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Old 27-01-2023, 13:44   #1
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Fourth time lucky? Struggling to find the right sailboat...

I'm shopping for my first sailboat and the experience has been more difficult than expected. Each time I found "the one", agreed on a good price in my budget, etc. then went to visit and complete a survey... the findings are so long or worrisome that I feel compelled to walk away. Am I being unrealistic?

1. Found a Beneteau 47.7 last summer, first owner (a ship captain), pics looked nice though a little old. Flew to Southampton to take a look. Found out the vessel had gone under offer and through a survey; but the buyer walked away. Agent kindly shared the findings and the report ran for almost 50 items! Without any research, it was obvious this was a project boat so I walked away.

2. I found a 2006 Beneteau Oceanis 50, second owner, family living aboard, no expense spared with recent refit; so I flew to Spain ($), hotel ($), car ($), survey ($2k), lift out 24 hours ($270): the surveyor found high moisture readings on 4-5 places on the deck, an almost rust-through propeller, and various little other bits. Turns out the boat had a teak deck which was removed by the 1st owner and resurfaced. The day after the survey, I was walking around on my bare feet and found a very squishy spot on the port side. I suspected the sensor was probably correct, so I gave up.

3. I found a 2011 Hanse 44, only 1600 hrs on motor, "professionally maintained", with many goodies like 100m SS chain and anchor, electric outboard, new chart plotters, radar, water maker, etc. Flew to Greece ($450), hotel ($150), car ($200), survey ($1340), lift out 30 minutes ($800): survey found motor would not run (electric fault), a few windows leaking water, bimini and dodger in tears, two batteries dead, gas hose expired 6 yrs ago, crack on bulkhead and other little bits. Described the faults with other Hanse owners and they advised I move on, so I gave up.

Now looking for boat #4 and hoping for a good result. Second half is indicating this dream is getting expensive and pointless...

I'm thinking I need to look at newer boats, but then the size will need to reduce to stay within the budget. Any advice?
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Old 27-01-2023, 13:53   #2
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Re: Fourth time lucky? Struggling to find the right sailboat...

What is the price range and age range you are looking? As boats get bigger they get more expensive. As they get older or in further disrepair they get cheaper.

If you're search criteria is large, cheap boats, this is going to happen.

44ft, 47.7 and 50 are very large FIRST boats. Are you being realistic with yourself?
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Old 27-01-2023, 14:00   #3
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Re: Fourth time lucky? Struggling to find the right sailboat...

Dockhead on here once said the following to me which made a lot of sense to me.

A yacht at the 10-15 year point will have been used by the first owner but probably had little money spent on it, because it was new. So at the 10 year point, sails which were cheap to start with are now worn out. Same for many other components on board like batteries pumps valves etc. Slightly older and away from the Med perhaps yachts will be better maintained and had major items replaced or upgrade.

Also perhaps focus on 42-50 yachts in the UK and Northern Europe with a better quality reputation. So Nordic yachts Like Halberg Rassy, Najad. Closer to home Moody. Watch the Brexit problem with import duty if you buy a UK yacht and move it back into Europe.

https://www.yachtworld.co.uk/yacht/1...dy-46-8625188/
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Old 27-01-2023, 16:20   #4
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Re: Fourth time lucky? Struggling to find the right sailboat...

It's just a fact of life that most boats are abused. Keeping a boat in "Bristol Condition" is a more expensive that most owners are willing to spend, and beyond the ability of most people to DIY.

Most owner's idea of "preventive maintenance" means preventing the boat from sinking. Most owners do nothing at all until something breaks. Every boat is one bad owner away from needing a serious refit.

By far and away the best screening tool you can have for avoiding the kind of expensive chase around Europe that the OP describes is to ask to see the maintenance logs for the boat BEFORE you jet off to see it. If they do not exist, or show nothing more than engine oil changes, you should be very suspect.

Now, you might pass up on a few gems. There are people who are far better at caring for their boats than they are at record keeping. But you will save yourself a lot of travel costs to see old. tired, abused hulks too.
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Old 27-01-2023, 17:35   #5
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Re: Fourth time lucky? Struggling to find the right sailboat...

Boating is an expensive pastime. Especially bigger boats.

There's no way around that fact.

When shopping for a used boat you generally find the boats that were owned by folks who understood the fact that boat ownership is not cheap and were willing to pay what was necessary to properly maintain their boats. And their selling price is reflective of that $$ investment in proper maintenance.

The other boats you find on the market for sale were owned by folks who did not understand that boat ownership is not cheap and were not willing (or perhaps not able) to pay what was necessary to properly maintain their boats. And their selling price now is reflective of all that "deferred maintenance". A new buyer might save some $ on the purchase price, but will ultimately have to take care of all that deferred maintenance, often at great expense. (It's like that old FRAM Oil Filter commercial: "You can pay me now, or you can pay me later....")

Rarely can you have it both ways -- find a bristol condition boat, but at a bargain price.

I guess the frustrating situations are the project boats being mis-represented as cream-puffs. I understand your frustration there.

Perhaps a better approach for you in the future might be to lower your standards (a bit), increase your budget (a bit), and expand your "perfect-boat" checklist to include some "mostly-perfect" boats, and hopefully you can find something that's a good fit for you.

Good luck.

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Old 27-01-2023, 17:48   #6
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Re: Fourth time lucky? Struggling to find the right sailboat...

You don't say where you are located and I assume you are having limited success finding suitable vessels closer to home. Maybe limit your expanded areas to just one or two and get friendly with someone local you could call on to just have a quick look at a potential boat for you before you fly out. That way you save some grief.
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Old 27-01-2023, 17:59   #7
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Re: Fourth time lucky? Struggling to find the right sailboat...

The Hanse sounds like the issues would have been quick to fix. New batteries, new dodger & bimini, reseal the ports. Make a deal with a sizable escrow amount to ensure the motor works for you, and you have a nice boat. These sorts of things are understandable if not almost expected in a boat that is almost 12 years old. We bought a 1981 J/boat in 1997. It had things that needed fixing, but we got it for a good price and then fixed them. Kept the boat for 24 years and had a great time with it. If you want to go swimming, you have to get wet.
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Old 27-01-2023, 18:34   #8
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Re: Fourth time lucky? Struggling to find the right sailboat...

Hi Tickles,
There was some very good advice in previous posts, especially form B.lex. I have not shopped for any of the boats you listed, but I have looked in that size range. I looked at premium brands, a bit older, trying to find one that had all expensive items replaced, or really well taken care of.

There is no such thing as a perfect boat, and if you find that one, it might not be in perfect condition. Lastly on perfection: what one considers 'perfect' now, in 2 to 3 year's time, that same boat is almost certainly not perfect anymore, as one's circumstances change, area of sailing, family or financial situation, new technology/models etc.

Can I add another perspective? When I was looking for a boat, I used the trips to check them out, as holidays. It took me to beautiful destinations, meeting wonderful people, and invites onto other boats. That process took 3 or 4 years. It was a learning journey in itself in in these years, my shopping list changed dramatically.
I must say, I never had one surveyed or lifted out the water until I saw my current boat.
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Old 28-01-2023, 03:39   #9
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Re: Fourth time lucky? Struggling to find the right sailboat...

Any decent surveyor will come up with a long list of items. It doesn't mean the boat is automatically not worthy of consideration. Many items on that are likely very small things, such as a rusty hose clamp or an out of date fire extinguisher.

Without experience it's hard to know which is important and which is simply nuisance.
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Old 28-01-2023, 04:00   #10
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Re: Fourth time lucky? Struggling to find the right sailboat...

You say what you spent on the trips, but not what the boats were listed for.

The price is one indicator of what the broker (and owner) are claiming to think of the boat, so it's an indicator of what they're marketing them as.

I wouldn't expect a perfect used boat for a reasonable price. I'd expect a boat that's been on the market for a while to have some flaws. Any survey is going to have a long list of problems. Are they showstoppers? That's the buyer's call.

I like the thought of traveling to see a boat on vacations, while not really expecting a purchase. It's much easier to buy a boat closer to home.
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Old 28-01-2023, 04:44   #11
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Re: Fourth time lucky? Struggling to find the right sailboat...

I'm gonna be honest: boats just aren't that precious.

I just did a quick search on https://www.cosasdebarcos.com for 11-15m sailboats between MY2002 and 2015 located ONLY in Barcelona province Spain.

It returned 34 boats just now. 34 boats just in one little section of Spanish Mediterranean around Barcelona. Looking at your prior interest list, which includes Beneteau, it seems unfathomable that you can't find a boat in all of Spain!

You might consider what things are really show stoppers and what things you don't care about. I had my list. It keeps you focused on the forest not the trees. Do you want to be sailing this year or this a longer term project?
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Old 28-01-2023, 05:03   #12
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Re: Fourth time lucky? Struggling to find the right sailboat...

Thanks for your generous comments. Unfortunately, there are no boats available closer to home so a flight is required.

The budget is ca. 200k. Each boat was initially advertised for approximately this amount, but negotiated down to 180-190k in advance. Perhaps, this makes any further negotiating after the survey more difficult as the seller feels he's already on the losing end of the stick. The Oceanis seller told me he was removing equipment to take home (but he was willing to sell it to me). The Hanse agent said the seller refused further discount despite the findings. I didn't bother with the 47.7.

A 44-45 ft size is ideal for a family of 4 plus a guest (parent or friend we hope to have). Smaller would certainly be cheaper/easier but I think it would be too cramped. We are planning to live on the boat for 1-2 years.

We've sailed since 2004 and chartered up to 41 ft monos and 40 ft cats. However, owning and renting are very different games.
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Old 28-01-2023, 13:42   #13
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Re: Fourth time lucky? Struggling to find the right sailboat...

Try looking at aluminum boats, no hull or deck leak problems.
If you find one you like be sure to do a hull thickness survey ( cost me $ 700 in French Polynesia on a 44' boat )
I have had a lifetime of fiberglass boats and I am glad I went to aluminum, but I am biased toward metal having built a steel 38' boat 35 years ago with my father.
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Old 28-01-2023, 14:16   #14
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Re: Fourth time lucky? Struggling to find the right sailboat...

We searched for about 3 years before we made an offer on our present boat. We had been living aboard and cruising on our previous one for 18 years. You may not be aware of it, but at 50 ft., you're looking at a very large boat for a first boat. Big boats can generate big forces, more than you might expect, depending on your sailing experience, plus, of course, costing more for heavier duty equipment, larger sails, and so on. And, there will be berthing costs and insurance, as well.

Your $200 budget will limit you to the more tired ones, and would go farther if you were looking around the 40 ft. range, where you could get one in better condition. It may be time to consider the differences between wants and needs.

My suggestion to you is to not go buy surveys on boats you're not sure you want, and also to seriously re-consider how you could accommodate your 5th crew person, as a short term guest. For instance, as guests, we have been given the skipper's berth, while he and his wife slept out in the saloon, for two weeks. Boats generally do not have "spare" rooms, most berths do double duty.

It may be that boating isn't in the cards for you at this time, if compromises cannot be made. But going down to a 34-38 footer could still give you all a super time, and you will get more pleasure from your purchase.

Ann (whose first offshore trip was in a 30 ft. boat, from San Francisco to Hawaii and return)
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Old 29-01-2023, 05:49   #15
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Re: Fourth time lucky? Struggling to find the right sailboat...

Quote:
Originally Posted by svtickles View Post
3. I found a 2011 Hanse 44, only 1600 hrs on motor, "professionally maintained", with many goodies like 100m SS chain and anchor, electric outboard, new chart plotters, radar, water maker, etc. Flew to Greece ($450), hotel ($150), car ($200), survey ($1340), lift out 30 minutes ($800): survey found motor would not run (electric fault), a few windows leaking water, bimini and dodger in tears, two batteries dead, gas hose expired 6 yrs ago, crack on bulkhead and other little bits. Described the faults with other Hanse owners and they advised I move on, so I gave up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by svtickles View Post
The Hanse agent said the seller refused further discount despite the findings.

A) Those discrepancies don't sound all that horrible, to me. The bulkhead crack might need a bit of a think... but otherwise, the other stuff sounds (relatively) easily addressable, not necessarily even hugely expensive.

B) Another negotiating tactic is to ask the seller to fix those things, i.e., make the purchase contingent on that. That's not actually additional "discount" and the seller may got for it. (You'd want to check all that "fixed" stuff for yourself afterwards, of course.)

C) Brokers sometimes make up stuff, on their seller's behalf... that might not turn out to be true after you put a revised offer in writing. If you didn't make a revised off with earnest money, you could try that... to learn what the actual seller actually says.

D) If the boat is still on the market, that can tell you something about demand versus the seller's asking price. Renewing discussions could get you and the seller closer to agreement.

Assuming you like the boat... and it's in the ballpark of your budget...

-Chris
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