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Write to be heard responses to Yacht Path article

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Delays cost captains, too

I was not surprised in the least to read your story regarding YachtPath’s shortcomings [“Yacht Path doesn’t pay; yachts arrested,” page A1, April issue]. I had been the captain of the 130-foot Westport M/Y Serendipity II for 19 months when we were due to ship back to Ft Lauderdale from Italy.
I should preface the above by saying that we contracted YachtPath to transport Serendipity II from Ft Lauderdale to Genoa, Italy. I worked a deal collectively with the yacht owner’s executives and arrived at a fairly decent round-trip price (as long as the round trip was paid in full within seven days of the agreement) and were given a tentative date of departure from Ft Lauderdale.
The YachtPath guys were not only late by a month on loading in Ft lauderdale, but diverted the ship to St. Thomas where they off loaded us for two weeks to pick up another vessel in the southern Caribbean. They were, of course, late on their arrival date to Genoa by a few weeks.
When it came time to head back across to Florida in the fall, we were delayed two months and were told we would be loaded in Genoa. Upon close inspection of the shore-based crane’s lifting capabilities, we declined a lift as they were simply undersized, thus sending us to Carara, Italy. And then, when securing the yacht, they melted a hole 25 inches square on the starboard bow just below the waterline. I am told they paid for the repairs once Serendipity II arrived back to Ft. Lauderdale, but it cost me my job as the owner held me responsible.
It’s truly a shame that these guys and others like them can continue to operate in our business.
Capt. J. David Kennedy



More worried about losing owners
Thank you for your in-depth article about Yacht Path. It really is a sad day for our industry when this type of story comes out.
I have used Yacht Path in years past. They did get the job done (successfully on-loaded and splashed and safely delivered). Guess you can’t ask for much more in this day and age.
My biggest worry is losing a lot of these owners from yachting. These gents provide good business (to shipyards, shoreside logistic support, captain and crew wages, etc.).
I have been in this industry for 40 continuous years, and I am sincerely grateful to it. Yes, this episode has thrown grave doubt on it.
John Meade
Yacht consultant
Pacific Northwest



Yacht not ‘violated’ by U.S. officials
Your recent article, “Yachts arrested when transport company can’t pay its bills” should have been headlined “Buyer beware: You get what you pay for.”
As usual, The Triton did a thorough job of laying out the case in which the transport company, Yacht Path, failed to make a number of freight payments involving numerous vessels causing yacht owners to “pay hundreds of thousands of dollars directly to the shippers before they could take possession of their yachts.” Yacht Path’s bank accounts had reportedly been frozen in the wake of a mid-February legal judgment.
What isn’t entirely clear, however, in the last four paragraphs of this 2,000-plus-word article, is who made Capt. Sloate feel “violated” by basically taking over and having a free run of his vessel and cargo for two days while his crew was forced to stay in a hotel.
Your readers should know that it was the repo men from National Liquidators and not U.S. marshals or customs officers that Capt. Sloate was referring to when he said “watchmen” took command of his vessel and later were borrowing clothes that were not theirs.
While some may consider this a modest point, I believe a clarification is in order since The Triton plays such a critical role in covering the issues and the people who earn their living working on yachts.
Maintaining a positive public perception of our industry and the thousands of jobs it creates in Florida is especially important since it is so easy for detractors to muddy the waters when it comes to yachting.
The ancient Greek sea god Triton had the power to calm or rile the seas by blowing his conch horn. It’s not too much of a stretch to say that The Triton of today has a similar power and responsibility.
Jeff Erdmann, president
Bollman Yachts
Marine industry advocate



Story needs two sides
Two things. First, when you do an article like this [“Company files Ch. 11,” page A1, April issue], the tenants of good journalism require you to get comment and opinion from those other than the Yacht Path principal(s). Most of what you quote in the story is prima facie baloney to anyone familiar with bankruptcy proceedings, let alone familiar with the particulars of the Yacht Path case.
Second, when you do an article like this, you should try to research and understand the bankruptcy procedures you so cavalierly talk about. For example, Debtor in Possession is only one form of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It is when the principals of the company are allowed to continue to operate the company, but under the supervision of the bankruptcy court (in the form of a trustee).
As to “DIP financing”, it is not, as you say, “a special form of financing”, but rather financing that the bankrupt debtor is allowed to arrange on a “current” basis strictly for the purpose of enabling a “reorganized” company to continue in operation. Funds from court-approved DIP financing are excluded from claims made by creditors for debts incurred by the company prior to the filing for Chapter 11 protection and reorganization.
I suggest in future you talk to some good attorneys such as Michael Moore or the guys at Alley Maass before parroting nonsensical statements put out by parties with special interests in this matter.
Phil Friedman
Port Royal Group
Ft. Lauderdale



Transport took seven months
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your story on Yacht Path International. While I did not have my boat arrested, I did live a YPI horror story.
My story started in Ft. Lauderdale, destined for La Paz, Mexico. It ended up in Vancouver for three months, and ultimately was offloaded 3 1/2 months later in Ensenada, seven months after I was supposed to get it. The owners of YPI are at best liars. I hope your story will hurry them to their corporate demise.
Thank you again for your article. I hope you follow up on their actions and keep other boat owners aware of their operation.
DK, yacht owner
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

 

 

Nothing beats a good captain and an owner who trusts him
Excellent article on owners vs. captains [“Some owner behavior can make captains’ jobs harder,” page A1, April issue]. 
Though now gone to ground, in 35 years as a captain (eventually with a 1,600-ton ticket), I can recognize the issues and have experienced many of them. It is always difficult for crew to be seen as experienced professionals when under way and hotel employees when the anchor is down.
Fortunately, I was a captain when management companies were rare. In more recent years when I’ve had to deal with them as a vendor selling electronic equipment to the boats, I’ve rarely found one as skilled and knowledgeable as a good captain. In fairness though, I think some owners were driven to management companies by poor performance of their captains, often with regard to the condition of the vessel or its finances, and didn’t know what else to do. 
Owner-captain relationships are much like marriages; some work very well because each respects the other and their goals are the same. Others fail miserably, sometimes for unpredictable reasons. Putting a management company in the mix can be similar to bringing in a marriage counselor with dictatorial powers over only one party when a true mediator would be more appropriate. 
Finally, I think some recognition could also be given to the truly good things that owners sometimes do. One owner offered to send my family to the boat for two weeks while we were anchored in the Caribbean and no guests were planned. Another took me with him and his party on their private 727 from the Bahamas to California at the end of a trip because my son was due to be born in Oregon the following week.
Another owner, following a major refit, came down to the crew mess one evening to see six or seven of us sitting around after dinner and noticed that the chef had put a tablecloth over the beautiful oak table with glass inlays. The chef said he did it to protect the table. The owner put his fancy boot up on the table and said, “No more tablecloths. When it wears where it shows, we’ll replace it. Also, we will wear shoes on this boat. When the carpet has to be replaced, we’ll do it. I bought this boat for us to enjoy, not to tippy-toe around. We will care for it but we will also use it.”
Last story: An owner wanted to make a trip from Cozumel to Isla Mujeres when the weather was deteriorating and the western horizon was a solid line of black storm clouds. I told him it would be a miserable ride for his guests and staying put would be better, but he insisted we go. Along the way we got seriously hammered and most of his guests declined lunch or lost it shortly afterward. We listened on the radio to a sportfisher nearly sinking somewhere with its dinghy washed off the foredeck. Eventually, the owner had us turn back so we ran for shelter and back to anchor. 
That evening he called me to come to the dining room after dinner and said, “Right here, in front of my friends, I want to tell you that if I ever insist we go somewhere when you recommend against it, you tell me to shut the f— up.”
Thanks again for your article. 
Norm Dahl, owner
NightWatch Industries
Jupiter, Fla.


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