Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst

Deutsche Version

It’s Friday the 15th November and we’re back from Holland. But first things first.

As you still might know, the next court date was scheduled for November 12th. After the shipyard apparently did not take a step in the direction of the launch, we saw ourselves forced to have the fines increased. 500 Euro a day did not seem to be a incentive for Kees Cornelissen and his Shipyards. At least not to an extent that would have brought movement into the finalization of the CARO. Nor had the shipyard provided any proof of insurance yet. This was also an issue that we finally needed to resolve with a court order.

All insurances we had asked were not willing to insure a boat in our name as long as it was under construction at a shipyard.

But. . . there are miracles. 

On November 5th we received a mail „te water gelaten» (launched). We were actually more than surprised, as we had been whatsapping with Jim Cornelissen on the same day, „It is so quiet. Where do we stand?“. And if the boat would still come into the water this week. We had already asked several times to be part of the launch.

E-Mail from 13.17 pm
whatsApp from 15.35 pm

We hadn’t foreseen this turn of events but were happy that the boat is finally launched.

Although our expert had full order books, he was prepared to change his agenda for us so that we could carry out the acceptance tests on 12 and 13 November. As we had of course already booked our Unique Place an de River Waal in view of the court date, the date was convenient for us.

After repeated inquiries by our attorney, the shipyard also produced the insurance certificate, valid from October 18, 2019. Not to be imagined if something had happened before.

So we cancelled the court date of 12 November and on the previous Sunday pilgrimaged to Holland full of hope that the drama would soon end. For us, pilgrimage means putting all five dogs in the car and driving 700 km. 

Actually they would have both their own box 🙂

Because we still had some doubts, we asked Jim for an appointment for a short inspection of the boat on Monday. And so things took their course.

11.11.2019, 10.00 o’clock. Visit to the shipyard. Appointment with Jim Cornelissen.

We arrive and go to the office. Jim greets us friendly. Kees Cornelissen joins us and explains to us that it is pure concession on his part that we are allowed on our ship today. They are still working on the ship. He gave us exactly until 11 o’clock. Then we would have to be gone.

We walk the ship with Jim and are positively surprised that really everything seems to be there and it actually looks finished.

There are still some small things to do. For example, a toilet brush has not yet been hung up. I say to Jim „Floris knows where it‘ s going“. Jim states: „Floris won’t get on the ship anymore“. Later we learn from a friend that Floris, the carpenter, apparently doesn’t work for the shipyard anymore. What a pity. We will install the toilet brush as well as the curtain rods ourselves. No problem.

We ask Jim if he will be there for the test drives on Tuesday. We would be happy about that. Jim says he doesn’t know anything about test drives, but will ask Kees.

When we get home we call Joris Klompé, our lawyer. In the meantime, he’s talked to Bellmarine, the engine supplier, and tried to find out if the engines work. Bellmarine stated that there was something wrong with the monitoring and that it was planned to put it in order on Tuesday afternoon. The boat would not be ready to sail until it was repaired.

We write a WhatsApp to Jim at 4.09 pm with the information and ask him again if he will be there tomorrow, on Tuesday. We also write that we will test everything else in the morning and start the test drives as soon as Bellmarine has adjusted the monitoring and the engines correctly. In our opinion the boat was not ready for delivery, because it was not ready to sail. 

Cornelissen had announced it one week earlier as ready for delivery, in order not to owe the 500 EUR/day fines any more. Until our arrival one week later, however, it seemed that they were still working on the boat.

Jim answers immediately he had communicated with Kees and understood that 2 days were planned for the acceptance and test runs. True so far. On Tuesday everything else would be checked and then on Wednesday the test drives would be carried out. OK. We hear that for the first time, but we can live with it. Jim had understood from Glenn Cornelissen that Bellmarine had made mistakes with the system settings last week and the supplier of the electrical components Hooymans had only discovered this on Monday morning. 

Really now? Aren’t Bellmarine the experts? And Kees said he’d been boating all week. If so, shouldn’t Cornelissen have discovered the mistakes before Monday? And what did Hooymans on the boat after it was ready for delivery?

Jim writes further, it is true that the boat is not completely ready for delivery. But the shipyard can’t help it. „You can see that an electric drive is a bit more complicated than a diesel drive.“ But he had forgotten that he had made a private appointment on Tuesday and he couldn’t be there for the tests. But on Wednesday he will accompany the test drives.

We reply that this was not actually agreed on, but it was okay. Jim asks if we could forward the mails from the shipyard to him – as already offered – so that he knew exactly what had been agreed to.

Meanwhile our lawyer – after he had learned that Jim Cornelissen, knew nothing about the expert appointment on Tuesday – asked the shipyard if the appointment had really been confirmed.

Kees Cornelissen writes back: „Hello, test runs are planned in writing“. No more and no less. We send this to Jim.

12.11.2019, Ten o’clock. Day 1 Acceptance procedure.

We arrive at 9.45 am and enter the shipyard building leading to the office. Roland takes a look at one of the Lovers boats, which is currently under construction in the dockyard. Behind us, the window pane between the office and the hall is being banged and Kees Cornelissen yells: „The office is here“. We turn around and decide to wait outside for our expert. No good can be expected from the start.

Punctually Guido Beekmann, our ship expert, drives up to the parking lot and we see each other personally for the first time. So far we have only e-mailed and phoned. 

I read to him briefly the mail from Kees Cornelissen, which he had sent to our lawyer at 2.56 a.m.:

  «Er kan morgen wel degelijk worden gevaren. Echter het is niet aan U noch aan Uw cliënten de oplevering te dirigeren. Er zijn twee dagen gepland voor de oplevering, zoals eerder schriftelijk is overeengekomen. De werf bepaald wat er op die twee dagen gaat gebeuren, en dat betekend dat morgen de controle van het schip en de specificatie op het programma staat. Woensdag zal er worden gevaren. Ook het varen zal gebeuren volgens het eerder overeengekomen protocol, ook dat wordt niet door u noch door uw cliënten gedirigeerd.» 

Translated: It is possible to sail tomorrow. However, it is not up to you or your customers to control the process. There are two days scheduled for test runs, as previously agreed in writing. The shipyard decides what happens on these two days, which means that tomorrow the ship’s specifications will be checked. The test runs are carried out on Wednesday. The inspection is also carried out according to a previously agreed protocol; neither you nor your customers are in charge of this either.“ 

The shipyard determines how the final inspection is carried out.

Together we enter and are placed at the meeting table. What follows now has nothing to do with a customer/supplier relationship. At least not as we know it.

First, Kees Cornelissen explains loudly, very loudly that we have nothing to say. He determines what happens. Although the first thing he asks our expert Guido Beekmann is: „What’s your plan today?“ He doesn’t wait for the answer: „What is your plan today? Because I understood that the lawyer . . . . that you have in your head how it has to be. . . and will only begin that . . we have . . . we allowed you to visit the ship yesterday. . . After you’ve left, you’ve had an avalanche of shit produced by the. . . .»

We do not understand what he means. Except the insult.

After some back and forth – the whole transcript of the protocol is available – it went on: 

Cornelissen: „If we don’t reach the specifications, that’s another matter. That’s it. We would have planned today, as written long ago, 2 weeks back, to control the ship today as a ship and to sail tomorrow. I have now changed it. Because I also invited an expert to . . . . rustling. . . that comes . . . So the program today is that you can now go on the ship. You can do the work with the control. Patrick goes with you. …..»

But how „written 2 weeks ago“? The ship was reported to us surprisingly on 5 November, exactly 7 days ago, as launched. We were generously granted 2 days for the expert inspection. Normally a ship expert works independently and quickly through his checklist for the expertise and must also be able to navigate himself.

In any case, the monologue, which ends in a skirmish, goes even further. At some point, Kees Cornelissen contradicts what he said a few minutes ago:

„…and when my expert is here, we’ll leave. Then Bellmarine is going to check the data again, Bellmarine is going to see how they can balance it even better, and then that’s going to be done, and after that, after driving, they can go on with the ship control and then it’s all done today.“

So now we sail today after all?!?

„It was agreed so, standard, already three weeks ago, Tuesday and Wednesday examine. Tuesday the ship and Wednesday sailing. That is agreed“.

So „two weeks ago“ becomes now „three weeks ago“. The fact that the ship has been lying in the water was still only communicated to us 7 days ago. . . .

„But today we will carry out the whole programme. Even if it gets dark.“

Uhh. . . Now we are completely confused.

At 10.15 we are allowed to board the ship accompanied by Glenn Cornelissen and Patrick.

What is it cold on the boat…. My first question is about the heating. Isn’t it running?

Freezing cold.

Patrick thinks it’s on. It is nevertheless not running. As it turns out later, the heating runs exclusively on the generator or on shore power. But since our little boat is cutting out the fuses when it is connected to the electricity on the jetty and the generator is not allowed to turn, we don’t have any heating during the expertise and suffer the cold. We have never known a boat where the heater could not be connected to the inverter. So this is the first point on the list of shortcomings.

The list’s getting longer. Neither the cooking range nor the washing machine or dryer nor the dishwasher run via the inverter. Of course, we don’t want all appliances to run at the same time. But cooking (and heating) without running the generator would be nice. In any case, the shipyard had assured us that this would be a normal requirement.

The measurement of the height of the boat also leaves us baffled. According to the specifications, the boat should not be higher than 345 cm. 351 cm are measured. And the highest point are the solar panels. Since many bridges in the Netherlands are 350 cm high, this is getting a bit tricky. We are wondering how the shipyard intends to solve this. Of course more ballast would be a possibility. But when the swimming platform will hang in the water it will be interfering with the drive system . . . 

The rear deck washing pump has been forgotten. But we’d like to have it, so that we can rinse our 20 dog paws after the walks in the mud before all of them jump on the boat. The anchor winch was positioned so close to the bow wall that one gets one’s hands caught when turning. That had already been criticised on the boat of the Teeds. Couldn’t the yard have learned from the experience?

The lack of ventilation in the engine compartment is another – in our opinion – serious shortcoming.

We freeze all morning through the deficiencies until the Bellmarine engine technician arrives at 2 pm. Kees Cornelissen had informed us that he was coming to fine-tune the engines. 

The ropes were released without further notice and Cornelissen steers off. Our expert tries to catch a glimpse of the displays, which is difficult because Cornelissen consistently turnes his back towards him. Guidos questions are answered loudly and aggressively, if at all, and in any case evasively.

Fortunately I had borrowed the coffee machine from our BnB and we could warm our fingers on a cup of coffee.

As it turned out, the fine-tuning of the engines consisted of measuring the two drives in order to run them synchronously. The display on the dashboard did not show the same as the display in the engine compartment. 

After Cornelissens one-syllable answers our expert tries his luck directly with the Bellmarine man. But Bellmarine had already been instructed in advance not to answer any of our questions.

So we glide on the Lithse Ham without being able to do anything. The good news: The boat is floating and there are no signs to sink. The view from the big windows is great all around.

Around 4 pm we dock again and Cornelissen orders Guido Beekmann into the engine room to tell him that Bellmarine can’t solve the problem with the electric motors any more today and on the following day, Wednesday, no more test runs are possible neither. Due to the engine error, the generator shouldn’t run either.

But. . . it was only about finetuning?!?

We decide to let the technicians do their work and leave in frustration. Was the boat not ready for delivery? Due to the announcement of the completion of the boat the fines were of course interrupted and we withdrew the court date of November 12th.

Anyway, we set off with the coffee machine to our BnB to discuss with Guido what actually happened. We are rather perplexed.

Guido first calls the customer he postponed on Wednesday for our expertise. The customer is happy that Guido has time for him the next day, contrary to expectations, and we are happy that we don’t have to pay our expert for a lost Wednesday. 

Roland and I have booked our BnB until Thursday and will fill Wednesday with a meeting with friends. On Thursday on the way back we have scheduled an appointment with our lawyer, Joris Klompé in Loosdrecht. 

Apart from expenses nothing has happened.

Then on Wednesday morning suddenly at 06.40 o’clock an e-mail arrives at our lawyer:

The defective sensor has been replaced. The problems „seem“ to have been solved. The generator could not be tested yet. As it looks, there is the possibility that the generator will work before noon. But the technician would not arrive until 8 o’clock.

Our lawyer wasn’t at work yet and we overslept this mail.

Then the second mail from Euroship Services at 08.15 o’clock. This time we also received a copy directly.

The electrician was now present. He will control the system. Cornelissen writes: „We think and hope that no more technical surprises will come to the surface and that the system will be operational around noon. We will keep you informed».

Well, that’s nice. But without our expert, who has now accepted other appointments, it doesn’t help us on Wednesday afternoon. If it works at all hopefully.

Then sometime after 12 o’clock the third mail: „Update 13. November 2019 11.50 am“

The generator is running again. All appliances like heating, airco, washing and drying connected to the generator (!) are working. . . . .

„Back to the agenda!“ writes Cornelissen: 

„Two full days are planned for delivery, so the shipyard assumes that the customers (we), as well as Mr Beekmann, will simply be available this afternoon to process the final points of acceptance, so that delivery and the test runs are completed this evening.

For the sake of good order, I ask you, and as far as necessary, I put you in arrears, to be present at the shipyard this afternoon to further round off the acceptance and the test run. If you fail to do so, you once again demonstrate that you do not wish to cooperate in a fair manner in ensuring the correct delivery of the ship. Apart from that we will charge extra for additional test runs or expertises. I ask you to take note of the above“.

Ah, there it is again the already known tonality of the shipyard. But since slavery has been abolished for more than a hundred years, we cannot with the best will in the world order our expert, Guido Beekmann, to come to the shipyard at once. The trip alone takes about one hour for the 90 km from Muiden to Heerewaarden.

Our lawyer, who is the recipient of the mail, writes in the only possible answer on the correct official way to the lawyer of the shipyard that he doesn’t really know what to begin with this mail. He expects a new unmistakable message that the boat is ready to be delivered after which we, his clients, would like to make a new appointment with the shipyard and our expert.

Cornelissens lawyer immediately writes from his iPhone that the message and our citation by the shipyard are conclusive. If we do not comply, we will be in default.

Roland and I, who are having lunch with a friend and are actually still reading our e-mails, are considering whether we should drop our forks to hurry to the shipyard. But without the expert to write his report. . . . We don’t even know where our heads are anymore.

We talk on the phone to our expert, who states that he has fixed deadlines on Thursday but is able to clear his agenda on Friday so that he can complete his expertise. 

Well. We had booked our BnB only until Thursday. But also our dear landlady does what she can and we could stay one night longer until Friday. But from Friday on she is fully booked for the weekend and so we would have to go home right after the test drives on Friday. That’s very exhausting, but to finally bring the story to a conclusion, we are prepared.

So our lawyer suggests Friday, November 15th for the last test drives and the final inspection. Then we wait. For an answer. And wait.

After office hours our lawyer receives – without a copy to us – an answer: „…Friday will NOT be given the opportunity to inspect the ship. We will inform you when you will have the opportunity to inspect the ship.“ 

Joris Klompé, who was kind enough to work on the mail even after office hours, recommends that we return to Switzerland on Thursday, i.e. the next morning, as planned. Our dear landlady Gabrielle, whom we contact immediately, has full understanding and does not only not blame us for the short-term cancellation, she also does not charge us for it. In general, many nice people help us with this evil story completely selflessly.

We now sit in the car somewhere on the A3 near Medenbach in the direction of Basel. It is 15.54 o’clock and we receive via Joris Klompé a mail of the Cornelissens lawyer Hommersom. We get the opportunity to do the test drives on November 20th or 21st. Today is Thursday. That would be next week, Wednesday or Thursday. If we do not confirm whether we accept the offer by 10 a.m. until the next day, it will expire.

This is customer service à la Euroship Services/Kees Cornelissen Shipyards International.

Addendum. Meanwhile the 21st of November has been confirmed for the test drives. What gives us food for thought is the shipyard’s opinion that the test runs were satisfactorily completed last Tuesday. Only driving on the generator was not possible. This could be done next Thursday. This is communicated to our lawyer by the shipyard in capital letters:

«GEDURENDE DE MIDDAG BLEEK DAT ALLE PARAMETERS OM TE VAREN IN ORDE WAREN MET UITZONDERING VAN HET VOLLE VERMOGEN MET GENERATOR. ER IS IDD DOOR DE WERF BESLOTEN DAT NIET MEER TE FORCEREN OMWEGE VAN HET RISICO APPARATUUR STUK TE MAKEN.

VERVOLGENS, OM EEN EN ANDER TECHNISCH OP TE KUNNEN LOSSEN IS HET RESTANT VAN DE PROEFVAART, IN OVERLEG MET ALLE PARTIJEN, NAAR DE VOLGENDE DAG VERSCHOVEN.

UW CLIENTEN EN UW EXPERT ZIJN VANDAAG HELAAS OP HET VERVOLG VAN DE PROEFVAARTEN NIET VERSCHENEN.»

Or in English: 

„During the afternoon it seemed that all driving parameters were in order except the full driving capacity on generator. The shipyard decided not to force this, because of the risk of destroying the equipment. In order to be able to solve one or two technical problems, the test runs were postponed to the next day in consultation with all parties. Unfortunately, your customers and your expert did not appear today for the continuation of the test drives any more.»

Unfortunately to be continued. . . .