Thursday, February 5, 2015
I decided a few years back that I really wanted to enjoy the cruising lifestyle on board a boat. With Maryse along side, I had a soul mate that also embraced the same dream. After a couple of return trips to the Bahamas I realized that the boat I had, although well equipped and fitted out, was not the boat on which I wanted to cross larger stretches of water. Hence the shopping began for a new boat. After hours of motoring up and down the coast, my thoughts of buying a trawler were seriously considered. We also considered whether a catamaran was more to liking but that fell off the list quickly as they do not go to weather well and that was one of my main criteria. We wandered the docks of the Annapolis Boat Show, both sail and power to evaluate the various choices. When all the shopping was done, I could not leave my passion for sailing behind – just yet! The trawlers will have to wait for a number of years when sailing will be just too physically challenging – but Maryse and I are blessed to not be at that stage yet.
So now that we knew it was going to be a sailboat it was time to get serious and focus on what we wanted and could afford. The newer boats from the large production builders did not appeal to either of us. We really were determined to find a boat that would take very good care of us if the weather turned obnoxious as well as meet the requirement of just being a pretty looking boat in our eyes. The Hylas line of boats popped up to the surface quickly and stayed at the top, meeting all our criteria as well as being in the price range we needed.
It was at this time that called upon a gentleman in the boat brokerage business with whom I had the luck to work with on the purchase of more than a few boats. Scott Pursell listened to what we needed and set to work on the task of finding us a new Hylas 46 and also selling the Beneteau 411. There were only two Hylas 46’s available on the east coast and the first we saw was well equipped however after a visit discovered her to be in a dreadful condition. We decided that we would not even make an offer not wanting a “project boat”. The only other Hylas was in New Orleans and she had been very very lightly used it at all. Not always a good thing! July 4th weekend we flew down to see her. WOW – Lightly used was an understatement – the interior looked like she had just left the factory. The exterior however needed some major maintenance and repairs. Maryse and I decided while there, that this was the boat we were going to go after. Little did Scott P realize what lay ahead! Negotiations – offers / counter-offers continued for 5 weeks! That was followed by a flurry of activity to get the survey done on August 10th and 11th. As you can imagine the survey uncovered items that were definitely not right. This is where Scott really had his work cut out for him and it took until Sept 15th to close the deal. In the end we got a great boat at a reasonable price – what more could I ask for – Thank you Scott!
New Orleans was so not the right location to work on Ambition so the decision was made to move her to Palmetto, FL for major repairs and overhaul – 12 years of no use, had left its mark on many components and systems.
Here is where I called upon another long time friend for help. Daniel Fournier stepped up and hopped on a plane to NOLA. I asked him to oversee the “must do” maintenance items prior to leaving NOLA, as well as accompany Captain Rusty Harper. Dan did a monumental job chasing contractors and parts to meet the delivery schedule. Rusty and his son as crew certainly enjoyed Dan’s galley skills on the 4-½ day trip to Palmetto. We followed their progress anxiously.
Unfortunately critical electronics systems that we thought were good, failed en-route adding to the repair list. Once safely at Regatta Pointe Marina the next flurry of activity started – getting quotes from multiple contractors for various work – Dan did a super job being my eyes and ears on board the boat while I continued to work in Montreal.
The next big move was to get Ambition out of the water at Snead Island Boat Works to get some major repairs done. Repainting the stern of the boat, sand and repaint the bottom and check a very suspect rudder. This is where things headed south on us – the rudder was much more damaged than all the experts anticipated – it could not be repaired and a new one was required – horrible news from both and expense and time standpoint. The factory – Queen Long Marine who build Hylas’ quoted a 2 week build for a new rudder – great news – and the second good news was that a local (Montreal) freight forwarder and logistic company Eurofret did their magic (thanks Nicole) and found a way to fly the 300lb 3’ by 8’ rudder from Taipei Taiwan to Tampa FL for a fantastic price. Our winter plans could be salvaged!!! We were so thrilled.
While the folks at Snead Island completed the repairs, the sail makers at Doyle were busy repairing and cleaning the sails, the upholstery company JSI was building new interior cushions, the canvas folks at Lippincott were creating all new exterior canvas.
Snead launched Ambition right before Christmas – our trigger to get going. On Dec 30 Maryse Dan and I loaded up our yellow Penske truck (grandson Cedrick called it the Big Banana Truck) with all our stuff from the old boat as well as a pile of new stuff at our storage unit in Plattsburgh NY. Underway at noon, we drove our Banana Truck south. The drive was long but uneventful and arrived in Palmetto Jan 1. It was great to see the boat again even if she was bare and empty. Daniel had flown down Dec 31 as we really needed another pair of hands to assist in knocking of almost 150+ items from a to do list. That would represent 10 to 12 hours per day 7 days a week for the three of us for 23 days straight. Dozens of trips to West Marine and Home Depot as well as what became known as the everlasting, boat contents shuffle. Each time a new contractor would arrive, we would move stuff to let them work then move it all back again when their work changed locations on board.
As the days progressed Ambition started to really come together. JSI’s new cushions were beautiful – thanks Jane, The sails went up thanks to Josh at Doyle. April took care of cleaning and polishing the deck and stainless with Maryse and Dan helping out and Nana took care of getting the lettering done – looks super. The team at Lippincott delivered a stunning new dodger and bimini complete with enclosure, screens and sunshades.
The team that we challenged the most were the guys at Freundship Marine. Jim, Tinny and Matt spent hours upon hours pulling wires to replace the dead Raymarine products. I changed the scope of the work almost each day as more items failed to perform as needed, so made the choice to replace virtually all with new Garmin instruments. Chart plotter, radar, autopilot, VHF radio, AIS transponder and finally wind, speed and depth. These guys really know their stuff, did a top notch quality install, were so much fun to learn from and their sense of humor was a delight – Thanks Jim – I will always be grateful for what I learned from you about the boat and its systems.
Daniel of course was a godsend – whether it was pulling apart the electric head – for the third time, installing 8 or 10 new pumps, changing out corroded wiring and generally knocking items off the list while I followed the contractors trying to learn as much as possible – fetching tools and helping Dan.
Maryse amazed us – how she found space of everything we brought on board is still a mystery – if we asked once, we asked her a hundred times – Maryse where is …..???? She prepared amazing meals in challenging conditions, shopped, cleaned, and polished anything that didn’t move – incredible. We also saw a new side of Maryse when she found a Palmetto cockroach climbing on the boat! She attacked the 2” long MONSTER with a vengeance! Cockroach 0 Maryse 1 – it wasn’t a quiet kill but it was effective and swift!! She is now Queen Hunter!!! She has really added her touch to making this our boat – beautiful and home for us.
January 25th – we dropped the dock lines at Regatta Pointe Marina having completed just about everything we had on the list ….. the sailing adventure really starts. We are excited, anxious, apprehensive but confident that Ambition will take care of us well.