And lastly - what resources do you use for finding boats for sale by owner. 99% of ads seem to be brokered....(I already use Craigslist, Yachtworld, and BoatTrader...)
I think that the best method is to go to marinas and clubs. Leave an advertisement on the bulletin boards, clearly stating what you are looking for and how much you are willing to spend. There are people out there who would sell their boats if it was easy and they didn't have to deal with brokers.
Also, identify the kinds of boats that you are interested in and log on to the owner's association websites. There are almost always boats offered for sale there. Note that the prices listed tend to be on the high side, as this is usually the first place that people will offer their boat for sale, and they are usually optimistic at the beginning of the process.
Have any of you negotiated a deal where you paid cash and did 1/2 on initial purchase and 1/2 60 days later?
No. Have you ever received title to a house wihtout paying the entire purchase price ? That said, it is standard practise that you will put down a deposit, in escrow, arrange your survey(s), and then either complete the sale, renegotiate the price, or back out of the deal depending on the surveyor's report.
How do you negotiate a price initially without survey on higher priced boats? Say you have one for 64K is it unreasonable to start at 45 or 50K as initial bid (Anyone with success on that?")
If your vendor is selling the boat through a broker, ask the broker to provide you with a 12 month sales history of like and similar boats in your region. If they won't give you that, they are probably trying to get more than market value for it. I think that it's a good idea to open with as low a figure as you can without feeling embarassed. Do your research - look at what smilar boats are listed for on Yachtworld, etc. and then offer about 50 to 60% of that. In this market - you might even be able to offer 35% of asking...you never know until you try.
Don't ever buy a boat without a survey, and make sure that your sales contracts include the right to renegotiate your purchase price based on surveyor's report. If the broker won't co-operate - walk away.
Note: I have heard about honest brokers but have never encountered one.