Yesterday we sold Barefoot Life. It should have been a sad day for me, but the reality is that I said goodbye in late December, 2016, when we left our beautiful home on the water in Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI. I remember looking back from the taxi knowing it would be the last time I would see my home of 3 years. But it was surreal even then. The big boat sitting on stands out of the water with Sir Francis Drake Channel rushing by in the background. It was a hectic, chaotic few days hauling the boat, cleaning and deciding what to take and what to leave. We had not intended to leave so much of our personal items behind (mostly books and tools), but you can only take so much on the plane back and sending stuff via a shipping company proved to be more costly than what the items were worth. It was harder for me to decide what to save from my life and what to leave behind in December of 2016 than when we sold everything and decided to depart on this adventure in 2013 when we sold our home in Spokane. In 2013 it was easy. Maybe because there was so much of it and you don’t realize how much stuff you have that you don’t use and don’t need. On a boat, you don’t keep it if you don’t need it or won’t use it. There’s no extra room. So those things we were deciding to leave behind were actually useful or needed. I mean, it’s not that I can’t buy a new yoga mat or get a new cookbook, but I’d kept it all that time because I liked it and I used it. Now I had to say goodbye to my home and my yoga mat.
So here I sit in Denver, Colorado, waiting for my new home on land to be finished, saying one last goodbye to my beloved Barefoot Life as the boat officially belongs to someone else now. I hope they love their travels on Barefoot Life as much as we did.
I started the blog for my own memories and for my family to be a part of our adventure. But I will finish the blog by writing a little about selling a boat in the Caribbean. It’s my final memory. Here is the mantra for selling a boat in the Caribbean: Don’t expect much.
- I don’t know about yacht brokers anywhere else, but I tried contacting 5 brokers in the Caribbean and only heard back from 2 to say they were interesting in selling our boat. They don’t do much for 10% of the sale, but it’s far more difficult to do it without them so you’re stuck with it. I feel like I get so much more when I sell a house and realtors don’t get 10%. There are costs associated with getting the boat onto websites and brochures, so that must be where some of the 10% goes. Unless your boat is sitting in the same yard or marina that their office is in, don’t expect your boat to get shown unless it’s a fantastically low price. Seriously, our boat sold almost immediately once it was in the yard with our broker where he and his agents could just walk people to it. But it had been on the market for 8 months without a single showing (he said not a single inquiry) until it got to the marina where he’s located. Who knows, maybe that’s true, but from talking to others, they say the same thing—yacht brokers show the boats that are most conveniently located to them and don’t mention they others if they can help it. So it’s better just to know this and understand it and plan accordingly. Don’t fight it. It’s just the way it works in their world. There are so many boats on the market that they can sell what’s in front of them for the same profit as pushing a boat that is several bays or islands away.
- Pricing is difficult in the Caribbean. With all the charter yachts for sale, it’s hard to get buyers to recognize the value in all the things you’ve added. The watermaker, solar panels, AIS, additional chain, bigger anchor, bigger bimini, better dodger, sunshades, etc. It’s not even about the love and emotion we felt for the boat when we priced it originally. We must have put $30,000 in items that make the boat livable that the charter boats don’t have and all the time it takes to get the stuff installed—months of work! But a new buyer just sees the price tag and doesn’t get that the custom arch you had made to hold your 600 pound dinghy and engine stable in any seas is not included in the Moorings boat. And it will take you a month to get that installed if you’re lucky. Our yacht broker started us out much higher than what the boat sold for, which is to be expected, but if we’d been in his marina all along maybe it would have sold for more or at least faster. Can’t look back at this point.
- It’s hard to keep your boat up when you’re in Denver and it’s far, far away. When I heard we had showings, all I could think about was how dirty the boat must be from sitting on the hard without us there to clean. And if we were on the boat in the water, Stan would be performing preventive maintenance and starting the engine and keeping things up as he always did. But we’re not on the boat. I hope the new owners have someone taking care of it while they’re waiting to take off on it because, like any piece of equipment, it needs care. I would not want to come back to a moldy boat or stainless that hadn’t been polished for months. Boats are not meant to sit without care for any length of time in the Caribbean.
- It’s your boat and your money. Keep track of everything, every email and remember the squeaky wheel gets greased. I think our broker and his team have a good gig and don’t have to work very hard because you’re stuck if you want to sell in the Caribbean or maybe I’m accustomed to the American Way of working harder than what is expected of you. Maybe they have so many boats that they just couldn’t remember the particulars of our boat. We sent many, many emails repeating the features of our boat. After the first showing, the broker apologized that he couldn’t remember this and that. Another email reminding him of how much money we’d already put into the boat. He said, oh well, the buyer was really the kind of guy who would end up buying a Moorings boat, anyway. The broker closer didn’t even know that I’m a woman and Stan’s wife. We’d had our boat with them for almost a year and she referred to me as Stan’s brother. Hmmm. . . When we were waiting for the transfer of our money they “rounded” the figures, shorting us $3000 in the estimate. They said don’t panic, ALL your money will show up. Who rounds figures in a large property sale? There were a lot of these moments. The purchase of our new home has not felt this frustrating.
I feel we did a good job of taking the emotion out of the sale and we compromised more than we had originally expected just to pull the bandaid off and get it over with. Tomorrow we’ll go to our new house and measure for our new refrigerator and washer and dryer. Didn’t think I’d be saying that a year ago! Now when we hear the wind blow we don’t have to worry that our house might drag or blow into another house. No more waking up to the sound of another house dropping anchor too close in the middle of the night, no more French people pooping off their deck, no more rolling from side to side, grabbing all the drinks when a dinghy zooms by, but I do get to take extra long showers if I want, I’ll have my own washer and dryer, a big, giant refrigerator and freezer and soon . . . dogs!