You all may have heard this old saw: “The happiest day of a sailor owner is the day he finally buys his own boat”. I know you know that there is more to this this saying, but for now let´s remain here and take a closer look at this very special moment.

Finally: When the own boat arrives at last

The past year was a very successful – I´ve had the pleasure to hand over more than a dozen sailboats to their new owners. A very special occasion, a day (sometimes two or three) of the perfect hassle: After having made their decisions to buy a boat (which is mostly a process of a year of more, a couple of visits to boat shows, sea trials and at least some discussions with the respective wives) the new owner mostly has to wait for the new boat to arrive: Even with large production boat companies it can take up to a year waiting time for the boat to be made.

Controlled chaos: A boat is built.

What this feeling is all about must be a mixture of excitement, impatience, pleasant anticipation and time pressure. I often receive emails by the new owners asking if production time could be sped up or if “anything concerning delivery date” has changed. Well, anybody who has ever seen a yard might know that building a boat is more a process of controlled chaos than it has in common with, let´s say, the precision high-tech car industry. Boatbuilding, no matter if GRP or aluminium, is one hundred per cent handicraft. No robots, no high-tech (well, apart from some CNC-machines in furniture-production or cutting of GRP-mattings. Dozens of component suppliers must be co-ordinated and a lot of factors have to fall precisely into place in order to come off just nicely.

Heavy duty works: A yacht is hauled to her port of delivery

If this went just fine – with Beneteau for example the making of a 40-feet Oceanis takes six to 8 weeks, building a Berckemeyer aluminium yacht takes a couple of months building time. Well, that´s if ordered wisely: Even with the large companies producing thousands of units per year it might happen that they are simply sold out. Worse with the small brands – just like Berckemeyer – they don´t need more orders, don´t want and don´t need to expand as a company. It might take a year waiting time just to see your boat starting to getting built. Anyway, if this time has passed by and the boat is ready in the yard, it takes weeks more for the waiting owner to receive it at the jetty.

A grown up man´s puzzle: A new boat arrives

As we say: “The yard will push a piece of plastic out of the factory gates …” and that´s true: A freshly built sailboat has more in common with a grown-up man´s giant puzzle than with an oceangoing sailing vessel. After organizing a heavy-duty transport (which is a chapter for it´s own: Planning a route, acquiring all official permissions, police escorts and so forth) and hauling the huge boats through all of Europe depending on the port of delivery, the boat arrives and needs to be fitted. That´s at least one, mostly two weeks of hard work. It all begins with the unpacking of the boat and a thorough check if delivery is complete according to the order. We are speaking of a long list of individual customization objects, starting with the hull color, size of engine, set of sails, type of interior woodworks and so forth. A professional antifouling will be applied. Later the mast will be raised and rigged, sails and ropes fitted together with dozens of blocks, engines and technical equipment put into operation … a long, long list of things which need to be done. You can imagine the eagerness of the owner, when I send him the latest pictures of his boat via whatsapp …

Happy owners at a handover: So much waiting, now rewarded

And then, finally, after a year-long journey, after waiting and waiting time, after seeing the boat being build in the yard and watching the new yacht in the delivery harbor fitted and getting ready … the client then finally receives the email he was waiting for so long: “Dear Mr. Sailor, I have the pleasure to announce that your new boat is finally ready for handover. I am looking forward to seeing you at the pontoon.” What a great day, what a great occasion! I really love these moments, when the owners – mostly couples – arrive at the scene and get to see their yachts for the first time: Everything is shiny, everything is ready, everything is fine. If then the sun is shing, some wind is blowing … it´s such a perfect day, such a perfect occasion: So much happiness, so much love and dedication. Truly, that´s the happiest day of a yacht´s owner!

Selling the boat: Getting even happier

I am very much familiar with these great feelings of a proud owner of a new boat by myself as well. Although I did not had the budget to afford a new boat, acquiring a used yacht and finally taking it over from the previous owner creates a similar stirrup of feelings, excitement and happiness. I can still remember how happy I was – “owner of a sailing yacht”: How great of a title is that?! Well, of course, referring to the old say I starting this article with, there is more to the saw – you know it.

I. Am. Happy. I just bought my OLIVIA!

Because: “The happiest days in the life of a boat owner is the day he receives his boat – and the day he finally sells it.” Now we are talking! As a devoted NO FRILLS reader you have accompanied me in my adventure of finding and buying a used boat and, of course, you are familiar with my efforts in refurbishing and refitting my 45 years old GRP classic – the Pelle Petterson designed King´s Cruiser 33. In this, you gained an intimate insight in my dedication, my love and my desire to finish this boat, bring her back into the water and turn that fading beauty back into an admirable state.

Having fun during my first (and last) miles on OLIVIA

And a journey it was! Up until now some 500 net working hours of hard work have been invested by me. And during those four years on dry land, I turned her upside down, emptied the boat completely and began to renew her from keel to mast top. Over 20.000 Euros have been spent so far. Highs and lows. Hardship, excitement, setback, success – a roller coaster of all feelings and emotions imaginable. In the end, I must admit, my enthusiasm cooled down, time and again pushed by more and more disappointment, ever increasing setbacks and the hindsight, that I am not a boatbuilder nor a skilled craftsman and that – no matter what I do and how hard I try – my work will never reach the perfection and beauty of the latter. So, nearing the fourth term of working in dust, being covered with paint or spent another thousand Euros on Teak … I made a decision.

She is finally sold: Goodbye, OLIVIA

I sold my boat. I finally sold her. She is gone now. My heart aches – my heart jumps. At last, no worries, no sleepless nights, no deadline pressure, no nothing. I am as relieved as you can imagine after last refit sessions have been a pain in the ass. I am happy, I am joyful. The pressure is off and I don´t cry a tear. On the other hand, I am sad. I am sorry. I could cry. My baby is gone. My boat is sold. What can I say? There are two hearts beating in my chest. I am so thankful for those great moments, all those priceless lessons learned, tears shed, happy laughs. Good bye, OLIVIA – I hope your new owner will take you to the water, you little big boat, you have been to much of a job for me … Black Hole Refit, it had me. Now I escaped.

But you know what? I definitely need a new boat. Preferably, one that sails.


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