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Old 21-09-2015, 08:57   #16
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Re: specific risks of getting an ex-charter boat?

I own a 41' that is part of the SunSail fleet in Tortola. I sail the boat one or twice a year; so I have been able to evaluate wear and tear. Cosmetic wear, mainly below, has been noticeable, mostly scratches. The company does a fair job of camouflaging small problems. My main concern would be the engine, since it has to be run daily to charge batteries to power the fridge. The boats get heavy use, but also receive continual maintenance, with a yearly intensive maintenance. Item like water pressure pumps, batteries, etc. are replaced as needed. You would want to buy from a company that offers the best guarantee to their clients regarding breakdown during charter. Given that you have young children, this is a great way to buy.
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Old 21-09-2015, 09:14   #17
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Re: specific risks of getting an ex-charter boat?

If you look through all the many threads on this subject, you will find that those who think that buying an ex-charter boat is foolish are almost invariably those who have never considered doing so. Almost all of those who have done so, are glad they did. I am one of the later and remain very happy eleven plus years after purchase.

That said, there are things to be aware of, as others have mentioned. A couple more: here in the BVI, a good number of the fleets do, in fact, dive on the boats to check them after charter. The worst thing for a boat is for it to just sit around. This describes many privately owned boats....just ask a marina manager how often the boats in his marina go out each year, on average. I have had answers of four to six times a year, and that's no good for a boat. Owners may be very caring about their boats, but that doesn't mean that they know much (or even as much as they think they know), and they may not have easy access to technical support and parts. The charter fleets do. Most rental cars work very well because the business requires it. Although there are certainly the horror stories out there, this applies to the charter business too. I am in it. Call me biased, or call me informed!

There are many threads on this board which include detailed comments about smart ways to buy ex-charter boats, including a number by me about my own experience (crewed model, Leopard 45). I would add the following:

The more competitive an area is, charter-wise, such as the BVI, probably the better your chances of getting a good, well cared for boat. That probably means somewhere in the tropics, and somewhere outside of the US. I have worked for some of the small US charter operators, and while I can remember one of them that kept its boats spotless and in top working condition (owner of the company was Swiss!), in general, the smaller operator has a lot fewer resources and motivation going for them. It's apples and oranges compared with the big companies in the popular areas.

The big companies, in general, follow two different business models:

1) The owner gets a guaranteed income and a guaranteed phase out. The problem is that it is in the company's financial interest to do the minimum amount of maintenance that is acceptable. Every dime they save, they keep. Under this model, it is all about the phase out, and be prepared for the company to try to skimp here, too. You do have lots of leverage, however, so you can certainly get a very good phase out. I did, but I had to work very hard to get it, and stay at the base lots longer than I had planned so as to basically wait them out. If you go this route, prepare to work hard during your phase out. I had the time and it was invaluable. Don 't plan on it finishing on schedule and don't invite friends and family for a first cruise that will probably need to be postponed to get the work finished prior to "hand over".

2) The other model does not guarantee an income. The owner gets it all, minus a management fee, broker commissions, and all the expenses related to the boat. In this model, it's in the charter company's financial interest to do the maximum amount of maintenance that still allows the boat to break even or make money, because they are charging for maintenance. A little "over maintenance" is not a bad thing, particularly for the next owner. The key is that you trust the company to do what it is charging you for, and you can get a feel for this by talking to other owners. You may also want to talk to the various companies, in the guise of a potential charter boat owner in their fleet, to find out their business model and go from there. But, keep your eyes wide open and remember what's in this paragraph!

In some ways, perhaps the best strategy would be to find a boat that is for sale by its first post-charter-career owner. He or she will have gotten a good deal so may be willing to pass those savings along, and they will have had a few years to correct anything that was wrong and add lots of nice equipment. There are a number of these boats for sale at any time. Just go to the various brand specific blogs and ask. You will immediately by offered several boats.

Best of luck in all of this, whether you buy an ex-charter boat or not. And ALWAYS get the best surveyor you can find for your survey.

Cheers,
Tim
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Old 21-09-2015, 09:18   #18
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Re: specific risks of getting an ex-charter boat?

Quote:
Originally Posted by daniellmason View Post
Congratulations on deciding to buy a boat. One thing that I would like to point out is that when a charter boat is operated by her owner (like mine), very often the owner/operator will care for his/her boat with great attention and even love. I make a huge part of my income from my boats, so I maintain them meticulously and keep them in pristine condition. I've never bought a used boat in as good condition as I keep mine regardless of it being a private boat or charter. One other thing to consider is that charter boats in the U.S. are required to be operated by licensed captains who are required to have had education, training, and experience, so, at least in theory, the boats have been operated by professional mariners. In short, don't fear charter boats. Fear boats that have been neglected and mistreated.
Many other countries have strict licensing requirements, too, and in some cases, strict requirements for even the bareboaters, although that is rarer.
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Old 21-09-2015, 09:47   #19
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Re: specific risks of getting an ex-charter boat?

As always it depends on the boat but for example diesel engines in daily use and maintained to schedule should do a min of 10,000hrs for a super light engine and can easily do 3 times that. I have owned a commercial vehicle diesel where the log book gave details for the 1,000,000 service! (Perkins). On the other side have seen ones that are knackered after 5 years because they only got used every other season. Assume it has been used as a motor boat and that the accommodation will be well used. We would all like to buy a boat from a loving and skillful owner who has used it regularly and maintained it scrupulously, trouble is there are not many about and they fetch top price. I bought my current boat for the price of the hull because it had been laid up for more than 10 years. It was fine because I new I was going to do a total refit anyway so why pay for gear I will only be throwing out anyway. It worked for me because I could do all the work myself. Would be a disaster if you had to pay yard labour costs.
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Old 21-09-2015, 10:36   #20
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Re: specific risks of getting an ex-charter boat?

First.... congrats for having a family and members who like to sail with you. It will be a great experience for your kidds by sure.

24 months are plenty of time to prepare all well. So no hurry. And you will need them... e.g. over winter are many boat exhebitions... you shall not look to buy a boat there, but to visit many boats to learn from "solutions" you get an inspiriation what might be good for your own boat.

I worked as profi skipper for charter agencies and skippered same private owned boats.

I dont want go into the thematic you address with your question about +/- of buying charter boats.... as I dont see big sense in it for your needs.

So I'd like to give you an impulse, just as an idea and as alternative. Why not looking for boats, specifically self built and being owned by the builder him/herself ???

What benefit you might get out of this solutoin ?
  1. Such boat owners = boat builders love their boats, and they do all to keep them in shape...
  2. Such boat owners know about every single screw and nail of their boat, and can be very helpfully to learn handling this boat (especially maintenance of engines, pumps, electric system)
  3. 2nd most relevant point for this solution: these boats are uniquely.... so long you search for self builded boats which are based on plans of leading naval architects. A uniquely boat will give your family a much higher idendity compared to these "plastic boats".
  4. 1st most relevant point for this solution: A boat owner who has built his boat himself, wont count the working hours into the prize. Never seen this. You will get a quality of boat at a low prize, with a much higher value. Dont wonder to get a boat for 50,000 US dollars in real worth 200,000 US dollars. The financial benefit not wasting money is immense with this solutoin. Keep your money together, as a rule we say: over next 10 years you will invest another same amount you paid for buying it. So if you buy now a boat at 200 Thousand, calculate at least 20 Thousand annually over next 10 years. Such running costs are huge. Boats which are already "refitted" over the years by self builders, dont produce such immense costs anymore.
In the world of catamarans you find many self building boat types... they are real cruisers.... you wont pay the brand name extra, but you will get a solid boat which was built many times by others...

Just to give you an idea look for Wharram Catamarans.... a global community of boat builders, real boat lovers... great boats, uniquely... excellent seaworthy and "plenty of space on deck" for your kidds...



I dont say, you shall look for a Wharram cat to buy... they are very special by the look and feel (polynesian kind). So it is not everybody's taste. But it is just one example of self builted boats.... :-)

There is a market of Wharram boats for sale and you always will find help in the Wharram communtiy.

Here the market website specifically for Wharram boats...
Wharram Catamarans For Sale, News, and Blogs

Other options of course exist... e.g. there are some beautiful Aluminium catamarans out there, very often self built (little bit tricky because of Alu) but very solid boats. So not urgently needed an Epoxy boat... just as an another idea what you can find in the world of self built catamarans.

To give you an example what you can find in this world of "individually built" cats I would probably buy it if I'd not looking for a Trimaran.

Ever heard of a Spronk 50 Foot Catamaran ? - Check out this... a real family boat, heavily in prize reduced... newly at least you'd have to pay 300,000 or more. - And I suppose if you do it well in your negotiations, the prize offer for now can drop further...
Such a boat is even worth to fly trans ocean to buy it... as it is uniquely. And as it is wood-epoxy, very easy to repair at low costs if you should have some damages one day.

Isnt it a beauty ?? :-)


Sportive lines...



Here the details: Used Spronk 50ft Catamaran - Price Reduced! for Sale | Yachts For Sale | Yachthub

I think the pictures documenting the interior you can get here:
http://yachts.apolloduck.nl/feature.phtml?id=366873

Such a boat will bring you less risks compared to modern "used charter (plastic) boats".

Naturally, as you should do with every boat of that size (either it is a charter boat or a boat from a private seller), you order a survey (done by a naval ingeneer). It is not expensive, just some hundred dollars... and if the owner is a fair seller, he shares it 50-50% with you. Keep strict in this, as it will avoid big troubles. Never buy a boat without survey !

Good luck with your family adventure.... it is very worth and the best "life school" for your kidds and you as parents.
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Old 21-09-2015, 10:41   #21
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Re: specific risks of getting an ex-charter boat?

Wear and tear on sails, windlass and motors/drives is the big thing to keep in mind. Probably will have lots of hours and some of those hours may be hard use. So keep in mind on a cat you have two potential large engine expenses rather than one. Sails can be assessed readily, engine.. difficult really.... but hours are at least one indicator. But if an engine has 5000 hours and checks out fine today, doesn't mean it wont break down tomorrow.
OTOH, you may get a newer boat and have less issues with rigging, tanks etc.
Some engines with high hours can be great though... just hard to say. it all comes down to the specific boat and how much the savings really is and... how much you like to gamble...
The boats I have chartered appeared to have been "rode hard and put away wet". Wear and tear inside etc. I have seen two charter boats on a reef, people who aren't great sailors charter too.. and get into trouble. I have worked at a charter company and had a client hit ground hard enough to cause $20k in damage. You would never know it after it was fixed, but you should know it before buying.

Be sure to read the maintenance records of the specific boat you are thinking of buying (the charter companies will usually provide these) You may get some indication of how often there have been engine, outdrive problems or groundings etc.
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Old 21-09-2015, 11:46   #22
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Re: specific risks of getting an ex-charter boat?

Having bought a charter cat and kept it in charter a further 6 years, We do have first hand knowledge of this and the way the charter operators work. Probably the most important factor is to inspect the operator as much as you survey the boat. We were very lucky with our choice of operator in that they were competent, motivated and well organised. Sadly, not all the operators are like that.

The advantage of a ex-charter boat is that it is regularly used, fuel re-filled often, oils changed regularly and often, water tanks emptied and re-filled frequently and so on. Our cat is slipped, antifouled and the saildrive oil seals and zincs changed annually. Another advantage is that the equipment fitted to the boat such as instruments, autopilot, windlass etc have been chosen by the charter operator because it has a proven record for working reliably.

Yes the ideal is a low use boat in perfect condition for which you will pay top price. The first problem is that low use does not equate to perfect condition. Boats like cars need to be used regularly otherwise they deteriorate, especally in the maritime environment. The second problem is that if it turns out the boat is not in top condition, you have paid top dollar plus the cost of repair or replacement.

Our strategy was to buy a charter boat at a much lower price and factor in the possible most expensive repairs and then some. In our case 2 Yanmar saildrives which we did eventually change.

Yes, we have all seen charter (and privately owned) boats with shredded sails, but these are all things that are very easily picked up. Of more concern is hull damage and you need a good surveyer to go over the boat out of he water. We flew a UK surveyor to Croatia to do this. As to grounding damage, our charter company has the boat checked by a diver after each charter.

All in all, buying a charter boat worked out well for us. It is soon to be an ex-charter boat so time for all the pent up improvements we have stored up to be implemented. Whatever you choose to do, good luck
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Old 21-09-2015, 12:01   #23
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Re: specific risks of getting an ex-charter boat?

Heh Tim, thanks for your write up on business models of the charter company. Good information and I feel better informed. That is sharing real information and much appreciated..
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Old 21-09-2015, 12:35   #24
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Re: specific risks of getting an ex-charter boat?

AMiller, I remember living overseas and then going back to USA for university training. I went to my first real dance. There were beautiful young women everywhere. My head was literally filled with excitement and fears from microsecond to microsecond. This choosing a boat thing is similar to that dance in many ways. You are excited about the change of lifestyles, the adventurer, the risks are even titillation, and the fears of choosing a boat with deep hidden secrets that will sink you with all hands lost.

Most people on here are honest in their opinions and so they have come to these opinions from personal experience or witness to other's experiences. So, try and keep their advice in perspective....i.e., charter boats suck because....a...or b....and they may be right about some charter boats. Some men will never date an Asian girl...some men may never date a blonde...type of reason through their own experience or through their cellular level predilections. In essence, every man has his own opinion for a reason but it does not mean it is universally true.

Here is my 2 cents worth of advice...Keep an open mind for some period of time and whether it be former charter boats, privately owned boats, owner-skipper boats, new builds, foreclosure boats, local marina boats...on and on....they are all on the table.

What you haven't divulged is budget for the boat, sailing area of planned cruising, and length of time you plan to use the boat. These are all critical areas to be addressed in what is the correct boat to even begin with. For example if I had millions of dollars versus 70k dollars it makes a huge difference what boat is acceptable. If you plan on just Caribbean sailing then multihulls are just fabulous. Try to remember that the Carib can get hot in the lower reaches during the summer months so air conditioning of some sort or level is a must for wusses like me. I am older so do not like that heavy heat when I am sleeping.

Spreadsheet potential boats...make your columns for price, amenities, age, engine hours...on and on. You can not keep 200 potential boats straight after a couple of weeks. Also set up your computer email to keep replies on boats into specific categories for later reference. Also u probably already know this...but let me just say that the bigger the boat the bigger the cost. But the cost is not linear. For example a new winch on a 27 foot trimaran may cost 1000 dollars. A winch on a 54 foot cat my cost 3000 dollars. I do not know the real cost. These are hypothetical made up figures but you would be surprised how much the bigger boats equipment costs versus a smaller boat. It is no joke.

See if you can get some experience on multihulls. There are also many blog pages written by multihullers. Read them prodigiously. Like that dance...choose the girl for her nature and her worth..
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Old 21-09-2015, 12:50   #25
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Re: Specific Risks of Getting an Ex-charter Boat?

AMillar, one more thing...youtube is fabulous for video blogs. One blog that I followed all the way through was "s/v honeymoon". A very handsome skipper and his lovely wife/mate get married and sail off on a 38 foot French Cat. You will get a good feel for their adventures and what life is like on a medium size cat. They sailed from New England all the way to Australia before she became pregnant. Your wife might enjoy seeing this also. It is very well done.
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Old 21-09-2015, 17:20   #26
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Re: Specific Risks of Getting an Ex-charter Boat?

I bought a 10 year old out of charter boat from The Moorings 5 years ago. The charterers did not damage the boat but The Moorings did not do any maintenance work and that was the only problem. They could not provide service records and poorly fixed things that had broken. They never changed the thru hull fittings and on a trip from Nevis to Montserrat two thru hulls broke and nearly sunk the boat.

I still have the boat and love her. She is performing very well and other than the poor maintenance issue I have had no problems at all.
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Old 21-09-2015, 17:24   #27
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Re: Specific Risks of Getting an Ex-charter Boat?

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Originally Posted by seacottage View Post
They never changed the thru hull fittings and on a trip from Nevis to Montserrat two thru hulls broke and nearly sunk the boat.
In my experience, even the most meticulous owner would not change the thru-hulls as a matter of routine maintenance during the first 10 years of ownership. I suspect they went bad because at some point they lost their bonding. But, a surveyor should pick that up, and if they suffered galvanic corrosion, that should be evident as well.
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Old 21-09-2015, 17:32   #28
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Re: Specific Risks of Getting an Ex-charter Boat?

Well your experience must be limited. Thru hull's should be replaced every 5 years and in my case the surveyor okayed the badly corroded thru hulls. I reported him and he was compelled to refund his survey charges and was almost barred from practising his trade.
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Old 21-09-2015, 17:38   #29
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Re: Specific Risks of Getting an Ex-charter Boat?

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In my experience, even the most meticulous owner would not change the thru-hulls as a matter of routine maintenance during the first 10 years of ownership. I suspect they went bad because at some point they lost their bonding. But, a surveyor should pick that up, and if they suffered galvanic corrosion, that should be evident as well.
Yeah, never heard of changing thru hulls in 5 years.... but then, if they are plastic maybe so!
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Old 21-09-2015, 17:45   #30
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Re: Specific Risks of Getting an Ex-charter Boat?

Your sarcasm is not worthy of any further comment. That is not the purpose of this forum.
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