Yes folks, here it is, another broker and boat rant! Put the kids in bed, pour a drink, make some popcorn and get ready for yet another WTF ride!
My last post was about the Atlantic Crossing and I’ve been mute since. A lot has happened! As Megan previously posted, we made our way up from St. Vincent along the islands to St. Maarten. Besides Martinique, this was supposed to be the best place to get the boat repaired and remain safe while doing it. I had been working with our broker Naos Yachts (oops… did I just mention their name?) to get the warranty repairs scheduled for our arrival in St. Maarten. Once we got their and spoke with the local Lagoon rep, we found out that Naos Yachts (oops… I did it again!) never submitted the warranty claims. Ahhh.. no big deal right? The local St Maarten guy can do it. Yeah… except the Frenchies shut down for two weeks during the holidays. Of course they do!
So, here’s the laundry list of warranty items that were to be fixed while we were away:
- The Window that Lagoon scratched while in France.
- The AIS that blew up after leaving the Canary Islands. (This unit tells us where other boats are and vice versa. We still had radar but that works for shit.)
- The infamous hole in the hull was to be properly fixed
- The infamous port side engine that was covered in salt from the aforementioned hole in the hull.
Additionally, I hired a local dude to clean the salt off the boat. I tried to get him to get the hulls under the water line but he doesn’t dive and couldn’t do it. Our agreement was $150.00 but I provide the cleaning solutions and leave them in the outdoor fridge. Secondly, I hired another local firm to replace our chafed halyards and topping lift.
Okay, so the repairs are scheduled and we feel comfortable heading home for the Christmas and New Year break. Megan really wanted to go home for a month. I was keen to see family and friends, but didn’t feel like leaving the boat for more than a couple days. We met in the middle and traveled home for 2 weeks. As a disclaimer here, it’s not that I didn’t want to visit Wausau and see everyone, but we had just spent 3 months on the boat with crew in cold and shitty conditions. We were finally free of crew, on the boat alone and in the Caribbean….. now I have to go home to Wisconsin in December. Brrrrr….. On a side note here, I made a resolution back in April 2018 to stop wearing socks. Yeah, I know, it doesn’t make sense…. But I’m living the hippy flip-flop (‘flip-flops’=’slops’ to South Africans. A much cooler name for them) lifestyle. So, for two weeks in the Wisconsin winter I only wore flip-flops. J
In the end it truly was great seeing everyone and two weeks was just about right. It was a frenzy trying to see everyone, continue to coordinate service on the boat and provision for items that we needed to take back to the boat with u.
During our visit home, the cleaning dude sent me photos of the boat after he cleaned it. It looked nice. Sweet, that worked!
A couple days after that, I send our local Lagoon dude a message to see if he had time to rinse our watermaker. The watermaker takes salt water and turns it into freshwater by using reverse osmosis and a series of filters. It’s advised to not let stagnant water sit in the filters for more than 2 weeks without doing a rinse. A rinse uses on-board fresh water to cycle water through the filters. Local Lagoon dude replied that he’d get it done. About 3 hours later he messages that there’s a problem with the boat. When he boarded to do the rinse he noticed rust coming from the outside fridge. The same place I put the cleaning supplies for the boat cleaning dude.
Apparently, one of the bottles of cleaning solution tipped over and drained into the fridge. In doing this, it leaked onto the stainless steal parts and into the cavity, then overflowed out onto the teak flooring where it stopped in a pool. As you can imagine, I slapped my forehead while exhaling loudly and shaking my head. What is it with boat people?! He offered to find someone to clean the mess up and assured us it would be find when we got back. Phew. Okay!
Fast forward to arrival back in St. Maarten. We arrived back in St. Maarten by plane on 1/5 in the afternoon. Three planes had arrived at the small airport around the same time, so the lines for airport customs & immigration were more like a mosh pit. Sticky air, open doors, screeching children, and bored airport workers led to significant delays. We had hoped that all that time standing in line would mean our checked bags were waiting for us. We couldn’t have been more wrong. Already exhausted from getting up at 4:00 a.m. for our sunrise flight, it was now after 3:00 p.m. and we were still at their airport waiting. After another hour, our bags miraculously appeared! We had four very heavy checked bags full of essentials, water toys, and items we’d brought back for our friends Paul and Tracy. Airport porters with dollies or small carts are abundant and will gladly help wrangle your luggage and find you the right taxi for a small tip. Once in the car, we felt much better! We were almost there, and we had cold beer in the fridge! We tried to remember what all we had in the freezer, so we could take something out right away to thaw for dinner. It had been a long day and all we really wanted was to get our bags inside, and chill.
Arriving to the boat, we were pleased to see that it was still where we left it and it looked clean as promised. The teak damage had been cleaned up well and there was no visible staining. Things were looking up! We began opening the boat windows and hatches to release some of the stifling air so we could have a good night’s sleep. It’s always tough in a marina, because there’s typically less of a breeze and more mosquitos or noseeums or other bugs, so you have to close all the screens and keep the screenless windows & doors closed as much as possible. We managed to haul our immensely heavy checked bags to the deck and began to unpack them – tossing things into piles in their respective areas of the boat. We just needed to get everything inside for the night and then we’d have a celebratory beer! Megan was moving things left and right trying to find space for them when on one trip up from our cabin she mentioned that she smells a funk. I used to smoke and my sense of smell is less than good so I usually defer to her on this. I ask what it smells like and she can’t pinpoint it. My head scrambles to figure out what could smell. We took the garbage out, toilets were treated…. Then my gaze goes to the electrical panel. No lights. I blurt out “Oh @#%&! There aren’t any lights on the panel!”.
Okay, dramatic pause here for effect and clarity. Boats have an electrical panel allowing you to switch on and off major components. For example, we have a switch for the ‘Cabin Lights’ it’s a master switch which must be on for the other light switches around the boat to work. Several other switches control navigation equipment, outdoor lights, gas regulators, generator controls, water pumps, refrigeration….. oh wait. That’s a big one that might be important…. Refrigeration….. Before we left, I told local Lagoon dude-guy that we were not plugged into the shore power at the marina. Two reasons, one is that we have a ton of solar that can sustain the boat and shore power is expensive, and two, we have 110V boat and the shore power in EU parts of the world is 220V, we don’t have a true power converter for this on board, only the ability to charge our batteries in 220V. Local dudeguy agreed that we have plenty of power to run the fridge and freezer and don’t need shore power.
(Spoiler alert…. If you’re currently consuming food, now would be a good time to stop)
Back to the boat funk. I see no lights on the panel and go check our power gauge. The power gauge lets us know if we are making or drawing power from the batteries and at what rate. No draw. None. This is bad. The boat should always be drawing power to keep the fridge and freezer cold. Panicking, I run to the freezer, open the door. I immediately slam the freezer door shut and run outside for air. Yup, you guessed it…. I found the funk. I found out later that the local Lagoon dudeguy told his employee to turn off all of the switches before replacing the AIS. Apparently, instructions should have also been relayed to turn said switches back on!
I figure our fridge and freezer have been off for 5-6 days. Imagine 100 lbs of frozen meats (ground chuck, pork chops, chicken breasts, etc) inside a completely closed up boat, in 90 degree weather, for 5-6 days.
I usually have an okay stomach for this kind of stuff, but this was hard. The funk of decaying flesh will never leave my mind. For the next 30-45 minutes we had to empty everything in both the fridge and freezer into garbage bags. Bags of meat were full of air as the decomposing flesh let off gas. About six inches of condensation from the thawing meat pooled at the bottom of the freezer…. This is also where we got to meet our hundreds of new guests onboard. Maggots. Yup…. Brooks from Shawshank Redemption would’ve loved all the maggots that we had so he could feed his bird… it was gross. (btw… not bad on the movie reference, eh? Watched it while at home!)
So, we have bags upon bags of rotting flesh sitting outside on the teak. Guess what’s next! No, not a leak on the teak… nice try. But instead, flies! Hundreds of flies came to join in the fun. I grab what I can carry and start the 300 ft trek to the garbage bins. Three trips in total with swarming flies everywhere. @$%&!
Normally, we try to document shenanigans with photo or video evidence, but in our frenzy to dispose of the decomp, while gagging, we didn’t get any photos.
The next 3-4 days consisted of trying everything we could do to get the smell out of the fridge and freezer. Luckily the fridge is lined in stainless steel, so that only took two days. The freezer took 4-5 days at which time we had to finally give in and close the door and turn it on. I know what you’re wondering though, and truly, I appreciate the concern. “Where did Bob keep his cold beer?”? That indeed, is a good question. You may have already been thinking, well he surely just turned on the newly cleaned outdoor fridge to keep his beer in there! Yeah, good thought! But, that fridge was F’d up too. When the chemicals leaked out causing the river of rust, it chemically corroded the rubber seal at the bottom rendering it useless. Yes. You are reading all of this correctly…. We have 2 fridges and one freezer on board and all were inoperable. No cold beer on the boat. In a marina. In the Caribbean.
I did try to order a new replacement door for the outdoor fridge, but it seems that manufacturer doesn’t stock replacement doors. Still unsure what I’m going to do about that.
Hmmmm….. what else went wrong?! Oh yeah, since our friends at Naos Yachts decided not to do anything for the last 3 months regarding our scratched window…. And with the Frenchies sitting in their local bars drinking .5oz coffees for two weeks, no new window.
As of writing this 1/18/19, still no word on it either.
On a positive note, I was able to get the sail repaired while away, so the Code 0 is fixed! Boo-yah! And our previous crew that blew it up only managed a total of $450.00 worth of damage to it. Since I was expecting thousands, this is a win. Also on a positive note, the local Lagoon dudeguy was able to properly fix the hole in the hull and clean the engine compartment. It looks nice + shiny again! The other vendor FKG, also did a great job on the topping lift and new halyards. FKG’s work was awesome, so if you find yourself in St. Maarten needing some rigging work, find those dudes!
At that point, we were in the marina for about 5-6 days. Many more than anticipated, but needed due to the surprises. I tell Megan I’m ready to be done with the marina, St. Maarten, and bugger off (like that? It’s a phrase I picked up hanging around Paul and Tracy). I send a WhatsApp message to the marina manager asking for our invoice. He sends it back. It’s double what it’s supposed to be. WTF?! I call him out on it mentioning that the office lady for the local Lagoon dealer booked us the marina and quoted $1.00/ft/day. He says “I don’t care what she quoted. This is what you owe.” Oh here we go again. He wanted double the rate quoted. I tell him there’s no way that’s happening. I offer him 15% above our quoted rate. He goes to 30% above if we pay cash. I offer 20% above and I’ll swipe my debit card. He agrees and gets me the paperwork to fill out (they don’t have a credit card machine at this location). I fill out the form and return it to him. Not trusting this dude, I hand write in the agreed upon amount in the ‘Total Balance’ section. He sees it and says “No, I can’t do this! This amount was for cash only!”. I tell him “No, obviously it wasn’t because when we agreed on it, you went and got me this form to swipe a card, remember that?”. We go back and forth and I basically tell him he’s trying to jerk me around….. I ask him for his bosses number. He asks why. I tell him that I’m sure his boss would not appreciate how he is treating marina guests and that I’d mention the whole cash discount thing. Miraculously, dudeguy now remembers our agreed upon amount and it being on a debit card. Bastard.
After that, we ae finally leaving, we had to wait for a lift bridge to open, but we were free of the marina! Yay! We made plans to leave early the next morning for the 85 nautical mile crossing to the BVI (British Virgin Islands). We woke up at 4:00AM and had the anchor up by 4:20 and on our way. We had literally no wind, 3-5 knots the whole way, so it was a long day of motoring. We finally got to the BVI around 4:30 that afternoon and met back up with Paul and Tracy. Paul met us in his dinghy and had a mooring ball already set for us.
We were finally in the BVI and able to relax and cruise! Yay! We’ve been here a week already and learning the local ways. We’ve been to a couple different anchorages and have had a blast exploring the area. I’ve been hard at work on some boat chores and spent about 5 hours between two days cleaning the marina scum and barnacles off the boat. Megan has some footage of this that we are working on editing to show what that is like.
As if all of this wasn’t enough and now that we are finally cruising, you’d think the curveballs would stop right? Nope. Just when you thought you’d be done listening to my rant, there’s more. I got an email two days ago from the title company for the boat asking to verify the HIN (Hull identification number – like a VIN on a car). I sent them a picture of the hull stamp. They reply a day later that we have the wrong serial number.
Yeah…. I left extra room between paragraphs for you to compose yourself after reading that. Yes…. We have the wrong serial number on our boat. Hahaha!
So, our brilliant brokers either delivered the wrong boat to us, or totally jacked up the paperwork. One thing is for sure, the non-English speaking, unknowledgeable boat delivery chick, sure didn’t actually check the HIN when she had us sign off on it. Long story short, everything that documents our boat is wrong. Mortgage, wrong. US Coast Guard documents, wrong. Safety gear registration info, wrong. Everything, wrong. I was emailed documents yesterday that apparently ‘fix’ this issue. But, I’m on Caribbean time and haven’t looked at them yet…. Maybe tomorrow. Who knows, until then, we’re gonna keep cruising around in the wrong boat.
Enough ranting for now, I’m out of coffee and in need of some warm Caribbean water. Even with all of this crap we’ve endured, I am still loving this experience. Literally being able to wake up, walk up 4 steps, open and door and jump into 85 degree water is pretty damn nice! We are moving tomorrow from the tranquil bay we are in, see picture below. Tomorrow we’re heading to a place called Norman Bight where we are going to try out the underwater metal detector near an area that a floating bar used to be at. Hoping we can find some old jewelry that the drunkards lost while jumping off the floating bar. Wish us luck!
As always, thanks for reading and putting up with my bitching! For new readers, welcome! For current readers, thanks for continuing to read!
PS, big shout out to Wausau City Pages for your interest in what we are doing and the article!