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Old 11-04-2016, 21:46   #1
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How to Purchase a Far Away Boat

Hello,

I'm looking to buy my second boat, a much more significant purchase than my first, and I could use a little schooling on some of the protocol and etiquette. 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. If I don't like what I see, game over and I cancel the surveyor I have booked for Sunday (can I do that??) and go home. But if I want to move forward, I make an offer contingent on survey. If we agree on price then the surveyor comes and I have a local yard haul for the survey. Will a surveyor ever look at the motor or do I need a separate mechanic? Is hiring a diver (or doing it myself) ever preferable to hauling out? Is it at all reasonable to attempt to do all that in a single weekend?

If everything goes well at the survey, it seems like the rest of the purchase could be completed from a distance. Once I have a bill of sale, then I can register the boat in New York. Will I be able to get insurance for the boat in New York using the survey I had done in SC? I'd need to leave the boat where it is until the end of June when my work is over and I can go down there, prep the boat and bring it back up North.

To make things more complicated still, I'll need the seller to come down a fair amount on price (~20%) for it to work for me. Is it ever appropriate to talk money before coming to see a boat? I was thinking maybe the vague but direct route is better, to simply ask if their price is firm or flexible. If they say their price is very firm that could save me a pointless trip. But it seems hasty or counterproductive to speak real numbers before seeing anything. Do I have that right?

I've spoken with the owners; my next step will be to start calling up surveyors with many of these same questions. But I thought I would run it by the forum first as I am sure some of my assumptions are wrong. Thanks for helping me figure out the best way to go approach this. I won't rush the purchase if things don't work out right, but I also want to be ready if they do.

Last question, anybody know a good surveyor near Beaufort, SC?

Jack
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Old 11-04-2016, 22:54   #2
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Re: How to Purchase a Far Away Boat

Based on our experience living in Washington State and buying a boat in Florida I suggest going to SC and personally inspecting the boat. If you can get in a sail/sea trials. At that point you need to discuss price. If you come to terms based on survey/sea trials, get your surveyor and arrange for a haulout. OK, if it's a $2000 boat maybe a haulout won't be necessary, but you said it's a significantly bigger expense that your current boat. Your agreement with the seller should be contingent on satisfactory sea trials and survey. The seller may want a deposit. If anything comes to light on the survey, and it will, negotiate a price reduction or other terms or get your deposit back and walk away.

We had our boat surveyed by Jonathon Sands, a multihull specialist, and couldn't be happier with his report that included oil analysis and full, up the mast, rigging inspection.

After the survey, we had five days to respond to the seller/broker. We went back to Washington a waited for the report.The survey had recommendations that required further negotiations and resulted in a significant price reduction. Once that was settled, we sent the rest of the money. We returned to Florida three weeks later for closing, submitted the documentation to the Coast Guard, and took possession.

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Old 11-04-2016, 23:09   #3
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Re: How to Purchase a Far Away Boat

It's ok if you talk price before seeing a distant boat.
If the sale is thru a broker, they should handle many of the details.
Engine depends on the surveyor. Best to have a real mechanic.
You should be able to schedule showing and sea trial on the same trip.
From personal experience, it's better to spend more money and time traveling, more trips, excellent surveyor, etc., than get stuck with a big problem.
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Old 11-04-2016, 23:20   #4
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Re: How to Purchase a Far Away Boat

It's usually good to talk price first. Saves you the hassle if they simply aren't willing to come down in price. Also, if you haven't negotiated a lower price and the survey is perfect, no need for them to adjust their price. But if you have an agreed lower price and the survey shows an issue, now your starting place is your previously negotiated price and you get to go down from there because of the needed repairs.
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Old 12-04-2016, 02:48   #5
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Re: How to Purchase a Far Away Boat

I would recommend getting into contract before you go down, subject to sea trial, survey, and personal inspection. That way you don't risk the travel money if the seller decides not to sell, or sells it to someone else before you get there. Just went through this, and lost the travel money when the seller decided to keep the boat. It will also let you know if the seller is open to a lower price.

Check with your surveyor about a less than 24 hour cancellation. It would make sense to me if they charge full price for that. If so, you could go down on Friday and look at it Friday.

Another option is don't travel down. Just send the surveyor. Obviously has its pluses and minuses, but if you have been on sisterships and have a ton of current pictures then you know if the boat theoretically works for you. While it is best to be there for the survey, sometimes that just isn't economically the best use of your money.

Hope it all works out!
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Old 12-04-2016, 05:57   #6
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Re: How to Purchase a Far Away Boat

Most of what's posted is very good advice. And to give your question a bottom line answer, no, your timeline's not realistic. Here's some of why.

A) Yes, it makes sense to haggle a bit with the buyer before even considering going to look at the boat if it's overpriced. As you'll likely be making a couple of trips down, & or staying there for several days, for the inspections processes.
And if you can't start out in a realistic price range, then it makes no sense to spend thousands, both traveling, & evaluating the boat.

B) A Good Inspections process goes something like this.
- Send him a detailed sheet of everything onboard which you'd want to see live, & have him make you a video of the majority of it, prior to your booking any travel.
- After viewing it, & seeing that it seems satisfactory, go & inspect the boat & all of her gear yourself. This could take a few hours, or a few days. Depending upon what the seller will allow. And what you both; make time for, & are comfortable/qualified to properly inspect.

- Then, if the boat passes these hurdles, you call in the pro's. And you NEED to be there for each of these inspections (surveys). Especially to ask questions in reference to some of what the various surveyors discover, then & there (take a video camera with you for these inspections).
And don't hire any surveyors who don't want you around during their surveys sic).

- The "various" (mandatory) surveyors being; Rig, Sails, Engine & Mechanical (including engine oil, & transmission fluid analysis), General (standard).

- From there, it'll take a little while to get the reports back. And once you get them, you'll of course need to consult with the surveyors, to ask them some questions about things in their reports. As well as some things which aren't.
--> Educating yourself as much as possible on; the specific boat, & her weaknesses, plus on surveying, & boat buying, are your best tools in this equation.

So then, based on these things (surveys, & any flags which they raise), odds are there will be some more back & forth with the seller, regarding price.

- Then, once the price pending sea trial is worked out, you'll need to do a proper sea trial. Which can be quite thorough. Including a general sail, sometimes a couple (light & heavy air). Testing out all of her other sails. A good long test under power of the engine. Plus the rest of her systems too.
And there are checklists available for these things.

Ah, so... while I'm guessing that this wasn't the answer for which you were hoping, it's a (more or less) proper way to ensure that the boat of your dreams, really is such.
And that when you purchase her, you know (most) of what you're getting.

And I say "most", because if you read this thread Keel sump repair You'll see that a couple of surveyors, with lots of time between surveys, missed some BIG issues. And sadly, such is not an isolated thing.

All of that said, I wish you luck with the purchase and I hope that this helps you.

PS: Also, before haggling price wise, try & find out:
- How much she's been used in the last few years, if at all. As it plays to desire to sell, but also to her general upkeep during that time, or lack there of. For unused boats are often unmaintained.
- How long she's been on the market. And especially, why.
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Old 12-04-2016, 06:14   #7
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Re: How to Purchase a Far Away Boat

OC,

I actually did all this in the last six weeks. I had a fantastic broker on Marco Island. He took me through the boat on FaceTime and set up a haul out, survey, and sea trial for a Monday morning. I flew in on Sunday from Indiana, attended the sea trial, survey, and haul out on Monday, and flew out Monday evening. I saved money by paying for the airfare with credit card points and booked a room on AirBNB.

Everything went smoothly for the most part and I purchased the boat two weeks ago.

Good luck!

Reed
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Old 12-04-2016, 07:26   #8
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Re: How to Purchase a Far Away Boat

I forgot to mention it, but boatpoker, a member on here who's a surveyor, has an excellent website. Marine Surveyor, Port Credit Marine Surveys, Toronto, Ontario
Full of pages & pages of great information. I'd highly recommend soaking up as much of it as you can. And also perusing some of his posts, as he's Real sharp.

And there are some other surveyors on here as well, who are chock full of wisdom. For example, one or two have demonstrated what a good thermal imaging scan of a boat can reveal, & why it can really make sense to have one done (by a certified operator).
Some Recent Thermal Images from Surveys

Also, on the haul vs. dive for survey thing. Unless you clear a diver's inspection in lieu of a haulout, with your insurance company first. I'd say that you'd better plan on hauling her.
Plus, there are some things which simply can't be ascertained via diving, that can be when the boat's on the hard.

And regarding how much time the process takes. Much of it depends on the size & complexity of the boat. But also on how in depth you want to inspect things, & what the owner's willing to put up with in such regards.

If you tell us what the boat is, I'm sure that some other sistership owners will chime in with some comments too.
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Old 12-04-2016, 08:00   #9
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Re: How to Purchase a Far Away Boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by UNCIVILIZED View Post
...you NEED to be there for each of these inspections (surveys)...
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.
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Old 12-04-2016, 08:33   #10
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Re: How to Purchase a Far Away Boat

All good advice but be sure to check the yard schedule and the surveyors schedule for a haul out. There are no yards in my area of Florida that will haul out on a weekend unless its to avoid a sinking. Make it a long weekend by traveling on Saturday or Sunday. Schedule the survey on Monday. If the boat doesn't meet your inspection and price after you see her then cancel the survey. Tell the surveyor upfront that you will be seeing the boat for the first time on the weekend and you may need to cancel the survey. But fair warning, too many things can go wrong when trying to rush a major undertaking.

It can be done with lots of patience and planning.

Good Luck!
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Old 12-04-2016, 09:08   #11
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Re: How to Purchase a Far Away Boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terra Nova View Post
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.

I'm with Uncivilized on this one. I've attended every survey on boats I've bought and sold as well as insurance surveys. I don't hover, but every time the surveyor has questions or has something he wants to share with one or both of the interested parties. In addition it gives more time to closely inspect the vessel.

As the buyer, you're paying for the survey. Don't get in his way, but be available. If you have questions about something specific, let him know. In addition you'll learn a lot about boats in general and this boat in particular watching the surveyor do his job. You'll also learn something about surveyors, not all of whom are as qualified as you'd like them to be.

Cheers,
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Old 12-04-2016, 09:31   #12
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Re: How to Purchase a Far Away Boat

You may travel only to find a dirty, mildewed, scratched boat.
Pictures and videos do not show reality.

After some bad experiences due to people that have only their interests
at heart I began sending a local surveyor of my choice for a first one hour cursory inspection for a fee of course. For 2 or 3 hundred $.

Be very specific of what you want him to look at, not survey. From 1 to 5, five being Bristol , cushion covers, foam mattresses, canvas, shine on hull, chips, condition of cabinetry, etc.etc
I once was fooled, drove over 1000 miles and left after 5 minutes.
Broker lied, owner lied and wife lied even more.

Should his report be favorable then and only then go yourself.
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Old 12-04-2016, 09:39   #13
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Re: How to Purchase a Far Away Boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terra Nova View Post
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.

Terre: I was of the mindset that I would leave the surveyor alone to work, but he would call me over to point things out. When I went trough his report I knew exactly what he was referring to. It was very much appreciated, but again, he took the lead.
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Old 12-04-2016, 09:41   #14
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Re: How to Purchase a Far Away Boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by OrangeCrush View Post
Hello,

I'm looking to buy my second boat, a much more significant purchase than my first, and I could use a little schooling on some of the protocol and etiquette. 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. If I don't like what I see, game over and I cancel the surveyor I have booked for Sunday (can I do that??) and go home. But if I want to move forward, I make an offer contingent on survey. If we agree on price then the surveyor comes and I have a local yard haul for the survey. Will a surveyor ever look at the motor or do I need a separate mechanic? Is hiring a diver (or doing it myself) ever preferable to hauling out? Is it at all reasonable to attempt to do all that in a single weekend?

If everything goes well at the survey, it seems like the rest of the purchase could be completed from a distance. Once I have a bill of sale, then I can register the boat in New York. Will I be able to get insurance for the boat in New York using the survey I had done in SC? I'd need to leave the boat where it is until the end of June when my work is over and I can go down there, prep the boat and bring it back up North.

To make things more complicated still, I'll need the seller to come down a fair amount on price (~20%) for it to work for me. Is it ever appropriate to talk money before coming to see a boat? I was thinking maybe the vague but direct route is better, to simply ask if their price is firm or flexible. If they say their price is very firm that could save me a pointless trip. But it seems hasty or counterproductive to speak real numbers before seeing anything. Do I have that right?

I've spoken with the owners; my next step will be to start calling up surveyors with many of these same questions. But I thought I would run it by the forum first as I am sure some of my assumptions are wrong. Thanks for helping me figure out the best way to go approach this. I won't rush the purchase if things don't work out right, but I also want to be ready if they do.

Last question, anybody know a good surveyor near Beaufort, SC?

Jack

Jack, if you like her you may want to arrange for a weeks vacation. If not hop the next flight home. Do all your homework first as to surveys and yards to haul at. May give you a better idea of their availability. As to the engine the surveyor is only going to say it is an whatever SN XXX with so many hours or unknown if no hour meter. As to the engine your own ear may be your best evaluation.

Beaufort has grown but finding a yard to haul at and a surveyor Hilton Head may be the closest. I believe there was a yard on Lady's Island that could haul. Just some thoughts. I hadn't their since it was a quaint little town.
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Old 12-04-2016, 09:43   #15
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Re: How to Purchase a Far Away Boat

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Originally Posted by Terra Nova View Post
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.
I guess on this, opinions will vary. But on every boat that I've had surveyed, I was VERY glad that I was there to see some of the things which were discovered, first hand, by the Surveyor (& Rigger). Which, without my having been there, would not have had the same impact at all.
Nor would I have learned half as much about the boat.
Particularly as the Surveyors were kind enough to share some of their wealth of knowledge about that model of boat, & boats in general, with me, right then & there.

This has applied to every type of survey which I've ever had done. Car, boat, you name it.
A habit taught to me from as early on in my life as I can recall. Which when done right, also helps to establish the basis for a long term rapport, with the Surveyor (mechanic, or painter, etc.).

And if you're buying the boat, then it is your Legal Duty as her Captain, to know as much about her (& boats in general) as is possible.

I certainly don't believe in hovering over someone doing their job, & have rarely been given hints that I was, or that I was impeding their "process".
But there are questions which do come up during the course of a survey (of any, & every type), which, when asked at an appropriate moment, can teach you quite a lot.
That type of thing cannot be done over the phone. As such is not a real time interactive process.

However, the Bottom Line is that a Surveyor (of any type, or mechanic, rigger etc.) can simply say "No, I prefer to work sans supervision or interference, etc.".
It's not a tough statement for them to make. And you live with it, or move on, & hire someone else.
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