Wednesday, 11 April 2012

It shouldn’t happen to a sailor (3)

The Shock of the New

Came across an old friend during the Easter break and shared a drink or two with him. Hadn’t seen him for several years but I was saddened and surprised by the tale he had to tell. I share the story here because there might be an important message for all of us.

Mike, made a significant amount of money in building and property development in the UK and decided to take an early retirement. His decision was based on the fact that his parents had both died relatively early due to heart conditions and anyway he wanted to spend a good deal of time on the water, live the dream aboard a large new luxury cruiser.

Not Mike's boat - but similar
So with a pile of money burning a hole in his pocket he visited the London Boatshow and was really impressed by a newly designed large sleek power cruiser made in France.The manufacturer was offering some very attractive ‘one-time-only Boatshow deals’ to anyone prepared to put down a small deposit and so he shook the guy’s hand and parted with £25,000 as a ten percent contribution to the total outlay. Delivery was promised for six months time, (June), the remaining payment (outstanding balance) to be made prior to delivery - in Euros.

What happened next? Well, nothing at all! The manufacturer had been over-optimistic about his production capacity and the June delivery deadline was missed. July came and went, as did August. The boat eventually arrived in late September but during the interval between the January Boatshow and the boat’s arrival the world moved on.

Stirling weakened and the Euro strengthened during that period. When he did the deal in January a Euro was worth £0.66. When the main payment became due in September however, the Euro was worth £0.80. In effect, he had to pay more pounds in order to meet the Euro price. It cost him an additional £31,000. Mike grudgingly paid rather than risk losing his deposit.

Equally disturbing, during the those nine months between the new model’s launch onto the market and Mike’s own boat being launched in the marina, the boating press had run sea trials and generally crawled all over the new design . The unanimous verdict, published in almost every yachting journal, was that the boat was not very good. She was criticised, for her poor quality finish, her lack of power, her uneasy motion in a seaway and poorly designed accommodation.  Mike now has a vessel, which cost him a lot more than he expected and her value has depreciated rapidly due to her poor reputation. Worse still, influenced by the press reviews, he has no great love for his boat and rarely goes out in her. He could try to sell her of course but finding a buyer won’t be easy and the selling price will be low – nothing like his original outlay. In such ways are dreams broken.