Yeah, I knew that "let the broker help us" statement would get some laughs. But I was surprised how quickly he picked out the things we were looking for in a boat even though I never told him. I was fairly quiet but crawling around the boats like a rat. My SO did most of the talking.
We started out looking at an '89 C&C 37+. The boat was in their yard and before we got to it he said it wasn't the right boat for us. And they owned the boat (took it in trade). When I saw it I imagined my son and his muscle bound friends working their butts off trying to tame this thing. And a wealthy owner paying tens of thousands to fix it up. NEXT!
Then he showed us a 1999 Catalina 36. Very roomy and comfortable both in the cockpit and below. It was a new listing, a bit above our price range and no desire to negotiate much right now.
The next one was an '84 Sabre 34. Even though the broker and dock neighbors talked the boat up, I couldn't find the love. Maintenance was fair, there was evidence of leaks, and some other red flags. We both agreed this wasn't our boat.
Then we were shown an '80 C&C 34. If I was ten years younger and wanted to refit a boat, it would be worth considering. But I want to sail before I die.
The final was a '91 Ericson 34/35 (it's 34' 10"). It's built by Pacific Seacraft and the quality showed. The boat was just sold but the broker said he felt this boat would fit us pretty well. After going through the boat, we both agreed. I guess Pacific Seacraft took over Ericson in 1990 and '91 was the first PS-built Ericson. We threw Ericson into the hat.
One lesson learned was in relation to the pictures posted on the web. When assessing the condition of the boat, drop it down a couple or more notches. When determining the spaciousness, imagine it 70% or less spacious. With three of us in the saloon of the Sabre 34 there wasn't even enough room to change my mind.
The search continues...