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Buying a broken boat.


There will always be a temptation to buy a broken boat or insurance write off that has the potential to become a vessel again purely driven on the logic it is 'cheap'. This can be the start to an end and become a broken dream and still remain a broken boat, usually due to inadequate planning or more likely budget restrictions as the depth of damage outstrips the depth of pocket. It is not for the faint of heart or technically inept if its your intention to 'do it your self'. That is a short summary of what could go wrong. This current story about to be told even though had a few lessons to be taught, for the most will hopefully end with smiles all round.


I have seen more than my fair share and variety of broken boats during my time spent in the industry, especially in 2017 when hurricane Irma arrived and destroyed 95% of all marine craft in the territory, and even today they are still plentiful to see and for sale. I have also seen a variety of disasters in real time, one vessel fell out of the slings whilst being lifted, one an out rigger of a crane failed during lifting the vessel dramatically and the boom carved the boat in half. I have seen a grounded vessel unable to break the suction of the mud on an incoming tide and be swamped although previously undamaged by its grounding. Only once a vessel completely exploded, and the list goes on. Mainly damage can be accounted for and the majority of it, man has had a hand in doing it.


The first part of the story starts with a maiden voyage of the new owner on board enjoying the scenery and not the horizon. The 52ft power cat and unfortunate owner hit a reef doing an estimated 18 knots. Much to be said about keeping watch, the poor reef suffered from this collision. Nature is tough though and also gave out as good as it got with the surgical precision of a large and vengeful tin opener to both hulls and all drive gear.




The vessel was quickly salvaged with underwater hot patching, removed to a yard for insurance and quotes were sort. The usual merry-go around of events to start and to sit and wait for decisions to be made, and sit she did, for almost a year, even though some repair work had been started and stopped. It was placed to an auction house for disposal 'as is' and so we pick up the story from there.


My involvement started as the auction drew to a close. The interest peaked and sparked a flurry of calls from around the world for survey and consultation, there appeared to be four main contenders who had done their home work to purchase. Turkey, the USA, Spain and last but not least Taiwan.

All four contenders received enough information to bid confidently, and bid they did.


The figure to the winner of the auction obviously is confidential and not known to me but the new owner was happy, and the new owner came back to me for help, as he was in Taiwan and wished the vessel to be moved to Taiwan for repair. It is not easy moving a boat out of the BVI in normal times, doubly so in slow times but in a Pandemic it was almost sounding impossible PLUS that it had no real hull(s) to speak of that were not damaged and they hung together with hot patches that were completed a year earlier, whilst sinking, in the water. Nothing to drastic to over come here!

Logistics and repairs had to be carefully considered and to add a little pressure all in a time scale to suit a ship's time table arriving in the not so distant future. I was commissioned to over see the patching to retain and return enough structural integrity to ensure it could be moved and float but with out it costing too much for it was all destined to be removed later for full repair.


The ship was coming (hooray) and so the vessel was launched and then rapidly re-hauled again (Booo). Each time it was picked up and moved my heart would skip a beat as we already had a leak that was proving hard to find or stop, each time the straps would apply just that little more pressure on a weaker structure but yet she was launched once more as the ship was coming (Horray)! ..... where is the ship? .....oh (Boooooo).

No ship, for how long? Pandemics and no traffic meant the BVI was almost barren of international cargo and so time tables were constantly shifting so it transpired, it was a waiting game now until cargo could be secured to warrant a route.

Once again in the water it was deemed better for her to stay there. So a nightly watch had to be included in my 'over seeing' and a very long two and a half weeks of nervous baby sitting and monitoring internally the patch work hulls finally drew to a close (Hooray). Towed to the first stage, safely lifted and deck stored she was on her way. (Celebratory wave)

Unlike most ship to port deliveries that would normally be it, but this trip was going to be very long. It also involved not one ship but two, a hundred mile tow to meet the second ship and a prolonged stay before and during transfer to the next ship also in the water due the delay at the start. This had cost the window of stitching the two ships together.

The twitch in my eye never really relaxed until I had the great news she was finally on her way to Taiwan. The whole process took three months from start to finish, that is, to the final ship. It still had an ocean to cross, an off load and transport to her final fixing destination. The new owner took delivery in January of this year, five and a half months later since purchase and his first sighting.

We have remained in contact this whole period - Mr C - and I had successfully worked out a routine and the ability of working our time tables to suit the international time and co-ordinate a delivery of a broken vessel for some was not even possible to fix yet alone move.


The good news is she is well on her way to becoming what she once was, if not better. I am secretly excited to see the first video of the sea trial in about a months time. Broken boats are fixable, but as I stated, it is not for the faint of heart and the twitch in my eye will confirm that.





Photos reproduced with owners permission. Blog of full rebuild will be posted very shortly.




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