Our initial plan was to have our delivery captain, Nicolas, meet us on 10/5 and we would do any additional provisioning / prep and hopefully leave Les Sables d’Olonne by 10/7. Since our broker provided the delivery captain for three days, we wanted his assistance to shoot across the Bay of Biscay which is notorious for being an unpleasant ride as fall progresses. Due to the many delays we experienced (more about that here), we had to ask Nicolas to arrive the following weekend (10/12) instead. Nicolas advised that he was available Wednesday 10/17, as he had taken another delivery in the interim due to our systematic delays. Naturally, we were frustrated. France has been challenging and expensive and the last thing we wanted was to spend an extra 5 days here! Ugh. Nevertheless, Nicolas advised that waiting until Wednesday would also be better weather for the crossing. And really, what could we do?!? This is the captain who has been planned and approved by our insurance company and we need him to sign off on our abilities so we can sail alone. We were stuck waiting for him. At least we’re not rushed in getting settled into the boat and we have more time to provision.
Two days later (10/14), Nicolas emailed again to let us know that he would again be delayed, this time due to weather. He indicated he would be able to arrive to our boat no later than Friday morning, and that the weather looked really good for our crossing! Another two days was not ideal for us, since during this time our heat wasn’t working and it had been getting progressively colder. Still, we were at the mercy of our insurance company and this delivery captain. We made the best of it by enjoying additional French wine! The following day, Nicolas emailed to confirm the address where he could send some things in advance of his arrival. Perfect! He’s definitely coming this time! A few more emails went back and forth throughout the week on provisioning, safety gear, and items for engine maintenance that could be handy to have along.
10/18 – our last full day alone on the boat for a long time! There are a lot of mixed feelings on this, but we wake up excited to do some final provisioning and hopefully impress our delivery captain, as well as speed along our departure. We decide to make it a special date night for dinner, since this is our honeymoon after all! Tomorrow morning, Nicolas will arrive, so we want to be ready! In the midst of running all our errands and cleaning up the living space on the boat, we get an email from Nicolas – more thoughts on provisioning and prep, we’re guessing. He informs us that his boss has sent him on another “urgent delivery” and he thinks his boss has already called us about this; he’s sorry. That was it – no new date, no contact information for his boss, nothing. WTF?!? We’ve been waiting an extra week and he waits until less than 24-hours before he arrives to just flat out say he’s not coming. And what is more urgent than OUR delivery?!? We’re already delayed two weeks!! All we can think about is all the time and money we’ve wasted so far waiting on the “miscommunications” and other delays. So, more French wine.
Beyond angry, we fire off an email to our broker asking him to find us a captain today to replace Nicolas since they set up this arrangement. In the midst of all this, we’ve been working on replacing our captain and crew for the Atlantic crossing (more on that to come). We had spoken to a few potential captains to take us across, but some weren’t available to assist us before we arrived in the Canaries. We contacted the one we knew was available sooner and he got back to us and let us know he could meet us here in Les Sables d’Olonne and assist us in getting down to the Canaries, and all the way to the Caribbean. Thank goodness! We emailed our broker back and let him know to forget it, we’ve got our own guy and we expect they will pay him for the three days promised, as well as the rest of the trip to the Canaries for all of the inconveniences they’ve caused with their miscommunications and delays. Naturally, the broker fights us on this and Bob has to spend a good amount of time on the phone with him arguing the point. So many more expletives as we again have to rehash all the frustrations and delays and disappointments they’ve caused. We finally get the broker to meet somewhere in the middle, which is definitely NOT to our satisfaction, but it’s better than nothing.
So there’s finally light at the end of this tunnel in Les Sables d’Olonne!! As we speak, our captain is currently traveling from Rome to meet us right here in the marina, arriving this evening. We are frantically cleaning up the boat and setting up for his arrival. By the way, we’re still trying to get the “Wilfred” smell out of the port aft cabin, so I better go scrub it down again before our new captain arrives!