October 2015: This is the long, drawn out tale of two great new additions to MOKEN. Our new Stidd helm chair and our new dinghy.
Four years ago we travelled to the Philippines to see our prospective new boat for the very first time. With an accepted offer on the table, we decided to make a trip to the Seattle Boat Show. Suddenly this was getting serious. We attended a few seminars. We checked out safety equipment. We talked to suppliers of pumps and watermakers and generators and solar and electronics and all sorts of boat equipment, some of it necessities and some luxuries. Some of this stuff was already on the boat we were purchasing, so we merely wanted more information, and some of it we added to our wish list.
At the show we admired the Bullfrog utility dinghies, made in Bellingham. They seemed durable, lightweight and functional, both for use as a tender to and from shore and for diving. But MOKEN came with a dinghy so we put that far down the line on our wish list.
And yet, for some reason, we decided that an incredibly comfortable new Stidd helm chair was an absolute necessity, and so, entirely on impulse, we bought the floor model right off the show floor. This was still months before MOKEN was officially ours. It became a bit symbolic for us. Our first purchase for MOKEN. The first concrete step towards our offshore cruising adventures. Hey, if the deal fell through, we’d still have a fabulous chair.
Lucky for us, the purchase went ahead and that chair went into our first shipment from Canada, along with numerous other necessities and luxuries, parts, spares and tools. Then, for the last three years, this symbol of our new nautical life sat quietly in our forward stateroom hidden under blankets to protect its pristine black upholstery from Nukaat’s sharp claws. There were other boat project priorities.
Fast forward to the summer of 2014. After two cruising seasons using our existing dinghy, we’d pretty much had enough. It was just too heavy. And awkward. And starting to show signs of wear and tear that weren’t worthwhile fixing. On our summer visit home last year, we trekked south to Bellingham in search of the Bullfrog factory. We met Craig, who owns the company and builds the boats. They are made in a big shop out back from his house. We placed an order. While we arranged payment, Craig started looking into shipping our new dinghy to the Philippines.
That didn’t get very far. It’s a complicated story (and I don’t remember all the details), but needless to say, our new dinghy sat at Craig’s shop for another year until we could get back down there with a U-Haul truck and pick it up and bring it to Canada. Actually, Craig told us he sold our new dinghy several times over, so by the time we picked it up this past July, it was an even newer one. We drove it straight to a crating company who would build a crate around it.
Over the next couple of weeks, we went on a shopping spree, picking up more boat parts and spares and things that are impossible to find in the Philippines…or outrageously expensive. Sometimes we added things in threes. Three new Optima marine batteries, three heavy duty plastic water jugs, three heavy duty plastic milk crates, three water hose sprayer nozzles, three LED navigation bulbs. Plus a new marine BBQ, two six hundred foot spools of line, and a wide assorted of odds and ends. We could have fit in a lot more but we ran out of ideas…and room on MOKEN…and money.
Just before we left Canada in August, we packed up the crate and arranged for it to be delivered to our shipping company to organize it by sea freight to Manila. We obviously didn’t learn our lesson about shipping sea freight to the Philippines last time around (see A Tale of Two Shipments, Part Two).
Not unlike our previous shipment from Canada, this one was also fraught with delays. There were complications and ridiculous extra charges related to an incorrect weight on the bill of lading. But after we paid an “arrangement fee” to speed up the process, the crate was finally released and delivered to the yacht club, less than one month after its arrival in the country. And Chris was even here to help unload it. A very unexpected bonus.
Of course, it arrived late one evening. With the help of some of the marina crew, we scrambled to get everything quickly emptied from the crate, transported down the dock and put away on MOKEN. In the dark. Our new dinghy spent its first night perched on the dock. Whew! It made it.
The next day we launched MOKEN’s new mini me and said farewell to our old dinghy, donating it to our boat helpers. We even managed to get our dinghy retrieval davits reconfigured to fit the new tender before Chris left again for work. This put us well ahead of schedule, especially since we didn’t expect to see this shipment until November or December or sometime next year.
And we installed the new Stidd helm chair too. (Okay, okay, Chris did most of it…but I helped a bit.) It’s just as awesome and comfortable as we remember. It reclines. It can be turned around to face the pilothouse table, or all the way around to face the chart table. It can slide forward or back for shorter or taller people, or to move it out of the way when we are not underway. We’ll definitely be cruising in style from here out. But some things never change. Even now, sitting in the pilothouse, it is covered in blankets to protect it from kitty’s claws. I guess it’s time to get out the nail clippers.