Sunday, June 2, 2019

Looking at Our Dream Boat

This entry may be way too detailed for some readers. I am attempting to document the process that we are gong through to attempt to buy a sailboat. I want to write about it in real time, from beginning to end, to refer back to later. So, skip this entry if you don't want to know about buying a boat in South Florida in June.

We woke up on Friday (5/31) morning very excited and nervous about the day. We were going to go take a second look at the boat that was #1 on our list, of possible boats. We had the entire day to look at the boat by ourselves. The broker was busy. The boat is docked at a private residence of a boat mechanic and he would just leave it open for us. We took a cursory look at the boat back in January, but that was when we were not ready to buy. The plan this time, was an in-depth look at every aspect of the boat and it's systems.

One thing that I am becoming aware of, is the very different buying process that is used in the boat business. I thought that buying a boat would be much like buying a car or even a house. It is not. The expectation of the broker selling the boat, is that a buyer will do a viewing of the boat, then decide if they are interested in moving forward with an offer. If the offer is accepted, then a "survey" is done by a marine expert. This includes putting the boat on a lift and pulling it out of the water. Then a test sail is done including a motor test. After this is all completed at a cost of a little over $1000 to the buyer, a final report is generated. It is at this time that adjustments in the price are negotiated and a final deal is either accepted or rejected by either party. The buyer does have the right to accept the deal as was outlined in the original offer, but this really limits the ability to negotiate concessions.

I am not comfortable with that approach, so I am attempting to learn more about the boat before making an offer to potentially save the cost of the survey if I become aware of a "show stopper" issue. It will also allow me to make adjustments in my offer that will get me closer the a final price up front. We will see how that goes.

The first mistake we made was not getting an early start. We thought we would look at the boat for the afternoon and then when the mechanic came home in the evening, we could ask him some questions and he may even start the motor for us. The weather in South Florida is very hot and humid right now. We knew from our previous visit that there was a sign in the boat warning to not turn on the Air Conditioners. So, we did not attempt to turn them on. There are 2 of them.

It is hard to get a good picture of a boat at a dock, but that is the Pilothouse. The thing that is unique about this boat.
Our first impression of the boat was not great. The boat has been sitting a while and it is really starting to show. It is docked in a very protected canal in Fort Lauderdale, but it is still exposed to salt water and UV from the hot sun of South Florida. As we went around the boat opening hatches to get some air flow we started to see signs of neglect. This is a 29 year old boat and she is certainly showing her age. There are problems with many of the hatches and the dogs that close them. I can certainly fix all of the little things I was seeing, but it is a sign that the boat has not been maintained at the level I would like to see. Much of the exterior wood on the boat needs to be refinished. I can also do that, but it will take time and money.

We spent over 4 hours on the boat and found many things that we liked and many things we are concerned about. After 4 hours of crawling around the boat checking things out, I was very hot and ready to find a cool place. We did not wait for the mechanic to come home and went to get something to eat and a cold drink.

Kim and I spent most of the evening and much of the next morning talking about this dream and this boat. After making a number of lists of things that would need to be done and I researched the potential costs, we finally decided that this boat was still #1 on the list. We are willing to do the work, if we can get the boat at the right price.

On Saturday, June 1, I sent an email to the broker outlining my thoughts and a request to see the boat again with him or the owner present to see more about the systems aboard. I really need to see two key areas:

1. Engine - I want to see it run and put in gear.
2. Sails - I want to see the sails unfurled to check the condition. This is a big dollar item if there is a major problem.

We are now waiting for that next meeting to see if we can take the next step. While we are waiting we took a walk to the beach and took a swim in the warm Atlantic Ocean.

Kim on a beach
I will write again in a few days or when something major happens, but until then, I will leave you with a picture of the evening sky from the Condo.


  1. Sounds like quite the process and a potential money pit if not done thoroughly. Good luck, I hope everything goes well!

    1. You are right on Jim. That was my exact thought. We are trying to buck the system. We will see how that goes.

  2. Good luck on ya'll's decision about the boat. My initial thought while reading the post was,,,,, are ya'll buying the boat to spend time fixing it up or to spend time enjoying it. As we both know, things can change the path of our lives quickly. Just a thought. Ya'll take care.

    1. Darrell, thanks for the comment and the thought. You are certainly correct. Your comment is extremely timely as we are looking at shifting to a different boat at this moment. We will see.