Delivering the goods
Ocean Navigator|Ocean Voyager 2020
Looking at a boat like a delivery skipper
Eric Sanford

Recently, a friend asked me to deliver his boat from Florida to the Bahamas. He planned to fly in and spend a week on board with his family while I returned to Florida, then he’d fly back home while I would return to the boat and spend a few weeks bringing it back to Florida. It was December in Oregon: cold, dreary and rainy. How could I refuse?

After owning six vessels over the past 30 years, I’m still learning things about boats — but now that includes boats I don’t own. I’ve helped several friends bring their boats up and down the U.S. West Coast, Mexico and the Caribbean over the years. These have been mainly shorter hops of a week or so, sometimes with my wife, or sometimes with the owner on board and me just helping in case something goes wrong.

Being on someone else’s boat can be a difficult experience, especially after owning your own boat. You have no idea of how the boat has been treated or maintained, no idea of what spare parts or tools are on board, or what is currently broken (or recently fixed). As such, you have to start from scratch just as if it were your own boat, but I usually only have a couple days to do what typically takes me weeks. I call this “delivery triage.”

Familiarization

Every time I’ve purchased a new (to me) boat, I’ve spent several weeks getting to know it, going through the myriad systems one by one: electric (inverter, generator, solar, breakers, shore power, 12-volt and 110-volt wiring), fresh water (pumps, valves, seacocks, hoses), motors (filters, fluids, belts, valves, zincs, mounts), running gear (props, struts, shafts, zincs, rudders, bearings), navigation, lighting, bilges and pumps, refrigeration, heating, heads and black water, galley, watermaker, safety equipment, and a dozen more things.

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