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Old 04-09-2012, 19:42   #1
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Pitfalls of Buying a Boat Unseen?

Here is a true-to-life case to consider, if you don't want the details the question is in the topic:

If you have to buy a boat unseen because you don't have the opportunity to travel to a different continent to check it out - what are the major pitfalls, and how can you best avoid them?

Keywords here are: catamaran 43-46 ft, 260,000USD budget, caribbean market, possibly former charter boat.


So, to the exciting details and the following questions:

We're a bunch of 9 in norway planning to buy a cat, most likely in the caribbean, preferably less than 10 years old and 43-46 feet. It needs to take us comfortably across the pacific to sell in Australia and that's all, that is, the sailing performance is unimportant - it just needs to float. Same with the layout, it should accomodate 7-9 but we're prepared to make adjustments to interior, and do the necessary make-up.

However, it will most likely need quite a bit of equipment fitted - watermaker, radar, perhaps a spinnaker, SSB radio, generator, and that of course, takes a bit of time.

Now, 2 of us arrive in - well, that depends - but probably St. Martin early december, the rest one month later and we hope to leave for panama in january. So we'd have to buy and outfit the right cat for the right price (~250K USD) in two months - barely. Too ambitious, right?

OK, so we could try and have a deal pending and ready to be closed when we arrive - it would still be an unseen boat, it's bad timing for the market and work is more expensive to hire. And most importantly, we don't think we'd have the expertise necessary to discover the potentially really important caveats anyway. Could our eyes make such a huge difference when we can't be that picky with charm and how well the cupboard doors slide?

We think we have a broker who can act as our agent in place to check out prospects. As long as you get a good survey of hull, mast and engine you should be covered for the critical points, right? Would buying a former charter boat be a gamble with that in place, for example with hidden damage to any of these?

I'll have to stop here I can tell, so please help us and share information instead of just saying the idea is stupid. You can tell us that as well, only say why, too.

Cheers,
Erlend
CEO of pina banana line
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Old 04-09-2012, 19:52   #2
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Re: Pitfalls of buying a boat unseen?

They sound like Norwegian scammers to me.
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Old 05-09-2012, 06:32   #3
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Re: Pitfalls of Buying a Boat Unseen?

If you can find a surveyor that you trust (a very big "if"), and if the boat doesn't need too much work, then it might turn out okay. But a boat that's been cruising the islands is probably going to need quite a lot of work before it is ready to set off across the Pacific.

You can pay someone else to do that work, and that will get it done quickly, but then you'd better not spend more than half your total budget on the initial purchase. Or you can do the work yourself, but then your schedule becomes unrealistic.

How many among you have experience with this sort of voyage? Think you're going to learn advanced seamanship out in the middle of the Pacific? On the job training, as it were? That's pretty much a recipe for disaster.

In the end, you are risking a whole lot of money that may all end up going down a rat-hole. If you all wouldn't be too upset if your $250k ended up being pissed away then go for it.

Oh yeah, and have any of you lived on a boat before? Nine people living on a sailboat for several months... Let's just say that the boat had better be VERY big, or the people had better know for sure that they can all get along VERY well!

I wish you luck. You are definitely going to need a boat-load of it!
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Old 05-09-2012, 06:47   #4
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Re: Pitfalls of Buying a Boat Unseen?

I see many potential problems and pitfalls in your plans.

1. Buying almost any boat, no matter the price, quality and condition would almost certainly require months of preparation, maintenance and repair before it would be ready to sail half way around the world. Like anything there can be exceptions to this statement but the odds of finding a truly ready to go boat are very small.

2. Your group plans to spend over USD$250,000 for a boat but could not have someone there to inspect the boat prior to signing a purchase agreement?

3. I might comment that a boat would need to do more than just float to sail it to Australia. Sure the cabinets and cosmetic details may not matter but the hull, rig and engine better be in top condition.

My main concern is your very short time table might cause you problems. Better to spend more time checking all boat systems before you start in a location where parts and labor are readily available instead of breaking down and being stuck for months in some small island with no resources for repairs.
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Old 05-09-2012, 06:48   #5
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Sounds like the bunch that responds to my Craig's list ads. Always willing to send a certified check, and have someone else pick up the goods.

Smells like a scam 100%
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Old 05-09-2012, 07:23   #6
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Re: Pitfalls of Buying a Boat Unseen?

I am currently located in the BVI and have been here for a while. I was working as a yacht broker here but no longer. I have seen the inventory of used boats available and find it extremely difficult to find nice pre-owned boats that have not been thrashed and that is with 20+ years experience in the brokerage business and my being here to examine every one personally.
Your task is near impossible to achieve from afar, sight unseen. More than likely you will end up with a boat that has been misrepresented and requires a lot more work than you plan for.
As far as having the help of a yacht broker in the Caribbean to make this purchase, my experience has been that most of the brokers down here are worse than useless and have very limited experience.
Good luck
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Old 05-09-2012, 07:53   #7
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Re: Pitfalls of Buying a Boat Unseen?

Really? There are folks who would do that? I've got a bridge for sale..
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Old 05-09-2012, 09:45   #8
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Re: Pitfalls of Buying a Boat Unseen?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rtbates View Post
Really? There are folks who would do that? I've got a bridge for sale..
Is that the bridge in New York or the one that leads to the "waterfront property" I have for sale in Florida?
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Old 05-09-2012, 10:05   #9
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Re: Pitfalls of Buying a Boat Unseen?

I know a guy who really did buy a piece of swamp. He didn't bother going to check it out and paid the price - so to speak. I had always thought that was an urban myth.
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Old 05-09-2012, 11:59   #10
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Re: Pitfalls of Buying a Boat Unseen?

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Originally Posted by rtbates View Post
Really? There are folks who would do that? I've got a bridge for sale..
But will it float to Australia?

I agree with rourkeh buying with out seeing something first is a bad idea. Considering that I was in the caribbean and saw five or six boats before I settled on Badger, my limited experience matches his, and I wasn't willing to risk nearly as much money.
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Old 05-09-2012, 12:01   #11
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Re: Pitfalls of Buying a Boat Unseen?

Quote:
Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
If you can find a surveyor that you trust (a very big "if"), and if the boat doesn't need too much work, then it might turn out okay. But a boat that's been cruising the islands is probably going to need quite a lot of work before it is ready to set off across the Pacific.

You can pay someone else to do that work, and that will get it done quickly, but then you'd better not spend more than half your total budget on the initial purchase. Or you can do the work yourself, but then your schedule becomes unrealistic.
So what kind of work would that usually involve do you think? I mean, if the hull, rigging and engine pass as good condition by the surveyor, I'd think most of the work would lie in fitting the WM, radar and generator as well as probably a new coating. Would that really take more than a month? Much of the interior work we can do ourselves on the go.

Quote:
How many among you have experience with this sort of voyage? Think you're going to learn advanced seamanship out in the middle of the Pacific? On the job training, as it were? That's pretty much a recipe for disaster.
We have plenty of experience between us, but not with buying a boat this way which is really the point here.

Quote:
In the end, you are risking a whole lot of money that may all end up going down a rat-hole. If you all wouldn't be too upset if your $250k ended up being pissed away then go for it.
OK, how would that happen if we buy a boat "certified" by a surveyor to be in decent condition and insure it?

Quote:
Oh yeah, and have any of you lived on a boat before? Nine people living on a sailboat for several months... Let's just say that the boat had better be VERY big, or the people had better know for sure that they can all get along VERY well!
I know - we do!
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Old 05-09-2012, 12:05   #12
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Re: Pitfalls of Buying a Boat Unseen?

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Originally Posted by tbodine88 View Post
But will it float to Australia?

I agree with rourkeh buying with out seeing something first is a bad idea. Considering that I was in the caribbean and saw five or six boats before I settled on Badger, my limited experience matches his, and I wasn't willing to risk nearly as much money.
Well, we would of course have someone acting as our buyers broker checking out the boat, taking more pictures for us and relaying his impression. Also, we'd have a surveyor overlook and taking it for sea-trial before any purchase would be made. In that case - where are the major pitfalls?
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Old 05-09-2012, 12:12   #13
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Re: Pitfalls of Buying a Boat Unseen?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pina.banana View Post
Well, we would of course have someone acting as our buyers broker checking out the boat, taking more pictures for us and relaying his impression. Also, we'd have a surveyor overlook and taking it for sea-trial before any purchase would be made. In that case - where are the major pitfalls?

You pay your $260K and get a POS. Very possible if you rely on someone else.
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Old 05-09-2012, 12:18   #14
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Re: Pitfalls of Buying a Boat Unseen?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vasco View Post
You pay your $260K and get a POS. Very possible if you rely on someone else.
I think the word you were looking for was "likely". Very Likely .

Be hard enough getting all 9 buyers to agree on what is good, what is ok and what is sh#te - let alone relying on others.

My advice is don't. but if OP does, then IMO need to have an exit strategy mapped out if (when?!) the purchase does not meet expectations / hopes - so can exit (and get yer cash back - or at least some of it) without having to deal with 8 other people squabbling over the purchase, whilst eating money and time. yours.
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Old 05-09-2012, 12:20   #15
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Re: Pitfalls of Buying a Boat Unseen?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pina.banana View Post
Here is a true-to-life case to consider, if you don't want the details the question is in the topic:

If you have to buy a boat unseen because you don't have the opportunity to travel to a different continent to check it out - what are the major pitfalls, and how can you best avoid them?

Keywords here are: catamaran 43-46 ft, 260,000USD budget, caribbean market, possibly former charter boat.


So, to the exciting details and the following questions:

We're a bunch of 9 in norway planning to buy a cat, most likely in the caribbean, preferably less than 10 years old and 43-46 feet. It needs to take us comfortably across the pacific to sell in Australia and that's all, that is, the sailing performance is unimportant - it just needs to float. Same with the layout, it should accomodate 7-9 but we're prepared to make adjustments to interior, and do the necessary make-up.

However, it will most likely need quite a bit of equipment fitted - watermaker, radar, perhaps a spinnaker, SSB radio, generator, and that of course, takes a bit of time.

Now, 2 of us arrive in - well, that depends - but probably St. Martin early december, the rest one month later and we hope to leave for panama in january. So we'd have to buy and outfit the right cat for the right price (~250K USD) in two months - barely. Too ambitious, right?

OK, so we could try and have a deal pending and ready to be closed when we arrive - it would still be an unseen boat, it's bad timing for the market and work is more expensive to hire. And most importantly, we don't think we'd have the expertise necessary to discover the potentially really important caveats anyway. Could our eyes make such a huge difference when we can't be that picky with charm and how well the cupboard doors slide?

We think we have a broker who can act as our agent in place to check out prospects. As long as you get a good survey of hull, mast and engine you should be covered for the critical points, right? Would buying a former charter boat be a gamble with that in place, for example with hidden damage to any of these?

I'll have to stop here I can tell, so please help us and share information instead of just saying the idea is stupid. You can tell us that as well, only say why, too.

Cheers,
Erlend
CEO of pina banana line

I would never sell my boat to somebody who didn't spend the time to see it. I would be 100% sure this is a scam.
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