Some time in August 2016, the former owners (David and Marian – D&M) and we agreed on a price and signed a contract for sale. Based on their schedule and prior plans, we agreed to meet at the boat in early November, get the boat ready for the water, and then have her surveyed. The major downer for this schedule was that Anna Marie was not going to be able to be part of it. As a teacher, her vacation schedule is strictly pre-arranged, so I was going to have to do this on my own.
This was all very new to Anna Marie and me: buying a Canadian flagged yacht in a foreign country (Trinidad), finding a documentation agent, selecting a surveyor, securing insurance…. Although exciting, in many respects, it was also quite scary.
Tapping the knowledge of current Amel owners who we considered friends (even though we had originally met by reading their blogs), we found a documentation agent, surveyor, and insurance broker. Things were coming together.
Jan Painter of All Yacht Registries was selected to handle all the documentation. Because we were going to be US documenting the boat, she suggested that we sail the boat to St. Thomas and sign papers there. David and Marian were willing to deliver the boat anywhere (within reason), and because they wanted to provide us with as much hands on experience as possible, I thought this was a great plan. The problem was that D&M didn’t want to be liable for what might occur on such a long journey (which we understood) and wanted the transfer of ownership to occur before we left. We decided that we would sign papers in the US Embassy in Trinidad (US soil), take ownership, and sail North. All those in favor say Aye, Aye. “Aye, Aye.”
We lined up a survey with a highly recommended surveyor who had intimate knowledge of Amels and had surveyed more than 200 of them – David Huffman from Huffman Marine Surveys (I am going to refer to him as Diver Dave – another story). We gave ourselves almost a week to prepare the boat for the water with me arriving on November 1, D&M on the 2nd, and Diver Dave on the 7th.
Some cruiser friends of D&M that were in the yard at the time working on their boats, joked that this was a masterful plan devised by D&M. They hypothesized that D&M had no plans to sell this boat. They were going to walk away from the deal for some reason, but only after I had spent a week of hard labor getting the boat ready for the water. I was just a very inexpensive boat boy!
Diver Dave would conduct the survey between the 7th and 9th, and assuming all went well, we would go to the Embassy on the 10th to execute the documents.
The recommended insurance broker was awesome, Scott Stusek, so we were good there. All we had to do was contact him with a date to bind coverage.
All went well with the Survey. Diver Dave found a handful of minor issues which included: replacing one of the starboard mizzen stays, replacing a leaking wet exhaust elbow, replacing or recharging the fire extinguishers, replacing the expired flares, and adding carbon monoxide monitors. All minor stuff. Everyone was happy. D&M were going to head out to join some friends for dinner, while I would stay back at the boat to catch up with some work and have a nice telephone conversation with Anna Marie to celebrate our good fortune.
D&M headed out to dinner, and I to the showers.
When I returned to the boat from the showers, I found one of the A/C breakers thrown. I turned off that unit, reset the breaker, and turned the A/C back on. After a few seconds, the breaker threw again. Hmm, “that’s odd”, I thought. So I turned off the unit again, reset the breaker, and left it off.
I went to the forward cabin to organize some things. As I passed the forward head, I noticed a strange crackling sound (hit the play button below).
I had no clue as to what I was hearing. After the A/C breaker being thrown, all I could come up with was that the boat was taking on water somewhere, and what I was hearing was electricity arcing somewhere.
I began to open up all the floor lockers looking for water. I searched them all (I think there are 8 of them). There was no water, but the sound was louder the closer your ear was to the hull. I checked the engine compartment – no water. I didn’t know what to do, “something is definitely wrong” is all I could think at this point. We were supposed to close on the boat at 7:15 the following morning. Once that happens, any and all problems are ours. I pondered calling Diver Dave to come over and take a look but it was 2100 hours at this point. Maybe I could call him and explain the situation and ask him to come in the morning? If there is something wrong with this boat – I need to know! What to do, what to do.
Then D&M returned. I told them how glad I was to see them. I went on to explain the entire situation. The failing A/C breaker, the noise, the fact that it sounds like arcing…
The two of them proceeded to the forward head and they both burst out in laughter. I kept asking what was so funny, but they were laughing too hard to tell me. Then finally, Marian let me know that the sounds were being made by the fish eating growth off the hull.
Who would have thought that this activity would be so loud…?
David turned on the A/C, and of course the unit turned on normally and stayed on. Don’t know which god was trying to have fun with me that night, but fun was had.