Running around like crazy

If you’ve been watching the countdown timer, you’ll know that it’s not long before we take ownership of our new yacht. Things happen quickly since she will no longer be able to stay at her current berth. We have a new berth, but, still, there’s a lot of things to do. So today was running around on errands to get the things we could for the 30-ish mile journey from her current berth to her new one, where she’ll be as we deal with all the things required by insurance and coast guard and us. Only once those things are dealt with will she be moved again for fun sailing.

After running around today and coming up short on a number of things, we (Anne and I) returned to a house that is upended as we organize what we’re moving onto Opus immediately for the refit: tools, supplies, etc. But today was a day to learn something new. After running errands, today was spent making a flag. Ok, not the most essential thing to do, but there isn’t a lot more that we can do until we can get onto the ship.

I’ve never really done sewing before, so this was an interesting experience. From knowing nothing, I had to engineer how I want the flag to behave. It was, fortunately, a fairly easy flag to design in terms of graphical elements.

The crazy thing is that this flag might never be needed by us. It’s flown at the starboard spreader to indicate you wish “free practique”. In essence, you fly it from the time you enter a foreign country’s waters, until such time as you are cleared through customs and into the country, at which time you remove the signal flag and hoist the courtesy ensign (flag) of the country you are visiting.

Flag etiquette has a long past and many traditions. The flag of the country in which your vessel is registered goes at the stern. The courtesy flag of the country you are visiting goes at the starboard spreader (unless that spot is taken by the “Quarantine” flag asking for entry). At the top of the mast goes your club’s burgee (basically your club’s flag). Other flags may go on the port spreader or underneath the courtesy flag, mostly, unless you’re fully dressing in which case there may be flags on the forestay, flacks on the aft stay, flags on the stern, flags at the masthead, flags on the starboard and port spreaders, etc.

Anyway, one of our stops was at a marine supply store where they had never heard of this flag stuff. It’s a little demoralizing to see. Meanwhile, in an online forum, there is an “instructor” who was insisting, incorrectly, about one of the rules for collision avoidance despite the rule stating quite literally the opposite. I realize that anyone can make a mistake, but afterwards the person basically retreated into, “well, that’s the way it SHOULD be.” He may be correct (though it’s debatable) about how it should be, but as an instructor it’s important to thoroughly know and teach the way that it is currently, especially when it comes to the basics of how to avoid hitting another boat.

I’ve also started putting together the organizing documents for the race team that I wish to put together for our new boat. That’s going to be a whole headache itself, and we’ll see if there are any people that are “takers” about it.


Wednesday we withdrew the money from our bank account and deposited it into the Broker’s account. The bank had told us that it can take up to 7 days for them to actually recognize the money, which is why we did it now. However, our yacht broker informed me today that the money had reached their account and would we like to push the deal through faster?

Uhhh, YEAH. Please?

So now the new day for the boat to change hands is this coming Tuesday. Unfortunately, due to logistics, I still won’t be sailing her until the 23rd, but she’ll be ours and we can start moving things onto/off of her which will make packing her on the trip day a lot faster.

We have decided on our insurer as well, and I’ve planned the route, all 35 nautical miles of it, over and over again, poring over the charts to make sure I have it right. It simply will not do to have an incident with our new yacht on the first day!

I’ve also started putting out the feelers for the Opus race team and drawing up documents. In fact, I probably should put that document up here on the website. What an idea! I think I’ll go do that now.

Another one bites the dust!

We got our first insurance quote back in. It is about twice the amount I was hoping for, but at least we know that we can get insurance. That’s a load off my mind. Really, the only concern left is whether the U.S. will let me in. They should. I’m a U.S. citizen, but these things are never guaranteed.

I’m doing all that I can to prepare for it. This past Friday I received my first shot of the two part Astra-Zeneca vaccine. I’ve paid for my COVID test to take within 3 days before entering the U.S., and I’m isolating myself as much as I possibly can right now.

Unfortunately, the COVID test requires a Doctor’s requisition even though I’m paying for it out of pocket — and my doctor wants to talk to me beforehand. Hopefully this is pro-for a stuff.

The amount of “stuff” I’ll be bringing aboard is growing daily. Normally I wouldn’t have so much even for an extended cruise, but since I’m there to work on the boat, and I can’t come home if I need something, it feels like I’m moving almost everything I own there.

Yesterday we checked with the banks to see how long it takes to move money from my bank to the bank where funds will be disbursed, sort of like escrow. My bank can do the transfer in a few hours. Unfortunately, Bank of Montreal says that it can take them 7 days to process it at their end. It was an interesting conversation that went something like this:

Me: 7 days? Even with a bank draft?

Them: yes, it can take us 7 days.

Me: but I thought a bank draft was the same as cash.

Them: it is.

So, if it’s the same as cash, doesn’t that mean it is treated the same way? So if I showed up with the same amount in bills, it might take as long as 7 days to credit their account? That’s crazy.

Lists, Lists, and more Lists

Anne, the wonderful organized person that she is, has about 40 million lists going. We have a list for each day. We have a list of tasks to do now. We have a list of tasks to do later. We have lists of things to buy, one list per store/vendor/supplier. Somewhere, I’m sure, she has a list of the lists that we have.

Right now I’m concentrating on what do I need in order to safely bring the boat from where she is to our berth where I’ll be able to work on her, plus the things I’ll need to live on her until the sooner of:

  • All the tasks are complete
  • I can’t go any further on the tasks due to a lack of skill/tools/knowledge on my part
  • they’ll let me shuttle back and forth across the international border
  • the marina kicks me out

That means thinking almost like I’m planning a long-distance cruise. What clothes do I want? How do I store them? Food and water. What tools do I bring? What supplies of parts? Bedding? Transportation? Where does this stuff get stowed?

Admittedly, that’s a small part of a long-distance cruise because I’ll be tied up in a marina and have access to thing slike grocery stores, take-out food, a boat yard, a chandlery, and even delivery service from amazon, west marine, steveston marine, etc. I’ll have access to internet too.

Communication is another thing to think about. Because I’ll be in the U.S., I don’t want my cell phone to be active, incurring international roaming charges. So how will I communicate? Fortunately, there’s this thing called the internet. I have to find a hotspot that I can use, and then I get Skype or Zoom, as well as emails. however, when away from the wifi hotspot, how to talk to folks? For that, there’s inreach, which I just reactivated. That will allow me to get short text message, send short text messages.

Transportation around town when I need to go shopping for food – we’ve decided I’ll bring my bike. It’s not that the grocery is so very far away, it’s that the bike can carry more “stuff” in paniers than I can in my hands. Plus there’s the question of how to get home from the boat. According to Google, it’s a bit over a 2 hour bike ride, so that’s what I’ll do. I’ll come home on my bike.

Meanwhile we’re also accumulating ‘stuff’ to bring onto the boat. Bedding, tools, rags, warm gear, rain gear, things to heat the boat with (at least until I’ve repaired the boat heater — but, tied up to the dock, I’m not sure I’d want to use a diesel-powered heater when I have elctricity right there).

Well, tomorrow the tasks begin (again) that require businesses that are open and can take phone calls. It’s good training for being on a boat where there’s ALWAYS something to do!

We have a plan!

The big stumbling block was always where to keep our boat. The COVID epidemic and our various responses to it has made finding a berth difficult – which is not meant as condemnation of those actions.

there is a Marina (actually, two of them) nearby. The difficult thing is that they are on the U.S. side of the international border, and we are on the Canadian side, as is the boat. However, we have hatched a plan that, we hope, will allow us to put the boat into one. Considering that Marina is the only one that has space available AND can accommodate our length AND isn’t hidden behind some bridges too low for us, it’s really our only choice.

Today will be nailing that down, which will leave only two more obstacles – insurance and the windlass repair. I trust that the windlass will be working, so that isn’t a worry. Insurance is a bit more worrisome. They seem to want 2-3 years of boat ownership, which begs the question of how does one get 2-3 years of boat ownership if you won’t insure me for that time?

oh well, we’ll figure it out!

Another day of phone calls

Well, we thought that we had a place to keep our new boat. It was an expensive place, but any port in a storm… or so we thought.

Unfortunately, there was this line on the chart that was missing some critical information. The line is a bridge that we’d have to cross under, and my charts didn’t tell me how high off the water it is. Just past it is another bridge, but it’s a “swing bridge” which means it swivels in the middle to let boats too tall to go under it move past. Back to the unmarked bridge, though… A couple of hours of work on the internet and I had the bright idea of using Google streetview to “drive” over the bridge.

The bad news is that there’s no way our new boat was going to fit under that bridge. The worse news is that it doesn’t open in any manner. The result is that there’s no way for us to get TO that new berth. So, it’s back to the drawing board.

Today is calling two more marinas from the original list to see their status, and then I start calling places over in the channel islands. This is less than optimal since it involves a ferry ride over just to get to the boat (and, of course, a ferry ride back too!), adding cost and time. However, if it gives us a place to keep her, then that’s what we’ll have to deal with, this season at least.

Then there’s insurance to iron out as well – though I need to know where we are keeping her so that I know the terms on the insurance I need. 1 million liability? 2? etc. Who’d have thought that the year-long search for a boat was the easy part?

Last hurdles…

Yesterday was the sea trial in which you simply take the boat out to see how well it sails, though I admit that I turned it into something a bit more (thank you, Joe, for putting up with it!)

The wind was not very high – around 5 knots or so. I figured that a 43 foot boat would need more than that to actually sail, and that putting up the sails would be more an exercise in “see? they exist, and the winches work” than a sailing trip. However, it turns out that Opus will sail in that wind, which is a relief given the typical summer conditions around here. It means, at least during the summer, that we’ll be more than a motorboat with a stick poking up in the air. I mean, if I wanted to motor around here, I’d buy a motorboat.

We left Stanley Park a little bit before 10 and motoried out under the Lion’s gate bridge before we put up the sails. A couple of triangular laps (this is sounding like a club race, isn’t it?) and then it was time to head back to the docks. What I wanted out of this sail was:

  1. Watch the procedures regarding the boat
    • How do the sails get raised or doused
    • Motoring
  2. Ensure that all the vital equipment worked
  3. Check the items that was not/were not checked by the Marine Surveyor

Item 3, we tested the radar on the way in and also the GPS. Other things, such as the windlass operation, Microwave operation, whether there was any water entering the bilges, etc. waited until we returned to the dock.

We found the windlass wasn’t working, and that’s been made a condition of purchase, but all the other things as been agreed to being taken “as is”. I would have liked the owner to drain the fuel tank to remove any water that might be in there, but that was a “nice to have” rather than a requirement. If he doesn’t do it, I’ll have to.

After the sail, we went up to see the other bits and bobs that come with it – a locker of sails, granny bars, life raft, etc. I admit, it was an impressive inventory.

Anne and I had previously agreed that we were not going to make a decision there and on that day, so today is the big decision – do we buy or not? I think we do, but I want to make one last check with Anne before sending a message to the broker.

After that, assuming Anne says yes, it’s head down applying for insurance and calling marinas. We will need to find a home for our ship.

A day of dreaming

You know, I completely forgot that it was Easter weekend. It’s rather difficult to make calls for things like moorage when everyone is off chasing bunny rabbit eggs. So, instead, today was a day of planning – creating shopping lists, prioritizing shopping lists, creating task lists, prioritizing task lists.

Anne is a list maker, a habit that is slowly starting to rub off on me. Currently we are maintaining a list of boat items and tasks in a spreadsheet on Google Sheets, and it has 134 items on it that we’re colour coding. Red for “need to do before sailing at all”; orange means “need to do in the first month”; yellow for “Need to do the first summer”; white is “No deadline planned, though probably over the winter”.

And so we come to our first disagreement. Like 99% of our disagreements it’s kind of a no-event. There’s no anger, no shouting, no resentment. I just disagree with some of the things that she’s prioritized as red and, I’m sure, she will disagree with some of my prioritizations as well. For me, a “red” item is “Does this have to be done before going for a day sail the first time?” Orange is “Does this have to be done before or concurrent with our first multi-day trip?” etc. I want to keep the red things down so that they’re not overwhelming (and so that our new boat isn’t a dock queen for the next 2 months). I want to concentrate on the essentials and then expand from there.

That doesn’t mean we won’t do some of the orange things before we get all the red things done, of course. Some of the red things are, at the moment, only things I can do as Anne is not a mechanic (yet!). So she may be knocking off some orange, yellow, or even white things while I’m cursing at engines or duct work or wiring.

And, yes, I admit that I’ve been persuing the catalogs of B&G and Gill and Raymarine and Furuno looking at the bright shiney things but the boat actually has an electronics suite, so revamping all of that is not in the cards at the moment. I might need to add a Wifi gateway to the system so that my iPad can interface with the data from the helm. The current chart potter at the helm is, by the admission of the current owner, not reliable. There is a second chart plotter on an arm that can be swung into the companionway hatch, but I really do not like that arrangement, so we’ll be doing something about it. Probably an orange or yellow, task, though. Maybe even white.

A day off?

It’s been a whirlwind of a week with making an offer, getting a mechanical inspection done, a Marine Survey complete, contemplating the results of those and whether we wanted to make a lower offer for the boat or not. The pace of things to do is only going to increase now as we need to do the Sea trial get an inventory of the bits and bobs that go along with the hull, procure insurance and a place to keep her.

So, today was sort of the “calm before the storm” day. We did some talking about things that need to be done, plans, work. Anne dreamed about how she wants to decorate. I did some trip planning. These are the things that will keep us motivated as we do the grind of fitting out the boat the way we wish it to be.

The boat is a cruiser-racer. As such, her interior is more austere than, say, a Hunter or Beneteau sailboat, or even the Hallberg-Rassy that I’ve crewed on. So, compromises need be made. If we were in a position to have two boats, I’d probably keep this one stripped down and ready for (comfortable!) racing. However, we don’t. Thus, it’s important that this boat be comfortable for extended periods of cruising – and comfortable by both our definitions of comfort. Because I’m into the sailing part of the adventure, I’m willing to put up with a bit less comfort because my reward is the sailing. Anne is not as much into the sailing, so the comfort needs to be higher. We’ll manage, though. She’s a trouper for sure.

We did do some catalog browsing though. The exciting thing to look at are fenders, fender covers, and fender racks, with a spot of research to figure out what size is appropriate. Ah, the glamorous life of a boat owner!

Marine Survey

Today was the Marine Survey. This is where you pay a person to convince you not to buy the boat. If they can’t convince you not to, then you’re pretty assured that you’ll buy it. Oh, and the report from the person is used, by you, to convince an insurance company not to insure you.

Ok, it’s not quite like that, but it sort of it. You’re paying a Marine Surveyor to go through the boat and find all the things that are wrong with it so that you can make an intelligent decision whether to go ahead with the purchase.

The boat has some deficiencies, but that’s not unexpected. It is, after all, 40 years old. At 40 years of age, I had a few dings and deficiencies myself, so I can hardly blame a boat for being in the same manner. However, in aggregate, there was nothing on the boat that gave us pause to say, “No, this isn’t the boat for us.”

The previous, mechanical inspection had us concerned about the engine. However, we have decided that the concerns were not sufficient to prevent us from buying the boat. Further, we think that the current owner’s good will and his continued involvement with the boat while we get to know her is invaluable. Thus, we are not going to try to renegotiate the deal.

There are only two more “speed bumps” remaining. The first is the sea trial. That’s where we take the boat out and put her through her paces. If something happens during the sea trial, we can still back out of the deal. The second is the inventory of sails and other bits and bobs. If those are not as advertised, then again we can back out of the deal. And, of course, if the condition of the boat materially changes for some reason (for example it catches on fire, or is involved in an accident) then we can back out of the deal.

Assuming none of those happen, we are going to be the owners of a boat some time this month!