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Old 22-05-2012, 14:06   #1
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Question Catamaran Guru/ Stephen Cockcroft / Sailonline / Experiences? Anyone know them?

Has anyone worked with Stephen Cockcroft (Catamaran Guru and Sailonline)? They bill themselves as the experts at purchasing a boat in charter or ex-charter, and they charge for consulting and for their documents. Can anyone vouch for them?
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Old 23-05-2012, 08:37   #2
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Re: Catamaran Guru/ Stephen Cockcroft / Sailonline / Experiences? Anyone know them?

While he claims to be well versed in the business and taxes side of charter vessels I really don't know how he would have any additional information about a boat that he was not involved in. How would he know anything about it's history, maintenance or issues? When you buy a boat you already have the buyer and seller and their brokers and the surveyer. I don't know why one would bring in a 6th party and pay for that privilege. If you want to use him as your broker then that's fine but as a consultant, I don't think so. If you need tax or business advice your best bet would be hiring attorney or accountant.
FWIW Those sellers and the charter companies that have taken care of their boats would be forthcoming and upfront about maintenance and repairs. Those that havn't taken care of their boats might balk at giving you the records and receipts because there aren't any.
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Old 28-05-2012, 21:33   #3
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Re: Catamaran Guru/ Stephen Cockcroft / Sailonline / Experiences? Anyone know them?

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Originally Posted by Camp Director G View Post
Has anyone worked with Stephen Cockcroft (Catamaran Guru and Sailonline)? They bill themselves as the experts at purchasing a boat in charter or ex-charter, and they charge for consulting and for their documents. Can anyone vouch for them?
I have dealt with Stephen and Michael - or Michel (from sailonline) about a boat I had my eyes on. Both are yacht brokers themselves by the way. They specialize in charter boats, and they know the field probably better than any other broker I have spoken to before I stumbled on them. Michael was a long-time boat owner in the Moorings. From what I understand, he was the manager of the Moorings boat owners association for many years. Stephen is also a catamaran builder for charter fleets.

I am not sure they are consulting, though...?? But I can tell you that when you want buy a charter boat, information is NOT as forthcoming as wrote sandcrab. It can be a minefield and those guys unearthed information and damage on the boat I wanted to buy, that I would never had found on my own.

When I get back to hunting for my boat in a couple of months, I am more certain than not to use their brokerage services again.

Just my 2 cents...

James
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Old 29-05-2012, 05:59   #4
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Re: Catamaran Guru/ Stephen Cockcroft / Sailonline / Experiences? Anyone know them?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, sailorjames.

Thanks for your input.
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Old 01-06-2012, 12:16   #5
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I have been a member of this forum for a number of years as “ZURISAILS” and I own a 45 foot catamaran for my private use as an offshore cruiser.
I am also a registered professional Yacht Broker. Usually, out of respect for the membership, I keep a low profile here in order not to be perceived as using this forum as a selling tool.

However, since my name has been published here, I need to respectfully say that some of the
assumptions made by Sand Crab are not correct, in my opinion. I would like to have the opportunity to comment on this, because I believe it would be very important for potential charter boat buyers to be aware of little known important facts.
In order to do so, I would like to be authorized by the moderators.

Michel from sailonline.com, who is also named in this exchange, would also probably like to comment on this.

Stephen Cockcroft

catamaranguru.com
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Old 01-06-2012, 14:24   #6
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Re: Catamaran Guru/ Stephen Cockcroft / Sailonline / Experiences? Anyone know them?

Stephen, thank you for asking the question before jumping in with your reply.

Yes, you may correct any miss understandings in this thread. Please keep in mind the golden rule of "be nice" in your replies. Your stance of keeping your profession low key on CF is good, but in this particular instance you should be allowed to correct the record.

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Old 01-06-2012, 16:10   #7
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Re: Catamaran Guru/ Stephen Cockcroft / Sailonline / Experiences? Anyone know them?

I had a quick squint at the website - just seem like Brokers to me. Very well presented ones .....who (how shall I say this nicely? ) know their target market very well .....and probably also know more than average about boats as well .
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Old 01-06-2012, 16:29   #8
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Re: Catamaran Guru/ Stephen Cockcroft / Sailonline / Experiences? Anyone know them?

I am curious as to why they haven't been willing to comment prior to this, and share some of their expertise. Seems like they might have chimed in earlier; it's not like multihulls never have any threads going on here! Marshall
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Old 02-06-2012, 15:53   #9
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Re: Catamaran Guru/ Stephen Cockcroft / Sailonline / Experiences? Anyone know them?

Well, if you worked in IT 50 hours a week, would you frequent the IT forums in your own time every night?

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Old 04-06-2012, 13:51   #10
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Re: Catamaran Guru/ Stephen Cockcroft / Sailonline / Experiences? Anyone know them?

This is a joint post from Stephen Cockroft (Catamaranguru.com) and Michel Benarrosh (sailonline.com). First, thank you to this forum’s moderators for letting us post this, since we had been named in this thread. We feel that this post is an opportunity to explain a lot of little-known but essential components relative to the purchase of a charter boat, whether pre-owned or brand new.

Buying a pre-owned charter boat out of a charter fleet.
Charter companies are central to this discussion so let us say that without them the cost of catamarans would probably be beyond the reach of most people. It is true that charter vessels take knocks during their charter life but it is important to know that yachts (unlike vehicles) are infinitely refurbishable so even if you buy a used boat it is possible to restore it to “as new”, provided that the boat is structurally sound to start with.

In our experience, when buying a charter boat out of a fleet, in 99% of the cases, the maintenance records are not made available. This means that the onus is on the buyer to ensure that he is buying a sound vessel and equipment. It is a “buyer beware” situation.
When phasing their yacht out of any of the major fleets, most owners get a pre-phase out survey done by an independent surveyor, and present this to the company as a basis for the work that should be done. It is important to note that in that case, the phase-out work, often very extensive, is paid for by the charter company. And that is a huge benefit to the boat buyer. Normally, the same surveyor will conduct a follow-up survey in order to establish that all the repairs and work have been done to industry standard and to the satisfaction of the owner. What this means is that the prospective buyer now has a base line to start from, and a level of confidence in the structural integrity of the boat and condition of the equipment and machinery.

Recently we did the sale of a phase out boat from one of the major charter companies and we were very impressed that they actually went over and above the items on the survey (these were missed by the surveyor) and did the required repairs. The phase out process can be a very good thing for the buyer if the broker knows the people involved on the other side and is able to work with them for a good outcome. Generally charter companies will do the right and moral thing, provided the process is well managed. Alternatively, we have had instances where the boat had structural damage that was not disclosed by the charter base despite being specifically asked if the vessel had had any damage or incident costing over $3K to repair or resulting in an insurance claim. Needless to say when damage was discovered in the pre purchase survey, we advised the client to reject the boat and we found another one for him. Experience does count when doing these transactions.

It should be noted, however, that not all charter companies have a phase out program. In that case, the concept here is that the boat is maintained to a high standard at all times during its charter life, and so phase out work is not required. In this situation, a full survey by the prospective buyer will establish the condition of the boat. Depending on that condition and the survey findings, there will often be an adjustment to the boat price.

Whether the boat is coming out of a large fleet or a smaller one, it is critical for the broker assisting the buyer to fully understand the charter industry and the inner workings of the charter companies to make sure that the boat is sound and in fair condition with no latent or hidden issues. A large percentage of yacht brokers actually know surprisingly little about charter boats, which is in fact a very specialized area.

In closing, a buyer cannot rely on any forthcoming disclosure from any charter company as the basis for believing that the vessel and its machinery and equipment are sound. That is the responsibility of the buyer and of the professionals he chooses to represent him in the transaction. If maintenance records are provided they should be used as a guideline and not be looked at as empirical data.
One aspect that cannot be understated is the choice of surveyor. I always give the buyer a choice and make him choose the surveyor. The buyer contracts directly with the surveyor so that there is an additional safety net in case there are issues with the vessel. By having the surveyor report directly to the buyer and not be answerable to the brokers in any way, the buyer has an additional and independent advisor. Remember both brokers want the deal to close so they can make money, whereas the surveyor is being paid whether the deal is consummated or not and has no interest in making it happen one-way or the other.

In the end, a boat buyer assisted by a yacht broker with intimate knowledge of the charter industry can usually make excellent purchases within charter fleets.


Buying a new boat to be placed in a charter fleet.
This is where the consulting activity that was mentioned in the post above takes place.
As the array of management programs and offerings has significantly increased over the recent years, this process has grown more complex and more confusing for the buyers. Since a buyer’s commitment to a charter company is usually for several years, making a mistake can be not only very costly, but an experience that should be a very happy one can morph into a nightmare. And thus buyer’s assistance is definitely not a luxury any more but a necessary protection, which can prevent major trouble and save considerable money down the road.

This is an area where we have 30 years of expertise and can advise the clients with regard to:
• The choice of the most adapted charter company,
• The best selection of boat and its equipment,
• The choice of an appropriate management program according to the buyer’s sailing program.
• Once the above is determined, the structure and negotiation of contracts and documents is another level of complexity, with the potential pitfalls, what to be careful of, what to insist is included in the transaction, etc.. The list is very long. Once a boat buyer signs on the dotted line, he/she is typically in for five years, so better be sure that one knows what one is getting into.

There are also little-known but legitimate and substantial tax advantages available through government incentives and small business stimulus programs that can benefit a buyer and offset the cost of ownership by up to 50%. This is another area of expertise where we consult and, should the program fit the buyer’s ownership profile, may result in very significant savings.

We understand this part of the industry from the inside out. We know all the players worldwide, and can provide invaluable information to make this experience what it should be: a happy one.


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Old 04-06-2012, 14:52   #11
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Re: Catamaran Guru/ Stephen Cockcroft / Sailonline / Experiences? Anyone know them?

Thank you for a good answer.

I look forward to further input from you both on the forum.

Marshall
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Old 06-06-2012, 21:07   #12
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Re: Catamaran Guru/ Stephen Cockcroft / Sailonline / Experiences? Anyone know them?

I'd like to reply to the original question: if anyone has worked with Stephen Cockcroft (Catamaran Guru). I've lurked on this site for a long while now, but just recently joined.

I have known Stephen since meeting him at an Annapolis show a number of years back. He was selling the Island Spirit catamaran at the time. My wife and I were interested in purchasing one, but wanted the chance to sail it first. We then joined him and his lovely wife for a sea school on his Island Spirit in the Bahamas. He is a very good sailor, by the way. We were convinced that the Island Spirit would be a great boat after sailing it for a week. We gave Stephen a deposit check for a new Island Spirit. Unfortunately, the factory in South Africa went belly up prior to our getting the boat. Stephen worked diligently to get our deposit back successfully. He even flew to South Africa at his own expense to help another client whose boat had been started but not finished.

I was so impressed with his integrity as a broker and as a human being that when the time came for me to find another catamaran, I enlisted his help as a buyer's broker. He was an immense help at that time (saved me a LOT of money). Unfortunately, after owning that boat for a year, we lost it at the dock due to a fire. I didn't let this upset my wife's and my cruising plans, though. We purchased another boat two months ago, again with Stephen's help. He was instrumental in finding the right boat for us, finding an honest and thorough surveyor, and helping us get the boat at a good price.

I have met several other clients of his while interacting with him these past years. All respect his integrity and honesty. If anyone would like to know the names of some individuals in the catamaran business who are less than honest I could name a few that I have met along the way.

Stephen knows catamarans and the charter markets very well. His advice has been extremely valuable to me on multiple occasions. I would definitely say he is an expert at boat purchasing and at evaluation of a vessel in a charter fleet or for that matter of purchasing a vessel and putting it into charter. He is very familiar with all the the legal nuances involved as well.

So, if you choose to work with him, I really don't think you could do any better.


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Old 07-06-2012, 05:32   #13
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Re: Catamaran Guru/ Stephen Cockcroft / Sailonline / Experiences? Anyone know them?

Why is it that there are not one, but two, very recently joined 'newbies' commenting on this particular thread?
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Old 07-06-2012, 19:43   #14
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Re: Catamaran Guru/ Stephen Cockcroft / Sailonline / Experiences? Anyone know them?

I apologize if I appeared to be denigrating Mr. Cockcroft. The point I was trying to make and did make was that if you want to buy a charter cat especially one that he was representing then you might as well just use him as a broker anyway. I assume the consulting would be free of charge and included in the commission.
I also beleive that the major players from the Catamaran Co and the Multihull Company might be fairly savvy about charter cats also along with many of the smaller outfits.
Once again, sorry about that.
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Old 29-07-2012, 11:54   #15
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Re: Catamaran Guru/ Stephen Cockcroft / Sailonline / Experiences? Anyone know them?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tamif27 View Post
Why is it that there are not one, but two, very recently joined 'newbies' commenting on this particular thread?
Actually aren't you a relatively new "newbie" as well?

My wife and I met Stephen Cockroft in 2009 at the Annapolis Sailboat Show. We went to the Boat show specifically not to buy anything, but to start our search for when we were ready to buy as our plan in a few years. With our kid's still in school, we didn't really have a boating lifestyle yet, but their graduation would be in a few years so we could certainly begin and enjoy the research phase now. We wanted to see what was new in terms of styles and boat systems... So you probably know the punch line already! Yup, we ended up seeing and falling in love with the perfect catamaran for us!...

...A 45' Prout Sailing Cat that would be the perfect size for the Chesapeake Bay (45' is the maximum size allowed if you want to grab a mooring ball in Annapolis overnight), and still be a blue-water worthy vessel. And this purchase was only accomplished through the professional and incredibly deligent efforts of Stephen.

There are a lot of brokers in this industry, and for the most part, the majority are probably pretty good, but we needed someone much better than "pretty good" to navigate us through our unique process.*

You see, we own several businesses, and Stephen saw an opportunity to help us with a "Boat as a business" scenario, including the tax advantages allowed based on our circumstances. We formed an upscale charter and yacht membership company, ElizabethAustinYachts.com, and purchased our dream yacht and named her Persistence.

We live in Northern Virginia, and enjoy sailing the Chesapeake as well as taking her down to Ft Lauderdale, FL, each season for her annual repairs, while also allowing us great sailing during the winter.

So that is our back story, but what about the original question regarding Stephen Cockcroft: How many brokers do you know that would spend several hundred hours helping put a deal together, only to find out early in the process that the manufacturer (Prout International), would not pay the promised brokerage commission, so his time would be done almost for free? How many would guide you through the entire process, including finding the financing, flying out to the west coast on his own expense, meeting us there for a sail on our future vessel of choice, working with the manufacturer to fix all the warrantied items, help source a reputable delivery company to bring our vessel around from the west coast to Ft Lauderdale where she went under extensive manufacturer repairs, as well as owner upgrades and refit, and then sourced/recommended numerous quality vendors to work on our projects and then inspected their work and held each one accountable to doing a top notch job on each of their projects? Stephen did all that, and more for us. I asked him why he did all that. He replied that he felt personally responsible to and for everyone of his clients, no matter what turn of circumstances may happen while a deal is being done.

Stephen and his lovely wife, Estelle, are consummate professionals, and are now among our dearest sailing friends. So the question I have for anyone who asks is this... After the deal is done and your boat is finally in your hands, do you still stay connected to your broker on at least a quarterly basis, if not more often? We do, and we see them both for dinners, drinks, and the occasional educational sail several times each year!
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