[Kensblog] A look ahead at our 2011 cruising plans

Greetings all!

I’ve received several emails asking when Roberta and I will start this year’s cruising,and the blog will resume. 

The bad news is, “Not soon.” It’s a long boring story, but for a wide variety ofreasons, this is an unusual year, and we won’t be doing much cruising.

One hugeissue is that we have new dogs (Toundra and Lilly). The puppies are wonderful, butbecause of our travel schedule, and the small size of the dogs, getting them their shots, for travel to Europe, has been difficult. Some of the shots require90 day waiting periods, and one of our dogs, Lilly, is so tiny (2 lbs), that we’vebeen waiting for her to get larger before we felt she could safely get her shots.It’s says something about how boating-centric we are that we sought out such smalldogs. We want dogs that are small enough that we can keep them in the cabin withus on international flights. Putting the dogs in cargo on long flights can be dangerous during summer months. Many airlines refuse to fly dogs in July and August.

Our current plans are to drive through Europe, spending the summer exploring Franceand Italy, from on land, then arrive at the boat, in Turkey, in mid-September, andthen cruise for a couple of months.

Expect my blog to resume in September, with perhaps a couple of short updates betweennow and then.

We’re not missing much by not being in Turkey now. It has been raining.

Meanwhile, I’ve been in constant contact with the other two boats in our GSSRgroup…

They’ve been working their way from Hong Kong to Malaysia. If you haven’t been followingtheir blog updates, check out:



Grey Pearl:


It has been tough sitting at home reading their blog reports, and constantly wishingwe were with them.

Even when Roberta and I return to the boat in September, I’m not expecting thatmy we’ll do anything too interesting. Our hope is that Grey Pearl and Seabird willcatch up to us in Turkey in time for next season’s cruising, and we like the ideaof saving anything ‘ambitious’ for after our group reunites.

Meanwhile, Sans Souci is happily sitting in Gocek Turkey…

As you might imagine, it’s difficult to have the boat over ten thousands miles away.It’s an expensive asset to have sitting at a dock where I can’t check on it fromtime to time.

To help ensure that all goes well, I have put a maintenance firm in Gocek on retainerto keep an eye on the boat for me. And, because it can get warm in July and August,I have asked that they check the boat daily, to verify that the power is on, andthe air conditioning running. They also need to dive under the boat periodically,to verify that all is well.

Prior to the boat’s arrival in Gocek, I had extensive work done in Hong Kong, sothe boat is in very good shape.

That said, there are a few projects going on…

One of many electrical panels on Sans Souci

Within days of leaving Turkey I received an email from Riza, my maintenanceguy in Turkey, saying that the lights on the electrical panel were out. I immediatelyjumped to the conclusion that this meant the shorepower wasn’t working. The boatwill continue to run on batteries for twelve hours after pulling shorepower,so I assumed this was all that had happened.

This triggered a series of phone calls and emails where Riza tried to convince methat he knew the difference between a dead light bulb, or a blown fuse, andlost shorepower. After a bit of debugging, it turned out Riza was right. Theissue was nothing more than a failed digital meter And, the best news of all isthat he is a good “communicator.” To see his report regarding the failed electricalread-out,  CLICK HERE

Another project for Riza was to work with Furuno in Turkey to see if they couldfigure out why I couldn’t seem to install the Turkey charts on my Navnet 3d plottingsystem. Prior to my trip to Turkey, I had purchased a memory stick with the Navnet3d charts. It came along with another USB memory stick that was a ‘firmware upgrade’I’d need to apply before I could upgrade the charts. I’m fairly good with computers,so I tried to do the firmware upgrade myself. I was particularly proud of myselfwhen I saw the message appear that said “Firmware Upgrade Now Complete. Navnet 3dwill now restart.” However, ten minutes later, when I was still staring at the Navnet3dlogo, I realized something had gone wrong. It was impossible to get past the logo.Ouch.

Riza sent an email saying he had pulled the brain box for my Navnet unit, and wastaking it to Furuno. This worried me. Riza seems great, but having someone I justmet doing surgery on my boat, while I’m 10,000 miles away, is an uncomfortable feeling.Once again, my nervousness was unfounded. Within a few days, I received an emailsaying everything was put back together, and the charts installed. Yay!

So, I asked Riza to take a look at my tender. Long time readers of my blog willrecall that it was popped while fishing for Halibut at Kiska, in the Aleutian Islands.It was repaired in Japan, but has never been quite right. It has some sort of slowair leak, and is showing its age. Riza happily took on the challenge, and to seehis report on the tender repairs, CLICK HERE [NOTE: Ignore the spelling and grammatical errors in Riza’s reports. I assure you, his english is far better than my Turkish!]

And, lastly, on the topic of repairs…

I noticed, while I was on the boat, that some of the cushions were in horribleshape, particularly on the fly bridge. Although Sans Souci is still a new boat,it hasn’t been sitting still! It has already seen the extreme cold of the BeringSea, and the extreme heat and humidity of Costa Rica and Asia.  The cushionsinside the boat have held up, but the ones outside the boat are a disaster. If youhave watched the Friday the 13th series of films, you are properly preparedto see THESE PICTURES, otherwise, prepare to be shocked. We asked Scott Cole,the boat’s original decorator to get involved, and he suggested new material, CLICK HERE.

The bottom line on all of this is that I am feeling very good about the boat. Iwish I were there in Turkey, but I have no doubt that it is being taken care ofvery well.
And, a litigation update….

Regular readers of my blog might recall that I have been in what seemslike never-ending litigation with Yachtpath, a boat delivery firm.

Way back in 2007, I contracted with Yachtpath for the delivery of myboat from Costa Rica to Seattle. Unfortunately, my boat was never transported, andwe wound up in litigation. This was my first experience with litigation, anddespite winning at every turn, in both the US and British courts, it wasn’t muchfun. Nor was it profitable. My ‘winnings’ will not cover my damages andlegal fees.  

There are two sides to every story, and it wouldn’t be fair to Yachtpath to justgive my side of the story. Suffice it to say that I won, and Yachtpath has lost,and neither of us is happy with the outcome (although I’m sure I’m happier thanthey are.) It was an unfortunate event for both of us, and involved circumstancesthat were unique to my boat. I wouldn’t say that I recommend Yachtpath, butneither would I strongly advise against them. The truth is that I have recommendedthem to other boaters, even during the middle of litigation, who had positive experiences.Would I use them again? Probably not, but I doubt they are in a hurry to have meat their front door either.

Which is a long preamble to saying that I am mentioning this because…

I recently I received an email from someone who gave a large sum ofmoney to a yacht transport company, and had a terrible experience similar to my own. I don’twant to mention the company because I don’t know the details, and it wouldn’t beappropriate to comment without hearing both sides of the story.

What I can say is that shipping boats on a freighter can be a tremendous experience, suchI just had with Seven Stars, shipping my boat to Turkey, but there are lotsof horror stories out there. I recommend Dockwise Yacht Transport and Seven StarsYacht Transport, both of whom have been terrific for me, but I’ve also heard ofshipments that went wrong with each of these venders.

In this most recent event, the person involved will probably lose all of their money, and has swapped to shipping their boatwith Yachtpath. I very seriously hope that Yachtpath does a good job forthis person. As to what they can do about the money lost with the first transportcompany, I had little advice to give them. My experience shows that there is nothingdown the litigation road except pain and suffering, for everyone, except the lawyers. After discussions with otherboaters, the best we could offer was “take it to small claims court,” and our condolences. 

Should they have known they were dealing with a disaster of a company? Ilooked at the transport company’s website, and it looked perfect, like they werea wonderful company. I’m good at these things, and yet, it looked like a solid companyto me. I also may have been fooled.

That said, I do think these kinds of problems can be avoided in the future…

As a true computer geek, I always tend to think that computers are thesolution to all problems. And, sometimes, they are! There are now websites thattrack customer-vender relationships, and offer the best possible protection to thebuying public. The right time to find out who the good boat delivery companies,delivery skippers, boat maintenance facilities, marinas, etc. are,  is BEFORE you buyfrom them, not after they have your money.

Before I buy from anyone on eBay I look at their rating history. I won’t buy froma seller who does not have many transactions, or who has anything less that a 99%score. I also take the time to read the comments from past transactions and lookto see what was sold. On eBay, sellers have discovered that a perfect track recordtranslates to increased revenue, and suddenly leaving a trail of happy customersis everything. I may only be spending $50 with a seller, but if the seller doesn’ttreat me right, I will leave a negative review, and they might lose a hundred grandof future-purchase revenue. In other words, I have disproportionate power over theseller. I may be a small-time customer, but I’m an important one.

Similarly, I own an apartment building. I have a management team that watches overthe building, but I rarely go there. Instead, what I do is monitor www.ApartmentRatings.com,to see what my residents are saying about the building. My management knows thatif a negative comment appears, I’ll immediately make their life miserable. It’sa win-win relationship between myself and my residents, with a critical feedbackmechanism, both for me, the business owner, and my residents, the customers. And,of course, if there are renters who are trying to save money, by renting in someone else’sbuilding, that has low ratings, that’s their right. At least they’ll know what theyare getting into.

Some consumer discussion, of who the good and bad suppliers are, does happen in the boat business, but not enough. I participatein a number of online message boards. Discussions about the quality of various suppliers do take place, but the information isn’t well organized. It isn’t clear howI, as someone shopping for a service, finds information about the vender I’m considering.I don’t know, as someone who spends a lot of money with boat repair people,and other marine suppliers, where I can go to get up-to-date information andratings. I’ve spoken with a few other well-connected boaters, and none have a greatidea for me.

One service I use from time to time, that reviews local businesses, is http://www.yelp.com. I wrote to their business development group to askwhat they were doing in this area. They responded,  “…Some of what you have in mind is covered by Yelp – things likemarinas and boat-repair shops are on the site, though admittedly not our biggestarea. Yacht manufacturers fall a little outside our typical domain. Not sure exactlywhat you have in mind, but happy to explore ways we might be able to help. …”

I also am lobbying http://www.activecaptain.comthat they should become the focal point of user reviews of marinas, repair facilities,boat manufacturers, etc. They already have some of this information on their website.

Anyway, I can’t tell you, today, that there is one place that all of us should belooking for information, but I’m comfortable that problems, such as the one I startedthis section talking about, are going away. Within a few years, none of us willmake a purchase without having a darn good idea who we’re buying from, and whattheir track record is.

The days of bad venders are numbered.

So, in closing….

Roberta and I can’t let the summer go without being on a boat, so we havechartered a little 41′ go-fast boat (Meridian), which we’ll use in the San JuanIslands for July 4th weekend. I might write a blog, if anything interesting happens(which I hope it doesn’t!), but the odds are that this is my last blog entry untilSeptember.

Thank you everyone for reading the blog, and have a great summer!

-Ken Williams
Nordhavn 68, Sans Souci

PS Although I won’t be blogging, I do actively participate on the Nordhavn Dreamers message board. Much of the discussion is technical, but it’s also a lot of fun.

16 Responses

  1. Hi Ken,

    It’s good finally to run into you in Gocek. You may remember that I wrote to you a few months back when I met Neil Russell in Southampton to look at a 76 there. Neil suggested that I take a look at Sans Souci to get an idea about the 68.

    I will be in the Gocek area until the 2nd of October and would very much like to visit you and see your boat close up. Let me know when it’s convenient for you.

    Enjoy the Turkish Riviera, I’m sure you’ll find lots of nice little bays around. Just make sure you perfect you med-mooring technique! (A good idea is to get floating mooring lines if you don’t have them already)

    Happy Sailing!


  2. kmz file sent. Shows Google Earth image of the location you have here on the site and matches with the airport in the lower corner. Hope this eases the worry a little lol. Enjoy the blog and look forward to many many more entries. : )

  3. Can you email me a kmz file? ken at kensblog.com (http://kensblog.com)

    I just brought up google earth and tried to find my boat, and couldn’t.

    We were at the marina for over a year, so it is possible that google earth would show the boat there.

    That would be cool!

  4. was looking at google earth and looks like your bat is in Hong Kong instead of Turkey? Hong Kong Yacht and Country Club marina….

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  6. Finally a post! Looking forward to reading more. By the way If you visit Maijorca island, Spain. I have a sister that does massage and pedicure at the Serrano Palace Hotel in Cala Ratjada just a 10 min walk down the coast. Go give her some business 🙂 Her name is Kristy and she is visiting there until late October.
    Hope you enjoy the summer!

  7. I’m passing along this message I received about tenders…

    Hi Ken, sorry to see the condition of your A B inflatable dinghy, thats inflatables for you!
    I have read in Dreamers that you may look at the Bullfrog, not a bad idea. Composite construction, polythylene sides, alluminium bottom.
    May I offer a sugestion, Rotomoulded Polythylene, inbuilt floatation, CE certification with some manufacturers.
    Personaly I have seen these craft suffer some BAD treatment and survive remarkably well. They can be repaired with a heat gun and an old plastic bucket !!! so I’m told.
    While you are in Europe have a look at Fun-Yak – France & Pioner – Norway.
    Personaly I’m getting quotes & information for importing a Fun-Yak Mako Shark here to Australia and then adding a pair of retracable wheels to the stern.
    11.5′ Bullfrog weighs 425 lbs.
    12.3′ Mako Shark weighs 187 lbs.
    http://www.fun-yak.com (http://www.fun-yak.com)
    http://www.samsboats.com (http://www.samsboats.com)
    I am tired of repairing and/or replacing dinghy’s/tenders hopefully Rotomoulded Polythylene can save the day.
    Phill Politz

  8. Vic,

    If you look back a couple of blog entries I discuss all of the work that was done in Hong Kong.

    99% was just normal maintenance: Swapping filters, cleaning, bottom painting, swapping hoses, swapping thermostats, swapping impellers, etc.

    I wanted the boat as close to perfect as we can get it for cruising in the Med.

    My cruising strategy is to let the mechanics have the boat during the off-season, get everything as good as it can be, and then I take it out during the summer and just focus on having fun!

    -Ken W

  9. Jason A,

    I had Riza check all of the cushions, and all others are fine. I’ll know more when I’m in Turkey and can check them myself, but they should be fine. The fly bridge ones are the only cushions we tended to leave out in the elements. We rarely use the fly bridge, and the bench seating is under a cover, so it fools us into thinking all is fine.

    The rule going forward will be to remove the fly bridge cushions when not on the boat.

    Thank you! – Ken W

  10. SUBJECT: RE: Blog Comment Submitted

    Mike S,

    Yes! We were at the game, and having a great time. Those are my ‘normal’ seats. Unfortunately, we travel so much that we rarely get to attend games, and I wind up selling 90% of the games.

    Ken W

  11. Ken,

    Was watching the Seattle Mariners on the television a few days ago and I am nearly certain I saw you sitting in the stands behing home base. Looked like you were enjoying the game!

  12. It looks like you might have some black mold on and in those cushions. You might want to have the interior cushions tested for mold even if they look OK on the outside. I don’t know what mold control is like in a boat — I’m sure it can’t be easy — but mold can cause serious health problems that you definitely would want to avoid.

    Glad to read that the new pups are healthy!

  13. What Cedric said! ‘Tis indeed always a pleasure reading your blogs. Want to see pics of dogs, at your leisure. Would be interested to know details of the work you had done in Hong Kong. Did things break, wear out, or simply need maintenance? Have a great summer.

  14. Markku again,

    I forgot to mention, that my boat was delivered by Seven Stars. Holland people are close mentally to Finnish people, and the whole contract was easily done. Everything went like in old movies, and my boat came one day early.


  15. Hi Ken and your Crew. It has been a pleaser for me to read about your journey. What a yacht, and what a lovely texture!

    I found you by just googling Yacht Path. My bad journey with Yacht Path finally ended last month. I live in Finland, and my boat, Grand Banks 46, was supposed to be delivered from Palma to Germany, or to Finland. Last August. I paid, stupid me, the whole money advanced. It took one year, and about 13000+18700 dollars to hear Kevins, and Dennis explanations, how to proceed from now on. Empty lies from word to word. I spent one winter at Mallorca because of this company. It was not cheap. My holidays were ruined. Nothing, NOTHING happened did they promised! Well, as Finland won ice hockey WC 2011 :))), I have couple of ice hockey players living in Miami, big boys speaking only Finnish. They visited Yacht Path office with a check in their hands on their way out of the YP office. I would never had this money back from these “businessmen” without my friends.

    Probably, if you let this out, they will read this some day. Fine. If you contact Dennis, or Kevin, tell regards from me. If you want to hear more details from my ice hockey friends, let me know to following address: markku.aittokoski@e…

    Best Regards and beautiful journey,

    Markku Aittokoski
    Airline Captain

  16. Always a pleasure reading your stuff, Ken, both here and on Dreamers. Thanks for sharing and we’ll await your next update.


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