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Old 13-03-2013, 09:30   #1
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Buying a cruiser in Mexico

We recieved some great feedback on another post on this site and one of the suggestions was that we consider purchasing a boat in Mexico rather than in Seattle as we plan to sail down there anyway.

Does anyone have experience in purchasing in Mexico? Things to consider when buying outside of the country? How do we find a reputable surveyer? Should we go through a broker or go private? Our budget is small (20K) so I'm thinking privately is best but as we are fairly new to sailing we don't trust our own judgement alone and would want a survey or someone with more experience on our side to know what to look for.

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Old 13-03-2013, 09:37   #2
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Re: Buying a cruiser in Mexico

Have you thought about buying in San Diego maybe? Where in Mexico are you going? I sailed from Puerto Vallarta to San Diego in December and am from Seattle too.

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Old 13-03-2013, 09:50   #3
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Re: Buying a cruiser in Mexico

I don't know the real nitty-gritty of purchasing there, but one impression I have gotten over the years of checking out various Mexican listings (and watching them linger) is that a large percentage of the boats have been more or less abandoned there. I.e., the owners sailed down, don't feel like slogging to windward home, don't want to go trans-Pac, and have left their boat in the hands of a broker or boatyard, to be sold at whatever price can be got.

So if you see a boat you like and they're asking more than you have in your budget . . . like maybe $35,000 . . . make an offer at or just below your budget. You never know when you'll find that boat that just needs to be sold.

Good luck!
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Old 13-03-2013, 09:53   #4
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Re: Buying a cruiser in Mexico

Well Steve, I would say take a look at my post under Monohull sailboats entitled "Getting Discouraged". We've had great feedback but in a nutshell we are fairly novice sailors and are a little nervous about sailing from Seattle to Mexico. That along with our small boat budget led many to advise possibly purchasing in Mexico or Florida in order to avoid the potentially challenging sail south and also saving some money on the boat purchase.
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Old 13-03-2013, 10:02   #5
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Re: Buying a cruiser in Mexico

The problem with this approach is a boat may be cheaper in Mexico, but parts for them are NOT. Labor costs are very low, but YOUR labor is free, so that doesn't help much.
Radio, generator, water maker, engine, sails, rigging, paint, etc, is pretty much all imported, they charge duties on them as well.

My research showed Florida is a good place to find a boat if you intend to buy older and cheaper and then refurbish it in Florida.

I think the sfbay is a good source also, because rents are so high people practically give them away rather than pay $500/mo to keep them once they need work and are unwanted, for example, this 33ft boat for $1200

But now you must move the boat somewhere else that isn't $500/mo. Fortunately, nearby is the sac delta, which is such a place. I pay $50 month in the yard.

I still think you are well advised to buy a trailered sailboat to get started,
they are much easier to sell when the time comes to upgrade, and because you can easily move them those $500/mo slips won't be needed.

And because they are much simpler, easier to fix and learn on.
MacGregors are common, here is an older 25ft one $2000,

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Old 13-03-2013, 10:08   #6
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Re: Buying a cruiser in Mexico

There are a fairly good inventory of USCG documented vessels for sale in Mexico from what I understand. I've used Dona Jenkins Title Co. in San Diego to assist with out of country ownership transfers for clients as long as both parties are US citizens and they served me well in the past. You will need to check with a Mexican broker to deal with the transfer of the Mexican Import Permit to yourself from a US seller or you may need to apply for one yourself. I'm not certain if they are transferable... perhaps another forum member can shed some light on that issue. The process is not complicated... just make certain that all the i's are dotted and t's crossed. If you buy through a Mexican broker, you may need to do the USCG doc transfer yourself and have a US address. A big decision, Sarah... good luck with it... Phil
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Old 13-03-2013, 10:12   #7
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Re: Buying a cruiser in Mexico

You may run accross the "perfect" boat in Mexico, but I get the impression that many of the boats that end up for sale down there are pretty neglected. It's also a very small market compared with Florida. I investigated a 32 footer in So Carolina last year, new canvas, new sails, recent rigging and diesel, all the cruising amenities including autopilot refrig, solar panels, etc. It was prepared to go to the Bahamas and then they couldnt go. $17k
"I spent most of my money on Booze, Broads and Boats. The rest I wasted" - Elmore Leonard

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Old 13-03-2013, 10:16   #8
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Re: Buying a cruiser in Mexico

San Carlos, Sonora is a good place to look:

Sailboats for sale in Mexico

Boats for sale -

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but not greed to want to take somebody else's money"

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Old 13-03-2013, 11:11   #9
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Re: Buying a cruiser in Mexico

Lots of boats in your price range in Florida too. Remember, these are asking prices--highly negotiable in this price range.
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Old 13-03-2013, 11:17   #10
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Re: Buying a cruiser in Mexico

Originally Posted by senormechanico View Post
San Carlos, Sonora is a good place to look:
Yes, You'll get your best deals in San Carlos, but La Paz will also have some attractive listings.
cruising is entirely about showing up--in boat shoes.
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Old 13-03-2013, 11:33   #11
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Re: Buying a cruiser in Mexico

I am in La Paz six months of the year and in the PNW when the weather is nice.
You really do want the assistance of an experienced broker. Buying a boat in Mexico is very straight forward but would be a potential nightmare for the uninitiated.
Just an example of what can be found here:
1977 Valiant Cutter Sail Boat For Sale -
Contact Mike and Shelly, their contact info is in the listing. They have sold hundreds of boats down here and have the paperwork down to an artform. Plus, they are both really great people and are very active in the cruising community.
It is true that boat related purchases are generally more expensive here, but once you have your Temporary Import Permit (TIP) you can bring boat related hardware into the country from the states duty free.

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buying, cruiser, Mexico

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