideal time to go through the Panama Canal is March.  Purchasing a new boat is a lot different than buying a new car.  Boats need to be tested on the waters.  All the moving parts need to be actually working and it takes a good 4-6 weeks in testing, going back to the factory, and then testing again to make sure your boat is ready to sail the high seas.  We had heard countless horror stories of new owners finding out that one of their engines on their new boat had failed, or their electronics weren't functioning properly and they were 150 miles off shore without a boat in sight.  So sometimes it's just smarter to get a used boat because a lot of those issues have already been addressed.  Also, boats depreciate just like cars and so most of that depreciated value has been absorbed by the previous owner.  Economically it makes better sense.  Problem was, every used boat we looked at had a musty smell or wasn't in the best of shape.  So, of course, I wanted a new boat.

You're probably wondering why we wanted our boat before March?  Well, because sailors, in our case, "cruisers", need to pay particular attention to the weather and trade winds.  That pretty much predicts where a cruiser and their boat should be in order to avoid potential storms or bad weather.  That is why getting through the Panama Canal in March is the ideal time--just in time to catch the "trades" that head over to the South Pacific.  Our plan is to try and hit the South Pacific in June, so as you can see, time is of essence for us in getting through the canal at the right time.  If we miss that window, it could push us back months.

This past November, Martin was in France looking at a just announced new model by Lagoon catamarans and it was just coming off the line at the factory in Bordeaux.  The timing would be tight, and we knew we would be cutting it close, especially since it was Hull #1 on a brand new model.  Getting the first "hull", meaning the first boat off the factory line, isn't ideal because even the manufacturers aren't sure if all the kinks have been ironed out on their first model.  It's better to get one a few hulls down the line because by then, most of the big issues have been addressed.  Knowing our timeline, we were anxious to just make a purchase and get started.

While Martin was in France, he saw that a 2011 Lagoon 560 had just come up for sale that week and it just happened to be located in France (albeit the opposite end of where he was).  The price for her was fair, so Martin drove down to Canet to go see her--keeping in mind my strict guidelines in what I wanted in a boat (no musty smell!).  She turned out to be in good shape and for the most part, she was ready to sail.  Since we knew that we really wouldn't be able to get the new boat in our hands until March, the timing was just a little too late for our timetable.  So, we made a quick decision and decided to press forward and purchase this Lagoon 560 before any other offers were placed on her.

Have I lost your attention yet?  All this boat talk.  Get used to it. (wink.wink.)

Martin is a master at conversation and was able to create a good friendship between him and the previous owner (which has paid off a lot this past week).  After a few long discussions on the phone between Martin and the owner, they were able to come to an agreement on the price and our offer was accepted.

When I write all this out, it seems so easy and uncomplicated, but buying a boat in France is not as simple as handing over the money.  There are mountains of paperwork and contracts to be signed.  We made the offer and paid in early December and we are STILL waiting for the final contracts from the owner's bank in France. Tedious.  That is one of the reasons why Martin chose to fly over when he did, in hopes to speed up the process.  No luck, we're on their timetable.

Now, to get the boat ready for blue water...