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Old 20-11-2006, 23:10   #1
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Buying a boat nightmare...

As regulars to the board you may be aware that I have been searching for a new boat to replace the Morgan 50.. I decided upon a multi hull and started a search..
This is my fourth boat, however this is the first boat that I have not either bought new or from someone I knew.
I have found boats in South America, Mexico, Canada etc.. With the help of this board I decided to hold off and find something relativly close to SW Florida where I will keep the boat.
To keep everyone updated, I thought I found the boat for me this weekend. I wanted to find a project boat at a reasonable price or find something that just needs a little bit up updating..
The advertisement arrived on Friday from my broker. The boat sounded pretty amazing however it is located in Texas and would need to be transported to SW Forida.
I was contacted by the listing agent after expressing interest to my broker.
The listing sounded like the ideal boat for me, slightly more than what I wanted to spend but is that not always the case?
The listing agent did not have much knowledge of multi hulls or sail boats in general, he claimed to be a power boat broker. Should have taken this as a warning..
The photos were emailed as well as inventory.
I had my broker organize a meeting on Monday with a independent surveyor and the listing broker, I booked air and a driver.
This morning before the sun came up my assistant and I headed off for the airport. The intention was that if I liked the unit he would stay behind and organize repairs and shipping.
After a few hours of travel in the air and then on land I arrived at the marina where the boat was.
Just a quick background on me, I am a young guy who owns a custom home construction company based out of SW Florida as well as the Palm Springs area in souther California I am a pretty agressive guy.
I look young for my age.. ok very young for my age and I love looking young! lol I always claim to being in my thirties but have actually left them behind some time ago... NO COMMENTS ON THIS OK...
I was a bit early at the marina and was enjoying lunch walking the docks with my assistant. I am sure you all know the excitement when it comes to putting another boat into your stable and I definitely was on a natural high. Walking the docks and breathing the crisp air.
I came across an older gent on the docks. I said "hello" and asked him how his day was. This guy then dropped bomb on me, these are his exact words.
"I am here to meet with some young punk with more money than brains who is flying out from California to buy a floating mobile home."
I just played along knowing he was talking about me. The man had definite opinions younger people.. I guess I must have looked haggard.. I got the whole "I used to walk five miles a day in five feet of snow to go to school speech"
Finally I steered him around to the "floating mobile home", he gave me his opinion on the boat letting me know that the best thing that could be done for the boat would be to take it out into the middle of the lake and sink it. "Any FOOL that would spend 60++ K on this boat needed a slap in the head. He also let me know that the "sales man" is his brother in law. Please keep in mind he has no clue who I am or why I am on the docks. Right around the time of the confession my cell phone rang and it was the listing broker aka "sales man" (his brother in law) asking me where I was. I proudly chipped out I am sitting on the dock with your brother in law.. I was not sure who was more surprised, my assistant or the surveyor.
The surveyor pretty much went white and did not say another word until his brother in law walked down the dock. He walked us over to the boat and we went aboard, about this time he asked me to sign a contract and pay for a survey on the boat.
This is right about when my "construction personality surfaced" I will not bore you with the nasty details however I will say that the surveyor took a quick hike down the dock and after some close quarter conversation with the listing broker I was informed that the details he shared with his surveyor aka the brother in law came from my broker in Florida.

Most people would have walked away by now but I wanted to see this boat and wow did I get a tour of what I could only call a floating disaster.
It is a early 1990 Gemini Cat
The boat is listed in better than new condition single owner, new appliances, paint, headliner, new mattresses, new cushions, newer rigging, and very well cared for and maintained, fully equipped with radar, garmin gps, compass, stereo, wind generator, new battery banks, new 1000 watt inverter, recent re-wire etc etc..
This is what was there:
The inside of the boat was painted with what looks like a latex paint and it bubbling and peeling all over, the wood work has been painted black with what appears to be spray cans, including countertops, table, door and floor, over-spray on windows.
Listing indicated "recent rewire/re-power with a new shore power, inverter and battery bank.
This boat is wired with at least twenty 110v receptacles, the wiring is simply shiefed 110 30 amp wire that is epoxied along the walls to plug boxes. I did my very best to find anything that would run off of the battery bank but even the lights had been converted to shore power. The battery bank was found, it was one wired 12v auto zone battery that was used for engine starting, there was another battery there but it was not wired to anything, however it was tied down unlike the autozone battery. We could not find the inverter.
Listing showed pictures of a white boat with original wood work in excellent condition... Uh all the wood was painted black and obviously was done some time ago or are of another boat. Galley Appliances were listed as replaced in spring 2006.
-Replaced refrigerator with an energy efficient new model, new microwave, new oven and stove top 2006
-The refrigerator was replaced with an apartment sized ac only home depot special that yes was spray painted black. This is a 99$ home depot special...
-The stove and cook top was intact and looked original to me but was also painted black to match the counter tops and wood work.
Microwave is a really nice sized unit but it is at least a 1000 watt unit.. It is black to match the rest of the appliances.
The head was painted all back including the potty itself!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
New mattresses and cushions throughout..
Ok there was new foam rolled in each of the rooms, so I guess this was the mattresses - sans- mattress cover and the headliner was either fallen or caulked in place..
I could go on and on but I think I have delivered my point on the cosmetic side of the boat, now onto the structure, top side had recently been painted with a roller and brush.
It actually does not look too bad, it was a pitty that whom ever did it did not tape off the windshield areas, the rigging, bottom of the mast, perhaps repaired some of the top side blisters, filled in a few of the broken blisters etc....
Through the water from what I could see of the hulls the boat had been beached several times leaving the bow badly damaged.
The dock had played havoc with the sides of the boat, it appears that the two lines had been replaced recently. That was just about all of the rigging I could see.
I was only aboard for a short time as my temper was boiling. I took out my camera and started to snap some shots. The mold and smell was getting to me, as well the broker was pestering me, my cell was ringing from my "local broker" and just when I was feeling ready to explode the owner of the boat showed up.
I jumped onto the dock and put my hand out greeting him with a rather large smile on my face. At this time I pulled out the pictures an the advertisement of the boat, I was very calm and asked them to show me the boat from the advertisement as I am sure they could plainly see the photos of the boat did not represent the boat I was just on. I handed my assistant the camera and told him to take some more shots.
I got the typical "I told you the boat needed some work" I then asked again for them to show me the boat that is in the advertisement and the owner who is now stuttering and turning purple indicates that his son... oh that would be the broker aka the salesman was in the process of updating the photos as they were slightly dated. I calmly let them know what my time and air fare was worth to me and gave them my card letting them know that they had seven days to send me a check for my costs.
This is when things got a little hairy the owner asked us to leave if I was not interested in making an offer, my assistant took a few more photos at which time the owner slapped the camera out of his hands and it almost landed in the drink. I am not sure why I stayed calm but I did get between my assistant and the guy quick as I knew my assistant is less tolerable than I am. Before we left I once again calmly let these guys know why I was upset and what I expected.

Prior to getting onto the plane I called my attorney and gave him the facts.. after he finally stopped laughing his a++ off I asked him to send certified letters to all parties involved requesting payment for my time and whatever else he thought was fare.
This was a long day for me today, a day I hope not to repeat again, I definitely have learned a lesson or two.
I am certain that this boat has been either flooded or partially submerged, salvaged and these two clowns who obviously have no clue about boats looked on line and thought that this unit was in as good shape as the rest of the boats with a bit of spray paint and some new wiring.
I am a nice guy and generally would give the benifit of doubt, however in this case no way..
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Old 20-11-2006, 23:33   #2
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Posts: 112 didn't make an offer? Wow that sucks! Upside is you've got the boat search story to trump all others at the marina bar! Let us know how you do with recovering costs. Might make a good case for a tv show civil court.
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Old 21-11-2006, 04:39   #3

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Wow, Chris. I'm SO sorry to hear that. This is probably the worst boat buying experience I have ever heard. The part that really gets me (aside from these jerk making fun of you in the beginning) is that they valued your time and airfare and efforts so little as to try and rip you off. Not having owned a construction business during a housing boom, that would have been the only airfare I could have afforded. I would have been out my entire boat search budget.

It's good that you posted this. It makes a nice addition to my "grifters" post, from the side of a buyer. It was practically a grift thanks to the in-bred weirdos you were dealing with all being in cahoots.

I think it's very telling of how things have become. Everyone is out to rip you off or make a quick buck. Frankly, I don't trust a soul these days (and I used to be a "handshake deal" kind of guy).
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Old 21-11-2006, 05:17   #4

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I don't know what it is about older Geminis. The new ones look terrific. When I decided I wanted a catamaran, all my research indicated that the older Geminis had most of the features I wanted and the most reasonable price. So, Off I went to buy one. After 6 months of searching and crawling around just about every one that was for sale within a days drive of me, I gave up.

I never saw a boat that was in as awful a condition as you've described, but some of them were pretty close. My boat was on the hard next to a Gemini I went to look at in south Florida.

It was love a first sight

Rick in Florida
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Old 21-11-2006, 05:55   #5
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You got away easy really! It is after the purchase that real nightmares can begin.

cautionary tale
"Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors - and miss."
Robert A Heinlein
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Old 21-11-2006, 07:39   #6
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That's a great story. It sounds similar to broker I recently dealt with in Panama, brother pal salesman, misrepresented boat, etc.

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Old 21-11-2006, 08:39   #7
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Had a similar problem in San Carlos Mexico. No headliner, holes in the rudder both intentional and not, Keelbolts were so rusty metal was flaking off. Are there any honest brokers?
Fair Winds,


Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea. Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other's yarns -- and even convictions. Heart of Darkness
Joseph Conrad
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Old 21-11-2006, 09:10   #8
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Yikes these scam artist's give us good guys a bad name. I sell boats proudly for a living. I think Chris agent in Florida bears some responsibility in this case. He should have done a better job at vetting the vessel. As buyers agent I would not send my client out to inspect a vessel unless I accompany them or have a proxy I have absolute trust in. Chris I apologize on behalf of all the good brokers out there and their are some.

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Old 21-11-2006, 10:07   #9
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Aloha Chris,
Your story deserves a few pages in "Cruising World" or "Sail" along with photos and cartoons. It is definitely going in my file.
Thank you,
Kind Regards, JohnL
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Old 21-11-2006, 10:19   #10
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My sympathies Chris. Although I've not had any bad experiences buying boats, a friend of mine here in Washington State wanted to buy a new trimaran, he made a firm appointment to see a new 33' (brand shall remain nameless) boat. He then flew to New York (the only dealer in the country for this brand). When he arrived at the appointed date and time, the dealer's office was closed. No note, phone number or anything was left for him. After trying to find some contact, anything, he flew back home and wrote a check for a new F-33, even though it was his distant second choice.
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Old 21-11-2006, 12:42   #11
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If you'd really wanted to be "aggressive" you should have called the police and filed an assault charge. He did slap the camera out of your assistant's hand. This makes for GREAT substantiation and credibility at a civil proceeding! It also puts a LOT of fear in them, when the police show up and they can see you're serious.

Good luck.

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Old 21-11-2006, 12:43   #12
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A real boat buying trip gone bad. You really owe it to these guys to send them Sean's grifters. Sending them a good sales lead is the least you can do for such nice honest folks.

To be fair the broker that sold me our first boat is someone I have kept in touch with since we bought it and is the broker I'll use to sell it. He has helped two others I know sell boats and he worked his tail off selling the boat to us.

The broker that sold us our second boat was just as nice and helpful. There are good brokers out there and you should dump your current broker. As noted above no broker that is worth anything would send a client off to look at wreck like the one you saw.
Paul Blais
s/v Bright Eyes Gozzard 36
37 15.7 N 76 28.9 W
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Old 21-11-2006, 12:51   #13
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I really don't understand some people! Even though I have bought all the boat I can handle/afford, I still like to browse the borkers on the net. I must look at a couple of hundred boats every week (I love my boat, but hey, if money were no object... a gu can dream), so I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what the current market is like and what a given boat will be worth... but it continually amazes me how some people seem to have no idea what is a realistic price for their boat. It just utterly wastes peoples time if you do not put a realistic price... and in my opinion, the broker has a duty to inform his seller if the asking price is ridiculous.

For example, there is currently a 1977/1978 vintage Farr 37 cruiser racer on the market for $AUD125,000... I know the boat and know that it is kinda tired. There is also a 1985 Farr 40 and a 1987 Farr 40 for $50,000 less - these baots are in better condition, but some mug thinks that someone out there is going to spend 50 grand more for an older tireder smaller boat...

People seem to think that if they spend 100 grand on a boat, and then spend 10 grand per year upkeeping it for 10 years, then it will sell for 200. The reality is that it is unlikely to be worth 80.
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Old 21-11-2006, 19:37   #14
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Chris, it sounds like a whole circus of misdeeds. First, the surveyor was welcome to his opinion, but had no right or reason to express it to anyone but the person who hired him. The seller, and, either you or your broker, or whomever hired him has a very real reason to complain about this guy. Sadly, it sounds like your broker was fooled. Unfortunate, but it does happen. If he is reputable, in your case, I am sure he will make some offer to make it up to you. The seller. Now this is a bit more complicated. It could very well be a matter of perception. His actions lead toward a guilty concience, but often, a seller's perception of their boat is not the same as the rest of the world. (Define "cruise ready") My guess is, the two scoundrals in this little tale are the seller's agent and the surveyor, who, I am guessing, was refered to your broker by the listing agent? It sounds like, and this is just conjecture, the seller asked the broker to list the boat. The broker, being a "bottom line kinda guy" probably told the seller to write the description. Living by his disclaimer that "the description is believed to be accurat, but not the responsibility of the broker" he provided those details to your broker. Your broker, in good faith, took these details to be accurate coming from a "reputable broker". Live and learn :sigh:
A few words of advice, inspect the boat before hiring a surveyor, and find the surveyor yourself. Not always easy to do, but far safer. Sailing requires time. You need to allow the time that nature mandates, and not try to sail to a schedule. Buying the boat should be approached the same way. Many sellers will put a $5000 radar on a $500 boat and call it a "refit". I wouldn't say they were wrong, just that my idea of a refit is different. Another option you may consider is to find a local contact in the area where the prospective boat is located. Check with local yacht clubs, or you can find a local insurance appraisal company that inspects boats (this used to be my business, and I did quite a few of this sort of inspection.). This would be a completely objective party that would charge far less than a complete survey to "look at the boat". I can recommend a company for U.S. locations. A couple hundred spent for an inspection could save you several hundred in travelling money
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Old 21-11-2006, 20:00   #15
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My take is the boat is a hurricane victim resurrected back to life. Just the type of boat brokers buy to freshen up to sell.
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