Blood, Sharks and other Foul Creatures
This was the final straw that broke the camels back and became the catalyst that harkened the inglorious end to Latitudes and Attitudes. It goes like this. Months before, during the due diligence analysis, Joe was at the offices in Redondo Beach and working with Cheryl McCrosky, Bob’ s bookkeeper for L&A. During his audit of the financials he came across an account in Quickbooks under the heading Share The Sail… It showed a balance of 25,000 +. He queried Cheryl about it and she explained that that amount was what was collected as deposits for the upcoming Share the sail in the grenadines and that the payments were collected through the seafaring store. Charged with the crushing task of analyzing 15 years of “creative” accounting we moved on to the next item in our analysis. Fast forward to a month before the Share the Sail event. The time was coming and we had to make the deposit payments to Dream Yacht Charter for the Cats in the Grenadines. I authorized the payments to be made and thought all was great. A short time later Cheryl came into my office and closed the door. her face ashen as she sat down. I immediately asked her what was wrong. She hesitated and then told me that the account that I thought held 25 thousand dollars in customer deposits for the Share The Sail, actually had a ZERO balance. I asked her where the money went since it was collected before we came into the picture and she said it went to pay bills. I asked what bills and she explained it went to pay regular operating bills. I sat there stunned by this news. I had made a critical mistake. I assumed. I assumed that a ledger balance held in FTW Quickbooks during our due diligence analysis was a “Real” balance. It never occurred to me that that money would be spent on anything other than the event in which it was meant for. Due to gross mismanagement and poor financial planning by FTW the event would have had to have been cancelled if we didn’t step in immediately and use very available penny available to us to ensure none of the guests were disappointed. It was a week before the Oakland Show and Bob was still in San Diego preparing to sail the Lost Soul north. I decided that I would discuss this with him in person once he got to Alameda.
In the interim I emailed Scott Farquharson from Dream Yacht Charters and try to work something out. He graciously bent over backwards to try to help in any way he could. When Bob arrived in Alameda he looked haggard from the trip. I decided that since Scott seemed to willing to work with us we had some time to figure things out so I wouldn’t talk to Bob until after the show and we could have some quiet time. The Oakland Show ended and Bob, Jody, Joe and I went back to the Lost Soul to chat. I told him about the discrepancy in the accounting for the Share The Sail and asked him what was done with the deposit money he collected for the Share The Sail. He told me that Cheryl handled that. Meanwhile, Cheryl told me that Bob handled that. I told Bob and Jody that we had worked hard to scrape together a 15K surplus in the operating budget but it was no where near enough to cover the deposits needed by DYC (Dream Yacht Charters) in order to keep the boat reservations in force. He authorized us to use whatever credit he had on the credit cards we were managing for him and we did. Even with all of our cash(15K) and his available credit (16K) it was not enough. We were still about (5K) short of what was needed to keep the reservations. I called Scott and told him I would send him a check as good faith if he would agree not to deposit it until I could make arrangements for the funds to cover it in the next couple of weeks. he agreed and I sent the check and the reservations were secure. We had a final deposit of 25K that was needed and I squeezed every penny that we had including the money I held for not making our mortgage payment on our boat for 2 months. I tried everything and finally Capt Woody agreed to use his credit card to pay most of the balance. He drew up a contract and I signed it. I thought we were out of the woods but then I was notified that Dream had deposited the check I had sent without my consent and it was returned. Scott had suddenly turned aggressive and condemning. his emails were threatening and hostile and he threatened to have me arrested for writing a bad check. Looking back now, I can imagine that other forces were probably working behind the scenes egging his responses. I wired as much as I could to him and it left us with no cash for the printer, no cash for payroll and it was 3 weeks away before we would have any income for the company. Things were bleak but Bob, Jody and crew went off to the Grenadines and had a great time. When they came back we prepared for the next event. the cruising seminar in Biloxi. It was there that I believe that Bob, Jody, Heidi and others conspired to try to take L&A back. Who knows for sure but when they returned from the seminar things rapidly headed in a direction that could only end the way they did.