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Old 28-08-2015, 17:06   #1
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An extremely subjective guide to buying a boat in the Caribbean

Hi all,
My wife and I recently bought a 36' sailboat in the British Virgin Islands that we will be taking on a 1-2 year cruise starting in October. We live 3000 miles away in San Francisco. The deal's been done for nearly two months and we've still never actually seen the ole girl with our own eyes, let alone taken her for a sail.

If you're having a good chuckle about the two idiots that bought a boat sight unseen and you want to know what kind of mental gymnastics occurred to make that seem like a good idea, I've chronicled the process on our blog.

An Extremely Subjective Guide to Buying a Sailboat in the Caribbean
Part 1 - The Decision
Part 2 - Gauging the Market
Part 3 - The Criteria
Part 4 - Yacht Brokers
Part 5 - Finding a Boat, Makin' Deals

Bad idea? We'll find out...

Anyone else out there bought a boat sight unseen? I'd love to hear the success and horror stories. The former because affirmation is nice, the latter because the money's already gone and I can laugh at the objective absurdity of our decision.

- Will


* I should also note, I'm new to the forum and I don't know whether it's okay to post links to personal sites. If it's not, please delete!
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Old 28-08-2015, 19:05   #2
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Re: An extremely subjective guide to buying a boat in the Caribbean

Congratulations. Nice looking yacht. Good luck moving aboard
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Old 28-08-2015, 19:15   #3
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Re: An extremely subjective guide to buying a boat in the Caribbean

Bounced around your blog... Looking forward to running into you guys in the next year.. Enjoy!
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Old 28-08-2015, 19:39   #4
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Re: An extremely subjective guide to buying a boat in the Caribbean

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Originally Posted by travellerw View Post
Bounced around your blog... Looking forward to running into you guys in the next year.. Enjoy!
Where are you going to be sailing?

Holler if you see us in an anchorage!
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Old 29-08-2015, 06:29   #5
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Re: An extremely subjective guide to buying a boat in the Caribbean

Nice blog Will, I think I learnt something too! :-)

Will you have a YouTube channel?


Posted from my buggy iPad using Cruisers Sailing Forum app
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Old 29-08-2015, 08:30   #6
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Re: An extremely subjective guide to buying a boat in the Caribbean

Quote:
Originally Posted by MondayNever View Post
Hi all,
My wife and I recently bought a 36' sailboat in the British Virgin Islands that we will be taking on a 1-2 year cruise starting in October. We live 3000 miles away in San Francisco. The deal's been done for nearly two months and we've still never actually seen the ole girl with our own eyes, let alone taken her for a sail.

If you're having a good chuckle about the two idiots that bought a boat sight unseen and you want to know what kind of mental gymnastics occurred to make that seem like a good idea, I've chronicled the process on our blog.

An Extremely Subjective Guide to Buying a Sailboat in the Caribbean
Part 1 - The Decision
Part 2 - Gauging the Market
Part 3 - The Criteria
Part 4 - Yacht Brokers
Part 5 - Finding a Boat, Makin' Deals

Bad idea? We'll find out...

Anyone else out there bought a boat sight unseen? I'd love to hear the success and horror stories. The former because affirmation is nice, the latter because the money's already gone and I can laugh at the objective absurdity of our decision.

- Will


* I should also note, I'm new to the forum and I don't know whether it's okay to post links to personal sites. If it's not, please delete!
We live there and YES very strange to buy a boat unseen or tried. Where is she and what condition is she in? Who did you buy from?
When will you be going to the islands?
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Old 29-08-2015, 08:36   #7
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Re: An extremely subjective guide to buying a boat in the Caribbean

I've bought several boats, sight unseen. Very exciting. The incentive on all of them was price.

The first was a CAL25 back in the mid 1990's. It was when the web was young, before digital pictures. I had posted on rec.boats.marketplace that I was looking for a bargain. A guy one great lake over emailed me about his boat. He was asking $12,000 originally, but it had sat on the hard for almost 5 years. Now he just wanted the storage fees to stop. So I sent him a cheque in the mail for $1000, and he had it loaded on a truck and shipped to me. I paid the trucker when it arrived. My luck, the travel lift broke when they were unloading...whole nother story. In the end, I did lots of cleanup, scrubbing, paint, sanding, cetol, etc. Spent $100 on a mechanic who got the engine running. But I was sailing it less than a week after it arrived. It was a good boat, very fast, furling, omc saildrive, wheel. I was still pretty young and it was a good experience.
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Old 29-08-2015, 09:00   #8
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Re: An extremely subjective guide to buying a boat in the Caribbean

Put 10% down and flew to Tortola where there she laid tide to a can 51.4 beneteau. Had to get the guy out with batteries to start engine. Broker from moorings came we took her out on a sail by Beef island wow I was hooked. The seller though widow of the guy that sailed her when not in charter backed out. But the broker knew of a similar boat that the owner was there sailing her around. Gave me a ride on the Mary Jane and now she is two and half years later mine. Had to endure paying and paying for a while but now that I have seen every rock out there I wouldn't change anything it's well worth it. Bottom line get out there and be patient
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Old 29-08-2015, 09:07   #9
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Re: An extremely subjective guide to buying a boat in the Caribbean

I just started reading your blog and I'm wondering, do you write the "don't get cable TV" commercials? LOL
Nice looking boat. We just started looking, and I hope we find one as handsome.

Going to read more now, thanks for sharing you experience.
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Old 29-08-2015, 09:39   #10
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Re: An extremely subjective guide to buying a boat in the Caribbean

Quote:
Originally Posted by MondayNever View Post
Hi all,
My wife and I recently bought a 36' sailboat in the British Virgin Islands that we will be taking on a 1-2 year cruise starting in October. We live 3000 miles away in San Francisco. The deal's been done for nearly two months and we've still never actually seen the ole girl with our own eyes, let alone taken her for a sail.

If you're having a good chuckle about the two idiots that bought a boat sight unseen and you want to know what kind of mental gymnastics occurred to make that seem like a good idea, I've chronicled the process on our blog.

An Extremely Subjective Guide to Buying a Sailboat in the Caribbean
Part 1 - The Decision
Part 2 - Gauging the Market
Part 3 - The Criteria
Part 4 - Yacht Brokers
Part 5 - Finding a Boat, Makin' Deals

Bad idea? We'll find out...

Anyone else out there bought a boat sight unseen? I'd love to hear the success and horror stories. The former because affirmation is nice, the latter because the money's already gone and I can laugh at the objective absurdity of our decision.

- Will


* I should also note, I'm new to the forum and I don't know whether it's okay to post links to personal sites. If it's not, please delete!
Will,

I actually did almost the exact same thing. Bought my boat site unseen. If you search my name, you may find my thread about it but here is the skinny. I live in New Orleans and the boat was in St. Petersburg, FL. Not that far away, but my wife was due with our first baby in about 1 month so there was no way I was leaving with the baby due at anytime and I wasn't going without her and she couldn't fly 8.5 months pregnant. I used Murray Yacht Sales here to represent me as they have an office in St. Pete. They checked the boat out for me, found me a yard to haul it out and a surveyor. My agent was at the haul out and met with the surveyor and went with him on the sea trial, and was in constant email and phone contact with me the whole time. Constantly emailing and texting pictures. He also found me a Captain to sail the boat here, as by the time we signed papers and faxed them over the baby was due in about 1 week.

Murray Yacht Sales was great! They even helped me negotiate the price lower. The boat was a great deal, 2 years old and the guy barely sailed the thing. All in all a great experience. Now Its not going to be my home, and just for day sailing, but still a very good experience.

I look at it like this, I'm a professional and people come to me for my expertise. Many people try and treat themselves but ultimately they wind up in my office to have their problem treated (I'm a doctor). I'm not a yacht broker, I don't know enough about that to even begin to claim to be an expert on boats, so I rely on a professional as people do with me when they have foot pain (my specialty is Podiatry). The hard part is finding someone you can rely on and it sounds like you did that with your broker.

Everything is about relationships. He may have only made 1k off the deal, but he has a satisfied customer who is posting on the boards and a blog about the great experience. Word of mouth is the best advertising there is and that's worth way more than a $1,000 commision! Also, you're young, your budget is small, but who knows, it 10-15 years you may want a bigger or newer boat and you have a history with him so he may be thinking of the future as well. It's a win-win for everyone. I know I wouldn't hesitate using my broker again, whether to sell my boat or buy another.

Enjoy your boat and your sabbatical!

Rob
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Old 29-08-2015, 10:07   #11
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Re: An extremely subjective guide to buying a boat in the Caribbean

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Originally Posted by MondayNever View Post
Where are you going to be sailing?

Holler if you see us in an anchorage!
We don't really have any solid plans. Our boat is lying in Cancun right now, but we will move it to Florida in October. We plan to leave Florida in February and either head down the chain or around Cuba to the western Caribbean. I'm leaning towards Cuba as that is where we bought our boat and fell in love with the country. I want my kids to see it before it becomes like everwhere else.

Hopefully we will run into each other. I will definitely give you a holler if I see you!
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Old 29-08-2015, 10:48   #12
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Re: An extremely subjective guide to buying a boat in the Caribbean

Congratulations - looks like a terrific boat.

We did almost the same thing. After looking for more than 5 years and having 2 boats sold out from under us due to distance, we flew, drove, ferried 3500 miles to see a boat halfway up the coast of British Columbia in January 2014. The owner lived 150 miles away and had to meet us since the broker had long since refused to travel that far to show her. We saw her for 2 hours in a dark/rainy day. Then the owner said he had to catch the next ferry back to Vancouver Is and take it or leave it.

Well did we see the boat? Technically yes. We finally bought her for less than half the listed price and no guarantees. We thought we had a bargain until we came to claim the boat last July and she was stripped of everything that had any after market value (previous owner really angry about the price). Then we were told the boat hadn't left the dock for the last four years and we probably could have bought it for a lot less. Too hard to show in her condition/location.

I don't regret it (most days, that is). We've spent 14 months fixing her up and the list of things to do is down to one page, we'll know every inch of the boat by the time we finish.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that you bought the boat for a reason that is way beyond logic (wayyyyy beyond in my case). If you're basically a sane couple and you did this kooky thing, there's a reason. The old saying "draw outside the lines" applies, I think. I hope your adventures equal your hopes!
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Old 29-08-2015, 11:19   #13
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Re: An extremely subjective guide to buying a boat in the Caribbean

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wakey View Post
Nice blog Will, I think I learnt something too! :-)

Will you have a YouTube channel?


Posted from my buggy iPad using Cruisers Sailing Forum app
Hah! Yes - my wife wants to record everything and make videos. She's been inspired by La Vagabonde and Delos. I can't think of anything I'd rather do less than be caught on video, but so it goes.

No videos yet, as the only subject matter would be us donating all of our possessions to GoodWill and moving to-do post-it notes around on our wall. In due time!
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Old 29-08-2015, 11:26   #14
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Re: An extremely subjective guide to buying a boat in the Caribbean

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Originally Posted by svinvictus2 View Post
We live there and YES very strange to buy a boat unseen or tried. Where is she and what condition is she in? Who did you buy from?
When will you be going to the islands?
In my defense it was well-researched, even if I did not make myself physically present. But yes, not entirely conventional and certainly not advisable.

From what we know based on hundreds of digital photos, a good man-on-the-scene, and an expensive marine survey and sea trial, she ought to be in quite good condition. There are a couple of minor things to sort out (fault in the secondary autopilot, fridge compressor not kicking on), but she sails, motors, and keeps the water out.

We bought from an English seller living in France who listed the boat through a brokerage in the British Virgin Islands. We used a buyer's broker - Chris Simpson at BVI Yacht Sales.
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Old 29-08-2015, 11:30   #15
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Re: An extremely subjective guide to buying a boat in the Caribbean

Quote:
Originally Posted by hamburking View Post
I've bought several boats, sight unseen. Very exciting. The incentive on all of them was price.

The first was a CAL25 back in the mid 1990's. It was when the web was young, before digital pictures. I had posted on rec.boats.marketplace that I was looking for a bargain. A guy one great lake over emailed me about his boat. He was asking $12,000 originally, but it had sat on the hard for almost 5 years. Now he just wanted the storage fees to stop. So I sent him a cheque in the mail for $1000, and he had it loaded on a truck and shipped to me. I paid the trucker when it arrived. My luck, the travel lift broke when they were unloading...whole nother story. In the end, I did lots of cleanup, scrubbing, paint, sanding, cetol, etc. Spent $100 on a mechanic who got the engine running. But I was sailing it less than a week after it arrived. It was a good boat, very fast, furling, omc saildrive, wheel. I was still pretty young and it was a good experience.
That's what I like to hear! What a steal - a thousand bucks for a boat the does the job. I thought I was doing good when I bought a Hobie 16 for $450, spent a couple hundred on new running rigging and rebuilding the axle on the trailer, then sailed the piss out of her all over the South East coast for 3 years and sold her for more than I paid. But you managed to get a cruising boat for barely any more than that! How much did you end up selling her for?
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