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Old 06-03-2015, 11:52   #1
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Buying a Used Boat & Risk-Management

There really should be dedicated "how do I buy a boat" forum.

I know, I know, I and many, many others have asked variations of this question before but...

What I really want is beginners checklist. Something to give me a bit of confidence in setting the appropriate parameters to at least begin narrowing the field.

I want to buy a boat for a one year sabbatical in the PNW. We may keep it, we may not. If it was new enough I would consider putting it in charter to allow me to afford the long-distance relationship. According to Yachtworld, I can afford what I want (actually I can't afford what I really want but...) in the 2002-2004 range and be mostly tapped out. I can pick up the same thing in the 1996-2001 range and have a buffer. I can get something in the 1985-1995 and have lots of cash left.

They are all old boats. But what are the risks inherent in going even older? Assuming a good survey and at least a minimal amount of refitting have been done already (looking for turnkey if possible). In cars the difference between an '85 and a '95 isn't so great but then I never go traipsing across the wilderness in one. I am not looking for the best "deal," I am looking for a relatively stress-free boat for at least a couple of months so I can start to learn (gently) what I don't know before winter hits.

I know bupkis about buying a boat and am 800 miles from the nearest broker so I am going to have to do some (a lot) of this on faith. And there is a relatively limited pool of boats available unless I expand the search to California. The Canadian dollar sucks right now and the import duty would be yet another cost to be factored in.

I have a personal recommendation for a good broker from someone I trust for what that's worth. But I don't know what that's worth. You see my predicament?

My current parameters:
  • Am basically a beginner-level everything (mechanics, repairs, sailing etc.)
  • I used to be able to simple maintenance and repairs on my 73 Ford. I don't ever touch my 2009 Toyota.
  • Would prefer something relatively turnkey: we are set to leave in late June and don't want to spend the short summer on the dock.
  • PNW, maybe as far north as Shearwater or even Rupert.
  • It's a 1 year sabbatical and we intend to liveaboard full-time
  • Probably overwinter (aboard) in Victoria

I know it all depends, but I have to start somewhere. Looking for practical advice...
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Old 06-03-2015, 12:18   #2
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Re: Buying a Used Boat & Risk-Management

Well frist off, Welcome.

You certainly have some adventures in store for you.

There are books written about buying a boat first time and I'm sure you are going to get a very wide variety of advice here.

But i will venture to give you some short advice:

1. Make sure no matter what, you have some money left over just in case. There is no set amount, it's what you are comfortable with, but the more the better.

2. Even more importantly, buy a boat that has been used recently, exactly as you intend to use it. I can't emphasize enough. Much of the money we spent on outfitting Dauntless was because the first two owners never took the boat further than 30 miles off shore. Used recently because then everything should still work. If you don't want to spend your summer fixing stuff, then make sure the boat has done what you want it to do.

A corollary on that is that if you are comfortable with a 1980's engine, then a modern electronic engine is a whole new ball game. My skills were probably like yours in the beginning. So besides, simplicity and cost, I knew I wanted a simple, mechanical, non turbo diesel. That was a show stopper for me.

Again, let me say if the boat has been sitting for awhile, you will be sitting in it this summer and not cruising.

So in sum, find someone in BC who lives on their boat and wants to sell.

Good Luck
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Old 06-03-2015, 12:31   #3
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Re: Buying a Used Boat & Risk-Management

Good to see another fellow Albertan here, and although I know live in central Alberta (half the time, the other half in Florida or my boat) I lived in the Edmonton area for all of my live except for 3 years.

I bought a boat down here in Florida. Personally, I found dealing with brokers quite frustrating for various reasons, and I don't want this to be a broker bashing session, but I got much better responses from private sellers.

No boat is perfect. I would suggest you set some time aside, and line up a number of boats to look at. Brokers in the lower mainland or on the island may be different than the ones I met or tried to contact in Florida. What you will find is many brokers have not seen the boat they have listed, and will not be able to answer much beyond what their ad says.

Finding a boat is a slow process, and the best way to learn about them is to see a number. You can determine a lot on your own, but of course you want it to be surveyed before you buy.

Best of luck. There are a LOT of resources on there, and do some searching for previous questions. Don't be afraid to ask specifics, as there are some very, very knowledgeable members here.
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Old 06-03-2015, 12:39   #4
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Re: Buying a Used Boat & Risk-Management

I live in Iowa and have purchased a few cruising boats with similar intent. The last time, I researched boats for sale online in Florida, identified a few potential boats and then went to Florida to look at them (and any others brokers might recommend)

One thing I'd say is that used turn key boats you can just hop on and go cruising on are rare. Boats are often for sale because previous owners have become tired of them and the maintenance. Even if it is turnkey, sooner or later you will need to do work on it. That's the nature of cruising boats. You will need a buffer to pay for things that come up. Personally, I'd focus on how easy and costly the fixes are, rather than the boat being prefect.

Get a good book on buying used boats, be objective and not overly attached, and have a good survey done on any boat you are considering. I walked away from one boat, I put a deposit on after the survey. Consider boats that are designed for what you really intend to do, not what you dream of doing. As with a house, don't get caught up on window dressing issues, like the boat being dirty, having a bit of mildew or a few dysfunctional instruments. Focus more on the rigging, hull integrity, engine, etc.
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Old 06-03-2015, 13:05   #5
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Re: Buying a Used Boat & Risk-Management

Condition, condition, condition
Not age is what's relevant, I've seen clapped out 5 yr old boats and 50 yr old boats that were pristine, they are of course exceptions to the rule, usually newer means better condition.
First do you know what kind of boat you want? Size you can live with, budget?
If your after a turn key, I'd only look at boats that are currently being used, and yes they will be more expensive than the one that are essentially abandoned
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Old 06-03-2015, 15:44   #6
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Re: Buying a Used Boat & Risk-Management

Have you any sailing experience at all? The one thing that I don't see here is what is your level of sailing experience, if none then how's will you know what you are looking at, being mechanical is a plus for any boat owner, diesel will have cheaper insurance, less maintenance, better fuel economy. I have a 1968 Bristol 27 and a 196? Bristol 35 they were both abandoned, the 27 was the rare find it had New sails, the motor(outboard was stored in the lazarette and was in great shape) but still had a couple of weeks work tho get it in the water, the 35 is a work in progress, haven't even started, I did buy a bunch of equipment for it but haven't worked on it yet. If you have no experience, a boat BIG enough for a live a board is fairly large, 30 ft or better, take things slow, sailboats are slow. More important than a broker, is the surveyor, you need someone that is worth their salt, so to speak, the good ones will point you in the right direction. Enjoy your journey, but keep a weathered eye on the horizon, remember "boats are a whole in the water into which you poor money your money into" this is a true statement eventually you will be putting money into the boat.

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Old 06-03-2015, 15:50   #7
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Re: Buying a Used Boat & Risk-Management

Try Marine Survey 101. It will help show you how to inspect the boat before you spend money on a surveyor
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Old 06-03-2015, 15:50   #8
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Re: Buying a Used Boat & Risk-Management

Quote:
Originally Posted by sonofasonofasailer456 View Post
Have you any sailing experience at all? The one thing that I don't see here is what is your level of sailing experience,
We've got 3 years chartering in, but that's only 4 different sailboats and few of them were equipped for anything more than a week or two. I find private boats much more intimidating since there are so many systems and most of the ones I have experienced, the charter company was responsible for...

Thanks for the advice so far. I particularly like the concept of finding a boat that is already doing what I want to do: obvious but not necessarily self-evident.
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Old 06-03-2015, 16:24   #9
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Re: Buying a Used Boat & Risk-Management

To reduce the risk (uncertainty) you either need to accrue the skills or outsource the risk.

Have you spoken to any brokers?

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Old 06-03-2015, 16:31   #10
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Re: Buying a Used Boat & Risk-Management

Check list
BRING A FLASH LIGHT! A STRONG ONE, NOT YOUR PHONE.
BRING A NOTE PAD!
Hull integrity. Any bruises in the hull, slight spider cracks, tap the hull, push on it is it soft in places= repairs
Check the rib rail for signs of damage.
Walk the deck listen and feel for soft spots, surveyor will have a moisture meter.
If there is bright work on the boat look for water stains. Look in the interior for stains(sign of moisture).
Look at cushions, under the cushions for signs of water.
Look at standing rigging look at terminal ends closely, swagged ends with little cracks should be replaced, signs of corrosion around the fittings.
Look the winches, turn then listen to the sound they make are they smooth, or dry sounding,
Look at the sails, does the owner know how old, condition, what is the inventory of sails.
Look at the rudder, keel, look for swelling of the fiberglass.
Engine: is it a rust bucket, what does the oil look like, is the bilge oily, oil filter does it look new, oil leaks, is the engine freshly painted,(what are they hiding)
What safety gear does it come with.
Fire extinguisher condition
Anchors, every boat should have 2 at least, condition of the anchor rode, is it chain or rope.
Does the boat smell, like mold, septic
Look at the head, leaking, smell around it, staining
Tanks, potable water, San tank fuel tank,
general bilge condition/odor
Running rigging, winches, cleats, blocks fair leads.
All hatches, leaks, stains
Chain locker.
Cooking hardware
Propane/ alcohol
STICK YOUR HEAD IN EVERY NOOK AND CRANNY.
LOOK AT PAPER WORK, CLEAR TITLE IF REQUIRED
REGISTRATION STICKERS, HARBOUR STICKERS
HULL # on transom
Is the boat documented


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Old 06-03-2015, 16:31   #11
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Re: Buying a Used Boat & Risk-Management

Hope this helps!

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Old 06-03-2015, 16:43   #12
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Re: Buying a Used Boat & Risk-Management

MacBlaze, You mentioned this is an oft repeated cry for help, but the answer is even more repeated:
Help yourself.
There is no way I am going to tell you if that Grampian is the right boat for you. You have to hang around the marinas (not with the charter folks) and the boatyards long enough to know good from bad.
Brokers are interesting. Not one of them was worth anything until I had done the prerequisite training, sailing and groundwork. I knew what class of boat I wanted, then I went to a broker that was selling a prospect, voila- a broker that would not give me a line, and would help me with the boat.
BTW- I agree with local buy. BC has a lot of good boats. If you are sailing the inside passage only, you can even be inexperienced most of the time.
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Old 06-03-2015, 16:55   #13
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Re: Buying a Used Boat & Risk-Management

To complement #7:

Boat Inspection Trip Tips - SailboatOwners.com

newt's right, you have to do your OWN homework. While this and any other boating forum can give you pointers as to where to look for information, no one can be there with you when you start looking.

Read, read, read.

Often, the visuals will tell you a lot about the hiddens.
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Old 06-03-2015, 18:48   #14
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Re: Buying a Used Boat & Risk-Management

You have 2-3 months to locate a boat.
Like all of us you have a limited amount of funds
You want a boat to step aboard and go cruising
You want to sell the boat in a year
You have some sailing experience
You have limited maintenance experience
You have zero buying experience
You are basically landlocked

I hate to rain on anyone's parade but that is a huge ask...

Buy a trailer sailor and tow it to the great lakes or one or more of the bazillion lakes that appear to be near you. Have a great summer and then tow it home and cover it up...

Much less financial risk.
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Old 06-03-2015, 19:16   #15
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Re: Buying a Used Boat & Risk-Management

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
You have 2-3 months to locate a boat.
Like all of us you have a limited amount of funds
You want a boat to step aboard and go cruising
You want to sell the boat in a year
You have some sailing experience
You have limited maintenance experience
You have zero buying experience
You are basically landlocked

I hate to rain on anyone's parade but that is a huge ask...
Yup. Exactly what I think. But I've got a year to program, sitting at home isn't going to do it for me, Cunard's round-the world cruise is $90,000+, and my Italian sucks so Tuscany is out. So this seems the best option for an adventure!
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