The Money Blizzard

So where did we last leave things? Ah, yes that blissful test sail.

See that far away, lustful look in my eye? It was actually over at that point. I was gonna buy this boat. Everything from here on out was just a formality.

So let’s run down the numbers again at this point…

The Price, The Haggle, The Ca-Ching:
Original asking price: $54,900.
My Offer: $43,000.
His Counter: $49,000.
My Counter: $46,000 (or I walk).
He accepts.
Survey turns up some wet deck and standing rigging cracks.
We split those repair costs.
Final purchase price: $42,060.

Now, let’s add the $1,500 inspection costs, the $200 paperwork fees, and the roughly $2,500 in taxes and registration.

Grand Total : $46,500.

Now this was obviously more than the $40,000 purchase price I’d wanted to hit in the beginning – but it was back to the initial price I’d agreed to and, most importantly, was well worth it for the boat I was getting. This also left me almost $4K for those repairs and upgrades I needed and wanted to get done. So, I was still near my $50K budget. Smugness set in.

I wrote the checks for this final purchase total and stepped into the heady world of yacht ownership.

Had I only known the blizzard of cash that was about to swirl around my account and blow right out the gaping hole I’d just blown in it with a beautiful sailboat.

Never Believe Estimates At Inspection
“So what do you guys think it will take to fix X”, says I during the inspection.
“Meh, it’s a pretty straightforward repair. Usually around $2,500.”, say the broker, surveyor, and yard manager in unison.
“Okay” I say, “then let’s decrease the offer by $2,500.”
“Perfect!”, reply the trio.

The problem is, you buy the boat and ALL THOSE COSTS DOUBLE! It’s a strange survey-time phenomenon called, “Let’s Just Get The Deal Done”. I’m not saying people are being intentionally misleading…but they are DEFINITELY quoting best-case scenarios. And those rarely happen with a boat. So beware this phenomenon when you get into that final haggling session. I should have taken the time to get more quotes – but I had a broker, surveyor, and yard manager throwing these numbers out – so I thought we were close. Yeaaahhhhh….no.

Let’s start with the rigging. The consensus for re-doing the standing rigging was around $5K. This came from the above trio of pros. I also ran the numbers by Knothead, a forum buddy of mine out of Florida who I knew to be a stellar rigger and seriously stand-up guy. He told me between $4K and $6K. So I figured I was in the ballpark and negotiated a $2K reduction in the asking price for the rigging.

However, after the purchase was complete, I got an actual quote from the same yard manager above that had thrown out the $5K figure during the survey. It was now almost $7K (more details below). He told me he hadn’t taken into account the fact that the B&R rig is more complex than others. Really? So his oversight was now my $2K problem. I called another rigger, just to get a second opinion, and his quote was $7K – so I figured I was still in pretty good shape. I gave the okay to the yard, South Texas Yacht Services, to git ‘er done, and told them I’d have the boat over to them that weekend.

Now, since my arm was still healing from the accident and I couldn’t yet bend it at the elbow past about 100 degrees, I needed help. The seriously awesome broker, Pat O’Neal, with Sea Lake Yacht Sales once again helped me move the boat to the yard. I can’t recommend this guy enough. If you’re buying or selling – CALL PAT!

All went well, and within a few days STYS had the mast down and had ordered the rigging. She looked pretty sad without a stick…

While the mast was down I decided to change out the VHF antenna, the lights, and replace the cups that had disappeared from the wind transducer. The old VHF antenna worked, but the rigger I used to inspect the rig during the survey thought it needed replacing. They aren’t that expensive and it was worth doing for peace of mind.

I went with a nice, powerful Glomex…

Then it was to the lights. After having some experience with rapid battery drain on our C27 while using the anchor light at night, I decided that I would put in LEDs everywhere I possibly could on this boat – starting with the anchor light. I found a really cool option in this particular multifunction light (auto-daylight on/off, strobe function, etc.):

Stecktronics STM-400

Finally, to replacing the vane and cups on the ST60 wind transducer…

Next, I worked with the electrician to pull new wire for everything in the mast except the wind transducer. It was A LOT of wire…

With all that done, I also scored myself a brand, spankin’ new Mantus Anchor through Sailnet. And the best thing about it? Greg, the owner of Mantus, DELIVERED THE ANCHOR TO THE BOAT HIMSELF since my arm was whacked!! Now that, my friends, is fantastic customer service!

I then left the re-rigging, re-stepping and re-wiring in the capable hands of STYS and started to work with Jesse on marking our new anchor rode. To do this, I decided to use zip-ties in a color coded sequence. The idea was to mark the 300′ rode in 100′ increments with green, then yellow, then red.

We would then mark it every 25′ between those colors with a series of black ties (single at 25′, double at 50…)

…then the same color plus 3 blacks to indicate the 75′ point in that segment…

…then finally to the start of the next 100′ segment.

We’ll see how this works and holds up with the windlass. But it made sense to us at the time.

So that was the end of our few projects for that weekend. We continued to purchase general “stuff” for the boat (inflatable kayak for fun, flares, inflatable pfds, fenders, life rings, running rigging, etc.). It added up VERY quickly. I was kind of amazed. THEN the bills for the yard work came in…and I realized we were squarely in the middle of a freakin’ money blizzard.

Remember that $6K estimate for the rigging? At the end of it all, we ended up at almost EIGHT THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS!!! How the hell did that happen??? I have to say, I was seriously shocked.

To be fair, let’s go back and look at a breakdown of the estimates and actuals:

Original Ballpark Estimate at Survey: ~$5,000

Actual Estimate/Bill (with parts/replacement of boom sheaves added):
-Decom/Recom of Mast: $880
-Crane/Cherry Picker Unstep: $450
-Replace All Standing Riggin & Topping Lift: $5,107
-Replace All Boom Sheaves: $555
-Total With Tax and Surcharges: $7,644

As mentioned above, I gave the okay to start work and decided to pull new wire for the mast fixtures (radar, lights, etc.) while the mast was down. I purchased all the wire based on their recommendations and worked with their guy for a couple of hours pulling it through the mast. I installed a new VHF antenna, anchor light, and transducer cup myself. And I bought a new deck/steaming light combo – which the guy riveted to the mast himself. Beyond that, he had to purchase a couple of European terminals at Radio Shack for the wind transducer and radar. Also, there were some rigging parts that needed repair/replacement which could not have been seen beforehand. So here’s the breakdown of that work:

Actual Bill:
-Labor to Replace Mast Wiring, Fixture, Bus Bar, etc.: $510
-Outside Sales: misc parts, roller furling, connector, weld spreaders, connectors, etc.: $242
-Total With Tax: $822

So here I was at right at $8,500.

This last bill seemed high since I had done a good deal of that work – and the re-wiring stuff with the recommissioning of the mast would have had to have been done anyway. So, I had a word with the yard manager and he sent me a line-itemed bill showing that they were actually already eating almost $2K in order to stick to their original estimate as possible. Here’s that breakdown:

Actual Line Items From STYS:
-Decom/Recom of Mast: $559 ($230 less than original estimate)
-Crane/Cherry Picker Unstep: $450
-Replace All Standing Riggin & Topping Lift: $7,431 (~45% more than estimate)
-Replace All Boom Sheaves: $302 (~45% less than estimate)
-Total With Tax and Surcharges: $9,558

To me, this was just insane. I mean, shouldn’t a professional yard kind of know these things when estimating? How can your estimate be FIFTY PERCENT OFF of the actual price????

Damn B&R rig! Wow.

In the end, I suppose we both got hurt on this one. So I’m not necessarily upset at STYS (they did stick to their original higher estimate on the rigging after all) – but it certainly ballooned way beyond what I was expecting. Better communication during the process would have been very helpful.

I think the biggest lesson learned here is to not add on work in the midst of a specific project. Or at least make sure you know the exact costs before getting into that additional stuff. I’ll use STYS again since they stuck to their original estimate – but I’ll be far more careful about what I ask for and what I expect.

The Blizzard of Ca-Ching:
Purchase Costs: $46,500.
The Re-Rig: $8,500.
“Stuff” Total Through July: $3,725.

Blizzard Total : $58,725.

Holy crap – this boating thing is obviously going to get ugly before it gets awesome.

And I was just getting started.

Now, a couple of weeks after paying STYS the above handsome sum, I discover that the radar and wind instruments are not getting a signal through this unholy mess in the bilge…

Ahm, does this look ABYC compatible?

It was time to speak to STYS.

More on this little nightmare as well as the new graphics and LED Bulb Swap in the next installment.

Stay tuned!

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