Sunday, May 13, 2012

Buying a boat...the process

While I am not sure how many people will be interested in our sailing / cruising adventures, I am enjoying posting in this blog . How much interest can there be in a couple taking off to cruise...going where ever they want on their own schedule, and having a new adventure everyday, trying to find the best beach on  the most beautiful islands...all while enjoying life at a much slower pace? Island time?

There are still many things that need to be accomplished before Shirl and I can cruise, but it appears that we have accomplished one huge goal...there is a deposit on a boat. I received a call from the person who did the survey and he stated that the boat was in great condition. I have not received the detailed report yet, but was very happy to get the news. This next week I need to get boat insurance, and find a slip to put the boat in. I think June 1st is the planned date to put the boat in the water. My job ends on May 24th so the timing will work out pretty well. The boat will be on Lake Erie for the summer where we plan to gain sailing experience, and get familiar with the boat and it's systems.

Below are ten of the things I did to find the right boat...not an easy task.
1. Set an approximate budget. ( I was able to stick pretty close to what I decided but went slightly higher because of the condition of the boat.) I did not want to break the bank here. We will obviously not be working while cruising so I opted for a 21 year old boat in very good shape that fit the budget.
2. Spend many hours of research and reading other's opinions as to boat type and size for a couple to safely and comfortably cruise Florida, the Bahama,s and the Caribbean...many...many hours.
3. Focus on the boats that meet the above requirements and are well maintained with at least some of the equipment you will require, and have asking prices that are within 15% of the your budget
4. Narrow the search further by eliminating boats that are geographically undesirable, and those that are not in good condition. While I realize that a boats condition can be improved, in many cases it is hard to predict the cost of improvements.
5. Once a model and length are decided make a spreadsheet of all boats, equipment, asking prices, and  relevant information
6. Get as much information as you can relative to recent sales of the model you are going to attempt to buy
7. Start traveling to find the correct boat, boarding the boats and inspecting them. (not all boats look like the pictures on Yacht World)
8. When you find a boat that is in good shape and well maintained...that your sailing partner is happy with... you know looks nice, smells good, and makes a good presentation. Then if possible  talk to the owner about it. A lot of information can be gained in a short conversation. The broker will have some general information on the boat, but the details are important here...discuss them with the owner.
9. If all the above is good and the boat feels right...that's right I said feels right...part of this is an emotional decision as well...then make an offer. Determine what the boat is worth from all the information you have gathered. If the owner is asking too much explain your offer and how you arrived at that number. With the depressed boat market any serious offer is a good offer. If the boat has been on the market a long time you are more likely to have your offer accepted.
10. A successful negotiation will be determined by how much the owner wants to sell and how much you want to buy this particular boat. There is no formula for determining the amount of an offer based on a percentage off of the asking price. Some owners price boats too high...I did not find any priced too low. Better boats sell higher and can demand a better percentage of a competitive asking price.
If the end result is you getting the exact boat you want for the price you are willing to pay as I did, then all the hours of research and looking were well spent. Actually I am sure the owner would have liked tohave gotten a little more for the boat and I of course would have liked to have paid a little less, but in today's market I think this transaction was a win for both of us.

One more thing I considered. I have rebuilt heads (Atlantis A5 toilets), and worked on sanitation systems on boats a few times. This is the only job I dislike doing on a boat. Serenity has a new holding tank, plumbing and a new head. If you have ever worked on the sewage side of a marine head you know why this weighed heavy on my decision. I will list other things I liked about Serenity in another post.

Sail on,

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