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Old 22-07-2020, 22:15   #1
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Buying a used sailboat

Another question from a wanna-be sailor.
Is there a way of roughly assessing a used sailboat from its photo in the ad (in combination with the usual brief description)? Are there any clues that will tell you that this is something worthy of a trip, or - that this is clearly a piece of junk?

Thank you very much!
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Old 22-07-2020, 22:26   #2
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Re: Buying a used sailboat

IMO, no. Pictures may have been taken any time in a boat's history. Also, paint jobs can disguise a multitude of problems. Mostly, the pics people have of their boats, were taken earlier in ownership than selling.

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Old 23-07-2020, 03:39   #3
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Re: Buying a used sailboat

Further to what Ann says - the opposite can be helpful. For instance, if the pictures display a date-stamp somewhere, then you know the seller is being more straightforward because he/she is showing you they're recent.

Next look carefully. Are there stains (leaks) below the portholes? Look for such telltales in prominent places. Is there a picture of the engine? What does it look like? Very generally, a well-maintained engine will look clean-ish. The paint may be chipped but its look will reflect that someone has been in the engine compartment recently.

Also, take stock of which pictures they do show you. There should be outside and inside pictures. Bow-on, Stern-on and both sides (ask me how I know about that one), hopefully also a both-sides pic out-of-the-water as well. Then below, salon (from forward, from aft), galley, chart table, head, v-berth and engine. At least.

If they haven't provided all of these... What's missing? For example, my friend is currently looking at a Cabo Rico 37'. The pictures show absolutely everything - except the hull and keel. Absolutley no pictures below the waterline. Hm.

As she's recently been sailing extensively, it's probably because the boat is still in the water, and of course, if he purchases her, he will have her hauled and surveyed as part of the sale. But if I was looking at that Cabo, no matter how many pretty pics they threw at me, I would start with the state of the hull and keel *first* - then go into ecstacies over the beautiful woodwork, etc.

I guess what I'm saying is, don't allow yourself to be sidetracked.

Good luck,
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Old 23-07-2020, 04:42   #4
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Re: Buying a used sailboat

Fly,
It would be best to see the boat in-person, with another experienced boat person if this is all new to you. I would also research online or read books that explain how to do an amateur survey to get an idea of what items are potential trouble.

My trailer sailor boat was advertised with 'shiny' pictures but was not shiny when I got there. It was even worse the second time I viewed it a few months later as a drain hose had cracked allowing water into the boat, mice had taken up residence, and some equipment had gone missing. I got the boat at a 'fire sale' price but I am still fixing damages seen and unseen and missed quite a bit of sailing in the process.
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Old 23-07-2020, 06:03   #5
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Re: Buying a used sailboat

Would you buy a used car based on pictures?

Particularly for the inexperienced boat buyer, there is no dependable way to assess the quality based on pictures or any description.
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Old 23-07-2020, 08:54   #6
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Re: Buying a used sailboat

Absolutely no.
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Old 23-07-2020, 08:59   #7
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Re: Buying a used sailboat

I once saw an ad with photos of my boat, so they might not even be the boat for sale.
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Old 23-07-2020, 09:04   #8
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Re: Buying a used sailboat

What’s not in pictures is usually more telling than what is photographed.
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Old 23-07-2020, 09:05   #9
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Re: Buying a used sailboat

No........must see it in person.
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Old 23-07-2020, 09:31   #10
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Re: Buying a used sailboat

Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleWing77 View Post
Further to what Ann says - the opposite can be helpful. For instance, if the pictures display a date-stamp somewhere, then you know the seller is being more straightforward because he/she is showing you they're recent.

Next look carefully. Are there stains (leaks) below the portholes? Look for such telltales in prominent places. Is there a picture of the engine? What does it look like? Very generally, a well-maintained engine will look clean-ish. The paint may be chipped but its look will reflect that someone has been in the engine compartment recently.

Also, take stock of which pictures they do show you. There should be outside and inside pictures. Bow-on, Stern-on and both sides (ask me how I know about that one), hopefully also a both-sides pic out-of-the-water as well. Then below, salon (from forward, from aft), galley, chart table, head, v-berth and engine. At least.

If they haven't provided all of these... What's missing? For example, my friend is currently looking at a Cabo Rico 37'. The pictures show absolutely everything - except the hull and keel. Absolutley no pictures below the waterline. Hm.

As she's recently been sailing extensively, it's probably because the boat is still in the water, and of course, if he purchases her, he will have her hauled and surveyed as part of the sale. But if I was looking at that Cabo, no matter how many pretty pics they threw at me, I would start with the state of the hull and keel *first* - then go into ecstacies over the beautiful woodwork, etc.

I guess what I'm saying is, don't allow yourself to be sidetracked.

Good luck,
LittleWing77
I would add....Look for what the pictures dont show you... If there are tons of photos of the exterior, and few of the engine room, or the head... there must be a reason... or if the photos are cropped in such a way that certain parts of the boat are cut out of the photos..theres a reason... I always look for cleanliness...if a boat isnt clean in all the nooks and crannies, then its not been looked after very closely. If the bilge is rusty and oily, then obviously, there are problems.
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Old 23-07-2020, 09:33   #11
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Re: Buying a used sailboat

I concur with all comments above. Unless you or someone knowledgeable whom you trust looks at the boat, photos are of little use in determining the condition of a sailboat. I once flew across the country to look at four boats sought for specific model and make characteristics. The photos of the buyer's prime candidate looked good, and the seller said it just needed some TLC. The boat was what I would terms a "salt-water roach." Options listed can be old, abused, or incorrectly installed. Interior photos are often staged to hide leaks, detached bulkheads, or damage to structural elements. See the boat in person along with a disinterested but knowledgeable person, and sail the boat if possible before you decide to buy.
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Old 23-07-2020, 09:33   #12
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Re: Buying a used sailboat

IMO... NO!

I was looking at a boat in Florida (I'm PNW) and so eventually I called the Broker and asked him to call me from the boat when he was over that way. When he did, being a Florida boat in the sun it's whole life, I asked things like: "does the gelcoat look really flat white, porous, sun baked? Or shiny? Does it come off on your hand leaving white residue?"
He said "no, it looks fine. "
When I flew down it there it was really flat white , porous, sun baked and powdery.
Grrr...
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Old 23-07-2020, 09:45   #13
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Re: Buying a used sailboat

Quote:
Originally Posted by flybynight View Post
Another question from a wanna-be sailor.
Is there a way of roughly assessing a used sailboat from its photo in the ad (in combination with the usual brief description)? Are there any clues that will tell you that this is something worthy of a trip, or - that this is clearly a piece of junk?

Thank you very much!

No. If you are not local to where the boat is a good first step if you have sufficient interest is a hire a surveyor to do a preliminary survey for an hour and take photos and a video.

Before spending the money on the above, tell the selling broker, or even better the owner that you are considering doing a preliminary survey as described above and ask the broker and / or owner to send up to date photos and reveal all issues that could effect the value of the boat. As much as possible without being insulting let the broker / owner if you get a sense of lack of transparency on behalf by the broker / owner you will walk. Period. End of story.

When buying a used boat it is not a bad idea to take a surveyor with you to do a preliminary survey the first time you go to take a look if you are not a surveyor or the equivalent of a surveyor yourself. Or maybe you have a friend that is an equivalent of a good surveyor.

Selling brokers and owners usually want to get a buyer 1/2 pregnant(as committed as possible), by having the buyer already invested in a full survey, paying for a haul out, paying for travel, emotionally invested, etc, Better to take baby steps as much as possible looking for red flags.

It may not work and it could kill the deal upfront, but you can try to put in the sales contract that if your surveyor finds anything not revealed by selling broker / owner over a minimum amount that needs to be repaired the seller has to pay for the survey / haul out, etc.
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Old 23-07-2020, 09:45   #14
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Re: Buying a used sailboat

Depends on who is selling the boat.
Usually pics will be far off and a lot look like they have had potato rubbed on the lens. Not good.
Having just dealt with the sale of a boat the pics I had up were a mix of super close up to show how sweet the paint is and farther out to get the big picture.
I was also willing to take a pic of anything at request and text it to interested parties.
But then I had nothing to hide and was happy to show her off.
Advice I gave to anyone looking to buy a boat. Spend at least three hours going from stem to stern trying to lay your eyes on every inch possible. Have a flash light in hand.
Do this and you will likely see and find more than most surveyors.
That exact situation is what just played out . I actually gave the buyer a list of everything I knew to be wrong with the boat. They surveyor found not one of the issues and discovered only one I di dnot know of, and that I fixed in front of the buyer.
I do not include the silly stuff, boating rules book missing etc.
Not interested in arguing or dealing with the trolls
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Old 23-07-2020, 10:14   #15
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Re: Buying a used sailboat

Quote:
Originally Posted by flybynight View Post
Another question from a wanna-be sailor.
Is there a way of roughly assessing a used sailboat from its photo in the ad (in combination with the usual brief description)? Are there any clues that will tell you that this is something worthy of a trip, or - that this is clearly a piece of junk?

Thank you very much!
There are many horror stories out there about prospective buyers travelling long distances to see a boat that looked great in the pictures, only to find it in near derelict condition once they got there. Here is a great link to my old standby (originally posted by another CF member) Marine Survey 101, pre-survey inspection.

I guess the moral is, don't get your heart set on any boat until you've at least seen it in person and then make an offer conditional upon survey and sea trial. In addition, a good surveyor will uncover flaws that have been hidden with a quick clean up and paint job.
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