Sail away with Paul Chopin.
A blog highlighting the steps taken to purchase a yacht, getting out to sail her and the adventures, not to mention the cost(!) in putting her to sea.
In search of the 'CAT'
Having just sold Corryvreckan I knew that there was a Lagoon 380 for sale in Athens. I contacted the seller, who was out in Turkey, and made enquiries about the boat. Very 'basic' details were forthcoming but as I had time on my hands I thought it would be worth having a drive out to where the yacht was moored. The yacht was left open, in fact the sliding door did not lock. Not a good start! a look round the boat showed that it was in need of several major pieces of work. The trampoline was damaged, the door didn't function correctly, the boat needed to be anti fouled, the engines serviced and sail drive diaphragms replaced. Internally there were cosmetic work that required attending to, but as it was at the top of my budget, and the seller was not going to drop his price, this was one to walk away from. He also had two for sale in Turkey, which, on the website looked appealing, but then, so did this one.
I then saw a broker was selling one in the Caribbean, again, another Lagoon 380. This had been damaged by Hurricane Irma but the broker, a Mr David HOLT from 'The Yacht Shop' Sint Maarten, said that, for $10k to $20k this would be an exceptional boat. He sent over some photos, but none showing all the disastrous repairs that had been carried out, nor did he give me, on reflection, straight answers to the questions I raised. Foolishly, I took him at his word and arranged for three surveys to be done. One for the hull and general seaworthiness of the yacht, one for the rigging and one for the engines. The riggers refused to carry out a rig check as they deemed it to be unsafe. One of the riggers fell off when the mainsail halyard snapped as he was going up the mast. The engineer reported that a replacement starboard engine was required. The main surveyor found so many faults that she considered the boat to be uninsurable and would take many times the amount that HOLT said it would take to bring the boat up to being 'exceptional'. On top of this he claimed that the government took a 6% tax on all refunds, a claim dismissed by a large number of locals to Sint. Maarten.
One of these locals, another broker, Tony Brewer, said he had a Lagoon 380 on his books. Never chartered, had numerous upgrades recently and was worth considering. Having been caught out before when looking to buy at 'arms length' I was in two minds as to whether I ought to even consider this. I did, and employed the same surveyor that carried out the survey on the wreck, as she had been good in her appraisal of the boat. At the same time I had made enquiries about a Lagoon 39 for sale in Croatia. Before the survey had been completed I took a flight out to Split to view the '39'. If the survey didn't work out at least having seen this one, I would be interested in putting in an offer. The only problem with this boat was that it would not be available until October, meaning that my circumnavigation would be delayed a year.
The Lagoon 380 in St. Martin surveyed well but there were a number of faults that needed addressing. The standing rigging needed renewing, The gas pipes required changing, there was a small crack in the weld on the cross beam by the bow roller, the flares were out of date, the life raft needed servicing, some of the electrics needed upgrading and the emergency windows in the aft cabins had a recall upgrade that hadn't been done. Before leaving St. Martin I got the upgrades for the emergency windows, bought new flares and negotiated with my insurance company that the remaining tasks would be done when the yacht was out of the water, away from the hurricane region, in Trinidad. Hoping that the seller would reduce the price even further to take into account these essential repairs, I was mistaken. He stuck to his guns. Should I buy or should I pass on this one and consider the 39? It would make much more sense to go for the 39 as I would have no problem getting all of my bits and piece out to Croatia. But, if I bought the one in the Caribbean I would still be able to start the circumnavigation next year, and, as it happens, two of my crew were in Antigua and were prepared to fly to St. Martin to await my arrival and sail with me to wherever. Decisions, decisions!!! I hoped my heart and head were working in unison as I decided to buy the boat in St. Martin, a Lagoon 380 S2 called 'Better Together'. Next major decision, name change or not?