Realities of Yacht Delivery, Part 2

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If you missed Part 1 (published April 29), click here. You need to read it for this part to make sense...

I had originally planned to post this immediately following the 'Realities of Yacht Delivery, Part 1,' which I published on April 29. My mom died April 30. So there.

So, what happened to the Farr? the Vagabond? my mom and dad's Sojourner?

I called my dad in Delware City when it was apparent that the new prop we ordered for the Farr would be several days in the mail before it got to us. There was no point in Mia and I wasting our time - and the owner's money to pay us to stay there - so we asked for a ride home. That was one of the last times we had my mom out of the house (less than three weeks later she'd be gone). She and my dad drove down in my grandfather's van to pick us and all of our stuff up, and we went out to dinner at Crabby Dick's, one of the few (if not only), restaurants open in the small town that night (needless to say, my family is very close. I grew up in a log house that my dad built himself the year I was born, and in which he still lives. It's on the same property as my grandfather's house (my dad's dad), and about 100 yards up the hill from my Uncle Scott, my dad's brother. Next door, up the hill, is the old stone farmhouse that my dad himself grew up in. My close family is directly responsible for the success that I have had in my life since I was a kid. Their continued support is invaluable. Incidentally, my favorite thing in the world - particularly since my mom died - is to sit on the deck back home and drink my coffee in the morning while I watch the dogs lounge around in the back yard. My mom taught me that, to appreciate the present - after all, it's a gift. Why else would it be called the 'present.'). My mom struggled to read and order off the menu that night (her cancer, I later learned, essential gave her a natural lobotomy, while simultaneously taking most of her vision - really nice, right?), so we helped her by getting her a glass of red wine and the same shrimp and seafood salad that Mia and I ordered (as another aside, my mom is directly responsible for my dietary habits. It's ironic that she was the healthiest person in the family, indeed amongst her closest friends, and yet she ended up with such an awful disease). She liked her wine right to the end.

By then it was apparent that if that Farr actually made it to Maine, it wasn't going to be with Mia and I. I had spent most of the afternoon after we got the boat re-launched (following the discovery of the missing prop blade) calling everyone I knew in the delivery business looking for a captain to take my place and help save my reputation. I could have left the boat right where it sat and sent a bill to the owner for my time and the dockage fees we'd accrued, but that didn't feel right. I had promised him we'd get it there, and we would, one way or another, but likely without us actually on board.

Enter David McGregor. He'd helped me out one time before, when we met him in Tortola. One of the Caribbean 1500 boats had returned to North Carolina after suffering damage to their solar panels and autopilot after the start of last year's event, and needed an extra hand to help get the boat south. David had walked into the rally office at the right time, looking to hang up his resume on the message board, and I quickly referred him to the boat. He made the flight north and the sail south, accruing glowing reviews from the boat's owner.

So I called him from Delware City. He was eager to take the trip. Problem was, that pesky racing mainsail. I had convinced the owner that the boat needed a delivery main, at least something with real sail slides that would stay on the boom when lowered, and at least one reef point.

Chuck O'Malley of Chesapeake Sailmakers in Annapolis - who built the new sails for Arcturus' Atlantic crossing - came through at the last minute and was able to modify a racing main from a C&C that had a reef point in it. He sewed on the correct-sized slides and I delivered the sail myself back to the boat, along with my dads' liferaft, so that David and his crew could enjoy a safe trip north (he later had his sister deliver the raft back to my dad's place in PA). It was still early spring in Maine, so safety was more of a priority that it might have been in the summertime.

Meanwhile, it was also apparent that the Vagabond trip wasn't going to happen if I were going to keep my promise to my dad and get Sojourner ready for the summer. In hindsight, I should have never taken that job. The boat, upon inspection, was not anywhere ready for sea - the boom was laying in the parking lot, there was plumbing strewn about the cabinsole from a not-quite-complete work in progress, the steering wheel was missing, and the boat had been sitting in the yard for more than two years, on the market before the guy who hired us bought it. It pained me to do so, but I sent him his deposit back and gave him a few contacts for other captains who might be able to help. His was a lesson in buying a boat - I think he balked slightly at the delivery cost, when he probably got a good deal on the boat by buying it in Annapolis (he was Canadian, and the boat was headed for Toronto). I should have been more honest with him and myself when I saw the boat - I thought we could get it ready in time, but that was unlikely, in hindsight - and I regret how it turned out, both for the owner and for me. I don't know what ever became of the boat, but I hope that he got it up to Toronto reasonably quickly, and without too much hassle.

So David and his crew eventually got to the Farr in Delaware, and after waiting for a decent weather window successfully sailed the boat up to Portland, Maine, nonstop from Delware City. The owner couldn't have been happier, and I've gotten several emails from him over the summer documenting his successful campaign racing the boat in Maine. David came through for me a second time, and I made a few good contacts in New England and learned a couple good lessons along the way. He's now on his way into yacht design school.

When it comes to the yacht delivery business, you have to be ready for the above scenarios, expect them. I got in over my head and overbooked my calendar, and was too enthusiastic about the trips before seeing the boats. Neither was prepared to go offshore - the Farr just needed a mainsail (and an autopilot would have helped), but the Vagabond needed far more - and I learned that a thorough inspection is a must before agreeing to anything. I also learned that it's okay - neigh, required - to have the boat fitted out for safety's sake. I'm okay losing some work to a lessor captain if they think they can get a boat from point A to point B for less money by skimping on safety gear. I love the work, but it's not worth my life. And usually, the boat arrives in better condition if it's properly fitted out, which is good for the owner.

So Mia and I continue to pursue work in the yacht delivery business, but we're more patient now. It's not worth our butts to rush into stuff, and it's not worth the stress when it doesn't work out as planned. I love the adventure of it, but not for my life. And thanks David, for getting that Farr to Maine!