“Never buy a boat unseen” – this is the general consensus of boat owners around the world, and is very good advice. If possible, and you are able to, this is an important step in finding the right boat and can make or break a deal. This piece of advice we were not able to follow, due to travel restrictions at the time, and we were fortunate (or clever) enough to find the right boat, at the right price, in the right condition. More about this later.
“If you buy a boat in this price range, expect to double your costs by the time she’s ready” – This bit of advice we chose to follow. So, if we had $50,000, we would be looking at boats in the $25,000 price range, with an additional $25,000 to use for registration, insurance, boat work and upgrades. We cannot emphasize this enough. There will be some unexpected and unforeseen costs, it’s almost guaranteed. If you buy a boat for $50,000, you leave yourself with nothing in reserve and the start of your sailing and cruising lifestyle will be a frustrating one, and it’s where many dreams are sunk.
Personally, we would like to add another snippet of advice, coming from personal experience. Try not to put yourself in a position where you NEED to buy a boat, as this adds stress to the process and can create unwanted urgency. We still had two years left of our 8-year plan but spent most of our spare time just looking at listings, just to see what was available out there, and for what costs. So when we started the purchase process on a 1976 Pacific 38 sailboat, built in New Zealand, named Maia (Maori – to be brave), we did not NEED to buy a boat, we just felt she was the right boat at the right time. If you give yourself this freedom of purchasing without urgency, you can be sure the right boat will eventually find her way to you and together you can really start the dream.
“Get to the price already” we hear you ask, and yes, it’s coming. Last bit of advice, promise… Do your homework. Research, research and then research some more. At this stage you should already have a list of what you are looking for in terms of design, layout and safety. You should also have narrowed down where you want to purchase and what the costs and procedures are, locally or internationally, for registration, surveys and boat work. Armed with this non-urgent environment and time for research, this is the timeline and information we were able to compile:
The first time we came across a listing for Maia was in 2019 when she was completing her 2-year voyage from New Caledonia, through Asia, and nearing Singapore. She was listed at $39,000 and her upgrades and features were completed just before the start of her voyage. The price was later dropped to $33,000 and she was sold early 2020. We are not sure of the agreed purchase price but she disappeared from our radar until mid 2021 when she was listed once again, this time at $28,000. Unfortunately for her then owner, Covid had put the world on lockdown and he was not able to pursue his dream.
To request a survey, you will need to make an offer. Usually, 10% of this offer (if accepted) would have to be transferred to an independent institution or person before a survey can be conducted. You might lose some of these funds through exchange rates and bank fees so be prepared for these charges. We offered $25,000 for Maia, which was, thankfully, accepted. This offer can be re-negotiated depending on the outcome of the survey. These surveys should be conducted by independent surveyors and it’s recommended to source your own surveyor, checking background history, experience and online presence. We requested an initial survey which would be a brief walk-through, to give us an indication of her general condition and help us decide if full surveys would be worth the time and money. We also sent as much information about ourselves to the surveyor which would help him to give us the feedback relevant to our experience and requirements. This initial walk-through was quite thorough and we were sent important details and many pictures, which gave us a good idea as to whether we should continue the process or not. Surveyors are straight shooters and don’t pull punches, this is their job and I think we found the right one. He gave us a few opportunities to chat and discuss his findings and he did not sugar-coat the results. As this was just a walk-through, no information could be given about her hull, engine etc. until a full survey was completed. He also did not offer advice as to whether we should go ahead or not, this was up to us, and he made this very clear. Armed with this information, we decided to go ahead and request a full survey.
Initial survey: $250 (including all pics and telephone discussions) Full survey: $400 (including in-water report, haul-out survey and sea-trial and follow-up discussions) Marina haul-out fees: $400 (in and out)
We should add that the above costs should be paid up front so again you have to give yourself time for bank transfers and be prepared for some small losses in bank fees and exchange rates. These survey and haul-out fees are not refundable.
Surveys were conducted with the surveyor, owner and broker present and we anxiously waited for the results, which understandably can take a few days. To be honest, we were both quite shocked when we received the details, and also, quite excited. We based all of our requirements around safety and costs. We wanted a solid hull, no major upgrades such as rigging or engine work. Her sails would need to be in good condition and she needed features which would allow her to be registered or insured. Yes, there were the expected costs such as batteries and a whole host of other issues, but nothing which caused great concern (except for a leaky shaft seal). Following a few discussions with the surveyor, and armed with the results, we dropped our offer to $24,000 and a few days later we were the proud new owners of a classic, solid sailboat, and our new forever-home.
Remember what we said about buying a boat unseen? There are actually a few pros to buying a boat unseen. Firstly, you do not make emotional decisions regarding looks and layouts, instead you make decisions depending on design, safety and construction. This was always our main priority, the ability of Maia to keep us comfortable and safe. If you have faith and trust in your surveyor and he/she gives you an un-biased and objective report, you have the information you need to make the right decision. Our survey report ended up being very accurate and informative, for which we are extremely grateful.
What’s next..? The seller needs to de-register the vessel before you can go ahead and register yourself. Once you have received these documents, you can go ahead and register, and then get the essential insurance.
Registration costs (including MMSI) for first year: $965 Required vinyl stickers: $40 Insurance for first year: $800
Now you can see where the money is going, but we still not done yet 🙂
At this stage she is back on the water and waiting for us to arrange her next haul-out so work can begin, which would include bottom work and engine service.
Marina haul-out fees: $350 (including chocking and hard-stand facilities) Monthly marina fees: $380 per month (long term rates) Electricity and water fees per month: $55
Work on her bottom, including sanding down to gel-coat, primer and anti-fouling and a hull polish. Purchase of one new starter battery and two new house batteries. Total cost: $6,350
Work on the engine included full service, replacement of shaft seal, installation of cutlass bearing, straightening of prop shaft, installation of flexible couplings and replacement of engine mounts. Same contractors also replaced two sea-cocks and all through-hulls (6) and installed battery charger. Total cost: $4,450
Remember what I said earlier about having funds in reserve? So the costs are adding up, but we’re still not done yet. Now you also need time and patience. Maia was splashed back in the water on 18 May 2022, a fantastic and exciting day filled with much joy and sense of achievement. The splash date was just over 3 months after she was taken out for the above-mentioned work. That’s 3 months of sourcing parts, waiting for shipments and back-and-forth discussions between ourselves and contractors to agree on a plan of action and get progress reports. We spent a month together on board before returning briefly to The Maldives, after which Derek returned for 3 months to complete various other projects and get her cruising ready.
Right, so now she’s back in the water and all necessary and essential work has been completed. Now starts the “home improvement” tasks. These tasks were completed by us:
Wind anemometer: $450 AIS upgrade (cable and registration): $300 Service manual bilge pump: $60 Install 2 new automatic submersible bilge pumps (including plumbing): $240 Installation of life lines: $120 Replaced all interior lighting: $300 Replaced all interior fans: $300 Replaced outboard carburetor: $60 Cockpit canvas and dodger replacement: $450 Replaced all fenders: $240 Replaced fresh-water plumbing (including faucets and shower head): $230 Installed holding tank (including vents, new sanitary plumbing and pump-out): $600 Refurbished solar trays: $180 Chain markers: $80
We were fortunate that we did not need to purchase any tools except for a cordless power drill. The previous owner left an extensive collection of tools which was unexpected and a huge money saver. If you have no tools and no collection of spare parts on board, things will get costly. We also replaced some items out of choice, not necessity and did a few upgrades on electric and plumbing connections. We then sourced and stored some glues, epoxies, paints and cleaning materials, on top of regular service items such as engine, gear oil and cleaning solutions.
Maia, as well as ourselves, will now enjoy a much-needed break before we return to Malaysia early 2023 and start our cruising lifestyle.
We have learned a lot over this past year and although it’s been a lot of hard work, we are excited about starting this next adventure in our lives.
Sure, there could have been a variety of different ways to get to where we are now, with many opinions about what we did and how we did it. We do, however consider ourselves very lucky to be able to call Maia our new forever home, and would not do anything differently.
For the latest sailing adventures in Langkawi, check out our latest release
We are nearly ready to Splash
18 April 2022 – Captain’s Log
The final shipments of parts will land today or tomorrow, including the elusive cutlass bearings. This will bring the total to four cutlass bearings, after many setbacks and delivery delays. Who needs four cutlass bearings? Well, nobody, but circumstances forced us to go to Plan B, which became Plan C etc etc…
The first order was placed and paid for but just a couple of days later, we were informed the item was out of stock. So we requested a refund and the search began all over again. The second order, this time from a different supplier, was placed and paid, and 12 days later we were informed they had no stock. Would we accept a different brand, and receive a couple extra thrown in as an apology for the delay? Sure, but please treat this as a priority and send out as soon as possible? Sure… So the priority order was quickly dispatched, and then sat for 10 days at the courier sorting destination. Frustrated by the delay, we found another supplier, placed the order, and watched the amazing cutlass race begin.
By day 2, order #1 (from here on referred to as A) realised there was competition so finally left Sydney, on route to Malaysia. Order #2 (from here on referred to as B) left Ireland on the same day. A implemented a more direct approach strategy and flew straight into Malaysia, taking a healthy lead, while B decided on a more sight-seeing route, and travelled through France, India, China, eventually landing in Malaysia. For whatever reason, A then squandered his lead by flying back out of Malaysia and into Singapore, before flying back in again the next day. At this stage, battery charger entered the race, followed closely by cabin lights. Cabin lights ran an amazing race, finishing well before the others and battery charger caught up with everyone in Penang, Malaysia. Somehow, A then managed to steal second place while B and battery charger were sent to another sorting location, so close, that if you climbed the mast, you could probably spot them. But no movement, so they are currently awaiting delivery instructions. Nobody knows their next destination, but we remain positive.
Māia has been out of the water now for two months, which is not a problem as we want to ensure things are fixed and completed properly. Shaft seal has been replaced and the shaft has been straightened. Cutlass bearing (believe it or not) has been replaced. The gearbox has been serviced and flexible couplings have been added to the drive system. Engine mounts have been replaced and the alignment has been checked and adjusted. Batteries have been replaced and once the charger arrives, will be installed and connected for shore power. We did have some engine issues just before haul out, but this has also been taken care of.
Her bottom was sanded down to her gel coat. The entire hull was given a few layers of resin and primer, and now the guys are waiting for the splash date so they can arrange the anti-fouling.
If everything goes to plan, she should be back in the water by the time we arrive in early May.
Full video of how we bought her is now available on YouTube and reasons (as well as Pros and Cons) of buying a boat unseen will be in our next post, coming soon.
As promised in our latest sailing tutorial, here are a few slides (call them cheat sheets if you wish) which you can download and keep on a tablet or smartphone for easy referencing.
All our videos can be found at: Searching for Coconuts Youtube
Our latest installment in our “Sailing for Beginners” series includes an informative look at flags, ensigns, burgees and day shapes. As promised, below are hi-res cheat sheets which can be kept on hand for quick reference when encountering the different scenarios.
Our latest installment in our “Rigging for Beginners” video series includes some safety tips for moving around on deck while reefing a mainsail. As promised, below are some slides which can be downloaded and saved for future use.
Sending a crew member on deck during adverse conditions cannot always be avoided, but there are steps which can be taken to minimise potential accidents.
It’s better to be reefed and not need it, than to need it and not be reefed. By staying updated on weather forecasts will help you prepare for weather systems which might test you and your vessel. Ocean passage guides and almanacs could also give you information regarding prevailing wind speeds and direction. This can eliminate late-night reefing maneuvers which are potentially dangerous and extremely uncomfortable. Keep an eye on barometer readings, warning signs in the sky and changing seas.
Most sailing schools and authors on the subject, as well as most safety-oriented sailors will tell you the same thing… As soon as it enters your mind, then do it. So what if the wind doesn’t blow as forecast, if the decision is made with safety in mind, it will never be the wrong decision.
Reefing is an action that sometimes needs to be completed as quickly as possible. This action will also require good communication skills and teamwork. Attempting to reef in a pressure situation without the necessary skills or planning could put you and your crew into a high-risk environment, and will seriously test your marriage/relationship and affect your future sailing plans. Not only should you and your crew be ready to reef at short notice, your vessel should be ready too. Don’t find out too late that your dingy restricts access to your reef hook or nobody remembers where the reef ties are packed.
Remember, this is usually done in rough conditions and should not be attempted without a lifejacket and harness. Finding someone who has gone overboard in such conditions is extremely difficult and will require serious advanced sailing skills by those left on board. In extreme conditions use two harness hooks so you can always be clipped in, even when moving around certain areas. Stay on the windward side of the boat and always have at least one hand on the boat at all times.
Can you do this alone..? When preparing for a long voyage, especially short-handed sailing where crews consist of couples, can one person take care of things if the other half of the team is ill or injured? That’s how prepared you need to be if safety is your top priority.
The full video and the series can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX3r4tVOxSfwLIBRJrX1iqw
After great response to our first video in the series Rigging for Beginners # 1 we are pleased to announce that chapter 2 has now been uploaded and published.
This has been a great learning experience for us, as we find ourselves with spare time on our hands, which we are using wisely. These videos are free to use and share and all comments welcomed. These are geared towards helping beginners to learn and understand basic rigging on sailboats.
Welcome to the first in a series of tutorials where we explain sailboat rigging. This is an easy-to-follow and free series aimed at assisting total beginners in gaining important information regarding sailboats and how they work.
While the rest of the world is on strict lockdown and in self-isolation, I am cruising the seas, sailing without restrictions, bottle of rum by my side, exploring the Shearwater islands.
Need to sheet in both the jib and mainsail, send the crew to their positions, engage the auto-pilot, bark out orders and go below to check the charts. We are in search of the wreck of the Princess Zara, and it’s uncharted position will be tricky to find. This old brig went down years ago and legend has it that it went down with a load of treasure, which is yet to be found. Once located, we will have to dive down to find and retrieve this bounty. We are cruising at a steady 7 knots but it’s not enough, time to motor-sail. Start the engine, full speed ahead, and soon we are moving along nicely at 8,5 knots.
This is the esail sailing simulator and it’s not only a lot of fun, it’s also very realistic and offers many aspects of sailing which will be of interest for those wanting to learn basics, practice certain skills or just have fun. I am in no way affiliated to this software, i am just a customer.
So, what can it offer..? If you are new to sailing, there are tutorials and challenges which will help you learn the terminology involved and there are introductions on how to operate this actual virtual vessel. There are also quizzes which test your knowledge on the various parts on a vessel. If you an intermediate sailor, then you can enter the live sailing arena and explore the island group, collect POIs (points of interest) and open up additional arenas. If you’re an advanced sailor then you will probably spend the time complaining that the lateral forces on the mainsail are not accurate and the anchor chain is too shiny. This is after all, just for fun.
The simulator can be found at https://www.esailyachtsimulator.com/ for an affordable $24.99. You will probably have to sign up on the Steam platform, but this is good, as it keeps leaderboards and records of other online users. This does not mean that you have to be connected to play.
By using the “learn to sail” option, the program puts you through your paces by assigning different tasks. This will teach you how to operate the motor and both it’s forward and reverse gears, the compass, the chart table, the auto-pilot and your two crew.
Further challenges include hoisting and unfurling of sails, reefing mainsail, using the anchor and how to operate the winches. The simulator has not left much out, and expect to know your sequence for topping lifts, kicking straps and jammers.
When using anchor, you even have the options of going under water to check if your anchor is holding.
There are also challenges which covers mooring, including preparation of fenders and mooring lines and using spring lines once bow and stern mooring lines are secured. When you are ready to depart, first set slip lines… all very nice…
Once you feel comfortable with the vessel and all challenges have been completed, then you can move onto live sailing. While live sailing, you can look for POIs to collect. Also great for realism, the time is running in real time, so if you start at a certain time, chances are you could enjoy the sunset. This game, however, runs in proper real time so the sun will only rise again in around 12 hours… There is a way to get around this, just set the amount of minutes in a day and you can have daylight again in less than 5 minutes. Some POIs are not charted so you will have to sail the whole area to see if you can locate the various sights and items. Once the first batch of 13 have been found, the game arena opens up with more POIs to locate. Use the chart to calculate course to steer and distance, set the auto-pilot and have a glass of rum..
If you encounter any issues or have any questions while playing, then just go the eSail community on the Steam website and check it out… https://store.steampowered.com/app/794860/eSail_Sailing_Simulator/
It’s all very cool and can provide hours of fun…
Think Maldives, and we think of epic surf breaks, dazzling white beaches and turquoise waters. Dinners on the beach, sunset cocktails and honeymoon bliss. A place blessed with amazing marine life and friendly locals, it is on most travellers’ wish list, a must-do for couples, a definite for divers. Spend your days in search of dolphins, whale-sharks or Manta Rays, indulge in spa treatments and dance the night away. Savour the mouth-watering delights served up by award-winning chefs and enjoy evening entertainment in the most romantic settings on earth.
The last thing we think about regarding Maldives, is the wind… with good reason…
With two short monsoons seasons, usually around December/January and again June/July (which is sadly, also the wet monsoon) it experiences very little wind, has limited reliable forecasts and when it does blow, thermal winds ensure that you are still using kites in the larger ranges. It can be extremely frustrating, impossible to plan around and it’s only reliable consistency, is that, at some stage, without fail, it’s going to let you down. Here we learn the value of rescue facilities, the art of quick set-ups and learn to deal with incomplete lessons. We become experts in salvaging drowned foil kites, masters of light-wind flying and are pros at replacing leaky valves (due to high temperatures and humidity). Here, time on the water is affected by boat traffic as well as other water-users, and sessions can be cut short by seaplane traffic which, for obvious reasons, take priority.
Due to these conditions, it’s understandable why the Maldives is not rated as one of the world’s best wind destinations. For those wishing to explore the world and kite exotic locations, we would probably rank as one of the last places to visit.
However, for a small group of kiters who call Maldives home, it is a magical place with special beauty and meaning. Here we learn to embrace those short sessions which are filled with enthusiasm, joy and the collective desire to progress. Also, the sunsets are beautiful and the water is warm. As in life, we have to accept what we cannot change and appreciate what we have, and not focus on what we don’t have. That been said, here follows the top 5 reasons why kite-surfing in the Maldives is so frikkin amazing.
I once had a student who had an epileptic attack during his first lesson, something he failed to mention on his registration form. He spent 3 days in hospital without even the slightest idea of why he was in Cape Town, who he was travelling with or even where he was staying. During his seizure he managed to send a 3m kite into a full downwind, power-zone, kite-loop, which picked him up and launched him into flight that Superman would have been proud of. The landing was not pretty, head first, and he ploughed a 10m long gash in the sand till we reached his quick-release.
Kite crashes and unwanted beach drags are not uncommon when you teach in high winds. This is mainly due to the performance of small kites which respond to any small steering adjustments. They leave you with very little reaction time, and although they have a smaller canopy area, they have the potential of creating huge amounts of power, sometimes unintentionally. This is what makes learning in Maldives so much easier.
The smallest kite in our school is a 9m and most lessons will start with this size, or even bigger such as a 12m. These kites turn through the air slowly which makes for a more comfortable flying experience and lowers the risk of accidents. We use these sizes due to the low winds we experience and this increases our success rate in teaching, and ultimate enjoyment for our students. With the right conditions, it is possible to have a fully confident and certified level 3 student after 8 hours of teaching, with my personal record standing at 6 hours. Of course this depends on the student and the wind conditions but teaching in lower winds (provided there is any wind) is a much more rewarding experience than trying to survive in 25/30 knots of wind with a nervous student, whose safety you are responsible for.
There aren’t any, ever. Most sessions are around 5/6 kites with a busy day seeing around 10 kites, which is rare. Still too crowded? Take a short trip to a deserted, uninhabited island by catamaran, set-up and enjoy the fact that you are the first people to ever kite there, ever. We have one spot near our island which only works once, maybe twice a year. Very few people have had the opportunity or pleasure to kite there and we anxiously wait every year to see if this unique spot will offer us some water time. We discovered it, we named it.
About those 5/6 kiters mentioned earlier. We all know each other, we know each others’ skills. We know which trick is next on our progression wish list. We see and celebrate new achievements together, and we do so with the knowledge that everyone on the water has my back, is looking out for me and is enjoying the experience as a unit or family, sharing the stoke.
Sure, nobody enjoys non-wind days, but when it’s out of your hands you best find other activities that keep you stimulated and entertained. Thankfully nature provides us with those options…
Snorkel with Manta Rays. These gentle giants can be found it great numbers in our waters, depending on area and season. Although smaller than the Oceanic mantas, these reef mantas can be found feeding off microscopic plankton on the surface, and allow us to experience some very close encounters.
Swim with Whale Sharks. Not as easy to find as Manta Rays, which makes the experience that much more special. Thankfully the Maldives have strict regulations regarding these large ocean dwellers and some areas are controlled to limit number of boats and tourists entering.
Dolphin super-pods, reef snorkelling with turtles, catamaran sailing, shark dives, stand-up-paddling, surfing (in certain atolls), and indulgent spa treatments.
If all this is not enough, Kalpitiya in Sri Lanka has great wind and is a short 90 minute flight from us.
That is, if we not too busy fixing leaky valves and washing drowned foil kites from the last session.
Not only do we kite mostly in flat, uncrowded lagoon areas, the water is an average of 28/29 degrees Celcius. Leave the wetsuits at home. No more freezing hands and toes, no more struggling to get into, and out of, a full wetsuit. Warmer waters mean longer sessions (yeah right) and students don’t tire as quickly. Kite-boarding in board-shorts is way better and more comfortable than full 3mm suits and no defrosting needed after a kite.
What about the chance to see dolphins, turtles or eagle rays while out on the water? Done…
No waves to bash students around or lost boards in the shore-break. On top of that, the Maldives climate doesn’t change much through the year so air temperatures will remain between 26-32 degrees. Makes for a hot workout but don’t worry, the drinks are always cold.
The # 1 reason we love kite-boarding Maldives is due to the fact that we don’t get to kite much at all.
This takes the stoke to a whole new level. Every bit of wind we get, we are charged and highly motivated to stick new tricks and to enjoy each gust of wind as if it’s our last, which it may well be.
The camaraderie is high and the session will be discussed and analysed for days. In the evening there is a rush to check the online videos again to check what we did right/wrong, or to check out the options for the next trick. Lighter winds also ensure that every session is a progression session. We are able to advance and try new skills and tricks as the conditions are perfect for this.
The atmosphere in the team when the next wind forecasts come through, will be one of apprehension and excitement, with hopes that this time, the wind will not let us down. As the rest of the resort goes into meltdown due to adverse weather, one small group of people are doing an “inside dance”. We have no long car trips to endure before or after sessions, we don’t need to stop for groceries for dinner, so most days are ended only once the last daylight has faded.
We don’t get to kite as often as some people around the world, but when we do, it’s in warm, crystal clear waters, with people who have been longing and praying for wind, sometimes for weeks. When we wake up and hear those palm trees rustling, we have intense excitement for the day ahead, without fail, this is how we feel, this is stoke. That’s kite-boarding in Maldives.
after days of much anticipation and eagerly watching the forecast, this morning the predicted winds finally arrived, and the ladies couldn’t wait to hit the water. These winds have been absent for around two weeks and finally we can unpack the kites and cruise the crystal clear Maldivian waters. As we usually don’t get too much wind, we are super stoked and ready to go.
We have some kite guests on the island, as well as a visitor from our sister island Hurawalhi, so by the afternoon we can expect quite a few riders.