Thursday, 11 October 2012

Buying a Westerly

 The Nomad on the Mountain

Ok the deal is done – well almost. Mike, the English guy I am buying the boat from is a fascinating type, retired, living on the top of a mountain in Normandy and keen to become a sailor. So, he has this boat which is too big and heavy for him to trail easily and anyway, for the moment, until he becomes a little more confident in his navigation and seamanship, he wants to sell her and purchase something lighter and more suited to sailing a lake rather than the open sea. His ultimate goal is to sail around the UK.

We agreed that with luck and honest speaking we might be able to put together a ‘win-win’ agreement.

Now, like me, Mike has time to spare but money is tight. I know I can afford this boat because I have seen the prices they tend to bring. The boat is sound but cosmetically sad. I’ll need to paint the hull and that instils fear in me – never used a spray gun in my lifeand won't trust my competence on this job with a handbrush - painting non-slip on a deck is one thing - bringing a hull back to shining brilliance is something else. I’ll also need to arrange transport and given this boat’s location it won’t be cheap.

As I’m thinking of these fators John (the unlikely boat buider) Albugh’s advice is echoing in my ear ‘if an old boat needs restoration, you will need at least twice the money spent on her purchase to bring her back’.

I’m under no illusions here – there is a lot to do and a good deal of the gear that comes with her will need replacing – the compass for example is stuck on 280 degrees. Now that in itself might be an omen – 280 degrees is the course to steer to enter my home port - Plouer Sur Rance. I know the entrance well enough now not to need the compass – but it’s kind of good to know that when I bring her in, the compass for once in its life will be reading true.

I think I mentioned earlier that whilst I am looking for simple low cost cruising, I’m not prepared to rip anyone off to obtain my goal – essentially, if I ever feel that’s what I have done – then I’ve  blown the project.

So, here is the arrangement – Mike wanted 6,500Euros, for boat, trailer and all the gear. I worked on the assumption that everyone-over values their boat – they can’t help it, and much of the 'gear' isn't worth a great deal. My entire budget for this project is 10,000 Euros – so I need to bring the purchase price down significantly. I know Mike will balk at an offer of 4,000 Euros and yet I know I could purchase a craft similar to this in the UK at that kind of price – probably with a trailer but then there would be delivery charges and that could push the overall cost back to 6,000 Euros (or pretty close) – and then I would need to paint the hull. We discussed the dilemma and then Mike came up with something.

In a previous life Mike had made a living painting horse-boxes, trailers for carrying horses behind family cars from event to event. The trailers are generally of wood and aluminium construction and owners like to have them painted in the livery colours with their names on them. We walked around the back of his house to the barn and he showed me a few examples of his work – the quality of finish was outstanding. Ah, so now I know why he’s living on a mountain – he keeps horses on it.

He needs 6,000 Euros, effectively reducing his price by 500  Euros, but he has plenty of time. His offer is to meet the cost of paints fillers, degreasers etc, prepare and paint the hull and deliver the boat to my boatyard within the price. I pay him the money when the work is done to my satisfaction and the boat is snugly berthed at the boat yard near my home. Once she arrives I’ll probably sell the trailer to recover a little of my expense.

I think we both got a good deal, he gets the money he needs but has to devote time and skill to the project, I get the boat I want delivered with a shiny, newly painted hull.

What do you think?