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Old 13-06-2018, 09:15   #1
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Question Advice for first time boat buyer

I was hoping I could get some advice on how to start this process. I am a first time boat buyer with limited experience (ASA classes, charters, a couple of day trips). I currently live in Colorado and our idea is to leave Colorado around Sept 1st for Florida, spend 90 days finishing up work, buying a boat and fixing it up, do a 30 day shake down cruise in the Dec/Jan time frame, do whatever needs to be done and leave for the Western Caribbean after that, hopefully sometime in Feb at the latest. After a year we would likely leave cruising or upgrade to a different boat. We are a late 30's couple with a yellow lab looking to spend a year or more cruising. We would like our budget to be 50k (cash) or less for a boat in the 35 foot range.

My general thoughts are that with the budget and dog a pilot house boat might make sense as it would hopefully be easier for the dog to navigate. I would rather trade "bells and whistles" (Radar/Water Maker/Solar/etc) type of stuff for a boat that has better fundamentals (hull/rigging/sails/etc) that wouldn't be hard to leave in our time frame.

The challenges that I see at this stage in the game are finding a pilot house boat in that size and budget. How do I get this moving from Colorado before hand? Is a buyers broker really going to help in this scenario with my budget in mind?

Ideally we would spend a long weekend in August in the Miami area finding a boat, survey it, purchase it and then "move onto it" when we get there in Sept. This all sounds very aggressive to me in my head, what do you all think?

I'm sure this isn't easy but do you all see any obvious red flags or have any suggestions on how this could be done easier/better?

Aside from the questions above I have been searching CF for the following topics but anything anyone wants to through in here would be great on the following topics:

1. Boat purchase for first timers
2. (large) Dogs on Boats
3. Boat Brokers in the 50k range
4. Timing
5. Any other advice
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Old 13-06-2018, 09:52   #2
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Re: Advice for first time boat buyer

The only insight I can offer comes from having sailed for years with a dog. Don't make the pilot house a deal breaker, the dog won't care.


You may also be assured of a suitable vessel for your plans within your budget. Do engage a good surveyor and do bargain hard.
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Old 13-06-2018, 10:52   #3
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Re: Advice for first time boat buyer

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The only insight I can offer comes from having sailed for years with a dog. Don't make the pilot house a deal breaker, the dog won't care.


You may also be assured of a suitable vessel for your plans within your budget. Do engage a good surveyor and do bargain hard.
The main thing about the pilot house is I think they generally have shorter sets of steps and the dog could hopefully climb/jump them himself, saving our backs the effort of moving the 90 pound dog up and down ourselves. Or am I day dreaming with this? He is a healthy 3 year old right now.
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Old 13-06-2018, 11:02   #4
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Re: Advice for first time boat buyer

Not daydreaming, but I would prioritize a companionway the dog can navigate alone if at all possible. You may have to rig a folding ramp of some sort.


BTW, there's a Florida-based sailing instructor cum delivery skipper who posts here under the name 'Snore.' He and others in the business are happy to spend a few days sailing with new boat owners. It'd be money well spent when your time comes.
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Old 13-06-2018, 11:13   #5
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Re: Advice for first time boat buyer

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Not daydreaming, but I would prioritize a companionway the dog can navigate alone if at all possible. You may have to rig a folding ramp of some sort.


BTW, there's a Florida-based sailing instructor cum delivery skipper who posts here under the name 'Snore.' He and others in the business are happy to spend a few days sailing with new boat owners. It'd be money well spent when your time comes.
I was thinking about a pulley system in the companionway if we end up with a deep boat.

Good idea on a day or two with a sailing instructor to ease the learning curve.
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Old 13-06-2018, 11:33   #6
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Re: Advice for first time boat buyer

A pulley system would be good on passage, but I think you'll find you want the dog to move about independently at anchor.
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Old 14-06-2018, 08:39   #7
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Re: Advice for first time boat buyer

I had a big (75 lbs), mixed breed dog when I first started sailing. It never occurred to me that the steps would be a problem. I'd been hiking with my dog many times, and she could climb a cliff better than a person. She could leap down rocks and ledges like it was nothing. Dogs aren't people. My dog just leaped down the companionway, nothing to it. When she wanted to go up, she went up without help or a second thought.

There were issues with a dog aboard, but companionway was never a problem.

The big issue of course was "the business". What business are dogs in you ask? They are in the poo and pee business of course. Because of this, I rarely anchored, and paid for too many docks, just for the dogs sake. I never asked her to "go" on the boat, and she never did.

Later we upgraded to a much bigger boat, again with a steep ladder, and again it was no trouble. This time though, I bought a dinghy, and we anchored all the time. I got big strong arms from rowing the dog ashore 3 times a day. I didn't want an outboard. Fortunately, my boat had a walk through transom and sugar scoop stern, so getting in and out was easy. FWIW, I got those features for my pregnant wife and 2 year daughter, not the dog.

Lastly, my dog hated fiberglass decks. She couldn't get a good grip. Her nails clattered along the deck as she tried to balance. Of course she got accustomed to it, but she never really liked the smooth decks of the boat. She did however love to swim, then leap below to shake half a lake inside the boat.
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Old 14-06-2018, 08:58   #8
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Re: Advice for first time boat buyer

The biggest issue I see with your plan is your timeline.



As a newbie buying a boat after looking for a long weekend will probably result in buying the wrong boat. Having a short deadline will pressure you to make a decision you may regret.


The second issue is expecting to sail away in just a few months. You need time to outfit your boat the way you want it. And at this point you don't even know enough to know how you want it.



You need more experience. I suggest that you cruise the east coast of the U.S. to gain that experience. Once outside of the U.S. your availability of both equipment and expertise drops off considerably.
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Old 14-06-2018, 09:01   #9
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Re: Advice for first time boat buyer

Hi I wanted to comment on the dog part of your discussion. That was really a huge priority for us. We had an older dog and one around 5 when we bought the boat we have now. We wanted a boat with more "normal" stairs our dogs could navigate and we only considered those boats. We finally bought a new boat and I understand that is not what your doing. But for us we found a 419 Jeanneau and we loved it for the stairs among other things. We do now have to carry the older one up and down (and it is a pain but she is 14..)- but our younger one now 7.5 runs up and down like it is nothing. Also when we have guests they all love that the stairs are like being in a house to some degree so for older ones etc. they love it. It was the top of our list and we are still so glad we made that decision as it sure makes things nice for our pet family on the boat with us.
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Old 14-06-2018, 09:09   #10
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Re: Advice for first time boat buyer

I had a yellow Lab who learned to climb ladders. Up and down backwards. They can learn new tricks
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Old 14-06-2018, 09:45   #11
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Re: Advice for first time boat buyer

Kayaker, I loved dogs too. Lost my German Shepherd 2 years ago. I can’t imagine trying to keep up with his hair factory on board a boat. Pooped as big as I can. Think half of long torso was a bladder. Could pee for minutes...and I literally mean MINUTES.

Your plan is doable. But it is overly ambitious. Since you live in Colorado...do you live at elevation? Why do I ask? Because you are landing in South Florida during the height of Hurricane season. Going from cool dry climate to hot muggy climate is so much fun. Your dog will bite you...your woman will do worse.

It takes so much time to get a boat and get it ready for a trip. August-at least late October is prime time hurricane season. Why can’t your plan start like late October beginning November when the statistics start to swing in your favor more?

You are going to put a lot of stress on yourself and significant others by doing too much. So many things could delay you and make for bad decision making....not trying to rain on your parade....just saying that for me the weather would be a deal breaker and too much too quickly can rapidly get out of hand. Wish you the luck....
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Old 14-06-2018, 09:58   #12
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Re: Advice for first time boat buyer

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Originally Posted by stormalong View Post
The biggest issue I see with your plan is your timeline.



As a newbie buying a boat after looking for a long weekend will probably result in buying the wrong boat. Having a short deadline will pressure you to make a decision you may regret.


The second issue is expecting to sail away in just a few months. You need time to outfit your boat the way you want it. And at this point you don't even know enough to know how you want it.



You need more experience. I suggest that you cruise the east coast of the U.S. to gain that experience. Once outside of the U.S. your availability of both equipment and expertise drops off considerably.
Thank you so much to all of you giving input into the Dog situation. I feel much better about it in general now.

stormalong, I agree that it isn't enough time. Serious question though, is there EVER enough time for things like this? My general thought process is this. Florida makes sense for us from a personal perspective and the ability to do a shake down cruise up and down the ICW and/or the Bahamas is ideal so that is plan A.

Will i get the perfect boat, absolutely not, will I get a boat that is as close to perfect as it can get, probably not. However, I hope I am realistic in expecting to be able to find a boat that is "good enough" for a year, that will suite our needs of, being safe, learning what we do want and not loosing our A$$ on depreciation in that time.

Given the timing I really don't want to go north that time of year and obviously I want to avoid hurricane season this seems to be the logical "window". If someone else sees something else that makes sense please let me know. Houston area comes to mind...

Experience, yeah, not enough, again, is there ever "enough"? Only so much I can do from here in Colorado and I can't and certainly don't want to sit at a dock for a year and a half before going anywhere, that is not the point of doing this. So is it a bit "risky", probably, but again that is kinda the point, a bit of adventure and the risk can be mitigated largely by, being smart about it, insuring the boat well, plenty of safety gear and just plain old being conservative in what we do and when.

Am I way off here? I'm open to other ideas...
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Old 14-06-2018, 10:04   #13
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Re: Advice for first time boat buyer

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Kayaker, I loved dogs too. Lost my German Shepherd 2 years ago. I canít imagine trying to keep up with his hair factory on board a boat. Pooped as big as I can. Think half of long torso was a bladder. Could pee for minutes...and I literally mean MINUTES.

Your plan is doable. But it is overly ambitious. Since you live in Colorado...do you live at elevation? Why do I ask? Because you are landing in South Florida during the height of Hurricane season. Going from cool dry climate to hot muggy climate is so much fun. Your dog will bite you...your woman will do worse.

It takes so much time to get a boat and get it ready for a trip. August-at least late October is prime time hurricane season. Why canít your plan start like late October beginning November when the statistics start to swing in your favor more?

You are going to put a lot of stress on yourself and significant others by doing too much. So many things could delay you and make for bad decision making....not trying to rain on your parade....just saying that for me the weather would be a deal breaker and too much too quickly can rapidly get out of hand. Wish you the luck....
Thanks so much for the feedback. Almost 9000 feet, my woman is Cuban, she should be fine. The dog... Well, he doesn't get a vote.

Yeah, I would only show up in Fl in Sept and doing whatever needs to be done, don't plan on "leaving" on a shake down until Dec, leave for "parts unknown" Jan/Feb. Does that sound a bit more realistic?
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Old 14-06-2018, 10:22   #14
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Re: Advice for first time boat buyer

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Kayaker, I loved dogs too. Lost my German Shepherd 2 years ago. I can’t imagine trying to keep up with his hair factory on board a boat. Pooped as big as I can.
This has to be the greatest quote ever.. I just have a comment and a follow-up question-

I agree with what others have said about the time line. I think you will probably need to budget much more possible time for the acquisition and set-up.

I'd start looking hard, right now, for boats online and then fly down to check out a few, at once if possible, after you've gotten a survey on any that look really promising. Also, depending on variables that no one can know at the time, whatever boat you buy may well lead to "unexpected" discoveries, whereby one repair leads to a 2nd and 3rd, just due to it making the most sense to fix something important and related, but not necessarily urgent, while the particular area is already torn up for the 1st problem.

I think you have a great plan, and you're probably doing what a lot of people regret that they didn't do in retrospect.

As far as the dog's business, I've heard that a piece of green outdoor carpet, already peed on a few times by the dog's owner, will eventually let the dog know where to go when the urge gets strong enough, and there's no where else that seems like an okay place to go. Afterwards, you can drop the carpet overboard on a line, and give it a rinse. I'd be interested if anyone has had success with this method.
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Old 14-06-2018, 10:35   #15
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Re: Advice for first time boat buyer

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This has to be the greatest quote ever.. I just have a comment and a follow-up question-

I agree with what others have said about the time line. I think you will probably need to budget much more possible time for the acquisition and set-up.

I'd start looking hard, right now, for boats online and then fly down to check out a few, at once if possible, after you've gotten a survey on any that look really promising. Also, depending on variables that no one can know at the time, whatever boat you buy may well lead to "unexpected" discoveries, whereby one repair leads to a 2nd and 3rd, just due to it making the most sense to fix something important and related, but not necessarily urgent, while the particular area is already torn up for the 1st problem.

I think you have a great plan, and you're probably doing what a lot of people regret that they didn't do in retrospect.

As far as the dog's business, I've heard that a piece of green outdoor carpet, already peed on a few times by the dog's owner, will eventually let the dog know where to go when the urge gets strong enough, and there's no where else that seems like an okay place to go. Afterwards, you can drop the carpet overboard on a line, and give it a rinse. I'd be interested if anyone has had success with this method.
Yeah, I am aware of "surprises" that could come up as far as repairs. I would definitely need to triage those if (when) something comes up or risk the departure timeline quickly.

As far as the timeline goes, what scares me the most at this point is the "finding and buying" timeline. I am looking now for sure online, this brings me to a topic no one has touched yet because I get the feeling there are lots of strong feelings around this. Brokers.

If I had done this before and/or I had a lot of time to figure it out I think I would skip trying to find a buyers broker. However, I don't have much of either and I feel like a buyers broker is something I should strongly consider. I feel like I might have a hard time finding a "good" one in my price range. Anyone have any advice on how to find a good one in general or any specific recommendations on a good one in south Florida? Other thoughts/advice on buyers brokers?
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