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Old 07-31-2003
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Gift Boat--Worth it?

Tikimama,

You want to look this gift horse very carefully in the mouth - first get specifics on the boat/year/model and find a blue book value for it. This gives you an idea of what the boat COULD be worth when in excellent condition. Then get an estimate from a transportation company for shipping the boat to a local yard. Include yard costs at both ends for moving or storing the boat, plus $3-400 for a survey. Now decide if the boat COULD be worth the cost of getting it to you.
If it passes this first test, then proceed with the survey, try to get a surveyor who is an engineer and very experienced, my guideline is, lacking other insights, hire the person who charges the most! The surveyor dollars will be the best money you spend on a boat.
The surveyor will identify some (or lots) of work needed to make the boat seaworthy. Then see if you can get an qualified Alaska boat yard to give you written estimates on doing the work identified by the surveyor. (If the number is big, you may have to try to compare AK-CA yard costs, use the difference in per hour labor charge to adjust the estimate to CA). Take the resulting yard estimates and double them, to allow for the usual and natural surprises that occur with boat repairs.
Now see if the boat COULD be worth the total of repair costs, plus shipping, plus survey. Boat repairs and equipment are EXPENSIVE in ways automaible owners never see - it is possible for a free boat to still be too expensive to repair, unless you have the time and experience to do you own repairs (and don''t put much value on your time...).
This arrangement could be a good deal, but it has a lot of risks that you won''t face if you went into the local boat brokers office and made an offer on floating boat in excellent operating condition.

I hope this advice can come across as realistic and useful, and not excessively pessimistic. Good luck!
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