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Old 20-11-2011, 11:06   #1
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Purchasing in the Winter

I've seen some discussion of winter purchasing on various threads/forums but I'm surprised there isn't more discussion. I have a broker and will obviously discuss with him but I thought I would get some opinions and/or experience discussions beforehand.

Everything I've read to date emphasizes the test sail to ensure that the engine, transmission, etc. are in working order and there aren't any hard to spot issues such as excessive vibration from a bent prop shaft, etc.

-If a boat is winterized or has been on the hard for a while, how does the purchase process work? Do lots of people purchase in these situations?

-I am assuming putting a chunk of money in escrow is the way this is handled? And a corresponding escrow agreement about the first sail at launch post-purchase?

-How much money (enough to cover a repower perhaps?)

For the sake of discussion say we are talking dollar ranges in the 100k-125k range. Admittedly, I am wary of purchasing my first boat without a test sail?

Any suggestions, experiences, opinions, etc. would be great.

Josh
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Old 20-11-2011, 11:40   #2
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Re: Purchasing in the Winter

Not sure. If it is a known boat design with a good sailing reputation, then that part is fairly easy. But yes, mechanical can be a big thing. Also sail condition can take a lot of money. I would say at least a $20k escrow. I assume you are talking an area where people pull their boats out for the winter and you dont want to launch now? A diesel can be run with a freshwater hose stuck in the water strainer. (introduce anti freeze at the end!) Cant really run the tranny though. Another option is to settle on a lowball price that mitigates your risk with the transmission and shaft, do your inspection, have a survey, run the engine if a hose available . The owner will avoid winter stoarge etc fees that way anyway....
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Old 20-11-2011, 11:50   #3
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Re: Purchasing in the Winter

Yes, it is turning winter here. One of the boats has been on the hard for 1.5 years so I doubt the current owner would put it in the water (nice boat, price too high initially to sell). If they had a potential buyer, would they go through the price of putting it into the water for a test sail pre-purchase if it were in the spring? Is that typical?

Also, one broker (not mine) indicated that most test sails encompass the engine and transmission and often times do not include actually sailing with the sails. Is this true/typical?
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Old 20-11-2011, 11:50   #4
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Re: Purchasing in the Winter

You put down a small deposit and the rest upon successful sea trial. But before you get to the sea trial the boat should be surveyed. With it on the hard you won't have to pay for a haul-out to get the bottom checked.
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Old 20-11-2011, 11:53   #5
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Re: Purchasing in the Winter

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Originally Posted by engineer_sailor View Post

Also, one broker (not mine) indicated that most test sails encompass the engine and transmission and often times do not include actually sailing with the sails. Is this true/typical?
Just make sure the sails and rigging (standing and running) are checked by the surveyor. No real need to sail the boat, although it would be nice, give everything a good workout.
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Old 20-11-2011, 12:06   #6
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Re: Purchasing in the Winter

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Originally Posted by engineer_sailor View Post
Yes, it is turning winter here. One of the boats has been on the hard for 1.5 years so I doubt the current owner would put it in the water (nice boat, price too high initially to sell). If they had a potential buyer, would they go through the price of putting it into the water for a test sail pre-purchase if it were in the spring? Is that typical?

Also, one broker (not mine) indicated that most test sails encompass the engine and transmission and often times do not include actually sailing with the sails. Is this true/typical?
That broker is full of crap. Every boat I've bought that was surveyed has been test sailed with the sails and engine. You may waive the right to put every sail up. You are the buyer, YOU specify what to inspect and test. Test sail/seatrials are usually at the seller's expense, but not sure if the boat is on the hard. If you do all your inspection on the hard, and still are willing to go forward, I doubt the seller would balk at launching the boat. You might need a separate acceptance for inspection and sea trial to make it palatable for the seller. anything can be worked out.
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Old 20-11-2011, 16:36   #7
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Buying without a sea trial is a crap shoot in my opinion but at the end of the day of course it is your choice.

Without running the engine in the water you cannot: see if the engine smokes under load, feel if the shaft vibrates indicating a bent or out of alignment shaft or bad cutlass bearing, cannot tell if the engine overheats after an hour or has any other bad habits undetectible by running on the hard with no load.

Without sailing the boat you cannot: see the shape of the sails, exercise all the hardware, test the autopilot ability to hold course. Find out the the through hulls leak water!

For me it would depend on several factors. Primarily if the price of the boat is below my risk factor and I am ready to assume the risk of any or all of these things go wrong after purchase.
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Old 20-11-2011, 18:17   #8
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Re: Purchasing in the Winter

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Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
Buying without a sea trial is a crap shoot in my opinion but at the end of the day of course it is your choice.

Without running the engine in the water you cannot: see if the engine smokes under load, feel if the shaft vibrates indicating a bent or out of alignment shaft or bad cutlass bearing, cannot tell if the engine overheats after an hour or has any other bad habits undetectible by running on the hard with no load.

Without sailing the boat you cannot: see the shape of the sails, exercise all the hardware, test the autopilot ability to hold course. Find out the the through hulls leak water!

For me it would depend on several factors. Primarily if the price of the boat is below my risk factor and I am ready to assume the risk of any or all of these things go wrong after purchase.
Yep, all very true...
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Old 20-11-2011, 18:52   #9
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Re: Purchasing in the Winter

Assuming the boat is out of the water, what you do is have everything surveyed that can be surveyed. If the engine oil wasn't changed just before haul-out you should also send out a sample for testing (that will tell you more about wear than any mechanic, and also tell you if there is a cracked block or worn seals/rings/bearings). A rigger can inspect the standing rigging -- most surveyors don't do a proper rigging inspection. The sails should be brought to a loft where they can be spread out and inspected by someone with an expert eye. The rigger and sail loft will tell you everything you need to know about any price adjustments needed for condition of sail/rig. You do the deal with a hold-back (in escrow) contingent on a satisfactory sea trial. An engine run at idle on the hard is not a valid test. The hold back should be enough for a re-power (minimum $10-15k). If you launch the boat (before you buy it) for the purpose of a sea trial it is at buyer's expense, as are all the inspections and surveys.
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Old 21-11-2011, 03:35   #10
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Re: Purchasing in the Winter

We just bought our boat (June) and had the same situation. She was up on the hard and here is how it worked. On day one, we did the out of the water survey and everything looked good. Day two, the surveyor returned and we splashed her. The owner had arranged to have the sails bent on but we had to pay for the lift in (and out) and the fuel for the sea trial. While in the water we checked each and every seacock (31 of those suckers!). We also ran the refrigeration and everything else hard. Of course, we ran the engine hard and took her out and put her through her moves. It all more or less checked out. In fact, we found a few things wrong with her that the owner agreed to fix - the savings from those jobs MORE THAN paid for the lifting cost of the sea trial.

It is a big investment so you've got to do it right. Don't buy any boat without a sea trial.

Good luck.

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Old 21-11-2011, 03:56   #11
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Re: Purchasing in the Winter

The escrow thing sounds all very nice - but come spring and the engine goes kaboom who is to say that it was not the fault of the new Owner?

If the boat is being sold as "good" the Vendor makes the boat available for a sea trial or has to wait for an idiot to turn up

Not to say that buying without a sea trial isn't possible - just prudent to be paying a price that allows for everything to be wrong (always a reason why folk won't allow a full inspection - boats, cars or whatever). Big difference ($$$) between a boat that is fully operational (and seaworthy) than one which is not (if it really only took a "little bit" of work to get seaworthy, Vendor would have done it).

Who pays for the splash into the water is simply a matter of negotiation. For something I really liked, might go 50%. Maybe

Vendor (and Broker) can set whatever "rules" they like.....but so can the purchasor At the end of the day, selling a boat is the Vendors problem - not a buyer's.
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Old 21-11-2011, 04:18   #12
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Re: Purchasing in the Winter

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
Buying without a sea trial is a crap shoot in my opinion but at the end of the day of course it is your choice.

Without running the engine in the water you cannot: see if the engine smokes under load, feel if the shaft vibrates indicating a bent or out of alignment shaft or bad cutlass bearing, cannot tell if the engine overheats after an hour or has any other bad habits undetectible by running on the hard with no load.

Without sailing the boat you cannot: see the shape of the sails, exercise all the hardware, test the autopilot ability to hold course. Find out the the through hulls leak water!

For me it would depend on several factors. Primarily if the price of the boat is below my risk factor and I am ready to assume the risk of any or all of these things go wrong after purchase.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dhillen View Post
We just bought our boat (June) and had the same situation. She was up on the hard and here is how it worked. On day one, we did the out of the water survey and everything looked good. Day two, the surveyor returned and we splashed her. The owner had arranged to have the sails bent on but we had to pay for the lift in (and out) and the fuel for the sea trial. While in the water we checked each and every seacock (31 of those suckers!). We also ran the refrigeration and everything else hard. Of course, we ran the engine hard and took her out and put her through her moves. It all more or less checked out. In fact, we found a few things wrong with her that the owner agreed to fix - the savings from those jobs MORE THAN paid for the lifting cost of the sea trial.

It is a big investment so you've got to do it right. Don't buy any boat without a sea trial.

Good luck.

Dhillen
Hi Engineer_Sailor

These 2 guys have nailed it

Don't forget, YOU are in the drivers seat! If the guy wants to sell, he should move heaven and earth to make it happen. If they dilly dally, and find excuses, perhaps there is something to hide. I couldn't give a rats bottom what 'rules' the Broker makes up, rug up with your cold weather gear and go sailing. Find a Surveyor that you can trust. If you tell us where you are, there are many here 'in the know' and perhaps can recommend one.

If I am going to plonk that sort dough on the table, I want to be sure that it is what it is advertised to be. Check all systems, do all that has been said above, because what you find (and you will) the savings will far outweigh the cost of splashing her for 1/2 a day. By the way, here in Aus, the Vendor pays to splash her, you pay the Surveyor.

How ever tempted you might be not to 'inconvenience' the Broker/Vendor, don't buy it without a survey or sea trial.

Just my 2c.

Bloke
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Old 22-11-2011, 03:47   #13
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Re: Purchasing in the Winter

If the boat model and manufacturer has a good reputation, or if you sailed another boat of same model and vintage then an initial test sail is likely not warranted.

BUT
Do a very thorough survey on the hard with electrical power on. Run all systems including putting water in tanks, anchor windlass, EVERYTHING you can.

You can also get a very good look at sails, rigging and other hardware too.

Of course you get a great look at the keel and bottom.

Don't forget any other equipment such as the dinghy and motor if part of the deal.

Run the engine out of the water just to see how it runs -- but this in not enough, you have to put it under load.

THEN, put enough in escrow to cover the repower and potential hull unknowns when in the water. Agree on what is acceptable before you close the deal and have a disinterested third party, another broker or surveyor, control the escrow account. Not your broker nor the seller's broker.

Then in the spring, launch and sea trial with the same surveyor to complete the survey. You probably will not get full insurance until this is done anyway.

Then be prepared for another $5K or more of your own money to fix the things you missed and things that bug you. And have enough for winter storage?

This sort of thing is done all the time here in New England. Get some of the best deals at the beginning of winter as boats come out of the water.

Then enjoy.

Best of luck.
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Old 22-11-2011, 05:54   #14
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Re: Purchasing in the Winter

We purchased our current boat in January, 2001, dry stored in Massachusets. It was when the market was strong, so we needed to react fairly quickly. Luckily, there was a very well respected broker involved. The listing was very accurate, with several disclaimers about non functioning items. We did a survey, using a surveyor that the broker recommended, and we were able to check his references independently, and he was very well respected also. We foung numerous other items that needed repair, including a cracked prop shaft strut. We made our final offer, with numerous items to be repaired, and held about $15k in the brokerage firm's escrow account, pending mechanical approval when launched in the spring.

The yard had serviced the boat for the previous owner for about 10 years, and was receptive to me doing my own work on the boat, including a bottom job. I did have them do several projects, such as the soda blasting of the bottom, repaint the transom after filling numerous holes from all the equipment that had been installed and removed in it's life time.

When we finally prepared to launch, it was discovered that the sheaves for the centerboard penant where defective, and I had to have the yard repair them at my expense as they were not on the punch list. We moved to a mooring to do some other work before we could leave. Just a short motor through the harbor.

A month had past since the launch, and before we could leave the harbor. The broker and the seller were both anxious to close out the escrow account. Everything seemed to be as expected, so we did.

It came time to leave the harbor, and bring it back to where we were going to have a mooring, and the boat would only do about 3-4 knots under full throttle. We were commited to leave, and had to sail about 100 miles to dead windward, in about 15-20 knots, rather than motor sail. We discovered that even though the surveyor recomended, and the yard did replace the strut and the shaft as part of the PO's responsibility, all three of us, ( I am reasonably knowledgable) missed that the prop was 2 inches smaller, and 2 inches less pitch that what was required. Again, that was at our expense.

In hindsight, I would have preferred to have waited to close until the boat was seatrialed. I think I would have done a bit better, but we were on our boat in Florida, having returned from the Caribbean after 10 years of 6 months on and 6 months off, were pressured to act quickly, mostly because of market conditions. We could only afford the one plane flight up at the time of purchase. We sailed back to the northeast, by then it was spring, and time to commision the new to us boat, under the terms of the contract.

Between a good broker, a good surveyor and some good luck, and some bad luck, I would rate the experience as an 8.5. You sometimes have to just wing it, and take your chances.
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Old 22-11-2011, 06:38   #15
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pirate Re: Purchasing in the Winter

Wow.... I never realised there was so much to buying a boat...
Out of the 'Baker's Dozen' of boats I've bought and sold over the years 2 have been surveyed (GF's shared ownership)... the rest were bought as seen...
3 were solo'd across the Atlantic... others did the UK/Med and a lotta miles...
All but 2 were 'Budget Boats'...
Sails, engine etc can all be checked/tested on land...
A Bene sails like a Bene... a Jeaneau like a Jeaneau... its not rocket science guys...
Jeeeeezzzzzzzzzzzzz

Talk about giving away daysails to every posing D'head....
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