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Old 25-03-2007, 14:13   #1
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Advice for purchase strategy

Hi all;

My wife and I are shopping for a bluewater boat for cruising. I have found a vessel that has peaked both of our interests. The hull was professionally built, what looks to be a great offshore design. We really like the hull and on-deck layout. It has a simple, but robust sloop rig.
The interior was owner-finished to spartan standards. Essentially, they finished to boat as a coastal cruiser, and outfitted minimally. The interior, while funtional is not 100% complete, and would need some reworking. There is little in the way of extended cruising gear - no autopilot, no windvane, nor dodger, bimini, proper refrigeration. Only two working sails. The net result is that is is a great start for an inexpensive bluewater boat, but not a very attactive boat for somebody shopping for weekender.

The boat looks to have had very limited use, and it was finished in the mid 90s, so it looks very clean.

So here is my dilemma. I have looked at many pics, and had a long discussion with the broker. No alarms are sounding. This is a lower priced boat to begin with, but I feel that it would need to come down another 30% before it would make sense for us (we would need spend ~$3k to ship it for starters.) I am hesitant to spend the $$$ for both of us to fly in, rent a car, to see the boat, without knowing that we could purchase the boat for something that makes sense for us.

So it it were you, how would you proceed? I have several ideas, but instead of stating them upfront, I would like to hear your ideas first.

Thanks in advance,
Chris
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Old 25-03-2007, 15:29   #2
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The net result is that is is a great start for an inexpensive bluewater boat, but not a very attractive boat for somebody shopping for weekender.
A partly finished ugly boat seems like it might have some problems from the start and missing a lot of things yet to be determined at unknown costs. Not seeming great at first glance. If it's your first major boat, you may not really know all the details of what you need, want, and can afford just yet. Seems like a big gamble at second glance. You need to make the odds more in favor of the home team (that would be you).

It's a long distance away and that adds a lot of costs. Avoiding a through inspection and detailed in person analysis will improve your odds how? The money saved now will be spent 100 times overs if the deal isn't the right deal and you could become unhappy.

It's nice to say you want to start out with a minimal boat and somehow build it into what you really want. You need to answer all those big questions first not after. It seems financially easier up front because you don't know the back end of the deal. It is possible to get worse and I'm talking way way worse. There will be surprises that all are not the good kind. It comes with any used boat but yours is going to have some really big ones. Make the odds work more in your favor.

There is another way. Start with a smaller boat (that is affordable) that maybe isn't yet what you ultimately want to take off into the sunset with and sail the heck out it for a while. You'll learn much more sailing a boat than by rebuilding one. Maybe do some coastal cruising. You'll still get to work on it as you do with all boats you will ever own (surprise). You'll start saving up money for later and it will appreciate in value with modest investments. Then at the end of that chapter sell the boat to someone else starting out and be in the position of really knowing what you want and all there is to it based on prior experience. You'll be a whole lot smarter and you will have sailed a lot. I don't think you will want a half finished boat. Investing in the captain and crew by adding experience is the better money spent up front.

I think you need to box in the parameters of what you have to work with in terms of your skill, experience, finances, time, and true desires. You may not get it all in one bite, but you should get more back than this deal seems to offer from what you stated. You can do better with less risk.
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Old 25-03-2007, 15:35   #3
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First a couple things; 1: I've never bought a boat. 2: I don't consider myself a good negotiator. So why the heck am I posting here? I'm about to buy a boat and since I'm not a hard nosed negotiator I've adopted a simple strategy for buying.

It boils down to this; Convince yourself of the fact that you don't need any one boat, this can be very hard to do, especially when you start investing time, energy and daydreams in one particular boat. Force yourself to snap out of it when this starts happening and redirect your efforts to finding some acceptable alternative boats. What I really recommend (and what I'm doing) is to identify several boats that are satisfactory. If you have a list of boats that you're willing to accept (if the price is right) then you aren't a slave to any one. Certainly some of these acceptable boats will be better suited than others, so figure out in hard dollars how much of a surcharge you'll pay for the best through the worst. Then it's just a relatively simple matter of seeing which seller is willing to meet your price.

Maybe you'll get the boat of your dreams (or what you think your dreams are at this particular instant), maybe you'll get a boat that's 95% of what you want but at a 20% discount. To put it simply; don't even start negotiating for one boat if you have no alternatives. Essentially force sellers to bid for your wallet with their boats.
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Old 25-03-2007, 15:49   #4
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Paul;

Thanks for your well thought out reply.

While this would be our first large keelboat, both my wife and I sent alot of time on sailboats up until about 10 yeasrs ago, we are getting back into it now. So we are a bit rusty, but not uninitiated.

The boat is not "Ugly" but the interior is not finished to production boat, or high end custom standards. They used Oak, which is not seen alot.

I would never complete the purchase of this boat, or any boat, without a survey or personal inspection. I am just looking for possible alternatives to the traditional order things go in:Inspection>Negotiations>survey>>seatrial>>Purch ase.

For instance, what about an offer, contingent on inspection and then if that goes well, survey? I just don't want to travel and spend the $$$ unless I either know, or have a good idea, that the boat can be purcased for the right $$$.

Chris

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Originally Posted by Pblais
A partly finished ugly boat seems like it might have some problems from the start and missing a lot of things yet to be determined at unknown costs. Not seeming great at first glance. If it's your first major boat, you may not really know all the details of what you need, want, and can afford just yet. Seems like a big gamble at second glance. You need to make the odds more in favor of the home team (that would be you).

It's a long distance away and that adds a lot of costs. Avoiding a through inspection and detailed in person analysis will improve your odds how? The money saved now will be spent 100 times overs if the deal isn't the right deal and you could become unhappy.

It's nice to say you want to start out with a minimal boat and somehow build it into what you really want. You need to answer all those big questions first not after. It seems financially easier up front because you don't know the back end of the deal. It is possible to get worse and I'm talking way way worse. There will be surprises that all are not the good kind. It comes with any used boat but yours is going to have some really big ones. Make the odds work more in your favor.

There is another way. Start with a smaller boat (that is affordable) that maybe isn't yet what you ultimately want to take off into the sunset with and sail the heck out it for a while. You'll learn much more sailing a boat than by rebuilding one. Maybe do some coastal cruising. You'll still get to work on it as you do with all boats you will ever own (surprise). You'll start saving up money for later and it will appreciate in value with modest investments. Then at the end of that chapter sell the boat to someone else starting out and be in the position of really knowing what you want and all there is to it based on prior experience. You'll be a whole lot smarter and you will have sailed a lot. I don't think you will want a half finished boat. Investing in the captain and crew by adding experience is the better money spent up front.

I think you need to box in the parameters of what you have to work with in terms of your skill, experience, finances, time, and true desires. You may not get it all in one bite, but you should get more back than this deal seems to offer from what you stated. You can do better with less risk.
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Old 25-03-2007, 17:03   #5
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Paul's advice is good even if you have some sailing experience in the past. Being in the marina every weekend while sailing a little costal boat will put you closer to the hidden deals that pop up every year.

But if this is the boat that is singing to you why not find a surveyor in the area that will take a quick look at the boat in the water? Then talk with the seller or the broker with some knowledge of the boat. Spending a couple of hundred bucks now might save you airfare. If you negotiate with the surveyor he may complete out of water portion of the survey laterand charge you the difference. This method sure saved me a lot of driving in the past. As you put it partial survey -> partial negotiation -> inspection -> final survey -> sea trial -> final negotiation. Good luck..
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Old 25-03-2007, 19:00   #6
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Another way to do it is to inform the broker if the owner isn't willing to consider an offer of less than X, then you aren't willing to spend the time and money to look at the boat. Getting a surveyor to look could work. If you do that see if a surveyor in your area has a recommendation. You don't want to get the house surveyor of the selling brokerage without an independent recommendation. Structure your offer with the expectation of rebuilding the entire interior and reworking all the systems and electrical installations. From my experience I'd plan on a huge project that takes lots of time and money and a good chance it would have a low resale when you get ready to move to another boat.
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Old 25-03-2007, 19:34   #7
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tell us some more about the boat.
what length,what design, what hull material etc.
Is it a new design or old.
It is very difficult to buy your first boat, because you often don't know what you really want. Years ago I nearly bought a Cheoy Lee 34, good boat, beautiful teak finish. I spoke to a friend of mine he said they were cute but are very slow and that it wouldn't be long before I got sick of being always last and would want something faster.
He was dead right, I ended up buying a faster design and never regretted it.

Also it is important that if you are going to spend money improving a boat make sure you will get you money back. Some ugly unheard of design is going to be very hard to sell no matter what money you have spent on the interior.
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Old 25-03-2007, 19:55   #8
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Another way to do it is to inform the broker if the owner isn't willing to consider an offer of less than X, then you aren't willing to spend the time and money to look at the boat.
I don't think that is a valid consideration. If you spent the money on the survey and know the results you are a whole lot more serious than someone that says they won't put down a deposit and survey the boat. You are just blowing smoke. I have a boat I'm about ready to sell and it would not impress me in the slightest. I would say "go look for a better deal" and mean it. If you go the distance you prove you are serious! That is something any serious seller would consider.

What I have done and did work is this. I saw the boat, considered all the numbers and decided the boat would be priced too high compared to the alternatives. It took some work to conclude this. I then called the seller and said I don't think I can come to the meeting in the morning we scheduled because I think I am wasting our time. I believed it was true and it was why I called. I didn't think my time was worth the hassle and I considered the other party. We met the next day anyway at the insistence of the seller and split the difference. We were both happy! Before the meeting I would not have split but after the meeting me and the Admiral did and ended up with a fair deal and we we all happy.

The point is you need to prove you are serious before you can expect someone else to give you money. It isn't that one way is better or not. I think if you don't really want the boat in the first place you are wasting your own time! The second step is to not waste other peoples time as well. When you lose that perspective you are headed to a poor result.

You can make up any reason you like but in the end if they don't believe it you just lost the deal with the words from your own mouth. If you have been honest with yourself there is no problem being honest with other people.
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Old 25-03-2007, 20:02   #9
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It boils down to this; Convince yourself of the fact that you don't need any one boat, this can be very hard to do, especially when you start investing time, energy and daydreams in one particular boat.
This is a very hard thing to do. It's like falling in love. I only did it three times. The good news is it was one woman and ony two boats. Had we not done it together I would have lost it all.
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Old 25-03-2007, 22:20   #10
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More information please...

It's hard to comment without knowing more about your situation. Can you tell us how far away the boat is and give us a general idea of how the hull/deck was molded?

On a casual glance the idea of buying a boat that needs serious upgrading and is a long way away should be sending up some serious red flags.
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Old 25-03-2007, 23:49   #11
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You must have a fair idea of a reasonable price assuming the condition is as you assume.
That it will cost you more to transport it and outfit it the way you want so it might not be a great option for you is not the seller's problem. No more would it be if you couldn't afford it.
The most likely scenarios are 1 he has priced it reasonably 2 he has priced optimistically 3 you will pay a fair price 4 you want a steal.
The chances that he has priced way too low or you will pay way to high exist but you ought to know if either seem to apply.
2 and 4 are common, but time tends to force both into 1 and 3.
You have to try to ascertain how keen he is to sell, and how long he has been trying. I have seen boats advertised for a year or so but better well priced ones go faster.
Just ask the broker how long has this been on the market , why is he selling, how negotiable is he?

You may get 30% off, but no owner will start there as in effect a negotiation that becomes his top line. Like a friend of mine sold an old car by saying well I am asking 2000 but really want 700. Guess what she got?

You have to gauge how negotiable he might be.
There are some clues - like how much buyer appeal do the price and condition have?

For some people bargaining is customary. Both parties may try it on and sound out the other to try and get a good deal for themselves. A certain amount of bluff and resilence are required.

If you ask is that negotiable and he says no it is a fair price you have a fair idea that you ain't going to get a steal, but try an offer that maybe he could live with, then he sweats.

I think you should have enough information to have a fair idea, and have to bite the bullet on making a trip. I just drove 400 miles to check one boat out. It wasn't entirely a waste of time because it clarified my ideas on what I would accept.

The other major point I think you are missing is that new sails SSB plotter maybe radar chain decent anchor electric windlass windvane, dinghy etc add up to big dollars - a major portion of the boat cost.
You may be better off finding a boat with them, someone who gave up after a short trip, because you won't get your money back.

As an actual example on sale here such n such in fair condition maybe 110 or 130. The owner spent 110K and asks 165K top price, and may well get less. If he kept it 10 years he would have a good boat for that time and might get back 70? Either way the costs are high and a cheap boat isn't usually a cheap boat. Nor is any boat.
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Old 26-03-2007, 07:18   #12
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Thanks all for the input - the discussion certainly has given me some thought. The limiting factor here is that we are looking for a strong boat that is prefereably NOT fiberglass. This limits things considerably. So far we have been looking at steel and cold molded boats. This one is steel - and from a design perspective, meets all of our desires.

Part of my reasoning about the 30% off is realted to resale - I don't want to buy something that is overpriced to begin with relative to the market. t seems that steel boats are not so popular here on the east coast.

There is another, slightly older boat, 2 feet shorter (not that important) that is actually closer to us, has most of the crusing goodies, 20k more asking price. The big difference is that it is a full keel, while the first one is a modified fin, which we prefer. We have not ever spent any time on a full keeled boat, and our feeling is that we would want something more sprightly.



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Old 26-03-2007, 09:24   #13
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No-one can make a decision for you even if they knew all the facts about you and the various boats.

Steel can be ok in ice and coral, cold-moulded less so. Full keels can be ok but not so much in the Chesapeake.

An owner built or finished steel boat can be cheap as the owner has tried to get a boat on the cheap. The motor may be too small, one here has steel masts. Often the finish is "functional" - maybe not ugly but not attractive particularly if it is going to be your home for a long period.

In short a basic home finished steel cruiser on the east coast won't sell unless it is real cheap comparatively. That applies when you buy and when you sell even if you spend heaps improving it.

It seems to me that prices often drop substantially with time on the market like 30-50% for oddities.
You are less likely to overpay if ypu have seen a number of boats and know what they have sold for.

A broker despite being paid by the seller works for himself and will often disclose a realistic price if he thinks the buyer is not a mug.

In fact you set the price you will pay not the seller. He may or may not accept, depending on how he sees the deal.

But any discussion here is theoretical until you see the boat.

You may have to kiss a lot of frogs before you marry one.
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Old 27-03-2007, 00:02   #14
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Check nooks and crannies...

If looking at a steel boat it is necessary to check for rust.

Rust can loosly be categorised as:
1) surface rusting
2) pitting
3) severe corrosion
4) scaling

Before you look at any steel boat I would strongly recomend reviewing as much relevant literature as possible on painting rusted steel in a marine environment. Don't forget to check safety measures necessary when working with toxic solvents in a confined space.

At a minimum you will need to check all places where water can pool.
In particular it is necessary to assess the condition of the steel under deck fittings or coverings, where frames and stringers meet and at the bottom of frames.

If this is not possible it is time to start thinking about walking away.

It is also necessary to check that all water (from leaks, condensation or poor plumbing etc.) can drain freely to the bilge. If it cannot then this can be a lengthy and difficult fix.

If the rust is past the surface or minor pitting stage then it is necessary to assess if suficient metal thickness remains to ensure watertightness and structural integrity.

Cutting out old plate and welding new plate onto the hull is a lengthy and difficult process.
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Old 27-03-2007, 06:31   #15
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Chris,

If the long distance negotiation is a problem. Contact a surveyor and have them do a quick walk through and then call you on the phone. Agree to some hourly rate fee. You don't need an offer to send out a quick survey check. Then you can decide if all the rest of the formal process is worth your time. In a long distance situation it could be a "don't bother coming" call you get. Those are the boats you don't need to survey or write an offer on. Even if you had someone you knew and trusted you could have them climb aboard and look see for you.

Any offer is always contingent on the survey that you pay for and the haulout too. An adavnced overview is a time saver and avoids the long trips to look at a wreck. Old steel hulls are always suspect.

As far as full keel boats go there really is only one hard and fast rule for cruising boats - they have to be big enough for you and all your stuff. Crusing is about transporting all your stuff more than about anything else. You'll have a lot of it no matter how you select the boat. Just be sure you can carry all the stuff.
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