Sunday, 12 March 2017

I must go down to the sea today...

Around the world, wherever the climate is generally warm enough to allow for some sunbathing most of the year, massive boats like this can be found in yachting marinas. Have you ever wondered what it must cost the owner, to keep a boat like this?

Imagine the accumulated costs of:

1. Working out what to buy in the first place. How do you know it's a good one and not a turkey? (Darling, the Smith-Forbes had one of those, but said the plumbing was awful). Advice would have to be found and paid for.

2. Going to see it, wherever they're made. Yes, I'll have that one, over there... Yes, the blue one, with the heli-pad. What do you mean, that's extra? Oh, you can do me a deal on helicopter-pads? Splendid.

3. Actually buying it. Would it be one down-payment, or a set of easy instalments for the next 200 years, with interest?

4. Once you've bought it, then you've got to somehow shift the thing to wherever you want it to be. Falaraki? The Florida Keys? Singapore? (Maybe the manufacturers would cover this, within reason).

5. Mooring and harbour fees. That includes paying the security guards. Or bribing them, whichever is more effective.

6. Staffing it, when the boat isn't being used. Whether or not you go to sea, there's still windows to clean, decks to swab, engines to be maintained and checked. Did I mention the rodent control expert?

7. Hiring a crew to go voyaging with. Dilemma a) do you have them there, all the time, twiddling their thumbs if you're not there, or b) hire them from an agency for when, and if, you need them? Whoever they are, they'll need to be up-to-date with their qualifications, and know your boat's workings intimately.

8. Travelling to your boat, wherever it is. Cannes? Barcelona? That's a plane-ride away.

9. Insurance. It's not just for the little people.

10. Preventing crime and piracy when out of port. (The Gulf of Oman can be a bit hairy at times). Best hire a couple of chaps from that security company run by that friend of yours who used to be in the SAS. Piers and Clive, that's them. Marvellous chaps to have on board when you're in a scrape. Top notch.

11. Registering it with a friendly nation that offers a suitable flag of convenience. Jamaica? Panama? Whatever your international legal advice, you are then bound by the maritime law of that country. So yes, you'd best pay that lawyer to get it all sorted and tied up, just so you don't suddenly get drafted into that country's navy. Or be suspected of smuggling guns, drugs or illegal immigrants.

12. Fuel. Running costs. Depreciation. (What do you mean, you never took it out to sea last year? Oh...)

So, if someone's gone to all that trouble, I do hope they get as much fun out of it as I do with my second-hand dinghy. It has cost me about £500 to go sailing over the last few years, which includes purchase, repairs, boat yard fees, insurance, and club subscriptions. Oh, and a trolley to get it into the water. So if you live in the North-East, Newbiggin-by-the-sea Sailing Club is well worth a visit, after Easter on a Saturday. We can even lend you the boats and the gear. Come along! Find us on Facebook!  And if you don't live in the North-East, but do live near a patch of water that has a sailing club, find out what's available. It probably won't cost you an arm and a leg to hit the open water... and you definitely won't be needing Piers and Clive.

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Any requests of subjects for future posts in 2016? No idea too stupid for consideration. And yes, I know I am a bad writer, so don't bother saying that unless you can write something better. But maybe there's a topic buzzing around in your head that you'd like to see covered... because I've got a keyboard here, it's loaded with letters, and I ain't afraid to use it.