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Settled

Money is in the bank.  Last Australian bill paid.  Insurance cancelled.  Currency contract booked so our funds can sit in Australia for 3 months.

Time to breath a sigh of relief?  Too bloody right it is.

Although we believed the deal to be done there is nothing more definitive than seeing the funds show in your own bank account.  Settlement took longer than it should have done which was frustrating as the Ozzie dollar has been steadily falling off it’s recent peak against the UK pound.  Very frustrating as the tiniest changes in fx have big $$$ impacts.  It can go either way of course but the feeling is prevalent that down is the direction it’s going.

So what can I say now that I couldn’t say before?  I want to be careful here and simply stick to facts.  But we’ve reached survey twice and the two experiences were completely different.

On the whole, this second time has been more mature, more professional and less hostile than the first.

The broker for the actual sale, Jason Chipp from Ensign, worked hard all the way through, brought multiple prospects to the table, handled conflicting interests very professionally and maintained almost constant communication.

The first broker started off with the appearance of being very helpful albeit often hard to contact.  To the point where we made recommendations to friends.  As the first sale broke down we had learned the broker had used my health battle as emotional coercion which had had a very negative result on the buyers.  Then, having given both Helen and I assurances that the boat would be professionally handled during survey and that any issues that transpired would be covered, and then finding the boat had been dinged then badly tied to the dock causing dock scratches, the broker backed off any responsibility at high speed denying any responsibility from the get go.  The damage was so minor that their reaction was very hard to understand.  When pointed out that the broker was damaging the fine reputation they’d built up to that point and that we would be sharing their emails with the friends we’d made recommendations to (it would after all be disingenuous if all we did was share part of positive side of our experience) the broker threatened to tell all the brokers in the region that Dignity had failed survey and tell the same story to the prime trade magazine in the area.  This was a lie of course as there is a colossal difference between a buyer finding reasons to back out of a sale and a boat failing survey.  The broker, like an idiot, said all this in an email so I forwarded it to the magazine, the publisher and all the brokers we were in contact with so that they could read the whole thread and make their own minds up.  We did get one prospect who mentioned they’d heard that Dignity had ‘failed survey’ and wondered how that could be.  They didn’t disclose where they had heard that but for now, that first broker has now lost any shred of the benefit of doubt.  There are other reasons, which I won’t go into here, that I would suggest foreign boat sellers to steer away from this broker (if you have any idea who it is).  Contact me if you want to hear more.

You’ve perhaps seen my previous rant about the first buyer’s surveyor.  I’ve since learned more.  It turns out that that surveyor recently lost a court case where they were sued for grossly overstating cost of repairs to a boat (many, many times more than 10x) to drive survey values down to near zero.  I had thought he was a blind fool, with reckless survey procedures but it now appears he is known for doing what he does.  The second surveyor turned out to be the same surveyor we used to value Dignity for import.  The only issue we had with him (and I believe the buyer took issue too) was that he listed a slightly less than trivial item having not discussed it with the buyer and broker on the boat when all the other items were discussed.

And how each buyer handled the process was considerably different too.  The second buyer appeared above it all and ignored all the niggly things the surveyor chose to list.  This was in contrast to the first buyers who brought to our attention a lot of trivial items from the first survey (including the issues the surveyor fabricated) and even the electrics which the boat was listed as having.

Whatever the reason for all this I know the second buyer is and will continue to be happy the first buyer pulled out.  On sea trial, with the help of her new rig and sails, she flew along at 10 knots in 20 knots of wind and did well in all conditions.  His critical friends, also aboard, were completely bowled over.  She passed survey with only $400 ultimately negotiated off the contract for the item I mentioned earlier.

As you can see, it’s been a long process and it’s the frustrations that stand out more than the highlights.

So it’s done.  Dignity is sold.  The money is in the bank.  Now, bar some small details, the focus is fully on the future.  I’ll leave writing about that for the next blog.

A Poll

I’m often very surprised to see how many people continue to read my blog. The original intention of this blog was to record our sailing travels for ourselves, our family and friends. I have since learned that many others have been following our blog and this is great.

However, the challenges of 2012 have resulted in the blog transforming into an account of the premature end of our sailing/travelling dream and the new journey we’re battling my cancer and, I fully intend, our new life beyond.

There will come a time, perhaps the time she is sold, when our connection with Dignity and life aboard her will come to a complete end. (Please don’t be sad for us – it has been a privilege to have been able to do what we’ve done – we have no regrets at all).

I intend to carry on blogging as this has become more for me than just my sailing blog. I have a couple of options for how I carry on and I’m interested in my readers’ opinions on this. I could simply carry on as I have and use this blog to continue documenting our journey beyond this sailing adventure. Or I could wrap this blog up and move onto a new blog. What do you think? Use the voting buttons below or comment if you have any other ideas.

What should I do with this site?

View Results

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The waiting is over.

The waiting is over. We finally got the result. It is lymphoma.
What we had expected and been prepared for by the doctors, but still… it was hard to take in.
Our doctors have advised us to stay here in Melbourne for the first stage of chemotherapy which will start next week and take around ten weeks or so. They said Steve is still young, strong and healthy and should cope with the treatment well.
My wonderful cousin Sarah has insisted that we make ourselves at home in their garden flat for as long as we need. I can’t imagine how we would have coped without her, Russ and the family’s support.

Steve is much more positive and determined since getting the result. Now that he knows what he’s facing, he can’t wait to start treatment and fight this illness.

As for me, well I’ve always hated every storm we’ve encountered out at sea. Often I’ve said to Steve –“Never ever again.” But I did survive each bad weather, got stronger each time and found it easier to face and cope with the next one. This is a big storm of a different kind we’re facing. I know I will survive it. I know I will be stronger. I know I will cope, especially with all the love, help and support I have from my wonderful family and friends. But I absolutely dread it.

There’s a lot of planning to do. I am working out the logistic of having Dignity delivered to Australia, probably Brisbane. I am hoping that Sam will stay on to crew with whoever delivers the boat for us from Fiji. Dignity is our home and we want her safely here and ready for us to move back on to if we can or sell if we have to.

THANK YOU everyone for your comments, good wishes and offers of help. Steve and I really appreciated them. I don’t know what the future holds for us. I guess none of us really do. Given the prognosis we’ve been given, this is probably the end of our wonderful sailing adventure. We have had the most amazing three and half years. We are so lucky and happy to have had this opportunity.

At the end of the our first year sailing, Steve asked me to write a blog summarizing our first years travel which I titled
“One Year On” ( http://aboarddignity.com/blog/?cat=48&paged=2).
The last sentence I wrote was –
“There’s nothing more wonderful than to share the wonders of your adventure with someone you love.”

You know, that is absolutely true.

Thoughts on hybrid versus diesel

We lived on a hybrid boat for over three years and have converted to diesel. We have since sailed to Fiji from New Zealand and have built enough experience to share our perspective on the two systems.

Motoring

Nothing was cooler than motoring in or out of a public marina/dock silently on battery power. I still kind of miss that but that was a rare event. More importantly, with the hybrid system it was always nice to know it was on. Ie, if we needed a bit of power to avoid an obstacle, it was always instantly available. The diesel engines have to be started before use which adds a few seconds. This is a minor inconvenience really and simply not putting oneself into situations where a bit of extra power might be needed resolves this. However, it’s a comfort lost.
On the upside, the diesel engines are significantly more powerful than the old electric motors. We can motor into 20-30 knot winds with ease whereas before, this would be a struggle. Our boat, with vertical windows (great for interior space) has a lot of wind resistance when going into wind so we really feel the benefit of the more powerful motors.

Regeneration

Regeneration really only worked when on a long passage where we had good winds and could turn on the regeneration for 6 to 8 hours each day. I was surprised on our recent passage that I had to run the generator for an hour and a half to two hours per day to make up for the power consumed by the boats systems. The down side of regeneration is loss of boat speed. Even when the regen is switched off, the large props produced significant drag on the boat. With regen on we’d lose another knot. So our recent 8 day passage would likely have taken 9 days on the hybrid system.

Was the extra diesel consumption worth the extra day ashore? When we first set off I thought not. We had all the time in the world. An extra day at sea to save fuel seemed a no brainer. Now I have a different opinion. An extra day at sea is one less day on land. We can’t zero value our time aboard. This trip cost something to set up and it costs something each day we carry on. Also, an extra day at sea is an extra day we might run into bad weather. Speed is important.

Factor in the assumed reality that motoring on the hybrid system was less efficient than motoring on straight diesel, it’s hard to be sure that we ever saved any diesel at all on the hybrid system.
So, in hindsight, the regeneration aspect of the hybrid system probably was the biggest disappointment.

Sailing

As mentioned earlier, the boat is now faster. We have smaller props developing less drag. We go faster under sail. It’s hard to tell if motor sailing is any less or more efficient under either system. On the hybrid system we would give a light push under batteries for a few hours before starting the generator and recharging the batteries. Now we give a gentle push with one engine running under low revs. Hard to tell. The hybrid system was certainly quieter even with the generator running.

Resilience / Support

About once per year the hybrid system would experience a breakdown in one of the charging banks. Lagoon would always ship us a replacement but that could not last forever. The replacements were obviously coming from boats that had been converted. In fact, the original premise upon which we’d bought the boat had fallen through. We’d been interested in hybrids for some time but had always been put off by having something that may end being hard to find anyone who could support it. When Lagoon launched the 420 with the promise that all of them would be hybrids, things changed. Lagoon produces hundreds of each model so the prospect was that there would be hundreds of hybrids out there within a few years and all sorts of folks springing up to provide support services. That didn’t happen. About 70 hybrids were built of which there remain about 15 worldwide.

So the only support comes from Lagoon which, while being faultless so far, can’t be trusted to run forever. This lead us to the decision to convert to diesel. Now that we have we feel a lot more comfortable having propulsion systems that can be maintained almost anywhere in the world should an issue occur.

Other aspects

While down in New Zealand we really appreciated the availability of hot water when motoring on the port engine. With hot water also available when running the generator, it was relatively easy to ensure that we had hot water each day regardless of what we were doing. Here in the tropics it’s not so important but we certainly appreciated it there.

With Sam aboard, we are running the inverter a lot more than normal. However, it is noticeable that we have to run the generator more than we used to. Before we had two additional banks of chargers to charge the drive banks which we could tap for house energy while at anchor. We just don’t have that charging capacity anymore which translates into more hours on the generator. Certainly with less load on the generator and hence less fuel consumption per hour but the extra time is noticeable.

Summary

We enjoyed our time being a hybrid boat but definitely prefer the diesels. Mainly it’s a case of less worry. The hybrid system was over complex and had one connection anywhere broken it would have been a nightmare to troubleshoot. Now we have a simpler boat with components folks widely understand. We feel more secure.

Compared to other hybrid implementations I’ve seen the Lagoon hybrid system was over engineered. It was way more complicated than it needed to be. Some features, like the automatic starting and shutdown of the generator while motoring, we never used.

Future thoughts

I don’t think our experience would suggest the idea of an electric boat is dead. If anything, I believe we have learned enough to suggest a different future for electric boats. There are plenty of exciting developments which would make future electric boats more desirable.

Battery development. The auto industry is driving huge advances in battery development. Already, lithium ion batteries are becoming more economical for boats than standard batteries. In time this will only get better. When power can be stored for many hours of motoring we’ll be in a good spot.

Passive charging. A cruising boat spends a lot of time at anchor. There are developments in the solar charging world which could result in whole boat surfaces being solar power collectors. Coupled with greater energy storage, being able to passively top up propulsion batteries over a period of days would be ideal.

Motor power. The motors need to be as powerful as diesels.

Power Management. A better way needs to be found to share the power in the drive banks with the house systems. The 72V/12V cross chargers on our old hybrid system were inadequate. A generic system that can take power from solar, wind and generator and feed it to the drive and house banks would be ideal.

Regeneration. An option only for those who are prepared to sacrifice speed for power. Perhaps a tow generator feeding into a generic power management system.

All these things will need to come together to make a different kind of boat.  Given how the marine industry lags everything else I don’t see anything really happening for 5-10 years.

New Crew Member for 2012

Great news. Younger son Sam has made the decision to join us aboard Dignity from New Zealand to Australia next year. We are delighted. We had such great times with each of John and Ben when they spent time with us, getting to know each other better and sharing new experiences. And now we get to do the same with Sam. This means I can now take some more serious steps about organizing our trip to the Solomons next year as we’re very keen on being there for the Festival of Pacific Arts at the beginning of July.