It was Sunday, mid-January 2022, and the yacht brokerage company that I work with in Burnt Store Marina was closed but one person got my name and phone number and called me to ask if I would be interested in selling his yacht. I answered that I would be there in five minutes.
When I arrived at the office, a young man in his forties introduced himself. Let’s call him Louis. He struck me as very weird. He looked like the banjo boy from the movie Deliverance all grown up. Very weird vibes…
Louis told me that he had bought this yacht the week before from another broker, whose name I will not mention. He wanted to escape the Apocalypse (no… I am not making this up). Louis, who does not know the first thing about sailing and sailboats had decided to buy a $400,000.00 super sailing yacht to escape it all because he was convinced the Government was after him and that the Apocalypse was about to happen.
The yacht had been owned and kept at the dock of a gentleman who had done a circumnavigation on her and he wanted now to buy a power boat. He hired the broker to sell her and then came Louis who bought her at $500.00 below the asking price. Apparently, a cash deal.
The seller wanted the yacht off his dock, but Louis did not know how to handle this boat and finally the broker and the seller moved her to the transient dock of Burnt Store Marina, here in Punta Gorda, and that is where Louis found me.
As this whole deal stunk to high heaven, I started asking him questions about his plans, where he was from, how he was going to learn to sail, etc. I figured that either he must have inherited a large sum of money or gotten some other kind of windfall. I understood that he is on disability following an accident. He kept on ranting and raving about the apocalypse, and it was obvious that this guy had a mental problem.
What I did not understand is how a broker could have such a lack of ethics to sell a very expensive yacht to a person who, under normal circumstances, should be institutionalized. How in the world can you tell a person with a mental disability that it is OK to buy such a yacht and take his money? This is so flagrantly unethical and it almost reeks of abuse of a mental patient. Like stealing candy from a baby. Two friends of mine who hold degrees in psychology had quickly diagnosed poor Louis with paranoid-schizophrenic disorder and he definitely should not be on the loose. This guy is a danger to himself and his surroundings.
What made it even worse is that Louis, who by now was aware that he would never be able to sail that yacht, called the selling broker and asked him to put his boat back on the market, one week after he had bought her and this at the same time that he was asking me to sell her.
So, the yacht was sitting there at the transient dock of the marina, but Louis does not have insurance and the marina wants him out by the end of January. No slips available anywhere in southwest Florida. Louis is in a monumental pickle, and I suggest that he bring the yacht to a haul-out and storage place where she will be safe until he figures out how to handle all this. He tells that to the broker who scares him by saying that I have no yacht broker’s license or bond (not true) and that, if he hauls the boat and stores her on the hard, the sun will destroy his yacht in the shortest time. Louis panics and, in his state of mind, there is no way to reason with him.
I told him that, under the circumstances, I could not be of any further assistance. Before I left him, he asked me to check the A/C outlets. When I climbed on board, he pointed to a big shiny stainless-steel object and asked me what it was. I explained the use of the winch for him… Hopeless…
I went below to check on the A/C outlets, I saw the door to the head open. I asked him if he was using the head on board or if he used the marina facilities. He was filling up the waste tank and had no clue how to empty it.
The craziest part of all was that, when I asked about the British standard outlets, he knew enough about the story of the yacht to tell me that the seller had bought her in Barcelona from a previous owner who was a British Doctor and who had brough the yacht from the States to the Mediterranean. I knew right there that this yacht originally came out of our marina. The previous owner of my old charter company here had sold that yacht to this Doctor right at the time that I bought the charter company and I remember her at our dock. “Pelican”, although under a new name, was still as beautiful as in 2007 and impeccably maintained. It is a very small world, indeed.
Last I heard is that she might already have been sold again, and that Louis had left in his car for Montana where he is looking for a place to survive the Apocalypse. I never checked if he had a banjo…