bu·reauc·ra·cy

bu·reauc·ra·cy
bu·reauc·ra·cy

When I think back to the last year, I can’t help but to enjoy all of the accomplishments that has led to owning and operating a blue water sailboat. There have been several challenges that I never thought I would face. The biggest so far has not been broken parts, upgrades or even sailing. The very worse part has been bureaucracy. Take my boat insurance for example. I first contacted the same insurance company as the previous owner had to see about getting insurance but not only did I need to have the boat surveyed but I also needed to have prior experience owning a boat. Next I decided to use Geico since they insured my car and it did not seem like an issue to use them. The insurance company is called Seaworthy and when they accepted my premium of $800 apparently I was put on something called a ‘port restriction’. This basically means that the only time I am covered for any incident is when I’m tied up to my home port marina slip. Any other time I am not covered. Fast forward ten months and I finally realized that I have not been covered the whole time I’ve owned Satori, except while docked at home. So after several back-and-fourth calls and emails, not to mention lots of photos of their required upgrades I still need to print a form, fill it out and mail (yes snail mail) it back to them. So what were the required upgrades? First was the leaking muffler, which I had upgraded back at the beginning of this year. Uninsured because of a leaking muffler, yes. Another requirement was to ‘bolt down the cockpit floor’. Okay, I understand while in the Pacific Ocean I might want to have the floor secured. For sailing around the Salish Sea I cannot imagine a situation that would capsize the boat and cause the floor to fall out. So I bought some screws and nuts and ‘secured’ the floor. I will not bolt the floor down because I cannot unbolt the floor in an emergency without having another person to help because the screw head is up above and the nut down below so it requires two people to un-secure it. Next is the fuel vent hose, which my surveyor mistook a water hose for a vent hose and therefore miscommunicated this to the insurance company in the survey and I needed to prove to the insurance company of this error by taking a photo of the vent, assuming they know what they are actually looking at. The final issue that prevented me from having insurance was a navigation light issue that I fixed on the first day out sailing. I replaced the bulb because it burnt out and since then has worked fine but I need to prove to the insurance company that the bulb is in fact working again, even though it might burn out the next time I use the boat.

So fast forward to today. I sent the email on Thursday and followed up with a phone call this morning. Why did I follow up? Well, since day one Seaworthy Insurance Company has not called or emailed me about anything. I discovered that I have been without insurance because they sent a renewal document that stated this port restriction. They never followed up with me at any point in the last year even though I carried a port restriction, unknowingly. They do not care about their customers and have no idea what customer service is. The new name and brand I propose for this company is ‘Seaworthless’ and their motto, “Because we could give a shit about you or your boat, but thanks for the money”. Needless to say, I will be shopping for another insurance company even after all of this is done. I have a couple of months to look around.

Also, in case anyone is wondering about the bureaucracy involved in boat ownership, here is a list of things you need to do to own a blue water live aboard:

  • Prove to the marina that you are not pumping waste overboard every three months
  • Prove to the marina that you are insured every year
  • Boaters safety card for visiting state parks (many hours of sitting online watching Flash videos of really stupid crap)
  • FCC license for EPIRB, SSB, VHF, AIS, etc
  • NOAA registration for EPIRB
  • State vessel registration plus stickers on the hull
  • Boat tender registration or some other bizarre method of indicating that it’s a tender
  • Homeland Security vessel registration
  • Shellfish license+catch card, saltwater license and salmon/steelhead license+catch card
  • Annual mooring pass for state parks
  • Boat towing insurance

Granted, not all of these are required but for anyone living this kind of lifestyle, undoubtedly you do need all of the above but if you get caught without your license or insurance or whatever, you can expect to pay huge fines or ridiculous costs for assistance. Owning a boat outright is pretty simple. Satori doesn’t need much to keep going. Her bilge has been dry for months, her electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems are in great shape. I imagine getting her appraised would place a much higher value on her but I could care less. Boats are not investments. They are the closest thing to being alive that a human can create and therefore should not be treated as an object. They should be cared for with the same kind of attention as a family member. In return they will protect you from Neptune and keep you living a happy and fulfilled existence.

Screw you Seaworthy.

 

A few more weeks away

On the mast removing the fore and aft stays
On the mast removing the fore and aft stays

This last weekend I spent some time on Satori getting the new shrouds and forestay installed and removed the fore and aft stays. I’ve learned quite a bit recently about installing and tuning rigging. I thought the entire endeavor was going to be much more difficult yet the fore and aft stays are getting replaced this coming weekend. It’s great peace of mind to know that the mast is held up by brand new steel cables and now I can rest assured that it is highly unlikely that the mast would ever fall over. When I get Satori to Seattle I will also replace all of the stays that are attached to the hull and inspect the chainplates as well to make sure nothing is rusted beyond use.

Right now the only things left before I can take Satori out to sea are getting the sails back from being repaired, getting the running rigging all strung up again and finally getting the hull painted and seacocks lubed and checked for integrity. I was planning on spending a few days with some friends doing all of the hull work myself but the timing wasn’t quite on my side. I’d like to invite some of my friends in Seattle to join in on the maiden voyage but the only extended time off is right when I would be painting it during Labor Day weekend. After checking with Welch Marine in Blaine, it looks like the price is reasonable for painting and through-hull services so I am employing them to do the work. They are located about an eighth of a mile from Semiahmoo, right across the harbor and it would be convenient to get it done before the holiday weekend and then meet everyone in Anacortes to start the San Juan Island tour.

I leaned something about the bureaucratic world of boat ownership regarding boat insurance today. Once the title was signed into my name, Satori was no longer insured. Not only that but to get her insured again I must have her surveyed and some arbitrary amount of boat ownership and skippering under my belt. Boat insurance is not required by law but in order to moor in Seattle I will need liability insurance and possibly up to $500,000 of coverage. Personally I have very little skippering experience on live-aboard sailboats. Mainly because of my lack of experience with sailing but also because this is a new endeavor. Am I capable of sailing Satori and capable of keeping her from running into other boats? No less than the ‘experienced’ sailor. First of all, I’ve been cruising around the Puget Sound area for all of my life. I’ve operated vessels of all kinds with motors, sails and oars but never kept track of when and which ones. Why would I? So in effect the only folks I need to prove my experience to is the insurance company who elects to insure me. I think it’s a scam. I own a car that cost $10k more than the boat and yet no one ever ‘inspected’ the car. You can get a drivers license at the age of 16 and operate a truck larger than my boat (much larger if you include a trailer). You can also wreck it and by another but still be insured. What is this all about anyways? I suspect that boat owners are far more negligent than drivers and way more accidents happen in the water. So having never owned a boat to owning a world cruiser isn’t that simple. The federal, state and insurance bureaucracy prevents any sort of simple process.

It’s possible that I won’t have a place to moor Satori by the time I leave Blaine. If I’m required to show proof of insurance at the time I sign the mooring contract I’ll be screwed. I will schedule a survey while she is out of the water but that’s not until the end of the month. They may make an offer in less than a week and I might lose my chance to keep her in Ballard. I suppose I could just call around when I eventually get insurance and pick some other place but seriously this is bullshit.