1.28.2015

Time to move on, again, or

"The world is your oyster". We've heard that more than once in the last 2 weeks, and while we do know that and we do realize how fortunate we are, we are both still really PO'd over this turn of events. We ended up moving off the joyless boat the day the BPO Rally was leaving Key West. We'd planned for so long for the Blue Planet Odyssey, and spent so much money and sold Celebration to make it all work out, that we've really been thrown for a loop here.

So how did this happen one might ask? Right up front we'll be critical of us. In hindsight all the signs were there, but in our enthusiasm and excitement at the change of venue, we didn't see it. Here is a great time to say a sincere thanks to all of our friends and followers as not one time in the last couple of weeks have we heard an "I told you so" in spite of the fact many of you did tell us so before it all began.

We have no doubt we made the right decision to not sail. In the end it came down to us losing trust and confidence in the captain/owners of the vessel. There were just too many undone things, too little knowledge, and too many statements made which turned out untrue. Learning the owners had owned the vessel for almost 10 years we assumed they would have sailed and known the boat. Nope. We asked for thru-hull locations and they referred to the owners manual! Fail...an owner/captain needs to know where and be able to find them in the pitch black of night with water above the floorboards. There will be no time in an emergency to discuss and certainly not checking the owners' manual. Do they work? "I believe so", another fail...so we don't know for sure the valves work, are properly assembled, no corrosion, double clamps, and sure the handle actually moves the ball, the ball's not corroded away, and it actually shuts off the water. Oh and I would be much more comfortable if they had proper backing plates/blocks with the valves lagged/bolted to in order to protect the boat from taking on water if an impact shears the outer flange. Joyless has no backing blocks let alone having the valves attached. How much anchor chain? "300 feet". Nope...150 when we (Lynn and Steve) pulled it out and measured. "The refrigeration works great and has for nine years"...nope. "We're not camping" we'd been told (one of our primary requirements/motto) but the stove hadn't been used and the owners appear to have not stayed aboard during most of the preparation. Do we have a spare alternator"?  "Do we need one"?  Yes, and here is a long list of other spares we need.  Eventually, or as Lynn describes: in an unshakably, unwaveringly ploddingly slooooooow about getting anything done...they eventually got ordered. (Pedantic became our private catch phrase.) Several critical spares (starter, seawater pump) didn't make it in time of course but the owners still believe they were ready. Then there were the lengthy and unexplainable disappearances. But the kickers: moving dock cart after dock cart of  "stuff" off  the vessel (literally filling a car all three seats and trunk as well as two giant dock boxes) before the safety inspection by Jimmy Cornell only to move it all back aboard after the inspection...deception; and where it all began "the boat is ready", "it came from the factory ready", "we'll reimburse your crew fees if something happens and we're not" we were assured in August 2014 before we wired our money to the Cornell organization. As seasoned, off-shore, licensed, mariners the vessel and more so the owners, are still far from ready.

As volunteer crew it never occurred to us that we would have to go through all their stuffed full lockers and tell them what to keep and to what to give away. They had been buying and buying and buying with no record of what was bought or where it was put or how many they bought. A lot of the stuff was still in the packaging. Yet we had no spare engine starter, alternator, or right sized ground tackle. We did have seven safety harnesses. Although to be fair, there were only five to start with but upon departure from Ft Lauderdale they couldn't be found in all the mess, so two more were bought. We had 26 life vest whistles. We had 500 spare batteries for all the various electronics, (this was after Lynn threw away about 100 that had leaked all over), but we didn't have a spoon to stir a pot. Which we understood after learning that the stove had only been used ~three times in the last nine years. Not only did the owners not cook on board, they didn't sleep there either. They were camping. They had never cruised the boat. We don't believe they'd ever sailed her either.

Why so far behind? Our opinion is a failure to embrace responsibility as captain and owner for the outfitting, preparedness, and seaworthiness of the vessel and the safety of it's crew. From an overly lengthy time in the yard where so many other items which consumed the last month of time could and should have been done (HAM License, water-maker, thru-hull checks, HF mail software familiarity, SSB installation and familiarity, engine and vessel spares, sorting and stowing necessary and personal items, measuring anchor chain, right sizing the anchor, etc., etc.) to the reason the canvas leaks (in spite of it being years past it's expected life span) were all repeatedly recited as the responsibility and fault of others. For many, and we certainly believe it to be true in this case, the dream of a circumnavigation, of the pageantry of the flags snapping in the wind and of playing music on remote islands for admiring locals, is so much more palatable than the actual doing.

Our departure from Joyless was not because of some real or perceived personality conflict. We invested a lot of equity, both in dollars and emotional capital, into supporting this dream and fully intended to make the two plus year journey. Our direct outlays in travel, storage, and crew fees (all non-reimbursable) plus the sat phone and contract well exceed $15,000. Our opportunity cost i.e. the amount of professional advise and labor donated to the effort would be invoiced by me to anyone else at $36,000 and that is entirely without any weekend or holiday differential. On top of all that we sold our beautiful seaworthy vessel and home Celebration to do this and spent months packing, transporting and storing our own lives in order to crew with Joyless. We are indeed sad, even heartbroken that we are not going but we have too much at risk with a vessel/owner/captain who is unprepared. We willfully volunteered our time and effort as crew with the excitement of sailing for the first time in years without the responsibility and liability carried by the owner and captain. We expected it to work well given what we perceived as the experience aboard having no idea she'd been sailed so little by these owners and they knew so little about her. If at the end of the day an accident or disaster occurred and the owner winced at accepting responsibility, we as the licensed mariners aboard might be held accountable and liable for the lives lost and/or damage incurred. While we have spent so much in time away from our own dreams, money, and the month of 60 hour weeks already donated toward this dream, we could not put our lives and financial future at potential risk.

So we've moved ahead a few years in our plans. We're currently in Albuquerque, looking at property and/or teardrop trailers and/or another boat and/or other crew opportunities, getting to spend time with Hannah, seeing the Revolutions Theatre Festival for the first time, eating great food, and taking it easy after the last couple months of non-stop work. Life really is good.

And there is a new blues tune in the incubator: What the Fuck Were We Thinking, We Must Have Been Drinking, When We Said We'd Crew...

Steve & Lynn


Postscript: We are being so straight forward here not so much to be critical of the owners but to let our friends and fellow mariners know some of the story. We all know good crew and good captains are not found on the internet but through word of mouth and reputation. We could provide more details and our recommendation to crew considering sailing aboard this vessel should they be interested. Our closest of friends, those we have worked with and those who watched this process from nearby boats on the dock know this situation well. Many wondered what took us so long to bail, and the offers to help us and the encouragement flowed from every direction when we moved off. In the end it is our hope to keep others safe. Of course there may well be a dissenting opinion. Please note: there are copious notes (from lists of required spares not aboard when we joined the crew to diagrams of resistance in the ground circuits) priority lists, and many photo's. Consistent with keeping a clean wake, they do not need to be public and won't be.

5 comments:

Bill Trevino said...

Nicely laid out...time to write a new chapter filled with more adventures! Be well...thanks for the blog update.

Ciao ciao ciao!

Anne and Chris said...

Everything happens for a reason, so there must be something great out there waiting for you guys!

Gail said...

Kudos to you...it is NEVER too late to pull the plug on a dangerous and ill-advised endeavor. My heart goes out to you after selling your home and, I know, part of your soul to join. Gail -- s/v Yoohoo, R/V Big Lewbowksi

BTW, 18 attempts before I could do the Recaptcha!

latecoffee.net said...

Oh my god you guys, what a disappointment for you. After reading the story I'M pissed, and I wasn't even there! I'm so sorry for you that it didn't work out, but happy that you had the experience, and the moxie, to pull the pin before we had to read a (joyless) disaster at sea story on your blog. Good luck, and good fun on whatever you decide to do next, and I'll be looking forward to reading about it here.

Greg - M/H Big Lewbowksi

janice & bob said...

sorry to hear this did not work out, but your extensive knowledge definitely got you to the right decision. We look forward to hearing what your next adventure will be.