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Yacht Deliveries – Power and Sail

“Any man who would go to sea for pleasure would go to hell for a pastime.”

The Lure of the Sea – I read that somewhere years ago and imbibed its truth, yet after more than three decades of deliveries and charters in the US, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico I still get the urge to get behind the wheel and head offshore. I have a hardy band of naval veterans to assist in any delivery as far north as Halifax and as far south as Buenos Aires.

We will prepare your vessel for sea, maintain it during the passage and deliver it to you in better condition than we found it. We can handle any power or sailing vessel up to 90′ long and can do domestic and international passages.

Owner Assisted Deliveries – Most delivery skippers will not do the trip with the owner aboard. However, we are happy to do owner-assisted passages supplying captain and crew or captain alone as appropriate. This is often an excellent opportunity for the owner to gain or expand on his/her boating experience. The shared adventure of time underway is often the beginning of great and lasting friendships. However, while motoring up the Chesapeake may be fun and relaxing, an offshore passage is rarely a joy ride. Owner is welcome to come along as passenger or crew. If the owner signs on as crew he/she will be expected to adhere to the same standards of self-discipline, watch-keeping, and competence as the rest of the crew. If the owner cannot or will not stand his assigned watch or perform other assigned duties, that means I and the rest of the crew have to take up the slack. This will lead to a modification in the daily rate, route and/or schedule. ABSOLUTELY NO ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION WHILE UNDERWAY.

Delivery rates – Most jobs are quoted as an estimate by a daily rate because of the unknowns of boat condition and vagaries of the wind and sea. For pay purposes, a day means four hours or more of each and every calendar day we are aboard, either stationary or underway.

Daily rates are $350 for captain and $175 per day for each mate.  The daily clock usually starts when we reach the boat and stops when we are paid at the end of the voyage. We will charge travel time when vessel is more than 50 miles from Port Charlotte, Florida at 1/2 daily rate. i.e. $175 per day for Captain, and 87.50 per day for each mate plus all expenses. Please note that Captain is based in Port Charlotte but crew may be traveling from other places. If crew is traveling from someplace other than Charlotte County, Florida their travel expenses will be different from those of the Captain. Note that travel expenses include but are not limited to air travel, taxis, rental cars, food, and lodging if necessary. If we get the boat to port two days before flight departs, owner is responsible for food and lodging for that period.

We generally do not give firm quotes because vessel condition, mechanical breakdowns, and weather may extend the passage. If you absolutely must have a fixed rate we will do so based upon the condition of the boat. Please understand that when agreeing to a fixed, all-inclusive rate we will allow ourselves some margin for the possibility of these delays. Thus, going with a  fixed rate  removes the financial guesswork but is only occasionally the cheapest option. We make fixed rate quotes only after a thorough personal inspection of the vessel. However, we will provide a fixed-rate estimate subject to renegotiation upon personal inspection.

Thus, if your vessel is in good condition and well-maintained, the daily rate is much in your favor since we do not dally in port. If we are going to have to spend time repairing and coaxing the boat, you may be better off with a fixed rate.

Delivery expenses – Typical delivery expenses include but are not limited to fuel, oil, lubricants consumed in voyage and preparation, dockage, port charges, customs and immigration charges, provisions ($30 per person per day including round trip travel and all time aboard).

Owner Responsibilities and Payment – Owner is responsible for captain and crew wages, travel expenses to the boat and back to Port Charlotte, supplies, parts, provisions, fuel, dockage, and all other expenses incidental to the voyage. Travel may be by air or rental car but must be arranged and agreed upon in advance. 100% of estimated out-of-pocket delivery expenses, all travel expenses, and 25% of estimated captain and crew fees must be paid in cleared US funds prior to departure.  Some owners prefer to supply a credit card for paying expenses and record-keeping purposes. Most use cash or a combination of the two. We do not accept credit cards for wages due captain and crew. Payment in full in US funds is required upon completion of the delivery. This may be in the form of cash (preferred) or check. Payment by check must be approved in advance and is acceptable for domestic voyages on US flagged vessels only.

So why hire us? – We are mature, responsible professionals with decades of experience in power and sailing yachts of all types. Ed is a 200-ton USCG licensed captain, engineer, and ABYC electrician all in one. He has skippered motor yachts to 120-feet and sailing vessels to 65-feet in length. He stopped logging miles when he went over 50,000 back in the 1990s. Woody is experienced with power and sail, a former industrial electrician, a talented boatwright, and experienced solo passage maker. Mick grew up on boats in the Virgin Islands and is a highly skilled woodworker and boatbuilder. We are all three proficient navigators.

We are not a referral service or labor pool. You will be dealing directly with the men who will deliver your boat, not a broker, “delivery manager,” or novice in a cubicle. We are knowledgeable, experienced mariners who exercise critical and rational thinking in risk assessment, voyage planning, vessel maintenance and operation.

Call or Email for an Estimate – There are many variables to be considered in giving an accurate estimate or quote. Time of year, weather patterns, route, travel expenses, type, size, speed, and condition of vessel are just a few. Therefore, each delivery is analyzed and planned on an individual basis. Please contact us to discuss your special needs.

A few very important considerations:

Position Monitoring – We maintain a GPS SPOT so you can monitor our progress.

Size of crew – We do deliveries with captain and one or two crew dependent upon the nature of the delivery. Daylight operation can be done with only two persons. Overnights require all three of us.

Insurance – Vessel must have loss and liability insurance. We will require a copy of the insurance binder to be onboard for the duration of the delivery.

Proof of Ownership – Copy of title or documentation must be onboard.

Running Letter – We will need a notarized letter from you summarizing our agreement and giving us permission to transport the boat. This can be a simple statement since our signed contract will spell out the details.

Readiness for sea – It is in the owner’s interest to have the boat ready to go when we arrive. It saves us time and often saves you money. Major concerns are clean fuel filters, clean bottom and prop, clean heat exchanger, clean oil, adequate spare parts and tools, etc. We are very skilled in the arts of maintenance and can attend to all these matters but it will be in addition to the agreed delivery fee.

Underwater Inspection – We almost always dive the boat and do an underwater inspection before departure. Over the years, we have discovered a few unpleasant conditions that surprised the owner. Exceptions are made in extremely polluted or cold water or when we can get a verbal or written report from the diver who recently cleaned the bottom.

Rigging – Sailboat owners are strongly encouraged to have a reliable, professional rigger inspect rigging and chainplates. These items have limited life, grow brittle with age, and defects are often well-hidden from even the most experienced sailor. If your sailboat is over twenty years old and has never had the chainplates or rigging replaced this inspection with written report becomes critical. We have seen chainplates fail in as little as 12 knots of wind.

Recent Survey – A recent survey by a reputable, professional, fully certified NAMS or SAMS surveyor is very helpful to have onboard. It can expedite vessel preparation and thus save you money, often more than the cost incurred in the survey. Not all surveyors are created equal, even certified ones.  Despite the efforts of NAMS and SAMS there are some incompetent, negligent, or even fraudulent surveyors who are still certified. Feel free to contact us for general guidance and be sure your surveyor is approved by your insurance company.

Safety Gear – We have our own EPIRBS, PFDs, and harnesses. Offshore passages require a liferaft. If one is not onboard and up to date it can be rented and the cost included in delivery expenses.

Vessel Condition – Taking a boat on a long passage is very serious business – even if only going up the ICW. You are entrusting us with the care of your “baby.” We are entrusting our lives to the structural and mechanical integrity of your yacht.  Therefore, an accurate representation of the mechanical and physical condition of the vessel will go far to easing the process for everyone. It will expedite the delivery to know when the boat was last hauled, bottom scrapped by a diver, condition of belts, hoses, impellers, tanks, packing glands, cutlass bearings, engine issues, etc. This helps our planning and we can allocate time for preparation and repairs as needed and bring appropriate tools, parts, and dive gear if necessary.

Necessary spare parts and tools – This is a partial list.

Belts, assorted hose clamps, tapered wooden plugs, impellers, fuel pump, complete socket set, assorted screwdrivers, set of combination wrenches (standard and metric as applicable), vise grips, adjustable wrenches, pipe wrench, packing gland wrenches, hack saw with spare blades, assortment of stainless steel fasteners, duct tape, flashlights with spare batteries, spare fuel filters, assorted gasket material, silicon sealant, engine and gear oil, funnel, spare fuel container, 5-gallon bucket, current fire extinguishers and flares.

Some or all of these items can be supplied by us though they should be standard equipment aboard any vessel.

CAUTIONARY TALES:     The keys to a successful yacht delivery are rational planning, thorough preparation, and prudent judgement at all times.

Anyone who equates a delivery with cruising should read John Kretschmer’s “Flirting with Mermaids.” Kretschmer, aka Capt Crunch, is a highly competent though frequently imprudent skipper and more than a bit of a masochist. He evidently enjoys being beat up, overworked, abused, and underpaid. He takes on deliveries that any rational, judicious skipper would run away from. Nevertheless, the book is very enlightening and a series of cautionary tales.

I do not mean to sound melodramatic, but I have known two people to be lost at sea on simple deliveries and know of a professional yachtswoman in Lauderdale who has had two boats sink out from under her on deliveries. People who are new to boating or have spent their boating lives in protected waters seldom understand the force of the sea or the things that can go wrong aboard a boat. If the boat is broken they can ignore it or call a mechanic. if it breaks down underway they can call Seatow. If the weather kicks up they can have a barbeque ashore instead of a boat ride. On deliveries, we rarely have such options.

Many years ago I lost a friend doing a routine sailboat delivery from Newport to Lauderdale. She was sailing with only one other person aboard a 50′ trimaran so they were standing watch alone, two hours on, two hours off. She took the watch at 1900 on July 4 off Delaware. When her mate came topside to relieve her at 2100 she was gone and was never seen again. Sandy was an outstanding mariner, with far more ocean passages than I will ever have. Yet she perished in good weather from a sound boat because she was standing watch alone.

About the same time another friend was running a junker powerboat from Lauderdale to Puerto Rico. He disappeared between Great Inagua and Puerto Plata. We never found out what happened for certain, but he had sailed short handed, and rumor was that he had picked up a mate hanging around the dock in Great Inagua. Res ipsa loquitur.

Norma Trease is a highly competent sailor who has gone over the side twice. The first time was from a poorly maintained, short handed, steel sailboat, owned by an obnoxious character who habitually skimped on maintenance, and captained by an Army veteran desperate for work. A thru hull let go south of Bermuda and the boat was beyond saving by the time the watch realized what had happened. They went over the side into the life raft with little serviceable gear and an old EPIRB with a broken antenna. Fortunately, the captain was able to MacGyver an antenna for the defective EPIRB out of a soda can and they were rescued within a day.

Next year she went over the side again. This time from a 52′ Irwin sailboat. The captain had routed a propane hose through a bulkhead but had not installed chafe guard – an ABYC requirement. The hose chafed against the raw plywood underway, propane seeped into the bilge, and you can guess the rest.

I had a friend nearly lose his 41′ Challenger midway between Bimini and Miami, only a 45 mile passage. The rudder mounting on those boats was notoriously weak and this one had developed a substantial crack that had not been detected. It gave way 20 miles outside Miami when the Gulf Stream kicked up. The rudder fell out and he was left with a 2″ hole in the bottom of the boat. It was difficult to access of course, but he managed to plug it and save his family, his life, and his boat.

Note that foul weather was a contributing factor in only one of these losses. It was either sailing short handed, lousy maintenance, or a combination that cost two lives and three boats.

Things go badly on powerboat deliveries too. Years ago some friends were running a 58′ Hatteras yachtfisherman north from Fort Lauderdale to Chesapeake Bay. The boat was homeported in Fredericksburg but had spent the winter season in Lauderdale. They were going outside from Port Canaveral and trying to make St. Augustine. Weather was fine at the start but went to pieces as the day wore on. They decided to run into Ponce Inlet at New Smyrna Beach, a straight forward inlet but narrow inlet notorious for steep seas. They entered the inlet with following seas and started to roll badly. It got so bad that a heavy oak table on the aft deck came loose and was thrown through the railing. With all this movement the fuel inside the tanks washed loose years of accumulated debris and growth and clogged the Racors. Both engines quit just as they got to the ICW. Fortunately , they had called ahead and were taken in tow almost immediately. Still, it was a dangerous, close run thing and they came within five minutes of being on the rocks.

More recently, I was retained to run an old Hunter from Port Charlotte to Panama City. I planned the voyage precisely with my mate, Al, an experienced and capable sailor. The delivery was cancelled a few days before departure when the owner found a captain and crew for free. This worked out for the best because a few days later Al had a severe and debilitating stroke. Had we sailed as scheduled I would have been somewhere between Clearwater and Apalachicola, with my friend dead or dying in the cockpit. With only an old VHF at hand, we would have had no communication with shore and my mate would probably have died.

I could easily make this dreary essay ten times as long and regale you with tales of batteries coming loose, old generators breaking away from their corroded mounts in a storm, crab pot lines and debris wrapping around shafts at night, fuel tanks leaking, summer squalls that roar up out of nowhere, and many more. More than once I have had to go over the side at night, knife in hand, to cut flotsam off a shaft or rudder. Most deliveries come off without much trouble. But the sea is not forgiving and even a short jaunt can go south fast.

You are hiring me because of my experience, expertise, and professionalism. I have been at this for almost four decades, over half that time in Lauderdale. If I tell you we need to make a certain repair or purchase certain equipment, I am not trying to generate income, just trying to make a potentially hazardous undertaking safer. Same thing with the route and schedule I select. It may be your boat, but it is my life and the life of my crew at risk. There is absolutely no compromise on safety ever.


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Captain Edward H. Wiser

USCG # 1724300

18059 Avonsdale Circle

Port Charlotte, FL 33948


Vessel Owner_________________________________________________________________

Owner’s primary phone number___________________________________________________

Vessel Owner’s address__________________________________________________________

Vessel name___________________________________________________________________

Vessel homeport________________________________________________________________

Vessel documentation or registration number_________________________________________

Vessel nationality or state of registration_____________________________________________

Vessel manufacturer and model____________________________________________________

Agreement made this ______ day of___________________20_____by and between _____________________________________of ______________________________________ Owner/agent of the yacht_________________________________________________________, a______________________________________ HIN ________________________________ of approximately _______feet length on deck, registration/documentation number _____________________, hereinafter called the Employer, and Edward H. Wiser of Port Charlotte, Florida, hereinafter called the Yacht Captain. Whereas the Employer is the owner/agent of the yacht_____________________________, and whereas Yacht Captain is a licensed master, the parties desire to reduce their agreement to written terms. Now, therefore, in consideration of the premises and the agreements hereinafter contained, it is agreed as follows:

  1. Employer hereby hires Yacht Captain as the Master of the said Yacht to act as the Master to deliver it from _________________________________________________________________ to___________________________________________________________________________, a distance of approximately _______ nautical miles. The voyage is to commence on or about the ______ day of _____________ 20____ unless delayed by mechanical problems, weather conditions, travel delays, or other circumstances.
  2. Yacht Captain shall be paid for his services $________ per day in cash or travelers checks in US currency. This is due in full upon delivery of the vessel to ____________________________ or upon termination of voyage as noted in paragraph 10. Yacht Captain acknowledges receipt of $_______________ to be considered a partial payment for his services.
  3. Employer agrees to retain ______ qualified mariners as crew to assist in the operation and navigation of the Yacht. Crew members shall be compensated at the rate of $ __________ per day in cash or travelers checks in US currency. Crew members shall serve with the approval of and at the sole discretion of Yacht Captain. If, in the opinion of the Yacht Captain, it becomes necessary during the course of the voyage to discharge a crew member, Yacht Captain has full authority to do so without consulting owner/agent and to replace said crew member with another of his choosing who shall be compensated at the rate of _______ per day in cash or travelers checks in US currency, or to continue the voyage without replacing the discharged crew member but commensurately reducing the hours of operation in a given period and thereby extending the duration of the voyage. Realizing the special hazards of night time operations, inexperienced crew members are not to be regarded as capable of solo watches during night time or periods of reduced visibility and will need to be joined on watch by the Yacht Captain or another experienced crew member appointed by him. Therefore, duration and hours of operations and watches will be modified accordingly at the Yacht Captain’s discretion. The Yacht Captain alone will determine a crew member’s suitability for solo nighttime watch keeping. No crew member shall be so scheduled as to stand watch more than twelve hours in a twenty-four hour period.
  4. Employer shall furnish to the Yacht Captain and crew lodging and subsistence from the time they depart __________________________ to travel to the Yacht, throughout the time of preparation for the voyage (applies only if vessel is more than 50 miles from Port Charlotte, Florida), the actual voyage itself, and during travel and layover time until they return to ___________________________________. In most instances the vessel itself will be used for lodging. However, during preparation of the vessel for the voyage noted in paragraph 1 or if the vessel should suffer damage or disrepair, the Yacht Captain may determine that the vessel’s condition renders it unsuitable for lodging and may seek lodging elsewhere at the Employer’s expense.
  5. Employer agrees to deliver the Yacht described above to the Yacht Captain in good and serviceable condition, seaworthy, with adequate tools, parts, charts, and other necessities for a voyage of the nature described in paragraph 1 at ___________________________________ on the _________day of __________________________________ 20 ______.
  6. Employer agrees to provide funds in advance of departure to obtain fuel, oil, lubricants, parts, materials, provisions, charts, courtesy flags, dockage, and customs fees as necessary during this delivery. Yacht Captain hereby acknowledges receipt of $ _________________ to be used for this purpose. This is in addition to the deposit noted in paragraph 2.
  7. Point of origin and destination are as noted in paragraph 1 above. However, the actual route to be taken will be at the sole discretion of the Yacht Captain, who reserves the right to deviate from proposed route at any time for any reason.
  8. Employer agrees to provide transportation for the Yacht captain and crew from _______________________ or their respective home address at the discretion of the crew member(s) to the point of embarkation via ground or air transportation or a combination thereof as appropriate. Employer agrees upon termination of delivery to provide transportation for the Yacht Captain and crew from the point where the delivery is terminated to the nearest commercial airport, thence via air carrier to _________________________________, thence via ground carrier to ______________________________________or their respective home address at discretion of the crew member(s). Realizing the value of their time and the expenses involved in accordance with paragraph 4, Employer will endeavor to return Yacht Captain and crew to _____________________________ or their respective home address promptly. If anticipated elapsed travel time exceeds _____ hours, Employer will compensate Yacht Captain and crew members at one-half their daily rate for each day of travel time. Employer is responsible for all transportation costs including taxis and airfares, customs, immigration, and departure fees, and food and lodging, if applicable. Rental car may be used in lieu of commercial air transportation upon mutual agreement of Employer and Yacht Captain.
  9. Yacht Captain agrees to endeavor to complete yacht delivery in a timely manner. However, should weather conditions, mechanical breakdowns, or other situations develop which make it necessary in his judgement to seek safe or alternate harbor he shall be free to do so. Yacht Captain and crew shall receive compensation at the rate of one-half of their regular pay per lay day when delayed by weather, mechanical breakdown, or other situations until the voyage is resumed or terminated, unless the crew is involved in making mechanical or other repairs. In that instance, crew members involved in repair work will be compensated at the rate stated in the note following paragraph 11. Crew members not involved in repairs, etc will be compensated at 1/2 their daily rate. Employer’s obligations to provide lodging and subsistence shall remain in effect.
  10. Circumstances may arise wherein the parties wish to terminate this agreement before completion of the delivery to ______________________________________. This agreement may be terminated through mutual consent of the Employer and Yacht Captain. Additionally, should Yacht Captain find that the vessel is or becomes unseaworthy or otherwise unsuited for the voyage described in paragraph 1, he shall so inform the Employer and afford him the opportunity to correct such deficiencies or to terminate the delivery at the Employer’s discretion. The provisions of paragraph 9 shall prevail in this instance. In such an event, Employer agrees to provide ground transportation for Yacht Captain and crew from the yacht to the nearest commercial airport then via air carrier to ______________________________________, then via ground carrier to ___________________________________________________________. Provisions of paragraph 8 regarding travel costs shall apply.
  11. Should Yacht Captain be retained to prepare the vessel for the voyage noted in paragraph 1, he shall be compensated at the rate of $ ________ per day/per hour and crew members shall be compensated at the rate of $ _______ per day/per hour. These preparations include but are not limited to vessel inspection and appraisal, cleaning, provisioning, errands, supervising yard or outside labor, rigging, securing gear, routine checks and limited maintenance not requiring the use of tools.

NOTE: Unless otherwise specified in paragraph 15, preparations and tasks that do not involve use of tools will be done at the daily rate of $350 for Yacht Captain and $175 for crew members. Repairs, modifications, upgrades, etc involving use of tools will be charged at the rate of $120 per hour for Yacht Captain who is an ABYC certified electrician and corrosion technician, and $20 per hour for crew.

  1. For the purposes of time underway, one day shall mean any one full calendar day, beginning and ending at midnight. Yacht Captain and crew shall be entitled to a full days compensation for eight hours or more of services rendered on any calendar day. For calendar days wherein less than eight hours services are rendered, the amount noted in paragraphs 2 and 3 shall be prorated accordingly. Elapsed time of voyage for compensation purposes shall begin when crew reaches the boat and shall end when crew embarks upon travel to ____________________________________________________.
  2. Employer agrees to maintain hull and liability insurance throughout the delivery in amounts commensurate with the size, type, value, and area of operation of the vessel. Employer shall advise Yacht Captain of any provisions in the insurance policy that could impact operations of the vessel. Such provisions could include but not be limited to area of permissible operations, night operations, manning requirements, etc. Owner shall provide Yacht Captain proof of insurance to be retained aboard during voyage.
  3. Employer agrees to furnish letter of authorization permitting Yacht Captain to operate the vessel and to supply proof of ownership in the form of Certificate of Documentation, title, or running letter from a license document transfer agency. This may be in the form of a photocopy although the original is preferred.
  4. It is further agreed that _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.

Employer signature_________________________________________    Printed name____________________________________________

Yacht captain signature_____________________________________    Printed name____________________________________________

Witness signature___________________________________________   Witness printed name___________________________________

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