Feb 12

The sailboat roller coaster

Tag: failures,preparationjonny5waldman @ 4:43 am
Boat news has been a roller coaster lately: up, down, up, down, up, down. It started when I stopped by the Emeryville Marina two weeks ago, and found a slip for us. I’m not much of a believer in omens, but I took it as a sign when the skies cleared and a double rainbow came out just as I rolled in on my bike. I was drenched, and my glasses were all foggy/drippy, but I was smiling. I could imagine Syzygy, sitting there in the rippling water, with a view of the whole of San Francisco bay — From Mt. Tamalpais to the Golden Gate Bridge to the city to Treasure Island to the Bay Bridge. It would be perfect. Don, the harbormaster, and I chatted for a bit about details — he told me I’d have to get a $300,000 insurance policy to keep our boat there, and gave me a phone number of an insurance agent to call. So I called. The conversation didn’t go so well. Wait; calling it a conversation isn’t quite fair. It was more of an insurance agent’s interrogation: -Have you ever owned a boat before? No, hmmm. And how long have you been sailing? OK. Where’s the sailboat? It’s in Mexico? I see.. And how many people own the boat? Hmmm… that makes it difficult… The result: the agent told me he wouldn’t be able to insure us. I hung up, exasperated. If we couldn’t get insurance, we wouldn’t be able to put the boat in the marina. If we couldn’t put the boat in the marina, we wouldn’t be able to go sailing. If we couldn’t go sailing, what’d we buy a sailboat for?? Before my head began to spin too much, I tried calling another insurance agent. This conversation went better: Q: have you ever been denied coverage? A: no Q: have you been in any motor vehicle accidents, or made any claims, in the last 3 years? A: no Q: is your driver’s license in California? A: yes. Q: how many years of sailing experience do you have? A: well, um, i went to sailing camp when i was like 12, and, um, sailed a bit off the coast of maine, and in Boston, here and there… so, uh, i guess 10 years. Q: what’s the largest boat you’ve ever operated? A: um… 43 feet. Q: has matt ever been denied coverage? A: no Q: has matt been in any motor vehicle accidents, or made any claims, in the last 3 years? A: no Q: is matt’s driver’s license in California? A: yes. Q: how many years of sailing experience does matt have? A: i’d say, uh, 3 years. Q: has jon ever been denied coverage? A: no Q: has jon been in any motor vehicle accidents, or made any claims, in the last 3 years? A: no Q: is jon’s driver’s license in California? A: no, it’s in Colorado Q: how many years of sailing experience does jon have? A: i’d say, uh, 3 years. Q: OK. sounds good. A: Really? Really! Great! Q: Looks like… we can underwrite your boat for $265/year A: Wow! We’ll take it! So, the agent said, since the boat is in Mexico, they couldn’t insure it yet. Once we get it here, then they’d be able sell me an insurance plan. Fear not, the agent assured me — the rate would still be available two months hence. Greatly relieved, I emailed Jon and Matt the good news. Everything was coming together — I found a company that could truck the boat up to San Francisco, a slip in one of the best marinas around, and an agent who could insure us as soon as we got here. Of course, I still hadn’t figured out the pattern, and didn’t realize what would follow Up, Down, Up… Three days later, a letter arrived, from the insurance company. “Thank you for your interest,” it began — an auspicious start for a form letter. “Unfortunately, your request for coverage does not not fit within the underwriting limits… due to lack of experience and the vessel being kept outside the continental United States.” Let me be plain: I freaked out. I called back, and explained that while our boat is currently in Mexico, it wouldn’t be for long, and besides, we only wanted to insure it while it’s in the states, anyway. OK, the agent said. It looks like that’ll cost $550/year. I tried calling, and haggling them back down to $265, but have had little luck so far. I’m not even sure if it’s worth complaining about. Meanwhile, I’d been emailing Jazmin, at the trucking company, trying to schedule our boat delivery. (*We’d originally wanted to sail Syzygy up to San Francisco, but the logistics are a nightmare: time, currents, winds, the North Pacific swell, money, and boat repairs are all working against us.) Jon has only a week off from teaching at the end of March, so we’d been planning to spend that time in San Carlos, one last time, preparing the boat for its expensive overland journey. So I emailed Jazmin, and told her we’d like to haul Syzygy out of the water on March 26th. Her response: “I was checking the tide and we won’t have enough water to haul out until April 9th at 7 pm. If we haul out that day, we can transport on April 14th.” This was very bad news. I forwarded the email to Jon, and he left me a voicemail later that day: “I am officially demoralized… and completely fucking hate our sailboat right now. Goddamnit. Why did we buy a boat down in Mexico. Fucking shit!” So now it’s just Matt and I, headed down to Mexico in early April, to prep the boat for a very expensive (another bit of bad news) journey to San Francisco. At any rate, a few days later, Jon called with better news: the last of our parts had arrived. Actually, this was sort of bad news, because we’d ordered $4,000 dollars of assorted boat parts (wire rigging, running rigging, a toilet, hoses, turnbuckles, etc.) almost two months ago, and had hoped to have it within a couple of weeks. We should have known that shipping a pallet would be complicated, or at least slow. But, Jon called, and he was proud to report, at long last, that every little thing we’d paid for was accounted for. He told Matt that he only had one more box to open up. So he opened up the box to find… fluorescent pink lashing line. (It was supposed to be grey.) Jon laughed, while Matt expressed his fervent position on the matter, which is: there will be no pink lines on any boat Matt’s sailing. Well, they must have sent us the wrong color line, Matt said. Well, um, no, Jon countered. It looks like we gave them the wrong part number. My own feeling: when all is said and done, if we successfully a) truck the boat to San Francisco; b) put the boat in a slip; c) find someone willing to insure it; d) re-rig it without killing ourselves; and e) have a few laughs along the way, it’ll be the least of my concerns what color the friggin’ lifelines are.

One Response to “The sailboat roller coaster”

  1. jamie grisko says:

    best of luck!

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