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Old 16-02-2014, 12:13   #1
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Used Boat Shopping in the Winter?

For those who live up north, I'd like some help.

I came across an interesting boat that is worthy of consideration. It's on the hard in a cold weather state with snow. The boat has a winter cover down to the waterline, but is raised up about as high as the boom. I've been told you can get under the cover to take a look.

Not only would we need to get a good look at the deck, but also would need to spend time inside the boat.

How does outdoor winter boat perusing take place? Obviously, there can't really be an offer, since there won't be any sea trial for another 3-4 months.

I don't want to completely delay seeing the boat, but what can get accomplished while it's still covered and cold? This boat hasn't been in the water in three years, and the engine hasn't been run. The mast and rigging was left up, btw.

How do people buy boats in the winter? Or do they?
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Old 16-02-2014, 12:18   #2
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Re: Used Boat Shopping in the Winter?

If the boat hasn't been launched in three years, I think you can abandon the idea of a sea trial. I seriously doubt the current owner will launch her just so you can see if you want to buy her. As far as checking under the cover, you'll have to check with both the yard she's at and her owner. Some covers have a "door" cut in them to allow access. If you buy this boat, you'll be buying without a sea trial.

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Old 16-02-2014, 13:24   #3
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Re: Used Boat Shopping in the Winter?

A couple of years ago, I found a powerboat I really liked for us as a fishing boat; not too big, but with an inboard diesel and a lobsterboat look. We drove from RI to eastern Long Island (we did take the ferry over) in January just to see if my online love affair with this boat would prove to be the real thing.

The trip was totally worthwhile. That boat was tiny! Yes, we were cramped under the shrinkwrap, but even so, it was immediately apparent this boat would not do for us.

So, at the very least, a look at the boat and a climb inside, under the cover, would let you know if it is a worthy contender or just an internet fling. Remember to bring a good portable light.

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Old 16-02-2014, 13:39   #4
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Re: Used Boat Shopping in the Winter?

Frozen Boat Surveys
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Old 16-02-2014, 13:45   #5
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Re: Used Boat Shopping in the Winter?

I purchased our boat in the dead of winter. Had to act quick, it's back when it was a seller's market. I spent several hours over a couple of days looking at the boat. Made an offer and it was accepted. Had a survey, with money held in escrow after the closing for a sea trial, and to make sure everything was operable when in the water. If I could do it again, I am not sure i would have structured it the way I did, I would have protected myself a bit more. The only problem that wasn't found due to cold weather was some moisture in the deck in a couple of spots. Between the tight quarters under the cover, and the moisture was frozen so the hammer tapping sounded solid, it was missed. If the boat is seriously for sale, you can structure the offer and closing with a second survey in good weather.
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Old 16-02-2014, 13:48   #6
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Re: Used Boat Shopping in the Winter?

If the boat has a custom winter cover then yes, there will be a zippered doorway or two for access. It will allow you to inspect the deck although you'll probably find yourself on your hands and knees to make your way around under some stretches of the cover.

As pointed out, the willingness of the current owner to put the boat in the water to be surveyed is going to be a function of how motivated they are to sell and the relative price of the boat. If the boat has been on the hard for 3 years then commissioning it is going to be a bit expensive. If the owner does not want to do it then either lowball the bejesus out of any offer you make, or walk away.

I've looked at lots of boats on the lot in winter. They can be a bit musty and dreary but you get an immediate sense of how they work for space and their general condition (in comparison to photographs which always make a boat look 100% better than it is).

Bring a really good flashlight and a camera. If you think you're going to have continuing interest in the boat, take lots of pictures.

The boat market up north is pretty dead until around April, but people still look at boats. You could make an offer on the boat contingent on it being commissioned and a full survey being performed. If the offer is accepted then you'd put earnest money down to hold the boat, and then adjust your offer price based on the results of the survey.
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Old 16-02-2014, 15:02   #7
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Re: Used Boat Shopping in the Winter?

The winter inspection is worthwhile if for nothing else than to see if the bilge is floating in solid ice. Many boats stored over multiple seasons ship water from various points including down the mast. Two big guys next to us had been neglected to the point of 18 inches of ice in the bottom. Damaged the keel bolts, bulkhead, etc. I consider it important to drill a low point drain in any boat to be stored indefinitely. Small hole is easy to fix. My own boat had 8 burst batteries and the battery box was eaten out by the acid. If its dry inside, chances are the owner kept up minimum maintenance. As noted by others, moisture meter will not be worth much in winter.

Personally, I would ask for first right of refusal and wait for spring before committing. You want a mechanic to at least start the engine and other systems and a survey on the hull & deck.

I see you are in Chicago? Did you look up here in Muskegon? Try Torresen's brokerage. Lots of boats on the block in yards up here.
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Old 16-02-2014, 18:25   #8
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Re: Used Boat Shopping in the Winter?

Bought my boat in the dead of winter in Maine a few years ago. It had been out of the water for a few years. Had survey done, made offer, contingent on sea trial, seller paid for systems that failed on sea trial, and it has been a trouble free boat since.
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Old 16-02-2014, 21:56   #9
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Re: Used Boat Shopping in the Winter?

We shopped around in January - March 2 years ago.We looked at allot of boats in the winter to get a better idea of whats out there. In March the boats I called on during the week were sold by the time I could check them out. Finally found a boat we liked that was a trade in to a dealer, that was already fixing things found on the survey.
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Old 19-02-2014, 10:23   #10
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Re: Used Boat Shopping in the Winter?

Shopping in the winter is pretty common in NE, if your serious and want it surveyed then I would say to go ahead. Since it's been out of the water a few years it would have to be a heck of a deal to move on it, either the price is too high or the boat has issues. Even though the market has been soft during the economic downturn properly priced boats still sell, just not for as much as people would like.
It's started to pick up over the last year but not back to where it was.
Look it over seriously before going any further, feel out the owner if your interested.
Surveying the boat on the hard in the winter will give you a decent idea of condition but a warm weather survey and sea trial will go the distance. As stated previously it's doubtful the owner would splash it at this point for a sea trial, you either have to get it for a price that reflects the risk, or structure the sale with a generous holdback to cover any unforseen major failings.
I've done both in the past, just make sure the wording in the contract is bulletproof if you decide to go that way. Moisture meters aren't worth a crap when the temperature is below freezing. One benefit to offering now is the owner may want to get rid of it before the summer storage fees kick in, storage fees at most yards goes up the end of April since the yards need the parking spacers back for customers at the marina.
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Old 19-02-2014, 11:24   #11
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Re: Used Boat Shopping in the Winter?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeofreilly57 View Post
Shopping in the winter is pretty common in NE, if your serious and want it surveyed then I would say to go ahead. Since it's been out of the water a few years it would have to be a heck of a deal to move on it, either the price is too high or the boat has issues. Even though the market has been soft during the economic downturn properly priced boats still sell, just not for as much as people would like.
It's started to pick up over the last year but not back to where it was.
Look it over seriously before going any further, feel out the owner if your interested.
Surveying the boat on the hard in the winter will give you a decent idea of condition but a warm weather survey and sea trial will go the distance. As stated previously it's doubtful the owner would splash it at this point for a sea trial, you either have to get it for a price that reflects the risk, or structure the sale with a generous holdback to cover any unforseen major failings.
I've done both in the past, just make sure the wording in the contract is bulletproof if you decide to go that way. Moisture meters aren't worth a crap when the temperature is below freezing. One benefit to offering now is the owner may want to get rid of it before the summer storage fees kick in, storage fees at most yards goes up the end of April since the yards need the parking spacers back for customers at the marina.
Really great feedback, thanks. Yes, I'm also suspicious about the condition of the boat. It looked wonderful in pics 2 1/2 years ago, but that's a long time.

I was told by the broker(s) that the ports did leak, causing minor damage to the wood on the settee supporting the cushions. They are saying that 4 ports need resealing. We'd have to get inside with a moisture meter when it's warmer to really see what's happening.

This boat has come down in price by 33%, since it was first listed in 2009/2010. Owner dropped it 10k, this year. The broker, who knows the owner, thinks he will come down another 10k. This will mean getting the boat for 58% of an inflated original price. That still may be high, considering the port condition and other possible damage from a boat sitting on the hard 3 years.

The owner lives far out of state, and has for the last 3 years. He has allegedly turned down 2 or 3 offers already, for more than it's currently list for.

As for putting her back in the water and "summerizing" the boat for a sea trial, I don't know how the owner intends to decide if it's worth it.
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