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Old 10-03-2016, 08:58   #1
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Travel costs while boat shopping?

We're still months away from being ready to go shopping for our first boat, but I'm curious what people have done to keep travel costs ($ and time) down while catamaran shopping.

We're currently in CA, but we're planning on shopping in the greater Bahamas/Caribbean/USVI/BVI area (and maybe even Florida), since there seem to be more boats listed there than anywhere else (at least on YachtWorld).

Would it make sense to rent an apartment in St. Maarten, St. Croix, or another island while looking? Are ferries or hopper flights inexpensive to get to different islands?
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Old 10-03-2016, 09:02   #2
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Re: Travel costs while boat shopping?

Shopping in the Caribbean sounds to me like a lot more fun, but shopping Florida seems a lot more realistic. Get an AirBNB for a week or two. You could drive to every boat and wouldn't have to worry about foreign taxes and import regulations, although I haven't done any research to see what these actually may be. Also there are a million boats for sale in Florida. So unless you're looking for something crazy, whatever you can find in the Caribbean you could probably also find in Florida
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Old 11-03-2016, 07:00   #3
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Re: Travel costs while boat shopping?

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Shopping in the Caribbean sounds to me like a lot more fun, but shopping Florida seems a lot more realistic.
This. Most especially if you are concerned about controlling costs. Because, no, hopper flights in the Caribbean--generally speaking--are NOT inexpensive.
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Old 11-03-2016, 07:09   #4
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Re: Travel costs while boat shopping?

Check when high season ends in Florida. I think it is a little after Easter. Generally cheaper to come to Florida then. I'm guessing many boat owners will be motivated to sell in the spring before hurricane season arrives.
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Old 11-03-2016, 07:39   #5
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Re: Travel costs while boat shopping?

If you are going to look for used cats in the Caribbean, where there are a lot for sale (mostly retired charter boats), the cost of getting around for an American used to cheap flights will be a BIG shock. Liat is the main inter- Caribbean airline that flies throughout the entire leewards and windwards including BVI, USVI. You can pay over $200 one way to go 80 miles from St Maarten to Tortola for example. I would suggest a lot of research and dialogue before getting on a plane down here. Also most of the cats for sale down here are clapped out former charter boats that have been down here in use constantly, poorly maintained, and over priced. Start in Florida and look for a used private boat.
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Old 11-03-2016, 07:42   #6
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Re: Travel costs while boat shopping?

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Check when high season ends in Florida. I think it is a little after Easter. Generally cheaper to come to Florida then. I'm guessing many boat owners will be motivated to sell in the spring before hurricane season arrives.
There is a steady stream of boats for sale here in florida, regardless of time of year. I don't think the motivation card is as important as it is up north.

On our dock alone, among 44 boats at least 4 have sold in the last year. On our port we have a Morgan 33 for sale and on our starboard we have a Cabo Rico 34(6?) for sale.
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Old 11-03-2016, 07:47   #7
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Re: Travel costs while boat shopping?

Agree that Florida is an easier place to be shopping for a boat, especially in the off season. In the Bahamas you can sometimes get a cheap trip on the mail boats that also carry cargo and passengers. Flying can be more expensive than you expect.
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Old 11-03-2016, 08:07   #8
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Re: Travel costs while boat shopping?

I just did this last weekend traveling from Indiana to Marco Island in Florida. I kept costs down by paying for airfare and rental car with credit card points and using AirBNB for an inexpensive place to stay. I had not used AirBNB before and was leery but it turned out to be a positive experience. I actually spent the night on a 45' sailboat.

If you are shopping in Florida, I HIGHLY recommend Steve Purcell at Lowe's Marine Sales as a boat broker and Steven Berlin with Independent Marine Surveyors as a surveyor. Both went above and beyond my expectations.
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Old 11-03-2016, 09:23   #9
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Re: Travel costs while boat shopping?

Set up an LLC as a charter company with intention of doing minimal charter and write it off if you pay enough taxes to make it work.
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Old 11-03-2016, 09:24   #10
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Re: Travel costs while boat shopping?

Contrary to public opinion there are good, honest brokers.
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Old 11-03-2016, 10:07   #11
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Re: Travel costs while boat shopping?

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Originally Posted by magellanyachts View Post
Set up an LLC as a charter company with intention of doing minimal charter and write it off if you pay enough taxes to make it work.
And then you get to enjoy the long discussion with the gentleman from the IRS unless you actually try to run it as a business and try to get charters.

To the OP: as much as possible, do your homework over the internet before showing up. Maybe 3-5 boats that look promising and then get as much info as possible before showing up. If you just show up at random marinas to see what they have in stock, you will burn thru a lot of travel budget. That doesn't mean you can't look at other boats in the marina once you get there but not having some promising leads is not going to be productive.

Now if you are in no particular rush and need to take a vacation anyway...totally different situation.
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Old 11-03-2016, 10:26   #12
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Re: Travel costs while boat shopping?

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And then you get to enjoy the long discussion with the gentleman from the IRS unless you actually try to run it as a business and try to get charters.

To the OP: as much as possible, do your homework over the internet before showing up. Maybe 3-5 boats that look promising and then get as much info as possible before showing up. If you just show up at random marinas to see what they have in stock, you will burn thru a lot of travel budget. That doesn't mean you can't look at other boats in the marina once you get there but not having some promising leads is not going to be productive.

Now if you are in no particular rush and need to take a vacation anyway...totally different situation.
You have to do it honestly but can also defer future boat costs. Charter minimum weeks. Hire a charter captain. Definitely not for everyone. Just a thought.
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Old 11-03-2016, 12:01   #13
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Re: Travel costs while boat shopping?

It never has been hard to digest the costs of traveling to look at boats, but the costs kick in once the offer was made. After the sea trial and survey acceptance, there can be a few days to stay in town homeless while waiting on money to move and paperwork to be finalized, especially when the seller is not local. In the last three out of town purchases, we were stuck in hotels a lot longer than we would have liked waiting on process.

Looking at boats is more laid back and more of a vacation. Once the offer is made the coordination, stress and anticipation turn the trip from and investment to an expense in my opinion.
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Old 11-03-2016, 12:14   #14
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Re: Travel costs while boat shopping?

Get a great specialized catamaran broker and let her do the shopping for you.

I had asked her about this one and that one and she told me the absolute truth. The best who have been in the catamaran business for years know their boats and have followed their individual history. They have already flown here and there to witness the successful and failed surveys.

caroline.laviolette@catamarans.com is my recommendation.
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Old 11-03-2016, 13:32   #15
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Re: Travel costs while boat shopping?

"Set up an LLC as a charter company with intention of"
And the IRS will disallow all of it as a "hobby" expense, unless you can prove that intention by backing it up with receipts for advertising and other line items that prove you actually DID make the attempt to make the business work. Of course, you can list your boat for charter and set the prices or terms so unreasonably that people don't want to use your boat, that's one way businesses do fail. But you'll still have to show that "intent", or risk the whole thing blowing back.
"Yacht" "Plane" or "charter company" are all long established audit flags to the IRS.
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