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Old 17-10-2010, 22:10   #1
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Pros and Cons of Buying an Ex-Charter Boat ?

Hi everyone,
Eventually I will get off the land and cruise - (house is now up for sale!). Does anyone have any thoughts, opinions on buying an ex charter? I have heard the saying "it's a rental, don't be gentle." but if I factor in a transmission and engine rebuild even then the prices look reasonable for a well maintained boat.

Thoughts? What else I should consider?

Thanks in advance.

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Old 17-10-2010, 23:27   #2
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Depends on the boat, how long in charter, what you are comparing to. Not enough info to make an informed response. The problem will be comparing apples to apples.

I would not shy away from ex-charter boats.

But if I consider a 40 foot or so 2005 Benneteau off charter or private sale here is what I would expect.

- Charter boat will be cheaper
- Charter boat will have more engine time
- private boat will be in better shape
- private boat more likely to have "owners" layout
- private boat will have less road rash (docking scars)
- private boat may have better sail wardrobe
- private boat may have a better anchor selection
- private boat may have better electronics
- private boat may have more "goodies" - Dink, watermaker, liferaft, EPIRB etc. etc.

That's off the top of my head.

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Old 18-10-2010, 03:19   #3
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Few subjects tend to get blood pressures soaring and hot post exchanges flying as much as the ex-charter boat one (I can only think of the "Mono vs. Catamaran" and "which-anchor-is-best" debates. Oh, forgot the "firearms aboard" threads)

I bought a Jeanneau 43 foot ex-Sunsail charter boat and was pleased with the price-per-foot ratio and felt I got a good deal.

Then I purchased an almost new non-chartered boat and remain pleased with the condition of the boat.

Charter boats (in the Caribbean) see lots of engine hours but many have almost-new sails after the charter period is over. Interior teak is often scratched and dented and the general condition will show that the boat has seen lots of use. If the boat was never grounded and the engine maintained scrupulously then the wear-and-tear is usually just cosmetic and easy to patch up by your average boatowner.
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Old 18-10-2010, 05:39   #4
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1. cheap
1. everything else
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Old 18-10-2010, 06:38   #5
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I think most cruisers know the hidden costs in setting up a boat to cruise in comfort all have to be added to a charter boat, and there's a good chance those items might already be on an ex-cruiser.
Just basic instrumentation / comms gear is expensive when new - let alone dinghies, outboards, solar, wind power, autopilots, watermakers, davits, biminis, well cut cruising sails, etc etc.
So whilst the bare charter boat might indeed be a cheaper to start with, it might well be the more expensive option overall..........
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Old 18-10-2010, 07:13   #6
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Originally Posted by S/V Illusion View Post
1. cheap
1. everything else
"The Japanese motorcycle companies want to make an easy car. I want to make a difficult bicycle"
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Old 18-10-2010, 07:37   #7
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Ex-calif is pretty well spot on (and Ilusion always shows hate to these threads - dunno why?) except for the anchor comment.

Charter companies know the guests are going to be more rough and tumble than a private owner so they (order Beneteau to etc) provide better anhchors: Delta instead of Brittany, heavier mooring lines (mine would do well on the Queen Mary)... and a relience on equipment that is less likely to fail.

in another thread Sarah off Roaring Girl said that a previously cruised boat comes with a vast array of bits and pieces that are costly to buy. A charter boat comes with nothing.

I preferred the boat with nothing (except what a charterer would have - incl linen, crockery, lines, buckets etc) - and yes its expensive to buy the small stuff. But junk is very personal.... I like my junk if I am in Mans Emporium (the hardware store) I want to select the *whatever* not let someone else select it.

Yes, I would love a brand spanking new boat where I get to rip the plastic covers off the coushions but that aint gunna happen.

So the choice was a larger ex-charter boat free of other peoples crap or a smaller privately owned boat that nothing is the way Beneteau (or Sunsail) reckons it should be.

The 363's that I looked at were up to US$45,000 more than the 393 I bought. In boat terms that 3 feet is a lot of feet!

Surveyors have all surveyed between 20 million and 30 million ex-charter boats so they will see if its been on the rocks etc.

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Old 18-10-2010, 08:29   #8
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When we bought ours, I made sure to have a reputable surveyor that was recognized as very skilled in surveying engines. Why? That's what I knew less about.

I asked him about crashes into the dock and he said "Look at the (metal) toe rail. If there was one, it would show up there. During a survey, the boat tells a story."

For me, it's a lot of fun to outfit the boat the way I want it. It can be time consuming, but it's an enjoyable break from my desk job. And fortunately for us, the previous owner (still looking for Mark C. Brazier if anyone knows where he is) added a bimini, davits and other things.

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Old 03-11-2010, 17:25   #9
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I just bought a '87 432 Beneteau that is in great shape. It just had a new Yanmar installed so I have a new engine with very low hours on it (218hrs). The sails have "about 5 -7 years left on them" says the guys at the sail loft that checked them out. I had a very experienced Marine Surveyor give me two thumbs up on this very nice 23 year old Beneteau. Very little road rash, the inside was in excellent shape for her age. The original cushions are also in fine shape.

It is true, there is not much more than a VHF radio on the boat, and an old one at that. The windlass must have died and was never replaced, same thing goes for the refigerator that I now call the ice box. But all in all I am very happy with my Moorings 432. I happen to have all the electronics from my last boat so they won't be a problem, and $5k or so will make this Beneteau just the way I want it.
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Old 03-11-2010, 18:33   #10
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I've got an '86 ex-charter, but when you get to this age I feel it's like any other boat of its age: What has the previous owner done in the last 10 years? It's probably been out of charter for almost 20 years. Prices vary with the amount of TLC and additons put into the boat.

That said, I think that some of the older boats made for the charter trade are some solid boats: The Beneteau Idylle/First series, the CSY, and Morgans all had thick fiberglass hulls, no nonsense rigging and simple, reliable powerplants. I found a boat at the right price with some older electronics I could live with, some nice additions, and some imperfections I could work on correcting with some sweat equity.
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Old 04-11-2010, 05:09   #11
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I am also looking at an ex-charter AND ex-private boat now. the boat was chartered from 1990 to 2004, then went private until now. the new owner installed a genset and aircons, no other fancy toys. what i miss is the spinnaker equipment and halyard. gotta have that.
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Old 04-11-2010, 06:28   #12
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Originally Posted by S/V Illusion View Post
1. cheap
1. everything else

I hope I don't offend anyone by saying this, but buying an ex-charter boat is like marrying a prostitute, who has been passed from hand to hand on a weekly basis and used hard without love, and usually, without skill.

Personally I would never consider an ex-charter boat for even a second. When you buy a used boat you enormously rely on the love and attentiveness of the previous owner. For years to come you will find evidence of how much the PO loved what is now your boat, and you will continue finding evidence of how skillful he was both in sailing her and in keeping her in good condition. A good PO will have spent money on your boat continuously, very much unlike a charter operator whose business success depends on keeping costs down and not spending money on repairs or maintenance or upgrades beyond the absolute minimum. Thus I bless my PO every day. With an ex-charter boat, on the contrary, you will generally find nothing but years and years of abuse and hurried, clumsy repairs made between charters, and made on the cheap. The primary reason I bought my present boat after a decade of chartering was to get away from the horrible, unloved condition of charter boats, which starts to become evident before they are even a year old.

That's my opinion; other people's views may of course be different.
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Old 04-11-2010, 12:44   #13
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You should have No Problem with an ex charter boat if you do the proper inspections and have a good surveyor on your team.

You will often find that charger boats have far better routine maintenance than private boats and often private boats have set in the water or on the hard for months even years unused... and that is not good.

Just out of primary charter is probably the best point to purchase. All of these boats have to be turned over to the owners in almost new like condition. These do often include new sails, new cushions, new teak work, fully serviced engines and instruments as anything that was heavily worn is by contract subject to replacement/ repair.

Don't let the fear mongers who usually have no first hand knowledge because of their prejudices, cause you to miss out on a good opportunity just because they have a feeling or a unsubstantiated thought. Do your homework and do the inspections and you will be fine.

I know... I've done it and have been sailing the boat for past 4 years spending about 5 to 7 months out and have been out for 11 months on this last trip and will probably extend it to 30 months or until it aint fun anymore... if that ever happens.

I also have probably two dozen friends who have done the same thing and none regret it. It got them more boat than they could have obtained in generally better condition than they would have from individuals who no longer want their boats.
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Old 05-11-2010, 09:20   #14
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We looked for months at charter boats before buying our privately owned 2000 Beneteau 40CC. We looked at 2003-2005 charter boats that were well worn. Most of these boats has 5000-6000 hours on the engine, needed new sails, and minimal equipment. Moorings boats do not come with dinghies. When we first saw our boat, we could not believe it was 10 years old, 750 hours on her 56hp Yanmar. You could eat off the engine room floor. Admittedly an older couple wintered on the boat in a dock in STT. They had the boat shipped down from N.Y. As the broker said, he did not know the last time the anchor was in the water. No doubt private boats fetch a higher dollar, for good reason. Unless you were buying a boat from a charter company to keep her in charter, I would stay with private.
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Old 05-11-2010, 09:51   #15
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Whether to consider buying an ex-charter boat, I believe, depends a lot on your objectives.

For the past 2 years I've been looking for a boat and have about decided that I will either do another custom build or, if lucky, find a solid ex-charter boat to completely refit.

I have not found any new production boats that come close to meeting my objectives and all the potential non-chartered pre-owned boats are not feasible contenders because of all the prior owner "improvements" that would need correcting or removed.

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