A Boat-Buyer’s Timeline

Hello campers. Thought I’d do the long-touted Boat-Buyer’s Timeline, as nothing much is going on these days – we’re still in stasis, waiting…

20th December: initial meeting and window-shopping walk around the Docklands with R. Coldest night of the year so far- not ideal!

28th Feb: boat-viewing trip to Holland. Offer made&accepted at 8.30pm on number #3 of five boats seen. (by this point we’d also secured a marine mortgage in principle from the only remaining marine mortgage brokers in the UK, RSL)

Start: looking for insurers and moorings; pursue formal mortgage offer.
Notary, surveyor etc. engaged by R in Holland

10th March – formal mortgage offer received from broker

5th April – survey takes place (by UK surveyor as they have more comprehensive insurance I believe?)

10th April – London mooring secured (lucked out – I’d do this first next time)

13th April – survey report received
Sent with valuation confirmation to: mortgage provider and insurance broker (once identified)
Mooring agreement also sent to mortgage provider

20th April – Once everyone’s happy and the boat is fully insured, it heads off with all guns blazing to iron out any kinks.
This is Departure #1.
Various kinks occur. Boat turns around and heads back to ship yard.

27th April – boat is back where it started.

3-6th May, boat is returned to the water post-repairs

Yet more repairs in the water, plus 2 public holidays in Holland last week (something to do with the king?) i.e. LOTS more faffing about…

??? Next week??? boat departs shipyard.
Departure #2. Margin for issues&holdups hopefully completely eliminated since Dep#1…

??? ETA in Kent.
Summer is now apparently over. Last week there were gales in the Dunkirk area of the Channel so this bit may take some time before the weather’s right for the crossing.
We need winds no stronger than 3-4.

SEVEN DAY COOLING OFF PERIOD (moored on the Medway, where R has said we can work on it in the meantime if we want to though we can’t stay on it)

???? depart for Barking (assuming R is available to move it immediately)

I guesstimate that last trip will take us at least two days given the size of the estuaries we’ve got to get down and back up again, and factoring in various tide requirements. Hopefully R will be happy to start moving it before the end of the cooling off period otherwise it’ll be another week down the drain.

So: 3months and counting. Not bad by house-buying standards, but pretty bad by car-buying standards and I’d say as a process it’s probably somewhere in the middle.

We will now be lucky to be drinking rose on our scabby and unscrubbed deck by the end of the Spring Bank Holiday, but I remain vaguely hopeful that we might just make it…

That said, the new plan/no plan mantra is working well so I’m not banking on anything.

Luckily – so, so luckily – my brother&sister in law have generously said they’re happy for us to stay as long as we need to, and after initial settling-in issues (involving jumping out a 1st floor window in the middle of the night and going missing for 36hours) Oscar is back to his usual chatty, friendly, relaxed self.

So we’re ok.

On reflection of this whole thing (which, as you can imagine, there’s been lots of), I don’t know how else one might go about buying a barge in Holland without the help of R or someone similar. But CRIPES ALIVE, it’s not been an easy experience – and we’re not out of the woods yet.

The main frustration is the diabolical communication and expectation management which seems to comprise giving ‘best case’ scenarios in scant detail with no reality or ‘worst case’ to temper them, making it extremely disappointing when they’re inevitably not met, and also making it impossible to plan around.

I don’t know what solution to offer to anyone looking to do the same thing, other than to apply the lessons of the above actual timeline, and take everything you hear with a bucket-load of salt until it’s happened.


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