Tuesday, 3 August 2010
GRETHE WITTING, THE 96 YEARS OLD SHIP,IS FLOATING AGAIN
Dear Markus, there is a principle which states: AUDIANTES ALTERA PARS. Therefore, I will inform my readers about the fate of Grethe Witting, doing some research on the Romanian Seamen site Barcaholic.ro. Your part of the story is on Your blog and much more obvious. So, here starts the other story:
Thank you for writing that you would be interested to there the other side’s opinion, and smart thinking should deserves to be rewarded, so here we are. Obvious here is something smelly about markus’ story, but the main reason I write this because I am sick and tired of being insulted by someone who had not even a penny in his pocket, who I saved from being forced to do a non-refundable down payment of 10% and lose it, and whom I gave a present being 30% of a business on the Grethe Witting. For readers getting bored quickly there is a summary on the end.
I have to excuse myself like markus for not writing in Romanian. As he said in a forum: I do not write Romanian good enough , but I do understand it. Which is interesting because he asked the Romanian court to abrogate verdicts because he could not understand Romanian.
But let’s get to some more serious matters. Our agreement was recorded in a contract regarding the business and also, because of circumstances that I will explain later, in a mortgage contract regarding the “loan” with the ship as collateral. In this contract the sum was of course mentioned and the only way for me to end the loan was to ask markus the money back. No more. So his accusation that I asked like euro 400.000 is not only not true, but also impossible. If I wanted to break the contract, I had to ask my money back which is very significantly less. That would have given him the opportunity to pay me back and get rid of me, which is fine with me. If I would have asked more, I could not have broken the contract and he would stay owner of the ship, which is not fine with me. Simple.
But back to where it all begun. markus came to me with his business plan regarding the Grethe Witting. He said he already signed a selling-buying contract but no money. The plan had some questionable assumptions but it used to be my profession to evaluate plans like this and I could see through the parts where he was too optimistic. I judged that it would be difficult to lose money with it. How wrong I was. So I told him I could be interested in participating for 40%, because I have this unstoppable urge for adventure. Because the first installment already was overdue I immediately transferred the first 10%, which was non refundable
Here it is time to refute another of markus’ allegations, i.e. that I every time paid late. Well, first payment I just explained. Second payment was late because the notary did not send me a bill so I could not pay, and third time the Nationality Declaration could not be obtained but after long delays, so the final sales was delayed too. All what I am telling you I can prove by way of emails, contracts,, sms-es, witnesses and his famous business plan.
According the agreement we put into writing we would make a business structure and markus would have been responsible for all the activities and I would finance until other investors were found. The ship would be brought into this structure (a present of 30% of the value) as an asset. However, the offers for setting up this structure, budgeted by markus (hereafter to be referred to as m. )for 1500 euro were extremely high, 10.000 per year for something that did not bring any tax benefits in my opinion, thus waiting for an better offer and stressed by time m. came with the solution to put the ship on his name for the time being giving me a mortgage with the ship as collateral. Since this mortgage had to pass while m. was at sea, m. left a power of attorney with the notary and told me I could change everything I wanted. Reading the contract m. had composed I noticed that the loan was mentioned as redeemable in one sum after5 years including accrued interest, which by the way was smaller then the interest I could get with any respectable bank. I left the interest for what it was but added only that I could end the loan any time I wanted, a back door in case of problems I did not want him to sit on my money. Please note that the first agreement and the first payment were done end of 2007, so his allegations that I revoked our agreement two months after the signing of the mortgage agreement is incorrect. Although the final agreement was signed somewhere in may, there was a preliminary agreement which was also legally binding.
In this agreement was also stated that m. was responsible for both maintenance and insurance, so another allegation down the drain. We agreed however to do full maintenance as soon as possible, which is in my view latest after the season, taking into account that the ship was declared sailing worthy for one year by the authorities end of 2007 and was, according to m., in good condition. Also take into account that he prediction from m.’s business plan (bp) that half of the revenues would be paid like half a year in advance was only wishful thinking.
So the contract was signed and m. was going to sail to Romania.
There were some problems: the engine (m.: the engine is ok, but in one or two years we better change it for a more economical one) broke down in the Kieler channel and had to be replaced.
The Odyssey, according to the bp a fantastic adventure that should bring paying passengers for the trip to Romania and spare us a complete crew, was not possible because the papers were not okay for ocean travel with passengers. Guess who paid for the engine and the crew, I even had to pay m.’s bus ticket to the airport because he did not have a nail to scratch his ass.
On arrival in Mangalia he had arranged nothing. I first had the unpleasant surprise that the Dutch captain said that the ship had overdue maintenance of 10000-20000 euro’s, I do not recall exactly, but of that magnitude. In later correspondence with the former owner m. was reproached that m. did not use the opportunity to come and inspect the ship, I was told by m. that he knew the ship and that it was in fair condition.
I bring to mind that the agreement that m.’s job was to do all the work, only I proposed that my son would also try to do some sales against normal commission. m.’s later reproach that my son was supposed to do all the selling is therefore incorrect and showing his own incompetence, i.e. he should by then have sold half the season, but he did not sell nothing. But in fact my son did some very successful prospecting. We established a Romanian company, which I put completely on my sons name for the time being, because m. did not take care of that and he was at see. We also took care of arranging a Romanian crew and of the contacts with the ANR.
After that we had e some nice trips and some more unpleasant surprises in finding out that the Germans did not want to continue to be responsible for the ship because m. had not fulfilled the formalities, so the ship was without a flag state.
One other reproach by m. was that I drunk too much and I won’t deny that a certain temperance was recommendable. But besides m. nobody seemed to be bothered by this, let’s say I was no exception. And notwithstanding the fact that it was not his f!@#$%g business at all I decided to abstain and focus on the business. And so I did. A few days later he sent me from the ship, probably afraid that I would come to my senses. Thank you for a cheap loan and @#$% off was the message.
I think he calculated that I would take me a while to go through the legal procedures, so he could look for an investor, he was always overconfident about his own capacities and he thought that his brilliant ideas were worth like five times the real investment, even with an unknown product in an unknown market, so he gambled to have 80% without costing him a penny. To go to an investor with a plan, a ship and a going concern situation is a lot easier then in a situation where you have only a plan and have to ask the future investor for money for the bus to meet him. For interested people I have his investor proposal in pdf format.
I tried to reason with him, also through mediators, first to go back to our original agreement, then to give me the money back and for him to sail where ever the wanted and be happy, then even in installments, giving him ample time to find an investor . He kept saying that he had investors but never came with the money, blaming me of course.
After he send me from the ship he kept on sailing playing the big captain (by the way, he was at the Enkhuizer sailing school, but only to get his navigation diploma there that was already expired during the trip to Romania), colliding with a 2.000.000$ yacht leaving the harbor under sail why?), crossing the Bulgarian border illegally with like 30 passengers, almost sinking the ship because he had done maintenance to the electric system that did not make it much better so the pumps stopped, calling the coast guard to come to rescue ( I let you guess who paid the bill, but this time is wasn’t me), loosing the anchor and two life rafts in the action, and ending up with –according to m.- a damaged engine, a destroyed interior so he had to break out interior walls, and in my opinion the generator and other equipment could hardly have survived. Plus of course a lot of negative publicity and a bad name with the ANR.
The ANR came to inspect the ship and came to 36 conflicts with the existing regulations before they concluded that further inspection would not add much at that moment, and they tied up the ship. I have a copy of the official report. One of the most intriguing issues was that the ship never had a safety certificate since it left from Germany.
His allegation that he did continued maintenance is a farce, the only changes he made where two pressurized tanks that he needed to take a shower, but not a drop a paint was applied, the overhauling of the engine I do not believe until I see the invoice.
After this incident in Bulgarian waters I decided to take legal action, which procedure I entirely left to my lawyer. I decided to act in Romania for some reasons that later appeared not to be valid, but as far as I know the whole procedure was correctly done. In the end I seized the ship. M. told me because of this he could not maintain the ship, although according to the law he could and according to the contract he even was obliged to do it. I also gave him permission personally.
On his reproach that because of the sequestration he could not find investors I told him that in case of finding an investor I would give an unlimited power of attorney to everybody concerning everything related to the ship at the moment of sales. Since the ship was already tied up there was actually no difference.
For the record: during the complete procedure until today m. had the possibility to pay me back my money and get the !@#$ out of my life, although obviously after the sinking this was a little more complicated and less attractive. Witnesses present.
The legal procedures did not take 5 days as I was told, but almost one year due to m.’s desperate struggle, but after like 5 trials the verdict was spoken and the auction held in Constanta, where due to lack of interested buyers the ship was assigned to me, And belief it or not, the very day I could pick up the official paper it got the word it was sinking. I saved the ship and put someone aboard to watch the pumps, but it is clear that something went wrong because the ship went down again to where she is at this moment.
Last events, beside m.’s never ending stories on the internet is that he took the case to high court and that he put me by email in default for 1,5 million euro, which he claims to be the value of the ship. Also he wants me to pay for missed business and legal costs.
So there we are today, ready to summarize the unfortunate chain of events:
- I saved m.’s ass from being forced to pay the down payment of 10% and loose it.
- I gave him a present of 30% of a business and a boat i.e. a very big nail to scratch his ass
- He did maybe 5% of what he was supposed to do.
- He threw me from the ship.
- He could not find investors and expected me to continue financing him even though he had thrown me from the ship.
- He makes my life miserable by not giving in in court and stalking me on the internet until today.
- He did not do any maintenance causing the ship to sink.
- As thank for my generosity he wants to sue me now for 1.500.000 euro ++
It goes without saying that will persecute this vertebrate through my lawyer into hell if necessary.
Thank you for your attention
PS. Another Latin expresion sounds like this: Coitus non circum.