As in the practice weeks HOP or HOPA, the experience gained alongside those who practice is at least as valuable. Following the same recipe, we present the experience of a student Capetan, from which we can only learn.
" The story of the goat
If something is too good to be true, it probably is. A moral I theoretically knew, or so I thought 🙂
My girlfriend and I want to move and live for the next few years aboard a sailboat, continuing to work remotely. That's why we've taken the RYA Day Skipper with Capetan, a course we were very pleased with, but that's not the subject of today's story, just a brief context.
Checking the known sailboat selling websites on a daily basis for more than a few months, we already had a pretty good idea of the market, at least online, so we knew what we could expect from a sailboat in our budget area, which at the time was 50,000 Euro. That was in the spring.
One day, an offer comes in directly from an individual with a Dufour 40 Performance priced at 37,000 Euro, with many upgrades suitable for living aboard, for which the market price would have been over 60,000 Euro. Delighted and blinded by the offer, I contacted the seller directly on WhatsApp writing to him in both English and French (using Google Translate) as the ad was in French. After a rather anguished conversation, we find out that the boat has VAT paid, a short history of the boat, invoices of various repairs done, the ownership book of the boat, (or franchise as he called it), his passport as well as the reason for selling that he and his wife are too old to do this anymore, they being from France and the boat being in Greece and being used in summer. Things that seemed to tie together or make sense. His name was Alain and he was 73 years old on his passport.
When he saw that we were starting to get interested, a problem arose. All this talk was happening on Sunday afternoon and Monday morning he was looking for someone else to transfer a deposit to him to reserve the boat, so "if we were really interested" as he said we should have made him a deposit of 10% first to hold our new boat. All this in a French conversation translated with Google Translate. Of course now in the cold you can see from a post figure, but then pressed for time and driven by desire, we saw otherwise 🙂
With apologies, we contacted Perju on Sunday evening to explain the situation and get some advice. He checked the paperwork and said it looked valid and ok, but warned us that this kind of thing, even under pressure, is not done, to be very cautious and that he would not do this.
Talking to my friend in the situation, (at my insistence of course) we decided it was a one time offer and too good to miss, but she said at least we should minimize our risk.
So going back to our Frenchman, I told him that due to bank limits, we can only send him 1000 Euros that evening, but the next day I go to the bank, raise the limits and transfer the remaining 2700 Euros for the deposit. Without much surprise, he accepted and we sent it to him. He said he would make me a handwritten and signed sheet when he gets it.
The next day, he confirmed that he had received the 1000 (without that sheet) and was waiting for the rest, and I was ready to go to the bank, but first he had to tell me what port the boat was in so that a contact also from Perju was ready to go and see it from the outside while we made sure it was what he showed in the pictures. It's, from there it started to get suspiciously bad, after not answering me for half a day, he said he wouldn't tell me what port the boat was in until I transferred the rest of the deposit to him. I explained to him clearly that for a 10% deposit, I have the right to survey him fully for a few days, not to find out what port he is in, but to no avail. That's when I knew what a shit I had done. He goes on with texts such as promising to sell me the boat if I transfer the rest of the 2700 to him, but still wouldn't tell me the port.
I immediately called the bank to see if I could cancel that 1000 euro transaction but to no avail. So I printed out the conversation, translated it into Romanian, printed out all the documents, as well as a picture of the sailboat with his face on it, and went to the police where I filed a complaint for fraud and a European file was opened. Even the police said that both his passport and the boat papers seemed valid, but much too late I realized that it wasn't really Alain behind the conversation but a crook who got hold of those papers.
He kept replying to my messages for a week hoping to get something else out of me, and when I asked him why he kept activating and deactivating the ad on the site, that he had found other "customers" he said I was asking too many questions :)) Related to the police complaint, it's been over 3 months since the incident but I still don't have an update. I don't even expect to get my money back but maybe he's caught and others don't have to deal with him. That's why I'm also writing the story here so something similar doesn't happen to others.
Bottom line: as Perju told me, "There's no such thing as free candy". After the whole story we weren't angry because we knowingly took the risk, we were just annoyed. What convinced us was the paperwork and the story that was linked, but we didn't question that someone else was behind the conversation. But it was definitely a good life lesson.
All the best,
Raul and Florina "