Sunday, October 6, 2013

Leopard 38 Survey and Sea Trial

So, here we are, our second attempt at a survey and sea trial on a boat that we think could be ours. We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale on what is starting to feel like a regular commute except it was at midnight due to flight delays. Drove to a hotel in Florida City (so we would miss the morning traffic through Miami) and spent a few hours trying to get some sleep. We then continued on to Marathon for the 9am appointment at the boat. Of course, in true Florida driving fashion, our plan to miss traffic problems failed as someone managed to close the Overseas Highway by wrecking their car somewhere between Florida City and Key Largo. In the time we have spent in Florida we have seen quite a number of single car accidents on straight, flat roads in good weather and knowing the stretch of Highway 1, assume a similar situation has occurred. I do hope the people are okay. business idea...maybe I should open a driving school...

We arrive at the boat a little late due to the extended commute time and find our surveyor was already there (he apparently made it through just before the accident that detoured us). He briefs me on the issues found thus far; some through hulls don't work, some electrical issues including the generator, and a laundry list of other items in addition to the stuff we already knew about. Apparently the owner's broker had one engine running when he arrived so he couldn't do the usual cold start checks on it, and the other engine wouldn't start so they had to call for a mechanic. The mechanic came, found the somewhat hidden breaker in the engine compartment and made a temporary fix to the alternator, and we were good to go haul out the boat.

Marathon Boat Yard Lift

We head over to the marina in Marathon where we were scheduled to do the haulout. When we get there, we look at the lift and wonder if the boat will fit. We had called to verify it would, the selling agent claimed Leopard 38s (maybe even this particular boat) have been hauled out here before and we did see a Manta on the hard in the yard, so we slowly ease the boat toward the haul out slip thinking it will be close but will hopefully fit. Well, guess doesn't fit. The selling agent "tries a little harder" and wedges the boat between the bumpers...hope she didn't just damage the hull.  Have we just wasted a trip down to see a haul out that isn't going to happen?

After some phone calls, the selling agent finds the closest marina that claims they can haul out this beamy cat...but it is in Key West (the next best option is in Key Largo). The seller's agent then tried to tell my broker that we would need to help cover the cost to reposition the boat...which Pete quickly dismissed. It is the current owner's responsibility to provide the captain for the vessel as well as the costs for the sea trial and movement to an appropriate haul-out location and the buyer's (my) responsibility to pay for the costs of the haulout and surveyor (as stated in the contract). After getting everything squared away, the agent and captain might just have time to sail the boat down for a haulout the next afternoon.

Since the only reason we were in Florida was for the survey and sea trial and we had nothing better to do, we asked if we could tag along for the sail down to Key West. Just trying to make a little lemonade from the lemons we've been handed. They agreed, so the captain grabbed some provisions (sandwiches and water) and did some checks and made the boat ready for a short coastal trip. The current owner also decided to come along. So, the 5 of us head off to Key West.

Have I mentioned that this boat had been sitting in the water but had not been sailed in quite a while?

If this is a dockline, wonder what the bottom looks like
My broker and surveyor as well as I wondered how successful this attempt to reposition a boat that had not been used in a while would be, but did agree that it would also be a great opportunity (and pretty rare chance in boat buying) to really get comfortable with the boat. When we started moving the boat, it left a trail of the aquatic life attached to its hull in its wake. Someone joked that we might need to get a permit for messing with a marine habitat in order to clean the bottom. It was one dirty bottom boat, a fact that was confirmed by the 8 hours it took to make the trip from Marathon to Key West with an average speed of just about 5 knots using both the engines and sails on a very broad reach.

Toward the end of the trip, when the captain was looking for a whisker pole that the owner once thought was on board, he discovered an asymetrical spinnaker sitting under some chain in the anchor locker. Other than a rust stain (no idea why it was stored there... but if you have a boat, remember that the appropriate place to store a sail is not under a rusty chain in an anchor locker...the chain does not need a multi-thousand dollar pillow) it was in good shape, so we decided to give it a whirl to expedite our progress. Between the bits of reef that we were slowly knocking off the hull and the light air sail (the captain and selling agent had a disagreement over the precise type, so we nicknamed it bigsail [pronounced bigs'l] because it sounded less pretentious that way), we did manage a little over 6 knots toward the end of the sail with winds estimated around 15 knots. We arrived in Key West just a bit before 10pm. I'm not exacly sure when we left, but estimate it was a 7 to 8 hour sail.

So around 10 pm, we start the drive back to Marathon to check into the hotel for the night. Looks like it will be after midnight before we have a room for the second day in a row on this trip. Tomorrow, the haulout and official sea trial will hopefully occur.

While the inability to complete the survey today is a disappointment, I do have to say that I really, REALLY appreciate that those working on my behalf have been so great in the face of these frustrations.  Both Pete my broker and Jonathan my surveyor have had to deal with this extra day for the survey.  The surveyor has an appointment so he has to drive back to Ft. Lauderdale and then return to Key West tomorrow afternoon.  My broker had to change his plans so he could spend the night in Key West.  And both have been there to cover my back when needed. Still can't say enough nice things about these guys.

Update: Unfortunately I can no longer recommend either the broker or the surveyor mentioned in the above post.


  1. What an adventure, to say the least. Hope it all works out well with the haul out.

    That was a great treat to be able to go along on the re-positioning. If you end up buying the boat, at least you've already got some miles under the keel. :-)


    1. Haha...I just realized I said keel.... it's a cat! Oh well, you know what mean... Lol.

    2. Yeah, this quest to buy a boat has definitely been an adventure.

      At the time, the fiasco with the haul out seemed like a disaster, but I think getting to take that repositioning motor sail was a good thing and worth the hassle.

    3. Yep, should have been keels...plural. Most cruising cats have fixed stub keels (however some do have dagger boards). The difference between the cats and monos are the lack of heavy weights in them. ;-)

  2. Pretty exciting! An extra sail before you have any responsibility for the boat definitely sounds like a good thing. Great to hear you're working with good people, that is really encouraging.

    1. Yep, a good thing. Have gone through quite a range of emotions on this actually...excitement is fortunately one of them.