Thursday, January 31, 2013

Surveyors, Cranes and Barnacles

One of the first steps in purchasing any boat is that the purchaser has to hire a "surveyor" to come in and survey it and make sure that it is actually sea worthy.  The surveyor's job is to check the boat to make sure the purchasers (us) are making a worthwhile investment and that there are no hidden surprises once ownership is given to the new owners.

In order for a surveyor to work their magic, the boat has to be pulled out of the water to be inspected from all angles.  This is no easy task, but it has to be done before any purchaser feels safe in buying a boat.  He checks for blisters in the hulls, checks the engines, checks electronics, and looks for any huge cosmetic problems.  Mainly, he tests all the working and moving parts. (Rarely are all the "surprises" found.  Those surprises usually introduce themselves when you're about 150 miles from nowhere.)  Martin and I have prepared ourselves for the unknowns, although who knows how I'll react when it does happen... and it will.  The first thought that comes to mind... "MAY DAY!"
The crane getting ready to pull the boat out of the water.
In our case with Amara, there were a few things that absolutely had to be fixed by the owner before Martin and I would purchase her.  She's only two years old, but two years in sea water can wreck havoc on a boat.

First thing, they had to repaint the bottom.  When boats have been in the water for a certain period, lots of soot, barnacles, and all manner of marine life attach themselves to the boat--not good.  So, if you don't get down and rub all of the grunge off periodically (which is really what you should do), you get a tremendous build up of sludge.  With Amara, this was the case.  She needed a good scrub and also needed the bottom to be painted with an anti-fouling paint.
Before.  Ewwww. Gross!
One dirty boat!
Now, for the AFTER photos:
Much better!
A good scrub can do wonders.  Now to get the painting started.
There were/are still quite a few things that still need to be done (the list is too long, and frankly makes me want to break out in hives).  I'll spare you with the list, but this is one of the reasons Martin needed to get to France. He needed to supervise the repairs and make sure they were getting done... and done properly.

Quick story...

This fall, when Martin and I were traveling through Europe for six weeks, our boat broker in the states set up a meeting with a gentleman named, Pascal, in Canet, France. The idea was for him to show us a few boats that he and his company were fixing and maintaining.  He thought it might give us a good feel on whether or not we should buy a new or used boat.

Well, we didn't like any of the boats, but we really liked Pascal.  Pascal works for Boat Management and Services (BMS) which specializes in boat maintenance.  Basically, he took off the rest of the day and showed us all sorts of catamarans and even walked us over to the Catana factory (a boat we were very serious about buying) to let us see the process of building a catamaran.  He even scheduled a meeting for us to see Catana's newest catamaran.  Amazing!  The part about Pascal that I appreciated the most was that he was very patient in answering the some odd 200 questions that Martin and I had about "cats" (short for catamaran).  He was really such a nice man.

When Martin and I left the marina, we figured that we'd never see Pascal again. We were both so impressed with the time he took with us (he's not a broker, so there was no money in it for him to do this.)

Long story short, the Lagoon that we purchased just happened to be parked in the Canet-Roussillon marina in France.  Right in front of BMS where Pascal works!  The stars were aligning.  We knew that if there was anyone that we wanted to be working on our boat, it was Pascal.  It almost brings tears to my eyes just thinking about how all the pieces of this complicated puzzle came together.

This past week, Pascal has overseen all of Amara's repairs and it has really helped to settle both mine and Martin's anxiety.  Even before Martin went over to France, we knew that our boat was being well cared for by Pascal.
Back to the boat repair...

Martin sent me pictures of our newly painted boat being put back into the water this morning.  So exciting.  Our dream is getting closer.
She's going back into the water.
Check out that new paint job!
Now, to just get Martin on the water and get him and his crew out of France.


Martin called this afternoon, and it looks like there are still more repairs to be done on Amara.  It's actually okay because the weather is pretty bad over there right now.  In fact, one cruiser that I have gotten to know very well left from France two weeks ago on the same route Martin will be taking.  I read his update yesterday and he has been stuck in Spain for a week because the wind is around 56 knots; making it not an ideal situation to be in if you're in a boat.

For all you non-sailors, a knot (kn) is a unit of speed equal to one nautical mile (1.852 km) per hour.  Which is about 1.151 mph (wiki).  So 56 knots is 64.4 mph.  I found a video on youtube of a boat sailing (rather motoring--no sails should be up in this kind of storm unless you're very experienced).  They are in 56 kn.  It's not pretty.

(You might want to turn down your volume if you watch this.)

So Martin is sitting tight in Canet.  He figures that while he's there, and has Pascal at his finger tips, that he might as well continue making repairs.  No matter how small they are.  Who knows when we'll find someone like Pascal down the road... err... ocean.

NOTE:  A good friend just wrote to me telling me that this video that I posted is terrifying.  So, since I know that both of our mothers will be reading this; to calm their nerves and avoid any unnecessary phone calls tonight, let me explain. We have a resource called MaxSea on our boat which downloads GRIB files from the internet.  These files are from the the Global Forecasting Computers that help sailors to read the weather and avoid storms such as this one.  Meaning, we will be warned in plenty of time and will either choose to sit it out at the harbor or go around it so that we avoid these types of storms.  This is one of the reasons why timing is crucial for us in getting through the Panama Canal in March.  This is also why Martin is staying put in France until these storms subside.