Saturday, January 30, 2010

2009 Newsletter #1

Hello to Family and Friends; May 2/09

We have now been in Holland for one week and are pretty amazed at how much we’ve accomplished.

1. Fly to Amsterdam – tick
2. Start visiting boatyards looking at boats – tick
3. Choose boat and make offer – tick
4. Set up surveyor to assess boat – tick
5. Send fax to CIBC Nanaimo to have funds transferred – tick
6. Run around buying bedding, ordering mattresses for bed, order bimini top for boat, buy linens, etc – tick
7. Take car back to Amsterdam and then the train back to Geithoorn boatyard – tick tomorrow!
8. Sit and curse the bank for taking an inordinate amount of time to send funds – tick ongoing!!!!

So if I had my bottle of Southern Comfort here at the hotel, I’d have a large glass! However, we left everything except wash kit and change of clothes on the boat. We are checking out of the hotel tomorrow morning to take car back etc – see #7.

To say it has been an amazing time, albeit stressful on occasion, is an understatement. The highs were high, the lows were really low and a whole lot of trying to stay calm and zen-like in between. Our very first boatyard in Hattem almost had us heading home with our tail between our legs. The ‘blue’ boat that we had such high hopes for was a disaster. Nothing at all like the pictures on the internet and we couldn’t help but be deflated, especially after a 9 ½ hour flight. If that was what we could get for our money, then it wasn’t ever going to happen. But we headed to the hotel and felt that a good night’s sleep would make things brighter in the morning.

Like that was going to happen – after crashing and getting about 4 hours sleep, our body clocks said, get up you lazy slob – wakey, wakey! So we then headed off to Gendt to see the ‘pink’ boat. Thank goodness, this was a little better. Perfectly acceptable living quarters in terms of size and space, again very tired looking, nothing like the pictures on the internet and it had almost all of the gubbins that Phil was looking for. However, the engine is a recovered DAF from an army tank and there was no way of knowing how many hours there were on the engine. This gave us both concerns about resale as we aren’t going to be here forever. While we felt very positive we needed to see if there was value in Aphrodite. So off to Giethoorn, a most beautiful town on a holiday weekend and even though the boatyard was closed we managed to talk our way into the yard and looked at three boats. Quo Vadis was the very first boat we found online way back in September and while it had many good qualities, its age was a drawback. The second boat was a nonstarter. Yuck!!!! The third boat, Calypso was a delight. Smaller than any of the others we’d looked at but had been almost totally refurbished with the exception of the aft cabin. There was also an ‘old salt’ named David (English former submarine engineer) who was a font of information and gave us some good advice. Like – “ ignore boat #2, consider boat #1 and boat #3 is a gem but might be too small.” At last, possibilities.

So we went back the next day when it reopened and spoke with the boatyard owner and his wife. Rene and Marie-Sophie Jorna. We had communicated with them by email before we left so they knew who we were. I absolutely fell in love with Calypso – the old 10 second rule – and was smitten. Phil was leaning more towards the bigger boat but he too liked what he saw on Calypso in terms of quality of work done. However, we wanted to make sure that this was a good boat for its size as we hadn’t been looking at 10 metre boats. So off to Treherne, the Netherland’s version of the Lake District, to one of the biggest boatyards and looked at some more boats. Once again, Phil saw one with possibilities that I just couldn’t warm up to. My heart was already committed! As you can imagine it was a tense ride back to the hotel.

So the next day we returned to Geithoorn and made our offer. We made a very cheeky offer of $5000 less than an already reduced price. After a night’s thought the owner came back with a counter of an additional $1000 which was less than our top price, so we happily accepted. It is smaller than the bigger boats we started looking at but we can take guests – one couple at a time. We will have a shower added over the winter and we are going to redo the master cabin at the same time. After going over the boat today with the surveyor, Phil is even more impressed by how well the boat has been refurbished and we are feeling a little chuffed and think we paid a great price considering everything that there is on board. Once we do some additional work, it will really be a terrific boat and should have great resale value.

In the meantime, we are able to stay on the boat but not drive it until the funds actually arrive. Don’t get me started on banks, their insane and outrageous service charges and their lack of customer service. I said, “ DON”T GET ME STARTED!!!!!!!!”

So off to Amsterdam tomorrow, return the rental, find a broadband supplier so we can continue to use email and Skype. Barb emailed to say Mom isn’t well, is in hospital so I want to make sure that we can keep in touch once we leave the hotel. I’m not using FaceBook as I thought I would, so you’ll get newsletter updates as often as I can get one done.

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