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Old 12-04-2016, 09:44   #16
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Re: How to Purchase a Far Away Boat

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Hello,
... I will need to fly down there to see it and get it surveyed (plus hotel and car rental)...
Jack
No reason you can't ask the seller if they could pick you and drop you off at airport. Also I would always expect to stay on the boat; no need for a hotel.

And I would organise surveyor by phone once I'm back home and happy with what I've seen (and had a chance to think things through). And agree with others; be at the survey, so yes second trip required.
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Old 12-04-2016, 09:52   #17
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Re: How to Purchase a Far Away Boat

Anyone can pay a surveyor to chat them up. But all that while you are distracting and inhibiting the surveyor from focusing on the job you should have hired him to do. You can get an education and make new, life-long friends, or you can get the best survey the man is capable of. Take your pick.
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Old 12-04-2016, 10:18   #18
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Re: How to Purchase a Far Away Boat

Just went through this, to buy a boat in New Zealand.

Use a broker if possible. But either way, you make an offer, conditional on sea trial and survey. If it's accepted, you go to the trial. If that's good, then the survey happens. If that's good, you've bought yourself a boat.

In our case, we were doing it slightly differently, with the broker's and owner's agreement. We had a trip planned to Kiwiland and couldn't do the sea trial first, so we agreed to do the survey first with a sea trial when we got there a day or so later. Unfortunately, the boat failed the survey rather badly. So that was that.

On the positive side, the broker pointed us to another boat and we were able to do things in the proper order because we were there-- offer, sea trial, and survey. Much easier and less fraught. And we bought the boat.

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Old 12-04-2016, 10:21   #19
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Re: How to Purchase a Far Away Boat

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Leave the surveyor alone! He is there to do an important job for you. And he will give you a full report, in writing. You can talk to him, in person or by phone, when he has completed the survey.
This is poor advice. There are a lot of surveyors in the world that poke a digital camera in a hole, snap a picture and write up a condition statement without getting in the hole to do a true inspection.

Even if they are SAMS/NAMS accredited surveyor, it is still worth being present. There are buyers pre-purchase surveyors, sellers surveyors, lending surveyors, and insurance surveyors.

You can hope you hired a true buyers surveyor... and not simply a lending/insurance surveyor that is there to verify that the boat you are buying does exist in this world... and verify that your check is good in exchange for their letter head to procure a loan and insurance.

There are some surveyors with fantastic reputations and long standing working relationships with the boat yards, that no longer have knees and hips to allow them do a thorough inspection... You can get all the insurance, and lending the world can offer with their letter head, but they are no longer able to provide a true buyers survey as the areas that are accessible, are limited by the surveyors physical condition.

A flashlight view across the top of an engine at the stuffing boxes and steering gear, gives enough information to verify what they are, and that they are present... but not of their actual condition. Beyond adding another hose clamp where there is only one... without being able to get eyeball to eyeball with the equipment the quality of the assessment of condition is lacking. If you are going to pay a thousand dollars to haul the boat and have it surveyed, it is worth while to have a survey that involves climbing into cockpit lockers and writing down model numbers of transmissions...

If they can't get in the cockpit locker, because it isn't accessible to them... Then they can't do a visual inspection to see the crack in the mounting bracket of your idler sheave on your chain and cable steering.

Cheers,

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Old 12-04-2016, 10:43   #20
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Re: How to Purchase a Far Away Boat

As a buyer why would you wait for the surveyor to get into all of those tight spaces? IMO any defect which is plainly visible should be first observed by the buyer. Now, granted not all defects are critical or show stoppers, that's where the surveyor comes in. But well before spending $$ on haul outs and survey one must do one's own leg and elbow work - opening and closing seacocks, touching the steering cable for fray strands, observing the engine mounts, checking on all systems - water, head, etc.

Only after you have said to yourself - yeah, I like what I've seen and touched so far, only then should you be thinking of spending for survey/haulouts/splashes, etc. On some boats I've checked out, which were fairly priced and in good condition, just the tight access to the engine and/or steering system was the deal breaker for me. I would never have known this by just looking at the pics online. A moldy cushion or two or a leaky port can be replaced but a tight unworkable engine space will be with you forever.
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Old 12-04-2016, 11:09   #21
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Re: How to Purchase a Far Away Boat

Please note: Many surveyors do not survey engine(s). Most important!

Get the local specialized marine mechanic of the make of engine in the boat to give an opinion on condition and his recommendations.

Many surveyors will not climb the mast get a proper rigger.
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Old 12-04-2016, 11:13   #22
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Re: How to Purchase a Far Away Boat

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Please note: Many surveyors do not survey engine(s). Most important!

Get the local specialized marine mechanic of the make of engine in the boat to give an opinion on condition and his recommendations.

Many surveyors will not climb the mast get a proper rigger.
We still do not know the price range of the OP. IMO for boats under $20K there would be somewhat different pre-purchase spending considerations than for boats say over $100K.
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Old 12-04-2016, 11:42   #23
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Re: How to Purchase a Far Away Boat

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Originally Posted by Island Time O25 View Post
As a buyer why would you wait for the surveyor to get into all of those tight spaces? IMO any defect which is plainly visible should be first observed by the buyer. Now, granted not all defects are critical or show stoppers, that's where the surveyor comes in. But well before spending $$ on haul outs and survey one must do one's own leg and elbow work - opening and closing seacocks, touching the steering cable for fray strands, observing the engine mounts, checking on all systems - water, head, etc.

Only after you have said to yourself - yeah, I like what I've seen and touched so far, only then should you be thinking of spending for survey/haulouts/splashes, etc. On some boats I've checked out, which were fairly priced and in good condition, just the tight access to the engine and/or steering system was the deal breaker for me. I would never have known this by just looking at the pics online. A moldy cushion or two or a leaky port can be replaced but a tight unworkable engine space will be with you forever.
"My point, exactly".
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Old 12-04-2016, 12:03   #24
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Re: How to Purchase a Far Away Boat

Speaking of surveyors, your insurer may require you to pay for a SECOND survey using someone from their approved list. If you can find that out in advance, you may be able to simply use the right guy the first time around.


And when you first speak with the broker, ask them "When were these pictures taken?" "Can you take current pictures?" if they are not. And if you have specific concerns, like previous major repairs, water penetration, etc. do not be afraid to ask for answers before you are willing to send money or contract. Most brokers don't know and don't want to know, but since your trip and surveyor will probably cost a grand and take four days out of your life...it isn't unreasonable to ask.


You might also want to see if there are any other interesting boats in the area, so that while you are there, if this one doesn't pan out, the trip isn't totally wasted.
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Old 12-04-2016, 13:15   #25
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Re: How to Purchase a Far Away Boat

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...I'm located in New York and I've looked at a number of boats in my area, but now I'm interested in one located in South Carolina. I will need to fly down there to see it and get it surveyed (plus hotel and car rental). Assuming a lot of best case scenarios, I'm wondering how much I can expect to streamline the process and reduce the costs.

Please tell me if this is at all realistic: I fly down on a Friday evening sometime in the next month or so and view the boat on Saturday, maybe go out for a sail...

Jack
First, if you are not ready, now, don't expect the boat to still be around in a month, or more. Prepare yourself. Then go take care of business. Have your funds instantly available. And save some time off to do proper due diligence and see things through. If you're so busy or preoccupied to take the time off, then wait until you do have time, or hire someone to do that for you.

Buying a boat out of your area can significantly increase the expense and time required, by the time the vessel relocates to its permanent home. I have been involved with shopping, purchase, refitting and delivery of yachts in distant ports and foreign countries. Most buyers are initially unprepared for the additional cost.
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Old 12-04-2016, 13:17   #26
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Re: How to Purchase a Far Away Boat

We purchased a boat from afar. We were in DC, the owner in WA, and the boat in CA. We looked at boats meeting our needs around the world, first. But--our "we looked at" was having a recommended, competent surveyor go take a first look (not a full survey, mind you!) and this cost about $200/ vessel considered. We then chose to fly to the location of 2 of the boats we were considering. The best vessel for us was actually in the UK but the logistics of running our US-based business while working on or overseeing the boat rebuild just wasn't going to work out. We did not fly to see that boat though we did have the surveyor do the first look. In the end, we'd has 4 boats looked over by surveyors in addition to a few we drove to on the east coast. We flew to see 2 of the 4 boats. Decided on 1, had it fully surveyed, hired a boatyard and planned the rebuild. Gave the owner a hefty non-refundable deposit (if we backed out) and paid fully for the boat 6 months later on an agreed upon date. It all went well.
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Old 12-04-2016, 13:44   #27
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Re: How to Purchase a Far Away Boat

Wow, sorry I've been slow to chime back in here. Incredibly helpful info, everyone, thanks. Now here comes the follow up... I'm trying to respond to many of your comments so settle in and forgive the length.

The boat is a 1986 Southern Cross 39. The sellers are a couple currently living aboard but reportedly ready to sell. They are asking 77k and they're not using a broker. I know of two other SC 39's that started above 60k and sold for less than 40k. Then again, this boat is newer, nicer and much better equipped than the others I saw. Everything is reportedly in good to very good condition with all systems functional. If everything checks out well, I'm thinking this boat may be a bit overpriced but not wildly so.

It's encouraging to hear you think I can work on getting the price down before going to visit. But do you think I should simply reveal to them my true and honest upper limit (which is around 60k assuming a really great boat) and see if they are open to it? Or should I offer something lower first as I would in a more conventional negotiation? Or give them a range? I feel like telling them my upper limit almost locks me in to that (except for survey issues). On the other hand, making an offer on the low end runs a higher risk they tell me to take a hike.

Obviously fitting it all into a weekend was wishful thinking. I'm a middle school teacher and I won't be taking any weeks off until summer, at which point I have all of July. If some of this process has to wait until then it's ok. But if possible I would rather have the purchase sorted and spend July prepping the boat and sailing home to NYC. If this boat doesn't work out for whatever reason, I'll still be on the hunt and squirreling away money to increase my boat budget.

From here I see a few ways of approaching it....

I like your bold approach, Reed. It's wouldn't be impossible but I think it's too risky for me to go straight to the survey without seeing the boat first.

The next approach would be that I fly down myself and spend a whole weekend carefully checking it out on my own, including a thorough sea trial. I am pretty comfortable inspecting things myself, at least until the pros take over. At this point I've looked at more than a few boats, I'm acquainted with problem areas, I have a moisture meter and I know how to use it, etc. But I don't really know how I would create a contract before this type of visit as vjm suggests. It seems like that would be just as likely to work against me. With this approach I run the risk that the boat is not up to snuff and I lose a few hundred on the travel. But if I like what I see, then I can haggle over the price, make a real offer contingent on survey, and I hire the surveyor to follow up without me. I can find a very reputable surveyor who provides a sample of what he will be reporting on beforehand and I make sure he addresses any concerns I have from my own personal inspection.

The third approach would be to just plan on two separate visits from the outset, one for my own inspection and one to attend the survey. This is the most costly but least rushed option. Or I can start out with my own visit and decide later whether or not I feel the need to be there for the survey. It seems like there is a near consensus that it is worth the cost of a second trip to be there. By the time I get to that stage I will no doubt be eager to be as involved as possible so I'll just plan on that.

Great advice about asking to get picked up at the airport and to stay on the boat, Grant. That's what I meant about needing some schooling on the etiquette.

Some more assorted questions...

How formal is a sea trial, generally speaking? I do that myself without a professional on board, right? I have plenty of experience on boats of this size and I think I can judge its sailing and motoring characteristics pretty well, especially with some methodical preparation and checklists.

How much should I expect to pay a mechanic to go over the engine? What kind of checks should I be asking for? Should I at least ask potential surveyors about their ability to do this, or just skip it and find a mechanic? Is a compression test necessary? I'm expecting the sellers will have a preferred yard for haul out, but I could try to find a disinterested mechanic from the area, or I could find another yard with a mechanic to do both the haul out and motor check.

Not trying to "skimp" on anything so shoot me down if this is a bad idea, but can I perhaps do the motor and rigging inspections myself with careful preparation and diligent checklists? The motor is a Universal 5432, "new re-manufactured with 450 hours". The mast was recently repainted with Imron (I'm not crazy about this) which I guess could complicate the rig inspection, but I have no problems spending time aloft to check it out carefully.

Thanks again for all the help and encouragement! I've definitely got my work cut out for me. Collecting more info, negotiating a price, choosing an insurance carrier and finding a good surveyor are the first orders of business.
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Old 12-04-2016, 14:02   #28
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Re: How to Purchase a Far Away Boat

Marine surveyors are essential to making a good decision about a major boat purchase, but not infallible. They are like people in any other line of work--some are great, most are good or OK, some are marginal, and some are terrible. Make sure that any surveyor you use is accredited and independent. The Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS) and the National Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMS) are the two major professional associations of marine surveyors. Being a member of one of those organizations is not a guarantee of a great surveyor, but not being a member is a "stay away" sign. To be independent, the surveyor should NOT be anyone recommended by the broker or the seller. A broker can steer you to a surveyor who has more allegiance to himself than to you.

Use only a surveyor who will go aloft to inspect the rig carefully--and ask him to take photos of the deck from the top of the mast to be confident that he really went aloft. Most marine surveyors are not engine mechanics, so you will most likely need to hire a mechanical surveyor for the engine and generator.
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Old 12-04-2016, 14:07   #29
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Re: How to Purchase a Far Away Boat

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First, if you are not ready, now, don't expect the boat to still be around in a month, or more. Prepare yourself. .
Fair enough, TN. I've got the funds ready but they are not infinite. I'm trying to anticipate and reduce costs where possible. If things seem like expenses are getting out of hand I will bail and keep waiting. Your perspective is helpful.

The boat has been listed for at least a few months, maybe longer. No matter what the first time I can get down there is May 7-8th. If it goes before then, so it goes.
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Old 12-04-2016, 14:16   #30
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Re: How to Purchase a Far Away Boat

The owners may not be comfortable with you staying on the boat, especially if they're living aboard. If they are, great. At least try to get some time alone on the boat.

While you may want to share you upper limit with the owners with the hope of avoiding a wasted trip, I personally would not make an offer without full disclosure by the owner and personal inspection.

It's nice to go for a sail with the owner, but the surveyor should want to conduct sea trials. At least our surveyor did.

Oil analysis will tell you a lot about the condition of the engine. Driving the boat under power will show major defects in the power train.

Basically the more you inspect the boat yourself, the better. Hiring a surveyor will give you a hopefully unbiased opinion regarding the condition of the boat. A surveyor will most likely spot things you don't. It should also give you a stronger bargaining position when it comes to remedying undisclosed defects. Nonetheless, if you have experience with boats, nothing substitutes for a close personal inspection of every part you can get at. Surveyors have a mixed reputation for good reason

Good luck,
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