Isn’t she gorgeous?
Amels are found everywhere in the world.
Dave and Merry are wonderful people. I couldn’t imagine better owners from whom to buy
On separate pages, under “The Boat”, I have reviewed Air Ops, itself, the Boat Selection Process (how to decide on a particular type, make, model…) and the Boat Buying Process (the steps in how to make it work, in general). This page is meant to go through the 10 steps in the latter page, with respect to the actual transaction for Air Ops. Don’t worry — it won’t be as long.
This took years. And thoughts that I had decided. And then changing my mind. The good news — it was fun. It involved boat shows. Talks by John Kretschmer, Pam Wall, George Day and John and Amanda Neal, to name a few. Reading sailing magazines. Looking at www.yachtworld.com – endlessly. It involved buying books on how to choose a boat. And, very importantly, this was likely the cheapest thing I will ever do involving a boat. It also involved sailing as many different boats as I could.
I love the Swedish ladies — Najad, Hallberg Rassy, Malo. I also really liked the Finnish Nauticats. There are others I would have chosen, had truly northern sailing been part of my dreams. But hey, I grew up on the Canadian prairies and have actually seen enough ice and snow to last a lifetime — I don’t need to sail to either pole. I also came to love the boats from Taiwan — and almost bought a Taswell, made at the Ta-Shing boatyard.
Ultimately, I settled on Amel. Some people call Amel owners a “cult”. If so, I’m happy to join them. The Amel Owner’s group is one of the best and most active owner’s groups I have seen. And they are super willing to help each other.
While I would have loved a Super Maramu (53’, especially the post-2000 models), I decided that for budget reasons and for size, I would be happy with the 46’ Maramu, which is a bit older, doesn’t tend to come with a dishwasher (unless you add one) – but hey. I can suffer a bit. Plus, you need something for the crew to do…
So where did I find an Amel Maramu, in good condition? Not in Canada. There is only one (Super) Maramu here that I know of, and the owner is also a member of the Vancouver Bluewater Cruising Association, but his boat is in Mexico. And not for sale. I know. I checked. Go figure.
There were Maramus for sale in Tahiti, Malaysia, Greece, Italy, France, the U.K. and Mexico. That’s it. Of the 15,496 sailboats for sale in the world, today, 9 are Amel Maramus. This is of the 288 that were originally built, from 1978-1989. I understand that most are still sailing. That means that 97% of them are NOT for sale. People tend to hang on to them, for good reason. The really cool thing about their locations is that they are ALL in places I would love to sail to. These ladies get around. That is a good thing.
Going aboard is always something to be desired. But, I learned in this COVID-19 era, that more and more people are buying boats, sight-unseen. Why? Well, there are many people looking to isolate in a self-reliant way. What better way to do that, than on a boat that can travel the world. Because, even if you can’t currently travel the world (a number of places still have travel-restrictions, even by boat), you know that you can survive on such a boat for weeks or maybe even months at a time, without needing to go ashore. I learned that, in many markets, boat demand is going UP in this time of uncertainty.
So, I bought Air Ops without seeing her. No, I’m not a complete idiot (some may argue this point…). I put a number of conditions on the deal — I would get to see her, do a sea trial and a survey. But that was it.
Part of the reason I was comfortable doing so was the broker with whom I dealt, and the previous ones with whom I came close to a purchase. Both Richard Hargreaves and Mike Carkeek of www.yachtsaleswest.com gave me a very good impression of professional brokers. I also worked with surveyor Mark Ralston from Vancouver Island Marine Surveyors. Mark is thorough, practical, very personable and provides great service. These guys know boats. They sail regularly. And, they are good people. Marisa Velasco, of www.unitedyacht.com in Mexico is cut from the same cloth. She is a true professional, and also a good person. (Sorry Richard & Mike — she is cuter too…). But that played no part in why I chose to work with her — she knows her stuff, and really knows Amels. In fact, after being aboard Air Ops years ago, she bought a sister ship for herself, which she still sails today. It is hard to imagine a higher form of praise. And, because she had known the owners for years, she was able to tell me about them, and the care they put into their boat. I was sold.
I then engaged Bill Rouse, as a pre-purchase consultant. Outside of the Amel factory in La Rochelle, France (heck, maybe even including them) Bill is THE acknowledged worldwide expert on all things Amel. He also hosts the Amel Owners Group forum, with frequent guest Zoom speakers — sails, batteries, Brian Trautman from SV Delos, Jimmy Cornell, …
What does he do for the pre-purchase consulting? Well, first he chats with you to get to know what you are looking for. If you have an Amel in mind, he reviews the listing. Very carefully. And suggests things you may look for or ask about. Then, he sends out a very detailed spreadsheet to the current owners, for them to fill out (thanks again, Dave and Merry!). Of course, they turn it around in less than 24 hours, in the midst of wildfires in California. Bill then spends as long as it takes, with you, on the phone, reviewing his findings so far. This is all before you see the boat. He then sends you a list, with examples of the minimum 250 photos he wants you to take, of the boat. I thought – 250 — that’s overkill! I sent him just under 400 (his limit, before extra charges start to apply). He reviews EVERY SINGLE ONE and makes comments on them. Very quickly. He points out things you never saw, in the pictures that you took. He highlights things that need to be fixed. In my case, he mainly pointed out things that were not standard, that were better! He suggests what questions to ask. It took my chief videographer and crew member (thanks Garry!) almost a day to curate and load the photos we had taken, for Bill. Bill immediately turned his comments around for us. This was especially valuable, since he knew that we had just a few days in Mexico to be with Air Ops, so from the time of the haulout and survey, to the deadline for condition removal, time was tight. He then stays with you for any follow-up. By this time, if you aren’t already convinced by his knowledge and responsiveness, you should just buy his book on Amels. And his lifetime 24/7 support. All of these come with his list of preferred vendors, who then give you discounts on the things you will inevitably buy. Working with Bill was a pure pleasure.
So I talked to Marisa about the offer, before I made it. I wanted to make sure I was getting a fair deal, but I didn’t want to insult the owners. I made what I thought was a fair offer. They accepted. It was that simple. Even when the survey value came in about 10% lower than my offer, I was still happy. I am getting to know this boat. I know the owners. I trust them. And – I got something, after the sea trial and survey – without bargaining. Dave threw it in. In addition to the extensive spares, tools, and everything aboard, including some repairs he is doing after we reached agreement, Dave offered something of incomparable value — a lifetime of free consulting about Air Ops! I may have already asked him a question or two… Again, as I explain to my students, having an ongoing positive relationship with someone you do a deal with, often has hidden, long-term value. That was certainly my experience in this deal.
We did the sea trial, haulout and survey, all in one day. That is common. What isn’t as common is how fast the survey was. It wasn’t because Max Winter (www.marinesurvey.org) isn’t thorough – he was. It wasn’t because he is inexperienced – he has a wealth of experience, and has surveyed a number of Amels. It was simply because there wasn’t a whole lot to discover. He told me that he would highly recommend Air Ops. There were a few things, but nothing major. His report bore this out. With Max’s comments and Bill Rouse’s quick turnaround on his input, I was ready to verbally waive the conditions before I left that day. We had a binding deal.
Financing wasn’t an issue. I made sure of this before I made the offer. Cash is always a good thing to have. I will say that, from previous experience, buying a boat today is getting much tougher, especially if you need financing. Banks are not financing boats as readily. I suggest you use a marine finance broker — as I discovered, they often know more about a bank’s lending policies than the individuals working at the bank – but that is another story. In any event, that wasn’t a consideration in this deal.
Insurance is also an ever evolving field. It is a relatively easy thing to get “liability-only” insurance. You need this to dock in almost any marina, worldwide, now. You could anchor out, without it, but that’s about it. More comprehensive insurance, on older boats, is especially difficult to get. Fortunately, Richard Hargreaves had put me in touch with Sean Thompson, President of Dolphin Insurance, in Vancouver. Sean specializes in all types of marine insurance and is especially knowledgeable about bluewater cruising insurance. It also helps to know that your standing rigging is less than 10 years old. I highly recommend Sean, as well.
Closing is similar to closing on a house. But… not quite as simple when the boat is currently in one jurisdiction, registered in another and becoming registered in a 3rd. Here is where a good broker shines as well. Thanks, Marisa, for making this easy, through Siobhan Fay at Pacific Maritime Title, in Seattle. They do a fair bit of cross-border work. Siobhan made the hoops I had to jump through low and large. Which is the way I like them.
In the other post, I spoke about making lists of things to fix / change. Truthfully, this is an ongoing process, as any prospective or actual boat owner knows. I know my list is quite short, compared to others, because of Dave and Merry. Thank you both, again.
And now, as of December 8, 2020, Air Ops is mine! Time to go sailing!