Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Survey

Dawn and I loaded her Jetta with boxes of things that are needed on the boat but not in the apartment on the night of July 4th and headed out of town at 7AM the next morning. We got about an hour away before realizing that we forgot our checkbook to pay the surveyor and the yard that would haul Windbird, and began to turn back before deciding we could just call our bank to up our daily limit and withdraw cash from an ATM. We drove for 14 hours and covered a full 1000 miles before stopping for the night in Knoxville, TN. We only had 7 hours to cover on Thursday and arrived in Myrtle Beach by 3pm. First order of business was securing an employee parking pass at the Myrtle Beach airport, and then we headed 20 miles north to Lightkeeper's Marina in Little River.

The temperature was hot (95 degrees) and sticky, and forecast to be worse for the survey on Friday. Windbird's broker, John Schwab, had bought a portable air conditioner from another client and rigged it up in Windbird's salon, bringing the cabin temperature down to a bearable 85 degrees. Windbird has aircon but the compressor (or possibly the whole unit) needs replacing. I was going to buy John's portable unit as a temporary solution if it worked well but it was unfortunately about an inch too big to stow in Windbird's largest locker, so we're just going to have to put "fix/replace A/C" as item #1 on the refit list. The portable unit would be ok to make our first night on Windbird bearable though.

John and his wife Beth stopped by Windbird shortly after we settled in, bringing a little cooler with beers in it for our first Windbird happy hour. We talked for a while and after they left, I set about pulling off the chainplate inspection panels in the cabin. Even with them off, you can't see where the chainplate penetrates the deck very well, but what I did see I didn't especially like. No worries, chainplate replacement was baked into our offer. For the rest of the evening we measured lockers and cubbies, inventoried the contents of the chart table, and buttoned up the boat when a nasty-looking storm blew through. After it passed we headed to "The Officer's Club" for a late dinner - had a fantastic half-rack of ribs special for $10. When we returned we stopped briefly at John and Beth's, and then retired for the night. I was expecting an early morning as the surveyor, Neil Haynes, was known as an early starter. I was thinking 8am.

I slept well but awoke at 5:30am on Friday, July 7th, and was surprised with a knock on the hull at 7. John brought a thermos of coffee and informed me that the surveyor was already here. Whoa! I threw on a pair of shorts and emerged topsides to find Neil already hard at work. Smart guy, working while the day was still cool. He started with the on-deck survey and then moved down below. "You're making my Friday my Monday," he remarked. "There's a lot of equipment on this boat!" I stayed close to Neil throughout the day as he pointed out things that needed correcting or upgrading and occasionally asking questions. I shouldn't have been surprised given that Windbird is a 34 year old boat with a lot of miles under her keel, but there were a lot more things that needed addressing than I realized, some of them safety-critical. There weren't really any deal-breakers - just a lot of putzy stuff with a couple of bigger-ticket items thrown in. The hull and decks appeared sound, though, and Neil found no evidence of water intrusion or leaking into the cabin. "It needs work, but it's built well and it's certainly not a basketcase," was Neil's ultimate verdict.

Neil and I were still below when John and Beth came aboard at 11am and started the engine to prepare for the short quarter-mile trip down the Intracoastal to Grande Harbour Marina. When we got there, it wasn't quite full high tide. We were able to get Windbird into the slipway, but then the TravelLift straps refused to go under her skeg and keel. We waited another half hour until slack high tide, and we still couldn't get Windbird on the lift. Finally we decided we had to get her out of the slipway before the falling tide stranded her for another 12 hours. It meant we wouldn't be able to do the bottom survey today, which was really disappointing. John has hauled deeper-draft boats than Windbird (5'9") there before, so they think the slipway has recently silted in and needs to be dredged. On our way back to Lightkeepers we put up the sails and did a few other things for the sea trial. Back at the dock, Neil finished up his work and we made a quick call to the current owners to ask a couple questions. Neil said we could expect his report by the following Thursday. Unfortunately his schedule was booked solid for the next month, meaning we'd have to find another surveyor to do the bottom portion as well as a yard with more water in their well. John said he would handle arrangements for both. Meanwhile I told him that the boat needs more work than I expected, and my acceptance would require the owners to repair some things and give a price adjustment for others. He said ok, make a proposal once you have the survey report and we'll go from there.

Neil sent me the report this Thursday morning and I spent the afternoon writing a conditional acceptance offer, which I subsequently refined and sent on Friday. It basically asked that the owners repair nine safety-related items noted on the report before closing, that they give a price adjustment for five more expensive items, and that I remain responsible for correcting another sixteen items. John called last night to let me know that the owners accepted my proposal but were offering the dinghy and outboard in partial trade for the price adjustment (they weren't included in the listing or original offer, a dumb oversight on my part). Dawn and I approved their counter-proposal, so pending the bottom survey we have a deal. That will take place this Tuesday. Fingers crossed!

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