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Old 23-12-2016, 13:44   #1
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The Great Yacht Purchase Decision

Posting in Multihulls as ultimately that is what we bought.
Part One: (3 part story)
I am writing this note in the hope that it will help others go through the long and interesting process we went through before we finally put our money down on our new boat.
This journey started a long time ago – I have sailed most of my life and my daring, darling wife has been around and on boats for a large part of her life. In our early twenties, we spent a season as skipper and hostess working for Sunsail in Corsica managing twelve yachts on two-week flotilla trips sailing from Solenzara on the east coast of Corsica, down to Sardinia and through the Madelene islands and then up the west coast to Propriano. This was a fabulous time and certainly taught us a lot about people and also dealing with some pretty hairy times when the Mistral would howl through the straights of Bonifacio.
Unfortunately war breaking out in Croatia back in 1990 put paid to another season with Sunsail and off to the real world we went. Fast forward to 2006 in Seattle now (our sixth country and our fourteenth home and with a 13-year-old son) we were surrounded by the beautiful waters of the Puget Sound and so it was inevitable that the boating bug would bite again. We purchased a small run-about that was great for sight-seeing on Lake Washington and for the very occasional sortie into the Sound to go whale watching. We supplemented these times with an annual bareboat charter somewhere warm (Seattle can be a little chilly and damp for sailing) and over time started to add friends who did not sail to the fun times in the Caribbean, Belize and the Sea of Cortez . A couple of years later a friend invited me to the Seattle boat show…..that is when it started for real!
Suddenly I was presented with a whole new genre of boats I had never considered – Trawler yachts. These were the perfect solution for the Seattle waters – sturdily built, displacement hulls, beautifully appointed and above all most had a fantastic fly bridge for the nice days but more importantly had a dry and warm bridge for those inclement days. I was hooked. I research Kadley Krogens, Nordhavns, Selene’s, Grand Banks and many more. I spent hours poring over details figuring out what we really needed and what was nice to have. Prices were a little daunting but over the years prices and income started to match and I was convinced we were going to buy a trawler and cruise the coastlines of America and beyond. My friends were bored to death for hours as I shared new ideas, new boats and of course all the “toys” we were going to have on board. I spent hours with many brokers (my apologies to those that remember me) going over options and looking at new and used boats. My long-suffering wife eventually told me to visit the boat shows solo as she had looked at everything she could and please would I just make a decision. It is amazing how the brain can operate during these phases of fascination – all it sees are possibilities – reason is pushed a little lower down the brainstem and I am sure ultimately this is why there are so many boats that lie dormant and idle in marinas around the world – paid for (or not) sailed once or twice, and then abandoned to the marina for months at a time.
Thankfully in my case reason finally surfaced. The trawler was a great concept and for a coastal mission and a Caribbean mission it would be perfect…..one slight drawback – fuel! Another friend of mine at this time purchased a beautiful Grand Banks and he and his wife would potter out into the Puget Sound and show us cozy photographs of a snug cabin, flat water, crab pots etc. – then he told me how much it cost to fill the boat with diesel…..yikes, at $4000 per fill my idealistic vision of pottering around the Caribbean came to a shuddering halt. So the Trawler plan was scratched and sails were deemed the way to go.
Now with the change to sails the mission also changed in my head – I say my head as my wife is still trying to figure out just when the “plan” changed. One moment she was going to be sipping G&Ts on a sturdy trawler pottering between sun drenched islands and the next she was going to be hanging on for grim death sailing around the world. I was now convinced the thing to do was to purchase a capable yacht, outfit it correctly and then sail off into the sunset upon retirement.
Part two coming soon.
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Old 23-12-2016, 17:57   #2
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Re: The Great Yacht Purchase Decision

Well, Owen, we're waiting
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Old 23-12-2016, 19:13   #3
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Re: The Great Yacht Purchase Decision

Yo, part two? wazzup?



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Old 23-12-2016, 21:27   #4
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Re: The Great Yacht Purchase Decision

Part Two:
About this time I had another job shift that saw us move away from the water and into the high desert. A bit of a change! Not to be thwarted I now expanded the boat show circuit to include Annapolis and Miami. With the change in mission also came a realization we were only looking at catamarans. We had chartered several cats over the years in the Med and the Caribbean and the Admiral had declared that she loved the space, she loved the stability and she loved the trampoline on the front. I could not fault her thinking even though all the serious sailing I had ever done was on monohulls. Could a cat go around the world? To answer that question I started absorbing every blog and every forum to do with catamarans – big ones, small ones, French ones, South African ones – the list went on. Every boat show we went to we pored over the boats comparing features, comparing build quality, listened to multiple sales people expound the virtues of their model over another (more on that later) and of course we talked to real-life sailors that were “doing it”!
Realization number one. There is no such thing as a perfect boat. Every yacht is a compromise somewhere. It could be the helm station, it could be the galley, it could be the saloon – you name it there is something not quite perfect in every yacht we climbed aboard. At first we were totally taken in by the upper helm station of the Lagoon 440. We had sailed one of these in the BVIs with friends and it was fantastic – the space of having the flybridge helm, the visibility it granted you were out of this world. You literally felt like the king of the castle at the helm – sailing into an anchorage or a marina you could survey all before you and if you felt like getting away from the noisy people in the cockpit you just walked up the side stairs and the wind was blowing in your face. Fantastic……not quite. Not quite for us I should explain.
Realization number two is that you really have to define your mission carefully and as part of that what you are personally comfortable with when it comes to safety on board. Miranda (my wife) and I talked a lot about what it would be like in a blow with the water pitching us about and having to helm from the flybridge while the other person was either below in the saloon or in the cockpit. For us having that distance to cope with was not for us. Now I know a number of people that have successfully navigated around the world in the Lagoon 440 and absolutely would not trade the flybridge for anything. I cannot fault that – it works for them and it works for their limits and their mission. You do really need to figure your limits out early in the process – I would counsel if not sure, then be conservative. If our mission had been Bahamas and the Caribbean only I think we would have kept the Lagoon on the list – the thought of crossing oceans on it though took it off the list for us.
The years ticked by. I continued my research diligently - I avidly read every blog of every catamaran cruising couple I could get my hands on. I downloaded and studied every spec of every catamaran that was vaguely within our range and I continued to drag my poor wife around more boat shows. Which brings me to my next important point. You need to start limiting the options.
In our case we realized we needed to set a length limit and a price limit in order to get really focused. We decided upon the 45 to 50 foot range as being optimal. We had chartered a 40 foot cat and it was just too small for me. The saloon was a reasonable size but the cockpit felt too small and the stairs to the scoops were very steep. Equally the engine spaces were too tight – I am 5’ 10’’ and around 180lbs so not super big but even I struggled to replace a raw water impeller in the engine space and that was at anchor in calm water – no way you would get down there at sea! Bigger than 50 foot and we realized that we would not be able to manage the sails between us as we got a little older. So 45 to 50 was the sweet spot.
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Old 24-12-2016, 05:58   #5
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Re: The Great Yacht Purchase Decision

Well done. Now you can start the process of rebuilding your boat in exotic locations.

Cheers,
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Old 24-12-2016, 10:56   #6
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Re: The Great Yacht Purchase Decision

and here is the final part....
Part Three:
Next was price – we really wanted a new boat as we had seen too many hammered older boats on charter and also too many yachts that owners had made modifications to that left us scratching our heads and wondering about all the things we could not see. Buying new is expensive – not only is there the initial purchase price but then there is the awful initial depreciation as you sail it off the dock for the first time. I have a finance background so every logical bone in my body hated this idea – however on the other side by buying new we could specify what we wanted in the build and then we could add those things that mattered to us. Not being of unlimited funds we therefore set a range of between $500k and $800k for a new boat. We knew we could have stretched that a bit so off on the next round of hunting we went.
At this time Lagoon announced the new 450S version – so all the great attributes of the Lagoon 440 that we loved in the BVIs but now with a new protected helm station and a foot longer. I flew down to Los Angeles for the day to sail the 450 Flybridge version and to look at the new layout – this was it. The boat sailed beautifully and the space was fantastic. Decision made…….well sort of. I managed to negotiate a refundable deposit on hull number 9. The reason I wanted it to be refundable was that we were about to head home to South Africa for a family visit and also to visit three boat yards in South Africa. One of these was home to the St Francis 50. In all my blog reading I had come across Hugh Howey who was building a St Francis 50 and he did an amazing job blogging the entire process. He made a number of clever design tweaks to the yacht that the yard accommodated and I felt that this could be the one for us as well especially since the value of the Rand was in freefall at the time. We managed to get to St Francis literally as his boat, Wayfinder, was being launched. He and the builder were very gracious in letting us literally crawl through the boat and look in every nook and cranny. It was a beautiful blue water yacht. At 50 foot it was at the limit for us however the build was very strong and it looked like it would handle anything mother nature could throw at it. The next day we spent time with the builder to talk some options and unfortunately we came away not as enthused as we had been the day before. I got to thinking that having a boat built in a boutique yard half way around the world from me, and also totally dependent on one man was just too much risk for this prudent ex-accountant to stomach.
Next on the visit list was the Knysna 500. Built by Kevin and Rika in the beautiful town of Knysna South Africa. We had seen one of his yachts at the Miami boat show and I was very impressed by the quality of the boat as well as the protected helm and huge foredeck. We spent a great afternoon with Kevin and Rika and even managed to get aboard a recently completed yacht in the harbor. The standard of joinery was very impressive as was the careful thought that had gone into placement and access for some of the standard options like the watermaker and generator. The price/value equation was very good on this yacht and on the drive down to Cape Town we talked back and forth on the pros and cons as it was a serious contender for a blue water cruising boat. Ultimately there were two things that made us decide against this yacht. First, and most important, we did not think the bridgedeck clearance was large enough for us. This is the distance between the waterline and the underneath of the bridgedeck between the hulls. As anyone who has sailed cats for a while knows the bow wave comes off the interior of the hulls and if the bridgedeck is not high enough you get a “slamming” of the water underneath the boat. In all honesty you will likely never get away from some slamming however the general rule of thumb is at least three feet of clearance between the waterline and the bridgedeck – the Knysna did not have this. Second factor dissuading us from this yacht was the cockpit space – too much of the seating was facing in towards the yacht and not out over the stern and we felt that would be a limitation given the amount of time one spends at anchor.
Last on the list to see in South Africa was the Leopard 48. We had sailed the Leopard 46 a few times and had really loved the space and the feel of that yacht but the 48 was different. There has been a lot written about the front cockpit of the Leopard 48 and several competitive brokers had written and talked to us about the “danger of the bathtub” up front filling with water – one broker even went as far as photoshopping a Ford F-150 on the front of the yacht to try and scare people away from the weight of water issues. I did not subscribe to those fears however I was concerned about the impressive flat front saloon window. It was great in that it let in a lot of light into the boat however I worried about the integrity of that window in the event of a large wave smashing against it. Robertson and Caine, the builders of the Leopard, graciously allowed me into their factory and literally poke and prod any part of the various yachts they had under construction. When I saw the build quality and the strength of the structure housing the front saloon window I was completely satisfied that strength would not be an issue. I spent a happy few hours in the factory looking at all aspects of the build and came away a very satisfied boy!
At this stage we decided to revoke our deposit on the Lagoon – the primary reason was the forward cockpit on the Leopard. The Admiral had really fallen in love with that space and that coupled with the very modern clean look of the Leopard she felt it was a better buy than the unseen Lagoon 450s.
The next big decision was timing. I was due to retire in June of 2018 so now we started to work backwards from there – we ideally would want the yacht at least a year before we set off on the “big cruise” in order to get to know the boat and also work some of the kinks out of it. That meant we wanted a delivery of around July of 2017.
In February 2016, we were again at the Miami boat show. Ostensibly we had made up our minds but like all things to do with the heart I in particular still had my eye out for that “perfect” boat. At the show Fontaine Pajot had the new Saba 50. Gorgeous yacht with the first galley island we had seen – the Admiral was taken! The boat ticked several areas however we did not understand why there was not an “owner” version with one hull dedicated to the owner like other yachts of this size. What it meant was the space below felt a little cramped in the master cabin and honestly we did not want three extra cabins – two was plenty. Price wise it was near the top of our range but we left the show with this a definite maybe! Also at this show the Antares 44i came firmly off the list. Build quality was outstanding but we could not help feel that the boat had become a little dated and the space in the cockpit and down below was not as open as the newer designs. In perfect hindsight this turned out to be a good call as not too many months later there was a great deal of discussion on the forums that the owners had decided to leave the company and that left in jeopardy several deposits for boats on order. (I never did get to hear how this was all resolved).
A few months later another wrench was thrown into the decision tree. Fontaine Pajot announced a new 47 foot cat – the artist video looked superb – the yacht had an optional hydraulic platform for the dinghy that doubled as a swim platform and the flow of the boat looked really good. It also had the galley island and there was a dedicated owners hull. We had a lot of back and forth with the broker on the East coast and for the first time ever started to feel a bit of a “hard sell” from a yacht broker. There was a lot of pressure to lock in a hull and place a fairly large deposit without even one of these yachts being built! We were approaching the 2016 Annapolis show and we needed to make a decision. The new Fontaine 47 still did not have a front cockpit and we felt that was something we really wanted. I got on the phone with our Leopard broker, Peter, who had displayed great patience as we had gone back and forth and ultimately he made us an offer that we felt was fair and reasonable – the catch, we had to sign prior to the boat show. After a couple of sleepless nights we decided to bite the bullet and go for it. A very efficient process followed selecting the various key options and ultimately we sent a wire transfer and we were now “owners in waiting”!
I then contacted the two key brokers from Lagoon and Fontaine Pajot to let them know we had made our decision and unfortunately we had not selected one of their yachts. Caroline at Lagoon was very gracious – this lady had spent a lot of time with us over the course of several years but she wished us luck and hoped next time she would be making the sale – very grown up response. The Fontaine broker not so much – I was told I was making a grave mistake, had I thought about the swimming pool at the front etc. etc. In the end I was pretty disappointed by his response and actually sent him an email expressing that point of view. His loss – we likely will buy another yacht in the course of the next twenty years but it will not be from him!
With the big decision made we still went to the Annapolis show in October – now the mission was “toys” shopping – that is another whole saga that I will write about at some stage. For now we are very happy expectant owners and will be seeing the hulls in March next year when we make a visit home.
I do want to give huge thanks to all the people that were very generous with their time in helping answers my seemingly endless questions. Also I am noting some very helpful blogs that also helped us clear up certain issues as well as enabling us to meet some pretty cool folk.
http://www.sailblogs.com/member/leucat Dave and Mary Margaret are great people who have circumnavigated on a Lagoon 440. We met up with them in Cape Town and are occasional email friends now. David has a fantastic PDF document listing almost everything that can go wrong on a yacht as well!
http://svhappytogether.com/ Randy and Lennie have a Leopard 48 that they are sailing around the Caribbean – they have owned a LOT of boats and therefore have a ton of knowledge on what works and what does not. I had dinner with these gracious people a couple of weeks ago and hope to meet up with them again soon.
http://www.burnettsahoy.com/ A family sailing the globe on a Leopard 48
http://svfieldtrip.blogspot.com/ A family sailing the globe on an Antares 44 – Mark is a gadget man so been fun following them and asking him questions
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Old 24-12-2016, 12:20   #7
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Re: The Great Yacht Purchase Decision

Congratulations on your new boat owenrms!

We went through a similar process with the multihulls and ultimately settled on the leopard 44.
We also had a similar experience with the FP broker in Annapolis and you're right ... his loss !
Our broker for Robertson& Caine was Bob Ross and he has been outstanding. We could not be happier with our purchase. The after sales service has been superb. If I call him he always picks up the phone. If I email him, I usually have a response within an hour. We have had a couple of minor issues but they're all settled quickly and without hassle. Bob is a true gentleman

Randy and Lennie from svHappytogether have also been great. They are very knowledgeable about the 48 and leopards in general . I've probably asked Randy a hundred stupid questions but he has always been very generous with his time . They're good people

Again, congratulations and enjoy your boat
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Old 24-12-2016, 15:32   #8
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Re: The Great Yacht Purchase Decision

The search for a perfect yacht is as pointless as the search for a perfect anything. They don't exist.

Congrats on your new boat.

We humans are very adaptable so if you find a boat that comes close to meeting your needs then go for it.

It's the experiences that matter most. Having perseverance, a sense of humour and some practical skills will let anyone have fun on the water.
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Old 24-12-2016, 16:36   #9
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Re: The Great Yacht Purchase Decision

i have never posted anything before because i am reading and learning but that has to be the longest question i ve ever seen congratutaions
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Old 24-12-2016, 17:10   #10
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Re: The Great Yacht Purchase Decision

During this long process were there any thoughts towards the sailing abilities of your purchase? Not to say your cat won't sail well, it just seems as if posts like these could just as well be describing the purchase of a waterfront home.
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Old 24-12-2016, 19:30   #11
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Re: The Great Yacht Purchase Decision

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During this long process were there any thoughts towards the sailing abilities of your purchase? Not to say your cat won't sail well, it just seems as if posts like these could just as well be describing the purchase of a waterfront home.
And it IS their house indeed. As it's been many times stated here by experienced sailors, sailing life consists 5% of sailing and 95% of anchoring, when boat actually becomes just house on water.

The gap between fast sailing boats and fancy, comfortable, well equipped boats getting bigger. I'd love to have fast cat. But then I start thinking what would be tradeoff? Fast boat = light boat. So most likely no flybridge, not much space for toys, tools and no ability to carry them either, less living space, etc, etc. And all of this just for 5% of sailing time. It's extremely hard to justify such tradeoffs.

That Rapier 550 is perfect fast sailing catamaran. But living space on it is very limited, and if you start filling it with toys and equipment, I bet it won't be fast cat anymore. And besides, it's twice as expensive as luxury condomaran of same age.
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Old 24-12-2016, 20:27   #12
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Re: The Great Yacht Purchase Decision

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Originally Posted by ranchero76 View Post
And it IS their house indeed. As it's been many times stated here by experienced sailors, sailing life consists 5% of sailing and 95% of anchoring, when boat actually becomes just house on water.

The gap between fast sailing boats and fancy, comfortable, well equipped boats getting bigger. I'd love to have fast cat. But then I start thinking what would be tradeoff? Fast boat = light boat. So most likely no flybridge, not much space for toys, tools and no ability to carry them either, less living space, etc, etc. And all of this just for 5% of sailing time. It's extremely hard to justify such tradeoffs.

That Rapier 550 is perfect fast sailing catamaran. But living space on it is very limited, and if you start filling it with toys and equipment, I bet it won't be fast cat anymore. And besides, it's twice as expensive as luxury condomaran of same age.

I can fully understand someone's preference towards live aboard comfort, but to completely ignore the sailing capabilities of a sailboat when throwing down 500k-800k to me is mind boggling. Maybe better to purchase a power cat and not worry about the mast rigging and sails?


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Old 24-12-2016, 20:31   #13
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Re: The Great Yacht Purchase Decision

Congratulations Owen and thank you for taking the time to share. I enjoyed reading your posts.

We are looking at slightly smaller cats....Helia and Leopard 44 are on our short list.

Did you happen to check out these yachts in your lengthy search? I would be interested in your opinion.

TIA
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Old 24-12-2016, 22:28   #14
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Re: The Great Yacht Purchase Decision

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I can fully understand someone's preference towards live aboard comfort, but to completely ignore the sailing capabilities of a sailboat when throwing down 500k-800k to me is mind boggling. Maybe better to purchase a power cat and not worry about the mast rigging and sails?
Sent from my iPhone using Cruisers Sailing Forum
I guess, some people are buying sail boats because they love sailing, while other people buying sailboats with hope to save money, because motoring is expensive with today's fuel prices. I'm not sure if they're saving anything at the end, because sails/rigging/winches maintenance, repair and replacement far from cheap too
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Old 24-12-2016, 22:53   #15
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Re: The Great Yacht Purchase Decision

[QUOTE=Saleen411;2287141]Congratulations Owen and thank you for taking the time to share. I enjoyed reading your posts.

We are looking at slightly smaller cats....Helia and Leopard 44 are on our short list.


hi yes we did. I was looking for more waterline length as that would theoretically give us an extra knot or two. Also on the Leopard 44 I worried that given the size of the boat the front water tanks and the generator would be too heavy in bigger seas. The Helia has great space, my concern on the FPs is strength and quality of long term build.
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