This past spring I travelled to Portland, Oregon to attend sea trials, and engine and hull surveys on one of my listings. A fellow Broker from Vancouver, B.C., and his client, had been in contract on this 56 foot boat and we had all arrived this day to begin the process of viewing it and removing those contingencies of his offer.
We knew challenges lay ahead before our journey even began. The mighty Columbia River was swollen to flood stage due to torrential rains and spring snow melt. Our selected boat yard for the haul-out warned us that the approach to the travel lift slip was dicey due to the strong current and we might be denied a haul-out accordingly. All parties agreed to give it a go in Vancouver-speak and arrived at the boat that morning with high hopes.
High was accurate. Six feet over the 16 foot flood level greeted us on the river level gauge. Our mechanic, hull surveyor and skipper were scheduled, present and charging for their time as they awaited our decision. At least four knots of current ran under the boat as her lines strained to keep her in her slip and pointing upstream. The debris flowing by included whole trees, deadheads and less well secured docks.
As the representative of the Seller and there to protect his interests and property, I knew the right decision was to abort the day’s activities even while knowing it could well end our deal then and there. I can’t sell damaged merchandise echoed in my head as I informed everyone we were staying securely at the slip. To untie, ease backwards in the current’s slipstream and try to turn sideways, broadside to the current, and move the 300 feet down the marina and out to the main river with only 75 feet behind us before we met the bows of the next row of boats was clearly impossible. I could almost hear the sounds of the crunching, splintering fiberglass and twisting bow rails as we were swept to a certain entanglement downstream. Worse yet was knowing it would be most unlikely that once pinned by the current against the unyielding and unfortunate boat we would become lodged against downstream, a way to extricate ourselves and move upstream against the current was not possible.
Moments after I made the call and began the sensitive restructuring and rescheduling of our sales process, I received news from the haul-out facility. A 50 foot motor yacht had ignored the boatyard’s instructions to avoid attempting to enter the travel lift slip which lay broadside to the current. That boat was now pinned again the concrete pilings downstream with no possible escape, slowly self destructing as it ground itself into a painful and totally avoidable state.
So we proceeded with the static, dockside portion of the engine survey. We pulled oil samples of the mains, gears and genset, reviewed the findings of the pre-sale, in-the-water survey and sea trials I had already conducted and enjoyed a thorough Broker and Buyer inspection of the boat. We rescheduled the under-way survey activities and modified the haul-out inspection for a future date. This was then followed by lunch at a lovely, water front restaurant after which we headed to the airport.
Better safe then sorry…….