Risk in Buying Equipment Overseas

Updated: Oct 10

We have been on a spending spree in a concerted effort to secure all the components we need to progress Vanguard to completion. In the way of progress are the lingering effects of a global pandemic, a most unfortunate war in Europe, and the usual crisis when buying expensive equipment from other countries, sight unseen. So, without too much fanfare, here is the good, bad, and ugly.


Let us start with the good guys of the business. The companies tend to have a long-standing reputation in the marine world. Sales are their niche, their comfort zone. They live or die by it. Included in this category are:


  • Whale pumps for the bilges, grey and black water systems

  • Wills Ridley - steering gear

  • EscoPower and Twin Disc though the same sales and technical support agent in Turkey, Navantech. Great to deal with for gearboxes and hybrid drives.

  • Bosch but also other appliances.

  • Delta T, supplied ventilation fans and fire dampers.

  • Furuno & ICom, again through their Turkish agent, OMS Marine

  • DMS Magnusmaster - stabilizers (the Dutch are pretty used to export)

  • Victron and Battery supplier MG Systems

  • Maxwell and indeed all the rigging and handling suppliers

  • Bruntons for the self-tailing propellers and shafting (needed a few prompts, but they got there)

  • Hebbeke Shipyard - tender, very organized so far, at least.

  • Shox - Helm Chairs - easy, straightforward communication, and bang on time.

  • Grundfos pumps - all arrived on time.

  • Vetus - just like Whale, delivered as promised.

  • Webasto HVAC - the whole system was in their supply scope and is now ready for installation.

  • GEMS and Maretron for sensors and data gates.

  • Maus for fire extinguishers, Hella for Nav lights, and Kallenberg horns, all delivered as promised.



Who is struggling a bit? - we define this as taking the order, then delaying delivery. We hear many reasons, and sometimes delivery improves with some negotiation. Funny that, planning .... planning .... planning.

  • John Deere - we needed to find an alternative option before the European supplier finally agreed they could meet our deadlines and ship the product after 12 months notice!

Rather than hating on other suppliers where we still hold out hope, let us stop here with the single supplier who has saved their reputation after some negotiation.


Now to the final category. The none performers. I'm a little peeved about this one.

  • Firefly - the Indian carbon battery supplier that took over production from Caterpillar in Illinois. It is out of business; word on the street is production problems killed them. Luckily this happened before we placed orders so we could shift philosophy to LiPO from MG Systems.

  • An Italian manufacturer of solar panels, Fly Solartech. They took the order and payment in April, then ghosted us over the summer. I suspect they are no longer in business, so we are seeking an alternative Italian source. We will kiss goodbye to some $6000 in this fiasco. It happens.

Any extended ramble is probably incomplete without some round-up to finalize. Let us ask what protections are available to the aspiring owner/builder? As an incomplete list:

  • Turkish Yards provide ownership of the hull and all attached fittings from the day of construction. The yacht always remains the owner's property.

  • Many credit cards (certainly AMEX) provide cash returns in case of a dispute. This facility is time limited and not infallible, but we have used it in the past.

  • Some web payment systems (think Alibaba or Paypal) provide purchase insurance, which has its uses.

  • For the colossal stuff, there is LoC (Letter of Credit) and similar though these are both awkward and expensive to set up.

  • Then finally, there is a personal pain threshold; we just reached that in our case.

Chris Leigh-Jones

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