Writing a Testimonial

Lawrence asked me if I would provide a testimonial for Specialty Yacht Sales. He’s kind of big on them, and I guess, in his business, creating trust is paramount. And I do have to admit, the existing testimonials were fun to read through, especially now that I have met a bunch of those people.

I am a bit at a loss of what to write, though. I want it to be honest and natural, but ultimately it’s pointless to write anything unless it makes good sell copy for Lawrence’s intended use. And while I have a very positive review overall, it is so unlike me not to be a bit critical. So maybe I will write two … or three…


Specialty Yacht Sales
Twitter: twitter.com/specialtyyachts
Facebook: facebook.com/SpecialtyYachts


Our experience buying a boat with Lawrence and Specialty Yacht Sales has been professional, friendly and ultimately satisfying. They managed a difficult long-distance transaction with relative beginners in a faultless manner and, despite having to represent the interests of the seller, negotiated an arrangement that was fair and beneficial to all the parties. Its conclusion left nothing but satisfaction in its wake.

Then, after the paperwork was signed, Lawrence and his team continued to help bring our dream to fruition, preparing our new Hunter 386 for a year afloat and ensuring we had a safe, comfortable and reliable yacht for us to explore the PNW. He saved us money, time and effort and delivered us a turn-key boat. It’s hard to ask for more than that.

The whole process seemed nothing but intimidating and impossible before we started but in the end, when we accepted the the official transfer of out new boat, it couldn’t have been easier. And that wouldn’t have been possible without the effort and knowledge of the folks at Specialty Yacht Sales.

Now to rephrase all of that with a little bit less “upsell” and a lot more Bruce.


Buying a boat long distance isn’t easy. Buying a boat for the first time is also not your average See Spot Run. But that’s what the cards dealt us and that’s what we had to contend with. Those of you who know me probably realize I don’t much go for salesman. I’ve spent a lot of time working with professional suppliers and almost always gravitate to the production managers or guys on the floor who are actually getting shit done. That’s their job: getting things done. A sales guy’s job is to sell things. It’s right there in the title. Oh, I know that a good salesman cares about customers and is an advocate for the clueless among us. I worked with some great salesman over the years. but the cynical side of me always reminds me that “satisfaction=repeat business.” Which, matched up along side “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” pretty much sums up all you need to know about my general attitude towards salesman.

So how does that apply to buying a boat from Specialty Yacht Sales? Well, not being there — and being the very definition of a newb — meant that I had to trust someone to advocate for me and make suggestions that suited my budget, personality and ultimate goals. That meant Lawrence had a tough job in a tough situation. And he was responsible to the seller before he was responsible to me. I will admit to a fair amount of frustration and more than a little irritation; the long distance thing killed me. There was no easy way to learn, to ask millions of small questions and to revisit issues until I was satisfied. But in the end he sailed through it all (pun intended) with flying colours.

Were there things I would have wanted done differently? Yup. But ultimately it all comes down to the relationship between Lawrence and me: ideally I wanted something I was never going to have short of being on the coast myself, and so if I was going to have to settle, it’s a good thing I had to settle for Lawrence. The experience was always going to be teeth-grittingly nerve-wracking. The best he was going to be able to do was make  it less root canal and more of a regular filling. In the end, it was a pretty tiny filling.

Could it have been done better? I don’t think so. Given the constraints, the only thing I can possibly image that would have improved the process was giving me contact with Sarah White (the service manager) a hell of a lot earlier. Now there’s someone interested in getting stuff done. My interaction with her near the end of the whole process was short, to the point and aimed at dealing with issues, not making me feel good about them. I am much more comfortable with a delivery that includes a definite answer than with someone making sure I am happy. Not to say that I feel Lawrence was being anything less honest; he just had to deal with the distance and “making a sale” thing. Some people prefer apples. Some people get along better with oranges.

So, would I buy another boat from Specialty Yacht Sales? Absolutely. Especially if it involved needing someone trustworthy to advocate on my behalf and guide me in the process of making reasonable yet complex decisions. And the long-distance thing? Handled better than I could reasonably expect (I just tend to be a bit unreasonable sometimes). And Lawrence? Well, I want to buy him dinner when we finally get out there. I owe him a lot of thanks

So, there you go. Two completely honest reviews with just a few tweaks. Huh. Isn’t language a hoot. But I think the third one is the charm as number one was just a bit stilted and number two just a bit self-absorbed.


Buying a boat long distance isn’t easy. Buying a boat for the first time is also a tad nerve-wracking. When we found our boat, which was being brokered by Specialty Yacht Sales, we didn’t know what to expect. But what we got was Lawrence Fronczek, someone we could  trust to advocate for us and make suggestions that suited our budget, personality and ultimate goals. Lawrence had a tough job in a tough situation, but in the end he sailed through it all (pun intended) with flying colours.

Ultimately it comes down to the relationship: ideally I wanted to be on the coast myself, but if I was going to have to settle, it’s a good thing I had to settle for Lawrence. In him I found someone I could and did trust. The experience just couldn’t have been better. Except that when I met Sarah White, the Service Manager, it actually did get better. 

After the paperwork was signed, the Specialty Yachts team continued to work with us to bring our dream to fruition, preparing our new Hunter 386 for a year afloat and ensuring we had a safe, comfortable and reliable yacht for us to explore the PNW. They saved us money, time and effort and delivered us a turn-key boat. It’s hard to ask for more than that.

The whole process seemed nothing but intimidating and impossible before we started but in the end, when we accepted the the official transfer of our new boat, it couldn’t have been easier. And that wouldn’t have been possible without the effort and knowledge of all the folks at Specialty Yacht Sales.


—Captain Why #Posts, #Purchasing

Signed Sealed & Delivered

The Big Day

At the end of June, we flew from Edmonton to Vancouver to finally accept possession of our boat. It had been a long time coming and at this point nothing was going exactly the way I had planned. Certainly the process had none of the slow and languid pleasure I had anticipated. Your new car, your new house, these are things that you savour in some magical sense of time where the new reality slowly seeps in and surrounds you. No, process of introducing our boat to our lives was, as everything has been to this point, fast, confusing and it left us very little time to really experience the moment.

We arrived in YVR and grabbed the train to Olympic Village station. Lawrence the broker had agreed to pick us up there, so after a brief wait he pulled into the parking lot and moments later we were at Granville Island. The boat had pulled out around 8 that morning to make the trek to Point Roberts, but we needed to pick up some paperwork before heading out  by land. At the office there was unfortunately, some confusion with the paperwork; it seemed the delivery skipper had taken both his and our packages. So Leslie and I dumped out bags and wandered Granville, grabbed a slice of pizza and generally felt that unsettled feeling you feel when things are hovering slightly out of your control.  Hurry up and wait. Eventually we picked up a nice bottle of BC red to hopefully christen the boat and meandered back to the Specialty Yacht Sales offices.

So. The paperwork was (re)done and ready. Lawrence had filled out our clearance form (from the U.S.), presented us with a package that contained an invoice for moorage ($1968.75), an invoice for the final payment on the boat (already paid), a copy of the Statement of Facts on Out-of-Province Delivery, a Bill of Sale, a copy of our Pleasure Craft License and an invoice for $7838.75. The last one was a bit of a shock and it was expected we would pay it immediately. My math skills haven’t always been the best but I hadn’t expected we would owe more than 2 or 3 thousand at most. What I had failed to include was both the moorage for Mosquito Creek and the moorage at Granville Island (another $1567.50), Skipper delivery charges, the cost of new flares and extinguishers and about another $1000 in miscellaneous repairs and cost overruns. To be honest, there wasn’t much in the bill that I could quibble with although I did get a set of replacement zincs knocked off since they had already been replaced once in April. Really, people should never let em do math when money is involved. So $9000 more-or-less lighter, we left the office and waited for our cab. Lawrence had intended to deliver us to the border himself but the Hunter Rendezvous was scant days away and everyone was swamped with finishing up details.


So Lawrence was paying for us to take a cab to Tsawwassen, where we would hop in a different cab to cross the border. It was a surprisingly quick ride out midday through Vancouver traffic and after some confusion we were dropped off at the Save-On Foods so we could call a Delta Surrey cab to cross the border in. These cabbies carry their passports/nexus cards and cross the border regularly. A short drive about 2 kicks down the road and we were waiting at the border for 5 or 6 minutes for the cars ahead to pass through. At the border itself we handed over our passports to the driver to present to the CBP (U.S. Customs and Border Protection). The fellow in the booth questioned me as to our intent and, when I told him we were there to pick up our boat as an offshore delivery, he then decided that it would be best if we checked in inside to ensure all our paperwork for picking up the boat was in order before we were allowed entry. So we pulled over and the three of us trooped in. Meter running. Hurry up and wait.

Of course the fellows inside had no idea why the booth guy decided to send us in. So they looked over our paperwork anyway, complimented me (Lawrence) on how well the clearance form was filled out and asked us when we were leaving. My answer was “Well… maybe today, maybe tomorrow… It depends.” So our agent decided to be helpful and clear us out right then and there to save us (them really) a trip to the marina when we actually departed. There is a $19 usd fee to clear out and we had brought along a bit of US cash just in case, so we paid up and were issued a clearance number based on leaving the next morning. It was actually a pretty smooth and easy process. I get the feeling they do it a lot.

Back in the cab we drove on for another 5 minutes or so and were dropped off at the marina. The first thing I spotted was the restaurant (pub) and a huge deck and decided it was a bout the right time to have a cold beer. But of course this was the one day a week the place was closed. So we set the bags in the shade and relaxed. It was a little after 2pm by this point but the boat wasn’t due until 2:30 at the earliest. Hurry up and wait.

We’d been warned that we were not to board the boat until it had been cleared in and the exchange had been formalized so we sat up on the wharf and enjoyed the day.


Then, somewhere a few minutes before 3 p.m., I spied a Hunter rounding the breakwater into Point Roberts and Leslie and I walked to the rail and watched our new boat slowly motor up to the customs dock. We weren’t sure how strict they were about these things, so I elected to watch from up on the wharf while the delivery skipper docked the boat solo . It was a goofy decision and I immediately regretted not being down their to help him as the wind caught the nose a bit and he had a little wrassle to get her all secure. In any event, he got her tied up and we met him (Larry) at the top of the dock and introduced ourselves. He then headed over to the phone to call Customs and report in. Then we settled at one of the picnic tables to chat and wait for the customs agent.

Larry’s wife was coming to pick him up and he offered to give us a lift to the grocery store and back. That meant we would have plenty of time to get settled and still cast off without having to stay the night. And right about then I got a bit worried that my clearance was dated tomorrow but if we left today we would arrive in Canada today before we had ever technically left. I had no idea how strict people were about these things but I have always had a healthy respect for the power of the border guys. While I was pondering my small dilemma, the fellow from the CBP showed up and he and Larry headed off to do the clearing in. We just sat there in the sun; hurry up and wait.

It took about 20 minutes, but the Customs fellow was pretty chatty so I think that made it a slightly longer process that strictly necessary. Paperwork completed we started down to the boat with our gear. As the CBP fellow was about to drive off, Larry handed me my clearance out and I realized that he had payed an additional $19 on top of the fee we had already paid and gotten a completely new clearance. So we caught up to the officer, explained the situation and got our money back. But now I luckily had another clearance form and number, this time one with today’s date. Excellent.

Back down to the boat, we threw our gear onboard and signed the Statement of Facts on Out-of-Province Delivery and that was that. After all the paperwork was sorted I had multiple copies of a lot of it, but just made sure all of it it was signed and filled out properly to avoid any confusion later.

Then we walked back up to meet Larry’s wife and drove off to the market. A couple of meals worth of food, some beer, water and a few snacks and we were dropped back at the soon-to-be ex-Rainbow Hunter. Then we said our goodbyes and boarded our boat officially for the first time.


I was aching to go; we had about 22nm to cover to get to Bedwell Harbour and back into Canada and I would prefer to be able to check in tonight. So I chivied Leslie into dumping everything and we fired up the diesel. A few minutes later I cast us off and Leslie motored us out into the Georgia Strait and started heading south. Of course it was straight into the wind so there was no hope of sailing, but it was a sunny day and we were just pleased to be off finally.

About 2.5 hours later we rounded the bottom of Saturna Island, passing by Tumbo Island and bashed through the rough water that swirls and churns there. I had forgotten about that. It was on the chart which I had ignored in favour of the chart plotter as I hadn’t had a chart for the first leg from Point Roberts. Along the way we had been passed by several container ships and the HMCS Calgary, but they had all gone the long way around the buoys through the shipping channel. But the excitement of my shortcut was short lived and there was never any real danger. We adjusted course SW and motored down the Boundary Pass towards South Pender Island. And of course the wind shifted as well so we were still nose into it.


One of the more pleasant moments of the day was finding a card and gift from Dave and Margaret of R Shack Island. Dave had dropped it of when the boat was still in Granville Island and we found it almost immediately after we boarded. Dave had made us up a kellet as a boat warming gift and left a lovely note. R Shack was currently in the San Juan Islands, so I tweeted a thank you. Turns out they were (relatively) close by in Roche Harbour. If our schedule hadn’t been so constrained I would have kept going and joined them. But alas I didn’t want to add any more confusion to our clearance dates.


Five and a bit hours after casting off, we pulled up in the failing light to the Customs dock beside Poets Cove on South Pender and performed out first official docking maneuver in our new boat. It went pretty good considering and the empty dock sure helped my confidence.

I knew that Customs office had closed by now so I supposed we would have to stay tied up to the dock until morning. But as Leslie was securing the boat, I wandered up to the office to see what was posted. There was a bank of phones and instructions to call if the office was closed.So I wandered back to the boat to pick up the paperwork and then tromped back up to call. Less than 10 minutes later we were cleared in by phone and all that paperwork and multiple clearances were totally ignored. All I had needed was our birth dates, the License number of the boat and a promise we weren’t importing any produce. We were home, legal, and free to wander as we wanted in our boat. Sometimes the universe is pretty foolish.

At this point I called the office of Poet’s Cove and they told me to just pick an empty berth and call them back with the number. Leslie and I settled on a nice empty slip and I back in and we tied up again right around 10:30 pm. A quick call back to the office and we were settled for the night. Time for a beer and finally a moment to relax and try and absorb it all.

And that is how we finally got our boat.

The empty customs dock and our boat in the background (third from the left).

View it: http://tinyurl.com/poyoa3a

—Captain Why #Posts, #Purchasing

Yacht Brokers

There’s a lot of smack online about yacht brokers. I suppose it’s like any sales profession: there are good ones and bad ones. Personally I have rarely been afraid to walk away from a bad vibe; my borderline misanthropy and innate distrust of other people’s imperatives generally makes staying in a bad relationship worse than the fear or embarrassment associated with walking away. On the other side of the coin there are a lot of good people out there and a lot of them are in the field of facilitating other people’s dreams. Leslie and I have had some good luck along the way, and the trend seems to have continued with our venture into the world of yacht brokers.


Leslie and I met a lot of brokers the last two trips out to the Vancouver Boat Show. My favourite was a fellow who worked for Fraser Yacht Sales. Actually I recall him saying he didn’t work for Fraser but like helping out at the shows which is probably why he stuck out as my favourite; he had no horse in the race. I don’t think he remembered us from year to year, but we remembered him. The only thing I don’t remember was his name. My second favourite was a fellow we met only this year. He (Julian Clark) had relatively recently started working for Specialty Yacht Sales after he had left his boat (a Beneteau) in the Grenadines to come back and be with family. Talking with him was informative, fun and encouraging. He left us with a sincere offer to talk sailing regardless of whether or not we actually wanted to buy a boat. Also this year, when we visited the floating show with Dave, he introduced us to Len Baronit, one of the partners in Yacht Sales West. They sold Dave his Tartan and are also the Catalina dealers; it was a chance to talk about boat styles and the difference between North American sensibilities and European designs and even the economics of brokering boats. Very enjoyable, although it turns out Len doesn’t do much in the brokering field anymore. It also turns out I favour North American designs.

While one or two did give off that high-pressure sales vibe, there are some nice brokers out there and they genuinely seem to want to open up the world of boating to anyone curious enough to ask. Which brings us to the fellow we eventually found ourselves dealing with.

Oddly enough if I was to have picked a broker from just the advertisements and print materials that abound in boating magazines, I would’ve made some completely different choices. It is odd because of my profession. It’s just that slick and professional often leaves a different impression when people are trying to separate you with large sums. I’ve generally tried to stick with the (relatively) smaller mom & pop business, even when we built our first house. I look for a company with a good solid brand identity, but without too much ostentation and hint of personality or individuality. But if you’ve read the lead up to hear you will remember I didn’t exactly pick the broker we worked with to buy our boat. So my impressions or criticism of their marketing materials really never factored into it.

So who was it? Since the ink is dry and the deal is done I am now less reluctant to name names—I’m not sure why I was reluctant in the first place but I was…maybe it was a jinxing kinda thing…. In fact I suppose I really should be singing some praises right about now. Throughout this weird and complex process, Lawrence Fronczek, owner of Specialty Yachts has been everything I could have wanted as a business partner. While his primary responsibility was to the seller, there was never a moment I felt he wasn’t on the lookout for both parties and trying his best to make sure everything was fair and equitable. I suppose it helps that ‘driving a hard bargain’ isn’t my thing and that the owner and I had already gotten on good terms before Lawrence was added to the mix, but I doubt it changed much about the way he did his business.



If you judge them by their brand and their presence in the market place, Specialty Yachts is one of the bigger players and with that comes, I suppose, a bigger commitment to the health of the industry. Well it showed through. But the service was also personal and pleasant. And I suppose its possible I will be swearing a blue streak this time a year from now about some detail or another but I know Lawrence will still be in his office on Granville Island and I am pretty sure I can out-run him so we’ve got that covered…but really I don’t forsee it happening. His advice has been solid, the explanations pretty thorough and the ‘high pressure sales tactics’ have been limited to the occasional “Well if it were my boat I certainly would…”. And my judgement on his judgement of me is pretty positive. I like someone who reads his clients well, it makes for a much more comfortable experience.

So ya, all in all, I am pretty happy with the experience. And I would definitely recommend the use of a broker if buying a boat and recommend Lawrence in particular. Now I just want the work to be done so I can actually go sailing…

Besides, their office is in a cool blue building.

—Captain? #Posts, #Purchasing

Who much? So far…


Well from the day I contacted the previous owner to the day we actually owned the boat there were – obviously – a bunch of costs, some expected, some a bit unexpected, but nothing too onerous.

Broker (10% cost to the seller) $0
Flights to Vancouver $544.16
Mechanical Inspection $683.05
Oil Samples (engine and transmission) $115.90
Boat Lift & Hold $309.75
Survey $1126.65
Rigging Inspection $0 (broker supplied)
Insurance $917
Wire transfer fee $80
New boat lettering (license number) $80

I anticipate that beginning immediately, I now owe moorage at Granville Island and we still have to facilitate the actual transfer of the boat which involves us flying out again, a hired skipper and moving her to her new moorage. (All costs shown are approximate.)

Remainder of mechanical issues $1500
Granville Island moorage $500
Flights to Vancouver $1000
Hired Skipper $400
First month’s moorage $456
New boat graphics $200

I will update these as the numbers change.

Done like Dinner

As of 7:19 pm Wednesday we are now the proud owners of a 2003 Hunter 386.

The various surveys had turned up an astounding $8700 of repairs and issues with an additional $3900 being estimated by the engine guys at Stem to Stern. As I mentioned previously the engine guys had a lot of routine maintenance items built into the estimate that no one could reasonable expect the previous owner to be responsible for. So we, (the broker) proposed that the price be adjusted for the total of the survey issues and $2500 of the mechanical ones. And the we waited. And waited. And waited.

Okay, it was only 2 and a half days, and there were a lot of numbers, but it sure seemed like a long time. Be that as it may, eventually we got word back that the seller would like to reduce the mechanical by a further $500 and further reduce a few of the specific estimates by a few hundred here and there. All in all, he was asking for a reduction of a little over a $1000. That seemed fair.

So I said ok.

And then I (we) owned a boat.


I doesn’t seem real to buy a boat a 1000 miles away over the phone. There is nothing really tangible about it: no hand shake, no new boat smell… so life didn’t change much and we (I) were pretty subdued. Friday rolls around and I finally got the official survey documents with valuations so I contacted our insurance company ( I had picked and contacted an insurance company  about 2 weeks previously) to let him know the real numbers and update the quote. I didn’t really know when to bind in the insurance so I left it hanging (so I thought) for the weekend.

Well around 4pm our time I start getting documents and emails. First was a notice that the signed bill of sale was … well… signed and on its way. And “Oh, by the way, is the insurance in place yet?” Seems the marinas require insurance in place and the PO (previous owner) needed to cancel his. So wrote back to the insurance broker asking if they could bind the policy immediately. He said yes. Then the Bill of sale arrived along with the Pleasure Craft License transfer.

Now it felt like we owned a boat.

That was soon followed by an Insurance application, a Certificate of Insurance and of course an invoice for the aforementioned insurance. I forwarded the certificate to the  yacht broker and we were done. Like dinner.

Now we had ton of other arrangements to make and some bills to add up…

Pre-purchase Conclusions


So the estimates are still rolling in but there looks to be some serious cash involved. At this point the most likely outcome given that we still want the boat, is that the price will be reduced accordingly and we will repair what needs to be repaired.

    The major issues (in my mind) as it stands are:

  • re-pitch propellor (including hauling the boat and storage on the hard)
  • repair Webasto heater
  • repair hot water system
  • repair the hull damage
  • ensure the galvanic isolator is working
  • check/repair the strut bolts
  • replace the exhaust elbow
  • repair engine mounts
  • repair engine alarm
  • reapir forestay swivel

The broker’s list of major issues is much longer and probably more accurate, but I am defining major in this case as things I need resolved before committing to the sale and releasing the funds. I would also like to see the current owner kick in on sail repairs, some of the engine maintenance issues and fixing the issues with the hull blisters, but I/we have not yet determined/decided whether we/I would kill the sale over these smaller items.


What we (by which I mostly mean the broker) are trying to do now is get final estimates from all the various trades and technicians and work out a plan. If we are pulling the boat to fix the hull and prop, then I might as well get her bottom painted at the same time and fixing the other smaller issues now will save having to do another haulout. But now is the busiest season as everyone is prepping their boats for summer. So maybe we take the cash and stash it away until fall and do the work then, but that comes at an additional cost that has to come out of someone’s pocket. Once the estimate numbers are in (which could/should be in an hour or two), the current owner will commit to his number and then. if Leslie and I like that number, we’ll agree and he will magically be transformed into the previous owner and we will own a boat.

It’s all an intricate dance of order and precedence and yet another reason that I am glad, in the end, to have been able to work with the broker throughout this process. Call me naïve if you want to (even though you shouldn’t) but I truly believe he doing the best deal he can for both parties. And I like that.

So there you have it. We will know in a couple of hours if there are going to be any more posts in this blog.

Surveys 3: The marine survey

The Haulout

Once you’ve brought your boat to the dock by a boat lift you hop out and the lift operators take over. They manoeuvre the boat into a set of slings, adjust those slings so they miss anything important and then slowly lift the boat straight up. The thing to be careful of is that most boats have recommended sling points, but apparently they are not always the best indicators. The Hunter 386’s throughhull for the paddle wheel speed sensor is fairly close to where the sling marks are; the lift operators at Granville Island know this so make sure the slings are a bit aft of the marks to avoid damaging the paddle. Or you can take the paddle out entirely before the lift.

This was scheduled as a ‘lift and hold’ so the lift  set the boat down on its keel but left the slings supporting the boat. The surveyors had access to the whole hull but it was going back into the water as soon as they checked it so no need to set up stands.



She came out of the water with a nice collection of mussels on the keel, barnacles on the prop and, as I mentioned in a previous post, a few barnacles wedged in the speed sensor. Once she was out of the water, the brokerage’s people cleaned off the prop and and changed the anodes on the propellor shaft. Now my highschool chemistry is still a bit shaky but the theory is that when two different metals touch — bronze and steel in this case — while in salt water, a current is set up that will eat away at the weaker metal. In order to avoid your boat bits dissolving, you attach sacrificial anodes usually made of zinc that will slowly dissolve instead.

You can see the two new anodes on the prop shaft

In the mean time my surveyor, Tim McGivney and his partner Trevor Salmon from Aegis Marine Surveyors Ltd., showed up and we all shook hands. Then they went to work. What they are looking for is obvious hull damage as well as any hidden damage that might be hiding. In the case of Rainbow Hunter, they only found a few small blisters. Much like a skin blister this is where moisture has penetrated the top layer of fibreglass or gel coast and caused a bubble to form and leave a hole underneath. They aren’t a huge issue although they need to be repaired and if you have a lot that can be a big expense.

There was also a crack in the fibreglass under the moulding on the transom and another crack at the top leading edge of the keel. Again, these turned out to be mostly cosmetic and not a structural or safety issue.

Once the visual inspection is done, they get out their hammers and start tapping the hull front to back, top to bottom. What they are doing is listening to hear if the tone changes, which would indicate damage or water intrusion within the hull itself. Modern boats often have solid fibreglass below the waterline but will use a cored fibreglass system above to keep weight down and prevent the boat from being top heavy. In most cases this is two thin layers of fibreglass with a balsa core sandwiched between them. This provides structural strength but keep the weight down. But like a piece of drywall, if the core gets wet or damaged, the strength disappears and you have potential point of failure. And if the damage is not repaired, intruding water can spread through the core causing rot and the damaged area grows bigger and bigger.

The surveyors found one spot about 2 feet by 3 inches right along the bootline (the stripe that marks the waterline) that had crazing in the gelcoat and the sound definitely changed when tapping.  This would be where a hard docking occurred without a fender or perhaps a bad night at dock in bad conditions where the fender slipped out. Regardless it was a problem and will need to be addressed. Talking it over with Tim I was assured that there was no imminent danger and we could easily cruise the season and get it fixed in the fall which might be easier and more cost effective. But this was definitely something to talk to the current owner about.


Other than that the boat passed with flying colours and she was soon on her way back into the water. Back aboard the broker slowly manoeuvred her out and the backed her neatly into the narrow slip.

At this point, I needed to head to West Marine and it had been recommended to me not to pester the surveyors too much in order to not distract them, so I decided to head off to do some shopping and grab a bite. I will acknowledge that there is some common wisdom that says  you should stay and follow along through the survey as it is a prime learning opportunity, and I can see the sense in that. But for me I felt that my level of knowledge was so low that it would likely be a hindrance. I know that in my own field I don’t mind talking to others while I am working if they have a base understanding of what I am doing, but it is much more distracting if you have to stop every five minutes to go over the basics. So I left them to it.

The Survey

It was a nice afternoon so after I bought a slice of pizza I wandered the docks and enjoyed the sunshine. Eventually I ended up back at the boat and sat in the cockpit  trying to amuse myself. At this point I was hit with my traditional “what the hell am I doing?” rollercoaster jitters. Eventually I called L and we had a pleasant chat and I managed to get over most of it. Otherwise I took pictures (which is really hard to do in a crowded marina) and wandered aimlessly. I was still wondering what the hell I was doing though. Especially as the bill’s started piling up. I hadn’t realized (although I should have) that I had to pay for the lift. This came to $309. At the end of all this I will tabulate the totals and post them, but it is easily going to be over a couple of thousand dollars just to find out if I want to go through with this or not.




While Tim and Trevor were doing the boat, the broker had also arranged for their service manager to doing a complete rigging inspection. Apparently this is usually high on the surveyors’ recommendation list (turns out it was number 7 of 9) and he wanted to get it out of the way. So that was good.

Eventually everyone was all finished up and Tim was handwriting out his conclusions. As soon as he was done he went and made copies for everyone and we three sat in the salon and went over everything. First up was the recommendations. Number one was the  exhaust elbow we already new about. Two was a coolant leak. But that turned out to be the previously mentioned heater issue. Three was the hull stuff we had already discussed. Four was a possible issue with the strut bolts. It was possible they were weeping so had to be monitored, but with the coolant leak in the bilge it was impossible to tell yet. If they were weeping they would have to be pulled and re-bedded. An issue the broker had noticed in the keel that might have indicated a previous grounding was noted as most likely a factory alteration and that no evidence of grounding was present. The rest of the recommendations were all things like expired flares and notes to better secure the house batteries etc. All in all a pretty clean report.

There were also tons of other little things that will give me something to do late in the year if this all goes through. Better ventilation for the inverter, some crazing on some of the hatch lenses, stuff like that. It seems there are always things to spend money on when you have a boat.

The Rigging Report



That was it for the day and I caught a cab back to the airport and was soon on my way home. Two days later I received the preliminary rigging report. Again, nothing major but a few things that really should be serviced or looked after.


There was some issues with the upper swivel on the forestay, a crack near one of the chainplates, the steaming light bracket was broken, and the main sail was stretched and the webbing on the clew was worn. Add in a few worn bushing and sheaves, some chafed lines and an excessive amount of tape on some of the fittings allowing for water to collect and induce rust and corrosion. And the winches were all in need of servicing.

But it all adds up. So that meant there were things still to negotiate.


Surveys 2: At sea

The Sea Trial

I flew into Vancouver on the morning of the 9th. Dave of R Shack Island fame picked me up at the airport and delivered me to Granville Island. We introduced ourselves to the broker and he walked us down to the boat. She was huge. I always feel that way the first time I see a boat I might be sailing. They get smaller as soon as your heart rate calms down. And the Granville Island marina is no help with its tight slips and narrow fingers. We chatted for a bit and Dave soon headed off to his next appointment while the broker headed back to the office to “make some calls.” I suspect he just wanted to leave me alone with the boat for a few minutes.

My first glimpse

I started poking around. The owner had left me lots of goodies from custom bedding to a hand held GPS. Dishes, cutlery, pots and placemats were all there as well as utensils and even a dishrack. From a galley point of view she was a turn-key boat.

Up on deck I discovered that the ‘full enclosure’ was unfortunately not so full. The top portion, instead of being clear lexan or acrylic was instead mesh bug screens. On the one had this was great, but on the other it wouldn’t do us much could during the cold months. So there was something we would have to remedy. Not a flaw in the boat though. Other than that there were lots of little perks like canvas winch covers, seat cushions, Alpine stereo speakers in the cockpit and a motor lift for the outboard.

A little bit later the broker showed up and he fired up the engine. Now I am usually a nervous wreck for the first couple of hours on a boat until I acclimate. The damn things look so huge all stuffed into the  marinas and if you’ve ever been to Granville Island’s docks you know they are worse than most. On top of that I wasn’t sure who was the captain of this thing, although I was pretty sure I didn’t want it to be me. So when I popped up out of the companionway to see the broker on the dock with the bow and stern dock lines in his hand walking the boat out of the slip, I was a both relieved and intimidated. He calmly finished swinging her stern out of the tight slip and hopped aboard.  Then we were pointed up the channel to False Creek and he turned the wheel over to me. I motored under the Burrard Bridge and out into English Bay while he made a few calls. Again I suspect he was just giving me a few moments to myself.



It was a beautiful day and I had my doubts that there would be any sailing but the broker gestured to the flags and smiled. Once out into the bay the difference in experience and confidence between him and I became painfully apparent. Each and every time I had been out in English Bay I had been armed with charts and binoculars and GPS and been nervous as hell. He on the other hand finally got around to turning the instruments on and was busily chatting away about features and benefits  of Hunters in general and this boat in particular whilst barely “paying attention” to his surroundings. While I was still trying to figure out where the wind was coming from, he had already pulled out the sails, all the while explaining the benefits of the Selden furling system and soon had us cruising on autopilot on a nice beam reach. At least I think it was a beam reach, because I was still looking at the windex, listening to the broker’s analysis of in mast furling systems and looking out for all the huge cargo ships moored in the Bay. Anyway, before I knew it we were doing 5.5 knots in 11 or 12 knots of wind.


On a side note, we were sailing right by a cargo ship that had apparently been leaking oil. It wasn’t until much later I found out how big a deal that was.



So we sailed back and forth on a couple of different headings while we crawled over the fore deck examining the sails and rigging. There were some worn lines, primarily the traveler sheets and some stitching that needed to be looked at sometime this season. Nothing that was immediately a problem. We took off a few of the enclosure panels and opened up the cockpit space. The sightlines were perfect for me and I wouldn’t have to peak over the dodger or duck to see through it.

The B&R rig was pretty cool and the stays were not continuous from deck to mast meaning you could suffer a partial failure without losing the whole mast. The B&R rig seems to be a bit of a contentious point amongst the old salts, but for beginners like us I think it’s going to be perfect. What it does is provide three attachment points for the mast, each 120° apart, instead of the the traditional 4 points each 90° apart. This eliminates the back stay, removing clutter from the cockpit. The down side is that the spreaders  will prevent you from letting the main out all  he way when running down wind and, given the lack of a back stay, you can’t tune the rig in the same way. So we might lose a few races.

We also fired up the electronics and checked out the radar and I got a quick Radar 101. Everything on the binnacle worked except the the test switch for the engine alarm, although we had both heard the alarm earlier so we knew it worked. Oh and the speed gauge read 0 knots but even I knew that was likely the sender was gummed up (turns out it was barnacles in the paddle). The autopilot seemed to be fully functional, taking us through a tack, the remote mic worked splendidly and the chart plotter had all sorts of bells and whistles.


The broker snapped a picture of me at the helm, although it was a bit staged because no had actually been steering — or paying much attention to — the boat up to this point. I don’t think we even turned the auto pilot off for the pic. Now I don’t mean to imply we were being careless. I certainly tried to maintain awareness of our surroundings but the broker obviously knew these waters and had no need to consult charts or depths and so didn’t need to do much but avoid hitting the boats in the bay — which was pretty easy since there was no one else out sailing and the big ones weren’t moving.

But we had a noon haulout scheduled so it was very quickly time to head back. We (I actually helped a bit this time) fired up the engine and pulled in the sails and then I motored her back toward the marina. As we approached the slip, the broker took back the wheel and confidently spun her around to back into the dock by the boat lift. The sea trial was over and the bottom inspection was up next.


Surveys 1: The mechanics of it all

In retrospect I am increasingly happy that this deal is going through a broker. It’s 10% well spent in this case. I suppose if one was much more knowledgeable and had the time to do intensive research that a broker would be redundant, but as a buyer it’s not costing me and in the short and long run it will definitely save me a lot of stress and even some money.

First off the broker noted obvious deficiencies and and immediately discussed them with the seller. There was a leak of coolant somewhere, the Webasto heating wasn’t working (probably related), a corroded exhaust elbow and the prop needed to be re-pitched. These were all discussed and dealt with without my even knowing about them.

Then the broker recommended both a surveyor and Yanmar deal to do the mechanical inspection. I checked out the surveyor online (Tim McGivney from Aegis Marine Surveyors) and not only did he get rave reviews from a number of sites and forums, but he was also on an insurance company’s website’s list of approved suppliers. Even though this is the choice of the seller’s broker, he did make the recommendation before I made an offer and the reviews seemed to support his recommendation, so I had no qualms.

The Mechanical Inspection

So earlier this week Ben from Stem to Stern Marine service sent a mechanic down and they went over the boat. Two days later they sent the report to me along with oil analysis for both the engine oil and the transmission oil. These later reports were extra, but I thought at the amount I was spending a few extra hundred wouldn’t hurt. I haven’t got the official bill yet but the estimate was 3–4 hours at $125/hr with the oil sample analysis at $58 each.

The report was pretty detailed. These guys seem to work hard to give you a worst case scenario so that no potential flaws remain. I suppose there is a lot of self interest as well since if I decide to fix everything they will make more money, but its nice to know someone is really  grinding the details. For example one of the flaws/recommendations was to replace all the filters with official Yanmar OEM parts instead of the knock-offs currently being used. What this indicates (besides a real anal attention to detail) is that the servicing of the boat has not been done by an authorized Yanmar mechanic and was likely done by the owner. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing it is an indication that the servicing was not professionally done.

They also made recommendations like replacing the fuel filter with clear sediment bowls. I hadn’t realized there was any other kind so that was good. Apparently most charter boats have the clear bowls installed because it makes checking them easier but they are an ‘extra.’

But other than the exhaust elbow, a flaky engine alarm and a few leaks that need to be checked out, the overall condition looks good. Still the estimate to do all the work is $3900 and the Service Manager said to budget 50% more for potential overruns so we will see what the current owner thinks.

The List

  • Checked ­ Hours
  • Checked ­ Oil and Oil Filters
  • Checked ­ Primary Fuel Filters
  • Checked ­ Secondary Fuel Filters
  • Checked ­ Alternator Belt
  • Checked ­ Raw Water Pump Belt
  • Checked ­ Coolant Hoses
  • Checked ­ Raw Water Hoses
  • Checked ­ Hose Clamps
  • Checked ­ Engine Mounts Checked ­Paint
  • Checked ­ Oil Leaks
  • Checked ­ Fuel Leaks
  • Checked ­ Air Filter
  • Checked ­ Exhaust Elbow Checked ­Steering
  • Checked ­ Coolant
  • Checked ­ Corrosion Noted Checked ­Water Leaks
  • Checked ­ Electrical
  • Checked ­ Starter Motor
  • Checked ­ Alternator
  • Checked ­ Control Cables Checked ­Engine Zincs
  • Checked ­ Gauges
  • Checked ­ Alarms
  • Checked ­ Controls
  • Checked ­ Oil and Oil Filter Checked ­Coupler
  • Checked ­ Oil Leaks
  • Checked ­ Shaft Seal
  • Checked ­ Paint
  • Checked ­ Bilge Condition Checked Bilge Pump
  • Checked ­ Bilge Blower
  • Checked ­ Batteries
  • Checked ­ Through Hull and Valve

Lists, Lists and more Lists


  • Sea trial
  • Mechanical Inspection
  • Survey
  • Closing
  • Delivery

To Do List

  • Insurance
  • Licensing
  • Find temporary moorage
  • C-Tow?
  • VHF Ships licence
  • US User Fee Decal

Inventory List

To Buy List

  • Rocna anchor (20kg): because I really want one
  • Charts
  • Wifi booster
  • Cruising guides
  • Hammock

Things to Check

  • Electrical Control panel
  • Engine anti-siphoning system
  • Flares (expiry date)
  • Fire extinguisher (expiry date)
  • Stereo aux in jack (for the ipod)
  • Gas tanks (outboard)
  • Hoses and water filters
  • Log books
  • Heating system/hot water

Fantasy Wish List

  • Spinnaker or Code 0
  • Generator
  • Solar
  • Propane Heater
  • Lavac Head
  • Spot or Inreach
  • 15 HP Outboard
  • 12v outlet to binnacle
  • Netting for life lines