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Old 04-02-2019, 22:12   #1
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Finding the needle in a haystack - how?

How do you find the needle in a haystack? I mean if you have been in and around sailboats your entire life its probably not that hard right. You know what to look for, you know what to be cautious of, you have connections and can put ears to the ground for exactly what you are looking for, and maybe the perfect boat will come onto the market at exactly the right time and you can pounce on it.

That is not the situation I am in. At all! Im from WI and all my time has been on rented Hunters on Lake Michigan. I did the ASA 101-106 and I know what the books say but I dont really have true sailing experience. I recently moved to Corpus Christi TX and Im looking seriously for a live-aboard mono-hull. So where do I start looking and how do I identify a "good deal" or compare boats on the market to identify the needle in the haystack? Well here is what I came up with and I welcome any and all input. In a nutshell I used what I am good at to overcome my lack of knowledge and experience to at least give me a guide, a starting point, and a baseline.

Using Yachtworld as my primary search tool I narrowed my search to the following parameters: Used Sailboat, Monohull, in the United States, 35-45', and $1000 to $100,000. The results returned 1,661 matches. How do I identify (at least on paper) the boats below the average market asking price and narrow this list to something manageable? I data-scraped the Yachtworld website and entered all the info into Excel so that I could manipulate the data to identify those boats that stand out. But along the way I identified a few interesting statistics I thought you might all enjoy, see the pictures attached of the Excel graphs of the raw data.

Most Common Length: between 35-45 feet the most common size is 36' by far with 328 to choose from but with only 40 boats at 45' to choose from which is not surprising. Of interesting note however is that 39' foot boats are unusually un-common with only 81 on the market. Perhaps 39' foot boats are less popular but could be picked up for less that similar 38-40's??? Lets see...

Ave Price by Length: You dont have to have a 100 ton captains license to know that larger boats costs more and the data shows that. But on average its actually not that much, only $1,127 per additional foot between 35-45'. What is interesting is that 43' boats are driving a premium and look at this... 39' boats are nearly $8,000 less than the trending average.

Ave Price by Year: This is where it starts to get interesting. Looking backwards through the years, on average, a boat will loose $1,273 worth of value (according to the asking price) per year until they are fully depreciated, which currently are boats manufactured in 1963. Those boats older than 1963 are on average now starting to appreciate in value at a rate of 2.5% per year. All in all, sailboats dont make good financial investments in the long-run, stick with your 401K or keep that '69 Camaro a few more years. If your considering buying a 2004 boat however, the data shows you can save almost $10K by buying a newer 2005 - the biggest year-over-year difference in the last two decades.

Ave Price by Mfg'r: This data is harder to apply as you cant really compare a historically expensive boat to a less expensive boat. What is interesting is that of 1,661 boats for sale in this search the overall average price is $56,928 with most of the big production boat companies being higher than the average. Also there are 236 different boat manufacturers to choose from in this search. This info overall worked good to compare boats to those of the same brand/model to see how they stack-up against their peers. Or is that piers?

Most Common Mfg'r: This really surprised me. I knew the big production boat manufactures dominated the market but I didnt realize by how much. Catalina with 158, Hunter with 157, and Beneteau with 134 dominate the market. Along with Pearson, C&C, Tartan, and Morgan these make up the top 7 and after that, the number to choose from any particular manufacturer fall off a cliff. What I did like about this chart is that I could narrow down a manufacturer into what might be a sweet spot - not a largely common boat but not a one-off either. Of those about 30 manufactures fit that possible sweet spot.

So what did I learn from this quick exercise? I dont really know yet to be truthful. Of course all this data doesn't mean anything compared with actually seeing the boats I am interested in. But what I did like is that I was able to narrow down this list of 1,660 to a more manageable number of 96 and then narrow that down to 38 possibilities. And from there I will have to go page-by-page and start making phone calls and some weekend trips to see them for myself. But overall I am happy as 38 is much more manageable. Hopefully I can find that one that gets me excited enough to make an offer on and get a survey.

So that is the approach I am taking - how do you find the needle in a haystack?
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Old 04-02-2019, 22:43   #2
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Re: Finding the needle in a haystack - how?

You’re comparing apples to steak. What are your plans? Cruising goals? Staying near CC? Just cruising the gulf coast? Venture out to the islands? B line for the South Pacific? Keep cruising lakes? Casting off next week?
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Old 04-02-2019, 22:51   #3
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Re: Finding the needle in a haystack - how?

MH
Interesting data. The larger boats are biased by you limiting the upper price, as many boats 40 and over will be greater than $100k.
You seem to be very focused on getting a deal. Let me throw out a thought. You'll end up a lot better off if you pay 10 or 20% too much for a well maintained boat than 20% under market for a project boat that suchs you dry in time and cash.
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Old 05-02-2019, 02:20   #4
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Re: Finding the needle in a haystack - how?

What a strange way to look for a boat.

How about starting from what you want a boat to do.

Overlay that with your budget.

This gives you a short list, from which you can seek opinions on the merits of each.

Easy.

But seriously, some kind of weird $ per foot metric is just silly. On that basis you’d buy a jetty.
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Old 05-02-2019, 02:37   #5
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Re: Finding the needle in a haystack - how?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, mhagen.

Quote:
... And from there I will have to go page-by-page and start making phone calls and some weekend trips to see them for myself. But overall I am happy as 38 is much more manageable. Hopefully I can find that one that gets me excited enough to make an offer on and get a survey...
I’d start looking at nearby examples of the 96. The more boats you see, the more comparisons you can make.
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Old 05-02-2019, 03:28   #6
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Re: Finding the needle in a haystack - how?

Stop crunching numbers and start doing the legwork. Go to the nearest decent sized marinas and boatyards and talk to owners, managers, boatyard guys. See what's available, look inside the boats for sale. Often there are boats not really advertised for sale but the yard is happy to free up space.

At the very least, after a few weeks or months of such legwork you will have a much better understanding what's out there and what to expect. A boat that is a "deal" but is 3000 miles away will not be a deal if you factor in time, money and effort spent looking for it and then more time, money and effort spent moving it to where you are. As the others have said you'd be better off paying 10-20% price premium on a well maintained boat and, I'll add, which was found nearby with relatively little time and money wasted flying around the country looking at duds.
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Old 05-02-2019, 05:50   #7
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Re: Finding the needle in a haystack - how?

Time is money, works both ways.

If you are in a position to actually take possession today, and have the freedom to get out and start shopping

that will be how you find your needle.

Are you looking to find a boat "worth" $10K for only $4000?

Or a $100K boat for only $60K?

Do you need to fly in and out, or are you willing to camp out of a van?

Different goals, different methods. . .
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Old 05-02-2019, 07:00   #8
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Re: Finding the needle in a haystack - how?

Clearcut case of analysis paralysis. Let your emotions be your guide. Never allow common sense to become a factor. Spend copiously and frequently. Welcome to the club
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Old 05-02-2019, 08:21   #9
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Re: Finding the needle in a haystack - how?

try sailing.
by sailing a boat you figure out what you do and donot want in sailboats. more you sail the better educated you are as to how sailboats handle and what you wish for will be more readily defined.
try it. sail . then sail some more. then figure out what you want. if you donot sail, any boat will do, even a trawler.
no one can decide for you what kind of boat to get..is all personal, kinda like finding a spouse. or do you do that by interwebs also, then wonder why the fit is wrong...
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Old 05-02-2019, 08:54   #10
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Re: Finding the needle in a haystack - how?

You are reading the menu from right to left, looking for the "best deal" instead of what best suits your appetite.
BTW, why set a lower limit of $1000 ? More realistic would be $50,000 to $150,000 that's closer to what most people I know have invested in their boats.
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Old 05-02-2019, 09:36   #11
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Re: Finding the needle in a haystack - how?

Lots of great advice already. I would say that $1,000 to $100,000 is WAY too wide of a search range. I know you want to keep the bottom end low to catch that once in a lifetime steal, but i would advise getting that out of your head. I spent a year and a half looking for a "steal". None were reasonable, and I ended up wasting lots of time, and emotion looking at, and even putting in offers on them. I eventually came to the place where I cut the low end out of my search. It was a waste of time. I needed to spend more to get a reasonable boat. We ended up buying a 38' boat listed for $38K for $32K.
Also searching all of Yacthworld is too wide of a window, unless you have tons of money and time to travel all over, and move a boat once you buy it. I am on Lake Huron, and realized I needed a boat I could get home in a two week window. The boat we bought was in Erie, PA, and we had to get home to Saginaw, MI. The trip was fine for my timeframe, but driving down there multiple times in the months preceding the trip to get the boat ready was very taxing. If you are shopping for a deal, you are not going to be able to sign papers, hop on, and sail away. Just something to keep in mind.
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Old 05-02-2019, 09:41   #12
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Re: Finding the needle in a haystack - how?

Quote:
Originally Posted by zeehag View Post
try sailing.
by sailing a boat you figure out what you do and donot want in sailboats. more you sail the better educated you are as to how sailboats handle and what you wish for will be more readily defined.
try it. sail . then sail some more. then figure out what you want. if you donot sail, any boat will do, even a trawler.
no one can decide for you what kind of boat to get..is all personal, kinda like finding a spouse. or do you do that by interwebs also, then wonder why the fit is wrong...
Zee has given you some real good advice here. and i agree whole-heartedly: picking a boat is kind of like finding a spouse

here is some more info to help you understand why everyone is telling you to first start sailing (taken from a post i wrote a bit back but perhaps useful to you as well):


picking the boat:

know that not everyone has the same definition of sailing or why they own a sailboat. some like to race, some navigate from one point to another as efficiently as they can, some like to visit the places they reach, some skirt coastlines and anchor out as often as they can while others take on oceans. some are liveaboards and hardly or never leave the dock, others like to socialise in cockpits, some like to meander as loners/hermits, some like to varnish teak and makes things shine, some spend years or even a lifetime refitting boats on the hard. some like to sail on weekends and some never go home...

it is best to know your intentions before you buy the boat

and this is because there are types of boats, different builds with different keels, ballasts, sail plans, etc., that basically correspond to different types of uses. for instance, when we refer to performance-cruisers, racer cruisers or simply cruisers, we are not referring to the same type of boats. there are those that are best for some places/conditions and not others. some boats are just perfect for shallow waters like in the Caribbean while others shine while crossing oceans. some deal with lumpy chop better than others, while others can profit if there are large tides (double keels called bilge keels - you can scrub the bottom of the boat anywhere). some protect you well in cold, drizzly climates while others are best in the tropics. people say that every boat is a compromise. soon it will be your turn to say that it is not easy to find the perfect boat.

that said, boats come in different conditions. some folks buy new and spend a lot getting everything they need afterwards. most opt for used boats (always get a survey). some folks look for a used boat that needs fixing so to redo and update everything themselves. knowing your boat inside and out has major advantages. others buy a boat that is ready to go now. others look for boats with 'good bones' but are very simple as far as systems go and update these according to their needs along the way. There is no right or wrong way, just the way that suits you and your circumstances best. For instance, if you are young, young enough and strong enough to spend time learning about your boat in a boatyard on the hard, then a boat that needs a fair amount of TLC might be a good option. Older folks still do this but usually tend to heed Time and how it has become their most valuable resource...

so as you learn about sailing, you actually get to know yourself. this is why you need to be honest with yourself about what your capacities are (how fit you are, how well you fix things on your own, how deep your pockets are, how much you embrace the unknown and to what degree you an deal with discomfort) and this, while you research and figure out which boat matches you best.

and many, many folks say that it's got to be a love story with the boat. i agree: if you are head over heels in love with your boat, then you will find a way to please her, care for her, and make her happy. in return, she will take care of you



good luck to you!


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Old 05-02-2019, 09:58   #13
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Re: Finding the needle in a haystack - how?

I think many of us analyze too much in preparation. Then it all changes when we get on board some boats. get aboard some. Be careful to not let a boat that tugs on your heartstrings over power your logic. "The most expensive boat is a free one" has some truth to it. be careful. One thing you will learn is that even a boat that seems to have no flaws at all is a lot of work!
Important things:
-Tanks (many are buried and many are bad or about to be)
-engine ($$)
-sails ($$)
-Hull and deck.
-coring condition in deck, teak deck ($$)
-Bolt on keel?
-water logged rudders

Watch out for bargains on clean boats of unknown design or heritage. "why is this boat so cheap?" Some boats DO have design flaws.
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Old 05-02-2019, 10:04   #14
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Re: Finding the needle in a haystack - how?

I think it’s a great analysis of the used market — just not all the useful for making the decision you want to make .

I think Zee and others have already cut to the core: you need to find out what you want and need. THEN, tempered by budget and proximity, you can really start to narrow boats down.

As Gord said, start crawling around on the boat that you can access. With money limited (as it seems it is), then you can’t afford to fly all over the place to look at boats. You have to start in your area — do do that. Expand your search circle slowly, and only as needed.

Mostly you need to get some real time on boats of interest so you can start to learn what is actually important to you.
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Old 05-02-2019, 10:35   #15
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Re: Finding the needle in a haystack - how?

Which one makes your heart sing?
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