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Old 06-12-2012, 10:43   #1
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Lessons learned in boat purchase

I bought a 1988 Bene 432 (charter version of Oceanis 430) about a year ago. I did the best I could to research the purchase and settled on a 35-45 ft range monohull and this particular boat was within reach budget wise. I live ~600 miles from the marina and my wife and I flew down for the survey. I found a reliable surveyor who had no conflict of interest. I insisted the boat be in the water as it was on the hard at the time. The surveyor found 3 pages of findings, and the prior owner made good on much of the deficiencies found. The one mistake I made and want to pass on is to insist on SEA TRIALS as part of the survey and purchase. I did not and regret it. Overall, I am pleased with the boat and have done a lot of work to bring it up to my standards (long list). I have about $70K in it and am OK with the deal. Sea trials, in addition to the rest of the survey will allow your surveyor to better assess the engine, rigging, sails, etc. If there is a reason the boat cannot be taken out for sea trials, the current owner should be up front about this and price adjusted accordingly. Just my experience and hope for other forum folks to learn from my mistake. Merry Christmas
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Old 06-12-2012, 10:48   #2
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Re: Lessons learned in boat purchase

So what did you find that you missed from not doing sea trials? Assume it wasn't huge like the engine was dead.

Otherwise I think you can get a pretty good idea of the condition of the rig, sails, etc by inspecting them at the dock, if you have room to spread out the sails.
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Old 06-12-2012, 11:02   #3
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Re: Lessons learned in boat purchase

The recently replaced prop shaft was not aligned properly and the jib furler is serviceable, but probably will need to be overhauled or replaced. Sheets, halyards, blocks, sheaves, sail tracks, sails etc. are OK, but I would have liked to see them under load vs sitting in a slip. You also get a better sense how the boat handles and all the systems are tested. It will likely cost me ~$1,000 to repair what was missed by not taking the boat out at the survey.
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Old 06-12-2012, 11:05   #4
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Only $1000 ? ;-)
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Old 06-12-2012, 11:11   #5
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Re: Lessons learned in boat purchase

Yes, THANKFULLY! It could've been worse.
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Old 06-12-2012, 13:25   #6
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Still, 70k for all that is a pretty good deal.
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Old 06-12-2012, 20:55   #7
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I hear the word seatrial, and my mind congers up images of the titanic earning her licences. Bigger ships, in my mind have seatrials, small boats get test drives, like a used car.

I have never asked to sail on a sailboat I was interested in purchasing.

John Travolta is a licenced pilot of the jumbo jets. After his welcome back carter tv show was cancelled, and before he got famous, he trained in aviation so he would have a real job to fall back on, should acting not work out. After he got rich and famous, he test drove a 747 from LA CA to Hawaii, and back again. All free. Did not end up purchasing the plane. That was an expensive test drive for someone. That was a bunch of fuel.

Back to the topic, I would think it would add to the cost of the survey, to have them go to the burden of also doing a seatrial on the boat. Time is money.

Someone at my marina, the yacht club president, is selling his Mac 26X he has had a long time. He has taken all the perspective buyers sailing on the boat, and it has not sold. As a seller, do you let anyone somewhat interested in sailing, do a seatrial on your boat, in hopes it sells?
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Old 06-12-2012, 21:18   #8
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I want a sea trial just as I want a test drive and a sample at Costco.
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Old 06-12-2012, 21:31   #9
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When we had our Bene 373 surveyed with the sea trial it was only an extra $50 and went on it. Well worth it.
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Old 06-12-2012, 22:19   #10
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Pardon my ignorance (should add that to my signature line lol) but it would seem if the sailboat were available to sail, before anything is signed, deposits payed, surveys contracted, by all means, go sailing on her. That would take 99% of the mystery out of the sailboat. If you like the way she sails, and her accommodations, if questions remain, on to the survey on the hard for additional information and to provide to your insurance company.

Many times, at the point of sale, it is not practical to sail the sailboat, one additional reason to contract a surveyor.

In five sailboats, only one survey. That boat was 1,500 miles away. Had I been on the ground at the boat, I may have despenced with the survey and towed her home. Older, simple design, small diesel, seller with good credit rating (bank president) everything solid, everything there, good receipts showing all work done.
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Old 06-12-2012, 23:24   #11
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Re: Lessons learned in boat purchase

Sure...and then there would be lines down the docks for free rides on boats for sale. Like there aren't enough fender kickers already.
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Old 06-12-2012, 23:48   #12
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Re: Lessons learned in boat purchase

To keep just anybody from going on joyrides what seems to be the common procedure here is to put a refundable deposit in escrow and have a contract signed that has clauses sale dependent on sea trial and survey. The norm here is sea trial first then survey. One boat I looked at the owner wanted survey first then sea trial. The surveyor agreed with me that the survey came after so you didn't incur the cost of the survey if you found the boat unsuitable. .
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Old 06-12-2012, 23:54   #13
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Re: Lessons learned in boat purchase

Yes...It's usually 10% here.
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Old 07-12-2012, 03:24   #14
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Re: Lessons learned in boat purchase

I agree with the OP, the buyer should insist on a sea trial. However the seller should also insist the buyer has a a little skin in the game first. A signed purchase agreement with a refundable deposit contingent on financing, a sea trial and survey puts skin in the game but also allows the buyer to gracefully exit the deal if he does not like what he finds.

I signed a purchase agreement contingent on a survey and sea trial. The boat was on the hard so to do the sea trial I needed to pay the marina to step the mast and commission the engine. Including the survey, I had $1500 invested before I made the final decision to buy the boat.

The surveyor was present for the mast stepping, engine commissioning and came on the sea trial. I video recorded as much as I possible for future reference. Very educational for me. We discovered issues with the iron sail: some prop shaft issues, a bad motor mount and there were some fuel supply issues We missed the transmission, which works well but is turning transmission oil black a little too quickly. The sea trial was also a great opportunity to verify the condition of the sails and running rigging.

A sailing season later, I think (hope) I got a good deal because the seller was recalcitrant and cheap. If he had the boat in the water he would have got a better price for it. It is a very pretty boat and sails beautifully ('89 Pacific Seacraft 34, brass portholes etc.).

The financing and insuring of the boat was also educational. It was a good process to go through because the bank and insurance companies are somewhat indifferent observers who also have a stake in making sure the boat is in good condition and is not a complete rip off.
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Old 08-12-2012, 19:01   #15
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Exactly the point i was trying to make. I should have done the same thing. I already had 10% down on the boat and had to pay for the launch and haul. I still got a good deal, but would have learned a lot from a pre-purchase sea trial.
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