*This post has been written chronologically over the course of three weeks – due to limited and intermittent Wifi, we saved it all to be posted at once.
**This post contains multiple “Oh sh*t” moments, so they are not specifically marked.
Okay, so now that Megan has all of that happy stuff out of the way, it’s time for me to b*tch a little bit. This has not been easy… not one bit. When we talked through this plan with our broker, it all made sense. We had a game plan, we had timelines, we figured it was all set. Boy were we wrong. I won’t call them out publicly yet as I’m awaiting a reply on a laundry list of items they dropped the ball on, but our broker has been no help. Literally, no help. We have seen people left and right take delivery of boats with their brokers present and assisting. Ours? Nowhere to be seen. More on that later… much more, if they don’t step up their game.
Broker aside, having to navigate outfitting our first yacht while in a foreign country where we don’t speak the language is very hard. I can’t just walk into a store and easily describe what I’m looking for or need. I have become very reliant on translation software which has its own set of quirks.
Then, there’s the culture. Here in France, they usually don’t start working until 9:00, then take lunch from 12-2:00, sometimes until 2:30. Then, they only work until 4:00. Coming from the US where a 40-hour week is a short week, it’s very frustrating. We had someone on the boat the other day stop screwing in a screw half way out because it was lunch time. What the hell!?
After all of that, is the sheer lack of options of products and services. Our broker told us it would be easy to provision as there are several stores within walking distance. In the US, in almost any city you can find what you need or ship it in a day or two. Here? Who knows. Imagine walking into Home Depot in the US wanting to buy a hammer. You would have 10 to 15 different options, if not more. Here, 2. Yes… 2. Rubber or steel. Need a screwdriver? Cool, here’s your two sizes, little, or really f’n big. The list goes on and on, and this is just for tools. We’ve experienced this for household goods, clothes, toiletries, and etc. Speaking of toiletries, there have two kinds of toilet paper, white and pink. Yep, white and pink. And, white is 50 cents more per bundle! Guess who’s been using pink toilet paper…. You guessed it… this guy!
So, lets dig into how f’d up things have been… some of this Megan has posted before and in a much more organized and chronical format, please bear with me on my rants.
First off, as I mentioned above, we planned a week after delivery to provision and leave. Yes, optimistic but based on the information provided by the broker, I thought it could be done. When we arrived on Thursday, September 27th, we were full of excitement and energy. On that same day, we got a call from our broker that our yacht was all done and we could take delivery on Friday versus the original plan of Saturday. We, of course, said “hell yeah!”.10:00 AM the next day we meet a lady from our brokerage, and disappointingly, she barely spoke English and knew even less about the yacht. We took inventory of everything and were given a very brief (30 min.) and limited walkthrough of the whole boat and it’s systems. Unfortunately, this is when we realize that the solar panels and water maker weren’t installed. The water maker is quite a complex system as it takes sea water in from a through-hull (a hole that goes through the hull), desalinates through a series of filters and dumps the good water into our holding tank. As the system is mounted in the port engine compartment, the power for it comes from the starboard engine compartment and the water goes into the tank at the front of the boat, you can imagine how big of a job this is. We weren’t enthused this wasn’t done. For solar, we ordered 3 panels each capable of producing 320W of power. Again, these were supposed to be done prior to delivery.
Enough technical crap, back to the shit show. So, we have signed off on the boat, it’s ours. Yay!
I immediately get on the phone with our broker to figure out what happened with the delay on installing the water maker and solar panels. A simple “..it was a miscommunication..” is all I get. So, we signed on the boat 90 days previously, we ordered all of the items within 15 days of that, meaning they had 75 days to get this right. They didn’t.
I go to the local marine electronics store contracted for these items and discuss options for when they can start. They tell me Monday morning. Yay! Saturday and Sunday (9/29-9/30) come and go with us basically walking around town trying to provision. Megan can expand on that some other time; it sucks.
Monday (10/1) rolls around and they show up to work on the solar panels. We ordered 3 units, but as they are laying them out, the installer grabs me to show me a problem. Our boat has the lounger option on the top of the second deck, and if they install the third panel, it needs to be where the lounger is. F’ing great. So, it’s lounger or solar power?! Keep in mind we’ve already paid unreasonable French prices for both. We’re then informed that for a mere $7,500 more, we can get a bracket custom made over our dinghy which holds two solar panels. This would make the system a full four panels (yes, we’d have to purchase the fourth) and still leave the room for the lounger we’ve purchased. (Our broker really should have reviewed our order and the boat specs and caught this prior to finalizing the purchase, but didn’t – and yet they’re not here to assist us in determining the correct course of action or negotiating this mess). Besides the downside of the additional cost of the bracket and fourth solar panel, the setup would also not be able to be done until a full week and a half later. This marks the first delay. We decide we want the lounger (because we already have it and it’s paid for) and extra power never hurts. We order this plus add a WiFi booster to our mast which will allow us to steal WiFi from miles away.
At the same time this is happening, we inquire with our broker on the status of our Code 0 sail, which is nowhere to be found on the boat. We were certain we ordered this sail via our broker, based on multiple conversations, but in fact, according to our broker, we only ordered the ‘rigging and pole’. Great, of course these are useless without a sail to go with it. Easy to fix, right? We’ll just go to a marine store and pick up a Code 0…nope. Custom order. Well, it’s a great sail for downwind, and since we are to sail about 3,750 miles downwind, and we have the rigging, we should have it. We get a quote from the delivery chick that the sail that we thought we already paid for will cost us $4,500. Great, another unexpected expense. We order it, but alas, when we get the order paperwork from the sail maker, the price is now $5,500 instead of the $4,500 quoted. Naturally, we fire off an email to our broker to inquire about this extra price hike, and of course, no response. Typical.
We have a dude from Lagoon stop by to answer questions and I inquire about some scratches on one of the front windows and also a teak board that is cracked. They will fix both, he says.
Yes, all of this in one day! Imagine the drinks we had that night!
Tuesday (10/2), we finalize our move from the hotel into the boat. Lots of shopping for things needed to live there (more on provisioning in another post from Megan). Since we have no pots and pans (they’re on the pallet that has not yet arrived), we continue to visit the local coffee shop in the mornings and skip breakfast. Coffee coffee coffee!
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (10/3, 10/4, 10/5) we have people up and down the mast, in and out of engine rooms doing different deals, Wifi, watermaker, teak repair, window repair and etc.. Keep in mind we are now living on the boat! So, teak dude hammers out the bad board, places a new one and tapes it off, here’s a pic of him working. Notice the tape we have to step over for 3 days.
Window dudes show up to try some polishing compound. It causes more scratches. I bitch. The next day, a different dude shows up but wasn’t told he needs a power buffer. Next day he shows up with a power buffer and really screws up the window. It needs to be replaced. F’ing great.
Here’s a quick video of the work happening. Sorry for the shot video and quick side-to-side action.
Fast forward a couple days. Wifi is working, teak is fixed, watermaker works, solar panels still on order… we wake up to find the boat literally covered in shit. We were fortunate enough to have our boat parked nearest to the dam that they use to flush the shit marina in and out. Here’s a pic of what we woke up to.
Lagoon dude walks by, I have to flag him down and ask him to take a look at the boat “Yo dude, look at what happened to my boat from the dam. How do we get this cleaned up?”. He replies, “Simple, grab a hose and brush.”. Ahh… I see what’s going on here… So much for customer service off the bat! As we only had our port side to the dock, I could only scrub one side of one hull… meaning ¾ of the boat was still filthy. 1.5 hours to clean one side of one hull plus part of the upper deck. I send a nice picture and email to our broker asking for a professional cleaning – no response. More on that later.
During this whole debacle, the weather has been shit, so the two original solar panels can’t keep up with our power needs, and we realize the need for shore power. As this is a US spec’d boat, our systems run on 110V. France runs on 220V, which means we haven’t had and can’t use the shore power as we’re currently set up. We would run our generator in the morning for heat and to pump up the batteries. It’s decided that we should add another shore station plug for 220V that will charge our batteries. With the 110V system, if plugged into a US marina, we could run the A/C, use the washer/dryer and etc. but, with an optional 220V shore power plug, we can only charge the batteries. Not a full fix, but it would relieve some generator time. We order it.
Okay, so the solar panel bracket is in. Yay! They get to work mounting it which takes a couple days. Alongside the solar panel install, they are installing the shore power for 220V. This all finishes and now we have tons of power! Of course during the install, one of the vendors drops something heavy on the teak and damages it, which we insisted they fix. About a week later, they came back and ironed out the dented teak, literally.
Here’s a pic of the finished solar panel set-up.
I finally have a feeling that things are improving… we’ve gotten our pallet, we’ve fired a useless crew member, other posts on these topics should be posted soon We go to bed that night thinking our luck has finally changed.
Thursday (10/11) is cold so we decide to fire up the genset (generator) to kick on some heat. Main galley/saloon starts heating up nicely, owners hull heater is blowing cold air. We try the other two cabins, guest hull aft cabin is working, guest hull forward hull is blowing cold air. WTF. Finally give up and shiver in bed.
When we awake Friday (10/12) I find a new Lagoon dude on the dock and have him come to take a look. He’s actually way more helpful and easier to talk to than the Lagoon rep we’re usually dealing with, so we rejoice in that small win. He looks at the two systems that don’t work and says the condenser is frozen, must be no water flow. He says to let it thaw out and he’ll be back in a couple of hours. Okay cool. All of the sudden the sail dude shows up and is awesome! He can tell that I’m new to sailing and asks if I’d like him to show me how to rig it and etc. I of course say “hell yeah!”. As he is looking at our rigging, he says “Why isn’t this set-up? Where is the bowsprit system to rig the sail?” I look at him blankly. He says, “usually the broker has all of this stuff set up already.” I shrug as hearing that our broker dropped the ball again has become normal. He sets off to help rig the boat and get everything set. We raise the Code 0…. Ahh what a b-e-a-utiful sight!
Two hours later, Lagoon dude shows back up and checks the heating units. Still frozen. He says that we should let them thaw through the weekend and he can check on it Monday morning. He informs us that our brokerage owner took direct delivery of this boat from Lagoon and did not have Lagoon inspect it; additionally he indicated in not so many words that since this was the case, technically, they were not even supposed to be supporting us with all these issues! He concludes that he will return Monday morning because we’ve told him our delivery captain is arriving and we are supposed to be leaving Wednesday. Apparently, all the Lagoon employees will be gone Monday afternoon and all day Tuesday for the launch of the new Lagoon 46 (the famously short French work week is just shortened by a hefty percentage). Great, no heat for the weekend. Lows are in the 40s overnight, so we run the generator a bit before bed and try to make it last through the night. Megan starts sleeping in three layers of clothing, including her wool socks and bathrobe length zip-up sweater from the pallet.
Saturday, (10/13) Paul, (the South African dude we’ve met) and I head to the store in serach of some tools and hopefully fishing gear. We find a Decathlon store which has fantastic sporting goods and clothing selection at very good prices. Yes! Finally a solid win in France!! No fishing gear, but a good selection of clothes. We walk back later in the afternoon to get Megan some cold weather gear including an offshore jacket to replace the one we ordered from West Marine before leaving home, but which never arrived. Ugh. Why is sailing so complicated?? Lots of emails back and forth with the broker and owner of the brokerage – unfortunately, they’re 9 time zones behind us so getting anything done is difficult (they’re just getting up and into the office when we’re at dinner time). We specify a laundry list of unacceptable things such as lack of response to our email requests for assistance on a number of issues, the fact that they’re not here when they promised they would be at delivery to assist us, the fact that we have no heat, etc. Later in the evening, the broker calls to discuss the situation and thus ensues a 30-ish minute yelling conversation using a variety of expletives to once again express our extreme displeasure.
Sunday (10/14) we go sailing with Paul, conditions are not good. We motor out of the marina and into the Bay of Biscay to get the sails up. Heavy winds and sailing against short choppy waves is a very rough ride. Megan goes inside to add to the list of things to have the broker fix – our depth finder doesn’t work!! That’s a bit of a problem when sailing, you know, so you don’t run aground or hit anything. While in the saloon making the note, she hears a banging sound and ventures further down into the port cabin to close a door that is swinging about to avoid damage. In the rough conditions, it’s enough to turn her green for the rest of the sail. Fortunately, or unfortunately, she never actually chums so she’s a little woozy in the head and stomach for the rest of the day – you can read her positivity-laced account of that experience here (Our First Sail!).
We rest up a bit in the afternoon, as Megan works to recover her ability to read anything without getting nauseas, then meet up with Paul to walk over to the La Chaume side of the city for dinner. Dinner is excellent – Paul and I chow down on different pizzas and Megan mows a large pot of carbonara to still her stomach.
Monday (10/15) we test the heat again in the morning and it’s still blowing cold air. The helpful Lagoon dude is back and brings with him someone further up the chain as a result of my not-so-pleasant phone conversation with our broker over the weekend. This higher up person is very knowledgeable with boat information in general, so I proceed to go down our list of questions and issues with him while the other guy tears apart our starboard owner’s cabin to fix the heat and try to figure out why the depth finder isn’t working. Miraculously, after about two hours, the heat is fixed in all the cabins. The younger Lagoon rep has ordered a new depth finder from one of the marine stores here and hopes to have it in a day or two, and they depart. Paul and I left for another trek to find gear and while Megan was unloading the spoils of her trek to the closest market, the younger Lagoon guy returned – during French lunchtime; this is a never-before-seen miracle!!) with a depth finder that he found at one of the marina stores to try and see if it works. Happily, it does! Before he leaves, he asks to see the Navicon paperwork for the warranty and proceeds to take pictures on his phone. Since I wasn’t there, he then provides Megan with two items: an extra o-ring for the depth finder and a cylindrical placeholder which he states should be put in the depth finder’s place if we take it out to clean it, or if it needs to be replaced. He takes nothing with him when he leaves, so we’re certain that there never actually was a depth finder installed…and due to the fact that the brokerage owner took delivery and Lagoon never inspected the boat, it was not previously noticed. Are we surprised? Nope.
As a result of my bitching at the broker, he sends two cleaners for the boat on Tuesday (10/16). One lady for the inside and a young dude for the outside. The dude cleaning the outside was a rockstar of cleaning. But, he didn’t bring a dinghy or anything of the sort so didn’t get the inner hull water lines and some of the outer hull water lines clean. Maybe after sailing for 3,750 miles it’ll come clean?! Apparently that’s the plan. The lady that cleaned the inside was useless… as we had already moved in weeks ago we had, well, stuff everywhere. She would look at an area she would scoff and say “I don’t know how to clean with of this stuff.” We ended up having her clean a window and leave. Useless. Attached is a picture of the fridge which prompted some of my bitching at the broker. It looked the same after they left. I finally had to just take the time and clean it myself.
On Wednesday (10/17) the local sail maker shows up to remove the bowsprit to take to his shop and re-rig. He came back and just finished reconnecting it while I’ve been writing this (Friday 10/18). We now have a good system that will allow us to fly the Code 0 without having to do gymnastics over the life-line cable (risking a fall into the Atlantic) to get it mounted. Cheers to that!
So, that’s a quick (not really quick), rundown of the shitty scenario we’ve been stuck with and having to deal with. We will post similar rants relating to provisioning, our fired crewman Wilfred (name changed for his protection) and our delivery captain debacle.
More to come on those later, but time for me to head out and do some more provisioning. By the way, it’s officially the beginning of our fourth week here in France. I do not like this place. I want to leave. Oh, and our new yacht has a whopping 7 nautical miles on it due to all of this sh*t.