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Old 21-09-2018, 02:52   #1
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Best way to buy a boat in a foreign country?

Hey everyone,

I'm Canadian and I plan to buy my first sailboat at the end of the year. My plan is to book a flight to Florida, rent a car, and possibly live in the car while I'm looking at used sailboats. My sailing experience is minimal, a dozen or so club races as a deck hand and a bunch of hours in a sunfish around a small lake. My budget is 35k USD.

I'm looking for advice on the cheapest way to look at boats while I'm in Florida. I wish I knew more about what I need to know so I can ask the right questions.

Once I buy the boat it will be easy to register it as a Canadian boat. Then with a cruising permit, I believe I'll have up to 12 months to do a small refit, learn how to sail and take off. My plan is to cruise around the Caribbean for a year.

Has anyone done something like this before? Any advice on the cheapest way to look for boats in a foreign country? What is the cheapest/best way to learn to sail? Boat yard or mooring will probable depend on the condition of the sailboat.

I will humbly consider all thoughts/ideas/suggestions.

Go!
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Old 21-09-2018, 03:10   #2
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Re: Best way to buy a boat in a foreign country?

I would never recommend you do as you suggest Ö mainly b/c you clearly donít have enough experience yet to know what youíre looking for. You donít even know if youíll want to spend a year (or two?) working and cruising on a sailboat. Iíd try and get some actual cruising experience before making this leap.

However, if you are located on the east coast or the Great Lakes, I would stay put and shop in your current area. There are tons of boats, on both sides of the border, and it wonít cost you a lot to go see. Through this you may actually start to learn what you really need/want in a cruising boat.

If you find the right boat, take the time to refit and then sail it south. By the time you get to the Caribbean youíll know how to sail and cruise.
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Old 21-09-2018, 04:36   #3
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Re: Best way to buy a boat in a foreign country?

Follow Mike's advice and buy closer to home. Also, it is very easy if you do not know what you are doing to buy a 35K boat, spends a year and 15K working on it and finish up with a boat worth 30K.

Or buy a boat in the Carribean, getting 'down island' is not as easy as you imagine if you are a rank beginner.

God luck and enjoy we spent 6 years cruising between PEI and the Trinidad.
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Old 21-09-2018, 16:28   #4
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Re: Best way to buy a boat in a foreign country?

Thanks for the advice guys!

As an international teacher, home is currently in Malaysia. I have been looking for a boat here without much luck.

When I return to Canada, I will have a place to stay for free but will not have a job. So I figured my situation in Ontario wouldn't be much different from my situation in Florida.
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Old 22-09-2018, 09:20   #5
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Re: Best way to buy a boat in a foreign country?

What you are planning to do makes life unnecessarily risky for yourself in two respects:

1) Your financial plan fall between chairs. For $35K you will get a boat that is NOT functionally different, for your purposes, from a $5K - 10K boat. If you are coming back from overseas as a Canadian citizen with no immediate job prospects, you will be FAR better of - and you will not have to ask anybody's permission to settle in, say, Toronto where the jobs are. Unless you already HAVE a "green card" and the requisite visas, you cannot, legally, just blow into Florida and take employment and you will need you $30K cushion for living expenses. Getting these documents, if you don't have them will take months, and they are more easily gotten from without the US. "Heading home" will minimize your financial risk, and therefore maximize the probability of making your dream come true. Buy in the bitter, frozen depths of the Ontario winter, when asking prices are low due to owners being fed up with paying storage and being faced with the fitting out costs of the "marina queens". Do not EVER pay more for a boat than you can walk away from with a smile on your face!

2) Do not fall victim to "footitis". 27-footers are great first boats to learn on. 30 foot is sort of the upper limit for easy, fast learning. You know the basics, so what you still need to learn is to be a skipper. That takes a lifetime, but you can get the basics of THAT discipline under you belt in a year's hard study - an practical experience in a smallish boat. Remember that buying a boat is NOT as simple as buying a car, driving it off the seller lot, and blowing it down the freeway!

AFTER you've dealt with acquisition, adapting to boat to you preferences - which you will not yet know what are - you simply take her down the inland waterways of the US to the Intra-coastal Waterway or, if you prefer, down the Mississippi. AFTER you've done that you MAY know enuff to sail off to where the coconuts grow. And AFTER you've done that you MAY know if you are cut out to be a sailor and what kinda ship will suit you. WHILE you do that, keep your shore-side employment options open.

Best of luck to you :-)!

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Old 22-09-2018, 10:06   #6
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Re: Best way to buy a boat in a foreign country?

You need to slow down. You are heading for financial disaster.

You seriously need to look at these ........

Salt Water Corrosion on Boats

Marine Survey 101

Buying An Older Boat
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Old 22-09-2018, 10:12   #7
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Re: Best way to buy a boat in a foreign country?

Buying in Florida makes sense because it is a much bigger market but the cost of living, especially in South Florida may be a shock. However, you might keep your costs lower by moving to a smaller town like Ft. Pierce after purchase. You had best check the legal details on temporary US residence, boat registration and titling, etc. before acting. For example if you go beyond US waters you might have to jump hoops at US Customs and Immigration even if it only a few hours.
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Old 22-09-2018, 10:42   #8
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Re: Best way to buy a boat in a foreign country?

Youíve received very good advice on this forum. Iíll suggest a 2-stage plan for you. (1) Go to Toronto. Itís a terrific city with two things you need: job opportunities and sailing opportunities. Lake Ontario can give you the big water experience you need to get started. There are several yacht clubs where you can find boat owners who will take you out as crew in exchange for helping them with their boats. (2) After youíve learned more about sailing than you know now, youíll be ready to crew on an ocean passage. Join Offshore Passage Opportunities to get info on opportunities to crew. While you are crewing on some of these passages ask lots of questions about what it really costs to own and maintain a boat that is seaworthy enough to fit your plans. At that point you will know enough about serious sailing and boat ownership to make good decisions.
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Old 22-09-2018, 10:54   #9
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Re: Best way to buy a boat in a foreign country?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
However, if you are located on the east coast or the Great Lakes, I would stay put and shop in your current area. There are tons of boats, on both sides of the border, and it wonít cost you a lot to go see.
Good advice from Mike. My present boat came from up north and I live in Florida. If I was to buy a mono it will/would certainly be a GL boat. Fresh water, minimal to no corrosion and a fun trip bringing it south. I've seen some real deals on GL boats.

Hamburking is a member on this forum, is from that area and finds some real steals. You might try sending him a PM and get some guidance. Before I bought Bacchus I was looking at a GL boat and he gave me great advice.

Yes, there are lots of boats in FL and some are nice. However a lot of them show signs of years in the harsh FL sun and salty marine environment.

Side note: I found, early on, wandering marinas in FL trying to see what was for sale was useless. Most docks are locked and you can't freely go walking up and down looking at boats. If the Dockmaster has a list of what is for sale the usual first question was "Who is your broker" followed quickly by "Bring your broker with you for access to the docks".

Good luck in your quest but heed the advice given by others on the thread to start your search in Canada.
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Old 22-09-2018, 10:55   #10
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Re: Best way to buy a boat in a foreign country?

TrentPieds advice is really, really good.

Also remember what the acronym BOAT stands for:

Bring
Out
Another
Thousand

Take it slowly and good luck!
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Old 22-09-2018, 11:42   #11
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Re: Best way to buy a boat in a foreign country?

I didn't get past the "live in a car" in Florida part.
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Old 22-09-2018, 11:45   #12
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Re: Best way to buy a boat in a foreign country?

Some budgets are lower than others.

"You can't afford a boat" is going to have a lot of subjective grey areas and value judgements.
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Old 22-09-2018, 11:58   #13
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Re: Best way to buy a boat in a foreign country?

I personally think you will find more bargains on solid cruising sailboats in Eastern Canada than in Florida. Bargains in Florida and the Caribbean are usually boats which have spent years in charter. There is no sailboat on Earth which has lived a harder life than one which has spent 5-10 years in charter, in intense tropical sun, and in high salinity saltwater.
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Old 22-09-2018, 12:11   #14
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Re: Best way to buy a boat in a foreign country?

I know Iíll catch crap for this but:
I say come to Fl and just do it. Many people just figure it out. And some dont. Takes time and some money and at times could be dangerous. Sounds like life! But dont be sitting on a porch in a rocking chair at 80 years old wishing you had done it!
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Old 22-09-2018, 13:12   #15
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Re: Best way to buy a boat in a foreign country?

There are a bunch of $30k boats for sale in Guatemala. It's a much much cheaper place to live than FL and they love Canadians and foreigners for that mater. Great place to learn to cruise and hang out.
Check out SeaKist yacht sales.
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