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Old 20-04-2019, 12:23   #1
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Tips on finding a good boat to buy?

Hi,
I'm relatively new to the Pacific Northwest and after years living away from water, I thought this would be the perfect place to get back into sailing.

We started looking for a boat for a small family to daysail / cruise the Puget Sound, but unfortunately I'm having trouble finding a good boat and I thought I'd ask for ideas in this forum.

First, we had trouble finding suitable marinas near us, but by now we have finally overcome the sticker shock of local rates and accepted that we'll have to make do with a marina 60 miles from home. Yeah, really, that's the best we can do (unless we want to pay twice as much or join a 5-year wait list).

Now we're looking for a small boat, something around 27 or 28 feet, but the few (apparently) good boats that have appeared over the past six months sold before we even had a chance to see them, while the ones we have seen... well... let's be kind and just say there are reasons why they're not selling.

Since I'm looking at low-price boats, I've been looking in Craigslist and other online resources (some brokers have told me it's not worth for them to work with small boats unless they have to accept them as payment for larger ones).

In my prior sailing life, different time and place, the best way to find a good boat was hanging around the marinas, that's how you would hear about good boats for sale. Now, as a non-boat owner, I can't hang around marinas and I don't have the time either, so I'm reduced to what I can see online.

Any good tips on how to find a boat other than Craigslist, or Sailboatlistings.com?

Thanks for your help!
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Old 20-04-2019, 17:44   #2
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Re: Tips on finding a good boat to buy?

At 27 feet look for a trailer sailor. Helps you avoid the marina costs and allows you to travel.
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Old 21-04-2019, 04:05   #3
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Re: Tips on finding a good boat to buy?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Archer.
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Old 21-04-2019, 04:40   #4
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Re: Tips on finding a good boat to buy?

Here's a listing of 72 proven blue water boats from 20' - 32'

Plus some advice ……………….

https://atomvoyages.com/planning/goo...oats-list.html
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Old 21-04-2019, 08:41   #5
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Re: Tips on finding a good boat to buy?

Driving 120 miles round trip to save how much? That’s three hours in the car, fuel, wear and tear.

To your question keep doing what you are doing along with putting notes on boats you like with your contact details. Work backwards so to speak.

At that size range a trailer sailor may not be a bad idea. Dry store at a marina close by. Would not be my first choice but would work :-)

Good luck!
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Old 21-04-2019, 09:18   #6
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Re: Tips on finding a good boat to buy?

You don't say where in the PNW you are, but we are in the Kingston area. The marina rates are much cheaper on the West side of the Puget Sound than the East side and any wait list seemed to be shorter. Also - showing up as a guest moorage gives the marina staff a chance to see you in person. I'm not saying that changes your spot on a waiting list, but ......

We have lived on our boat now for @ 2-1/2 years and one thing I have noticed in the various marinas we have stayed at is the local postings on bulletin boards of boats for sale. Many in your price range. I don't believe all of these make either CL or sailboatlistings so they may be one offs and a good value.

I realize this means traveling a lot to various marinas, but may be worth it to find a bargain if that is what you are looking for.
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Old 21-04-2019, 10:33   #7
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Re: Tips on finding a good boat to buy?

Iím in the Issaquah area and travel north to Everett - cheaper by ~$100/mo than Seattle, got a slip in about 1 month. Going further north it gets cheaper and your in the islands quicker... I like to tinker on the boat so didnít want the extra 30 min each way for Anacortes.
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Old 21-04-2019, 11:23   #8
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Re: Tips on finding a good boat to buy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cat36Mahalo View Post
Iím in the Issaquah area and travel north to Everett - cheaper by ~$100/mo than Seattle, got a slip in about 1 month. Going further north it gets cheaper and your in the islands quicker... I like to tinker on the boat so didnít want the extra 30 min each way for Anacortes.
Or you could tinker in your driveway/garage and launch where ever. Depending on your tow vehicle you could find some very seaworthy vessels.
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Old 21-04-2019, 11:28   #9
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Re: Tips on finding a good boat to buy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Archer31 View Post
Hi,
I'm relatively new to the Pacific Northwest and after years living away from water, I thought this would be the perfect place to get back into sailing.

We started looking for a boat for a small family to daysail / cruise the Puget Sound, but unfortunately I'm having trouble finding a good boat and I thought I'd ask for ideas in this forum.

First, we had trouble finding suitable marinas near us, but by now we have finally overcome the sticker shock of local rates and accepted that we'll have to make do with a marina 60 miles from home. Yeah, really, that's the best we can do (unless we want to pay twice as much or join a 5-year wait list).

Now we're looking for a small boat, something around 27 or 28 feet, but the few (apparently) good boats that have appeared over the past six months sold before we even had a chance to see them, while the ones we have seen... well... let's be kind and just say there are reasons why they're not selling.

Since I'm looking at low-price boats, I've been looking in Craigslist and other online resources (some brokers have told me it's not worth for them to work with small boats unless they have to accept them as payment for larger ones).

In my prior sailing life, different time and place, the best way to find a good boat was hanging around the marinas, that's how you would hear about good boats for sale. Now, as a non-boat owner, I can't hang around marinas and I don't have the time either, so I'm reduced to what I can see online.

Any good tips on how to find a boat other than Craigslist, or Sailboatlistings.com?

Thanks for your help!
Hello neighbor. A boat search will take some time no matter how you approach it and, yes, the good boats will sell faster so have your ducks in line and checkbook handy. Smaller boats are less likely to be on some of the Internet brokers.

You don't post your location but there are marinas with local listings that never make it on the Internet, walk the docks whenever you can. During my search I think I hit all the brokers in Seattle at one time or another and some multiple times...I even traveled to Point Roberts, Orcus Island, and Canada twice. Unless you already know the specific make of boat you want, look at as many boat as you can...and then look some more, you can't look at too many.

Have you tried the local sailing/boating magazines: 48North, PNW Yachts, and even Latitude 38 for the Bay area. You may have to go outside your local area to shop smaller ports for possibilities; i.e. Port Angeles, Sequim, Poulsbo, Bremerton, Port Orchard, Gig Harbor, Olympia, etc. Don't think of it as work but as a recreational trip. Be positive...there is a sailboat out there just waiting for you to show up.

Good Luck.

~ ~ _/) ~ ~ MJH
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Old 21-04-2019, 12:16   #10
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Re: Tips on finding a good boat to buy?

Archer31,

Here is an old school way that still works...

Walk the docks.

One day a week on your day off, pick an area near you with marinas and boat storage. Take your family and make a day of just walking and talking. Talk to boaters, talk to marina staff, harbor masters, boat swap meets, etc. Anyone in the marine service industry. Tell them what you are looking for. Do not take up a lot of their time but be courteous and to the point and people will see you are serious. Make up a small card with the details. Size of boat, price range, contact info., etc. Give one to everyone you speak to. Make them your "bird dog" army. Pay a small "finders fee" say $500 for helping find the right boat. Start with marinas and boat storage lots that cater to under 30' boats and trailer sailors.

Boaters know their docks and what is happening. A lot of the best "deals" never get listed or even advertised as they sell by word of mouth.

Set a schedule and do this on a regular basis every week. Hit a different area each time. Make a fun family outing. Even on a tight budget it can be a great day. Pack a lunch and go.

This is how we have found most of our boats. Online is great for research but hoofing it around marinas and boaty areas is way better in our opinion.

Good luck!
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Old 21-04-2019, 12:43   #11
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Re: Tips on finding a good boat to buy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rbk View Post
Or you could tinker in your driveway/garage and launch where ever. Depending on your tow vehicle you could find some very seaworthy vessels.
Hard to tow a 36í boat.
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Old 21-04-2019, 12:56   #12
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Re: Tips on finding a good boat to buy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Archer31 View Post
Hi,
I'm relatively new to the Pacific Northwest and after years living away from water, I thought this would be the perfect place to get back into sailing.

We started looking for a boat for a small family to daysail / cruise the Puget Sound, but unfortunately I'm having trouble finding a good boat and I thought I'd ask for ideas in this forum.

First, we had trouble finding suitable marinas near us, but by now we have finally overcome the sticker shock of local rates and accepted that we'll have to make do with a marina 60 miles from home. Yeah, really, that's the best we can do (unless we want to pay twice as much or join a 5-year wait list).

Now we're looking for a small boat, something around 27 or 28 feet, but the few (apparently) good boats that have appeared over the past six months sold before we even had a chance to see them, while the ones we have seen... well... let's be kind and just say there are reasons why they're not selling.

Since I'm looking at low-price boats, I've been looking in Craigslist and other online resources (some brokers have told me it's not worth for them to work with small boats unless they have to accept them as payment for larger ones).

In my prior sailing life, different time and place, the best way to find a good boat was hanging around the marinas, that's how you would hear about good boats for sale. Now, as a non-boat owner, I can't hang around marinas and I don't have the time either, so I'm reduced to what I can see online.

Any good tips on how to find a boat other than Craigslist, or Sailboatlistings.com?

Thanks for your help!
Another way to get back into sailing AND get leads on good boats is to join a racing crew. You can get all the sailing you want, upgrade your skills, it costs very little, and you will meet people who may be selling or know someone who is.
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Old 21-04-2019, 13:38   #13
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Re: Tips on finding a good boat to buy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cat36Mahalo View Post
Hard to tow a 36í boat.
Who said anything about a 36í boat. OP wants 27í
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Old 22-04-2019, 13:02   #14
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Re: Tips on finding a good boat to buy?

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Originally Posted by GordMay View Post
Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Archer.
Thanks everybody for the welcome wishes and the tips. Very useful.

A couple comments: I'm near Seattle, and marinas here are crazy, not only are they asking around $500 for moorage, there's usually a long wait list. I know a person who's subleasing here and there, having to move his boat every three to four months and never knowing where he will be next, that's not my idea of fun.
In the end, I think I'll end up keeping the boat in Everett, it's a little over one hour from home, but in any case, everything takes at least thirty minutes in Seattle.

Trailerables: well, we have two midsize cars, I'd be lucky to tow a Laser (ok, I'm exaggerating, but you get the point). I could probably tow a McGregor, there are tons of them for sale everywhere, but I sailed one once a few years back and I didn't like it a bit. Of course, a 28 can also be trailerable... if you have an F-350... but spending more on upgrading the car than on the boat is not part of the deal. Still, I can see the appeal if you have a large driveway and you already have the truck. Unfortunately, it's not my case.

The idea is to use the boat as a family cruiser, so every boat so far was evaluated by the full "crew," everybody's opinions are taken into account. We went on "recreational trips" as MJH put it, and in one occasion we were lucky enough that they let us walk the docks. Most of the time we can't and had to limit to the boat we were seeing.

So far we've been from Steilacom to Bellingham and places in between, including across the Sound, to Bainbridge, Bremerton and Port Townsend, always trying to make it a fun family getaway rather than driving to see a boat. I'm glad we're doing it this way, otherwise it would be very frustrating given that in several cases we found that the condition of the boat was greatly overstated and wasn't worth the trip... and yes, it happened more than once...

Yet, we haven't given up, we keep looking. Thanks to your recommendations, I'll make sure I'm more vocal when visiting marinas and I'll make a routine of reading the local sailing magazines. The checkbook is ready, the surveyor is standing by, the insurer knows I'm buying a boat and I already have a preliminary quote, I even got my boater card in case a boat has an engine over 15 hp... we're ready as we can be, just waiting for the right boat to pop out in the market.

Thanks for all the advice, I'll let you know when something finally comes out.
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