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While on the flight to Puerto Rico, I commented to Rebecca that we had really made it difficult for ourselves to walk away from the boat that we were going to survey. We had invested a bunch of money to have a surveyor flown in from the USA, and we were traveling with one-way tickets. That said, we promised ourselves that if the boat wasn’t right, we would walk.

As the survey began, our minds were filled with nothing but thoughts of opportunity. As the day went on though, opportunity was replaced with doubt, and still later, concern. As we laid in bed after a very long day, our thought was that we should offer a lower price for the boat to make up for some of the deficiencies that we found. When we awoke, our thinking had shifted to instead, not purchasing the boat altogether. This was an extremely tough decision, both because of our financial and emotional investment, and the position that we’d placed ourselves in.

We had only been awake for a short time when it became apparent that we needed to get access to the internet. As there was no Wi-Fi access in our hotel room, we threw on our clothes and went down to the breakfast area. After first sending the seller a message to state our position, we started brainstorming about what to do next. Two options presented themselves: fly back to Grenada to begin all over again, or fly to Martinique to find another Amel.

We quickly checked flights and found that there was only one flight to Martinique and that it was departing in just under 3 hours. As our hotel was an hour away from the airport, we didn’t have much time to spare. We figured that we’d better go, just in case we decided that we’d want to get on that flight.

All the way to the airport we were still unsure about what to do. We travelled much of the way in silence, each of us mulling the situation over in our mind. When we set foot in the terminal, we had a bit under two hours until that flight was scheduled to depart, but still no decision had been made. Rebecca went directly to the desk to see if there was availability, and I sat down to Skype the broker in Martinique that we had previously spoken to. When Rebecca confirmed that yes, we could get on the flight, I let the broker know that we were on our way, and that we wanted to look at some boats. Our decision was made… off to Martinique we would go. We had no concrete plan, no hotel, no appointments, but we were going, and would figure it out when we got there.

“Successful people make their decisions quickly and change their minds slowly. Failures make their decisions slowly and change their minds quickly.” — Andy Andrews

I am writing this post from a quaint little efficiency apartment just up from the marina in Le Marin, Martinique. While we sat in the San Juan airport waiting to board, our broker friend made the reservation for us. The place is perfect! A bit later this morning we’ll be touring a couple of Amels that hold promise. As before, if we find the right boat, our plan is to sail it home (Grenada). If not, we’ll regroup, and come up with Plan C.


  1. I would have expected nothing less from the “dynamic duo!” Some find it hard to believe but I am starting to learn patience now that we have completed our second year!!! I am sure you two have learned it as well, never failed us yet! Good luck!

  2. Go with your gut feelings! It has certainly served you well so far 🙂

  3. The ability to walk away is a huge deal -a life skill we all should develop.

    You can’t get to the better if you won’t walk away from the bad.

    This is not a waste of time. Trying to make a not quite right boat work is a waste of time.

  4. Good luck with your search in Martinique, I hope you find the boat that you are looking for.

  5. Mike,
    I am going through the same buying process and have invested in flights and having to walk away. This is an emotional struggle that nags well after the decision is made and only resolved with finding the right boat. I feel your pain. It is difficult to weigh the emotions out of the buying equation. Best wishes for a good boat.

  6. I love spontaneous people! Makes life exciting. Good luck on your boat hunt. You’ll know in your gut when you find the right one. You obviously know how to read your feelings.

  7. Sorry the PR boat didn’t turn out. I wish all boat sellers were a bit more honest, so that things like this didn’t happen, but I guess it is what it is. Good luck in Martinique.

    • I’m not convinced the seller was fully aware of the issues. In his mind, the boat was perfect. We just had different standards of what perfect means.

  8. We had to walk away from a boat before we purchased Beagle Knot. Tough, tough decision. Depending on who you are dealing with, you are not even sure of getting the down payment back. All went well and we got our deposit back. Walking away from all that spending that is tough, particularly knowing that you will need to spend it again on the next survey. “Sunken cost fallacy” they call it in the fancy business school I went to. In other words, one should only consider future earnings and costs, not past ones when making a decision.

    • When we rejected a boat after survey the seller made noises about keeping our rather substantial deposit.

      With a good contract you are covered for most anything with the phrasing “subject to survey”, and the money should be escrowed, not deposited with the seller unless it is a completely broker free transaction. And if you are financing you are generally covered with a “subject to financing” clause as well.

      In our case it was pointing out that with this survey from an accredited and respected surveyor no bank on the planet was going to finance a boat that appraised for $100k+ less than the purchase price that got him to reluctantly agree to release the funds with the broker.

  9. Funny how the price of something is not always what you would value it. People have deep emotional bonds with their boats. I paid $X for it, I added $Y to it, it should now be worth $Z.
    Then you show up, worldly experienced, buying your own boat, adding value and maintaining it. Having a second experience with the Once Loved. Now you see a used boat and think. They want $Z, it’s going to cost me $Y to get it ship shape, I’ll offer $X. They want Z you’ll pay X, and we wonder Y we hate bartering.

  10. I think the saving grace was in your rst sentence. You were aware of your emotions going in, therefore logic ruled. And that can only be for the better.

  11. Very wonderful post here. It’s definitely ok to walk away at times – and go on to plan B or C. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  12. I am curious to know– What was wrong with boat?

    • I’d rather not get into particulars. I will just say that to make certain things right, it would have taken a bunch of money, a bunch of time, or both. I was not prepared to pay either price.

  13. Well done. Good clear thinking.

    What did you find wrong? Were they things you might have guessed from the specifications, or from the omissions?


  14. As I mentioned on Facebook we did pretty much the same thing. Flew with a top notch surveyor from the States to St. Thomas and spent three days crawling around a Hylas 54 that we ultimately rejected. I think in total between airfares, the survey, lodging etc. it cost us around $5,000 to walk away from a boat.

    It just wasn’t worth it for the price we were contracted at, and the whole thing would have been much more of a project than we wanted. Would not have met our goals or what we wanted to do and I couldn’t see the seller dropping more than $100K from the boat price since he didn’t agree with our survey.

    I still view it as maybe the best $5,000 I’ve ever spent as it saved me 20x that in repairs and maintenance and untold amount in the aggravation and heartbreak we would have experienced trying to rehab this boat long distance.

    Sounds like the right call – the saying “marry in haste, repent in leisure” is relevant here too. There is no need to rush into something you will regret.

    Le Marin is a good place to find an Amel, all of the French islands seem to have a lot of them. And the boulangerie across from the McDonald’s is first rate, but stay away from the one past the vegetable market near the square.

  15. Your adventure, from the moment of leaving that “other boat” has no doubt been filled with trepidation, anticipation, confidence and wonder. You CAN’T go wrong in my opinion. Your … living! Good luck with your newest adventure.

  16. Any “Nibbles” on ZTC? She sure treated you two rite.. I started reading ” ZTC Blog from the beginning about a month ago, I am slowly getting through it– Up to 11/12 now..

  17. The $5k will not be wasted. You now have a far better idea of what to look for in an Amel and things to look out for in the next one. When you do finally find the right one you will look back at the experience and say “thank God we didn’t buy that one in PR”,

    Good luck.


  18. I know how you feel. Just walked out of a boat deal as well. I was on an adventure trip through Colombia and Ecuador when my “dream boat” came up for sale in Singapore. I cut my trip short and flew back to Asia ( where I live ) only to find out that I couldn’t agree with the seller on down payment / surveyor terms. Well……looking for boats can be frustrating. I am already looking since 1 year +
    Good luck !


  19. Rite of passage on finding the bestest rightest boat. I am better for my experience of flying to Florida a few years ago to look at a “great” condition Admiral Catamaran. It was the biggest turd I’d seen in all my boat visits. Absolutely mislead by the broker.

    I did not bring a surveyor with – I used to do that so I felt I knew what to look for. Didn’t take me long to just walk off. The rest is history.

    It’s there somewhere for you.

    Now, if you are looking for a 1989 Ericson 28′ located in Maine, I just put that up for sale.


  20. Being a faller of your Blog– It would be nice to have new comments Emailed..
    Just a thought..

  21. Great experience to learn from and thanks for sharing it. I love following your posts and you’re both a great inspiration to us.

  22. I learned engineering theory at a university, but I learned the practical either hands-on experimentation, or by shadowing craftsmen and asking questions. The latter is easier and better.

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