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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Boat Review and Purchase Forum
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  #1  
Old 08-27-2007
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Long Distance Inspection

Okay,
So I'm off the T33 and onto the Ericson 34. They are fairly uncommon, so I will probably have to go long distance. I am looking at one in St. Pete, FL, looks pretty good from the listing. My question is, knowing that I can't trust anything that the broker says, what is the best way to get a decently objective opinion before I fly down there? I had thought of finding a surveyor and paying for a walk-through on the boat. Is this an acceptable strategy? Other ideas? Thanks in advance.

Freeman
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Old 08-27-2007
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How about asking a fellow cruiser from the board who may be local to do a once over? Send him some love for his efforts. I doubt someone who hadn't a clue would even volunteer. But it would be a start.


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Old 08-27-2007
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Long-distance purchases are always a gamble regardless of what precautionary steps one takes but if you are wedded to an E34, which is a nice boat, there are lots for sale nationally. Despite some of the paranoia voiced over your other post regarding cored hulls, the is nothing wrong with a cored hull which has been properly maintained. Obviously, lots of people are prone to simply repeating common misconceptions. Comparing a long-distance boat vs. one you can see and touch (and inspect), the cored hull one is less of a gamble.
If it were me purchasing a boat elsewhere, I wouldn't even seriously consider having it surveyed until I first looked at it myself. Seen too many bad surveys and surveyors which can be a legitimite paranoia.
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Old 08-27-2007
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I've offered to inspect boats for sale in my area for distant buyers, by contacting the broker and requesting a walk-through.

I did this twice for internet friends, was upfront to the broker with my intent, which was to have a preliminary look - poking into bilges, taking photos and generating an overall assessment of the condition - not necessarilly evident in the online listing.

I emailed my opinion with the pics, so the potential buyer could decide if the expense of traveling the distance would be worthwhile. Naturally, hiring a surveyor as the next step is not recommended, which should be done only upon an actual inspection by the prospective buyer.
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Old 08-27-2007
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Finding a knowledgeable Sail-Netter in tampa/St. Pete should not be hard, but my question was whether surveyors will do a preliminary walk through without incurring the full survey expense. Much as a friend would do for you, but for less dough than a real survey. From your responses, I would guess not.
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Old 08-27-2007
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Pre-purchase walk-thru

I have had good success hiring surveyors to do preliminary walk-thrus on some far-away boats I was considering. Twice I spent a couple of hundred dollars and saved myself the cost of an airplane ticket when my man said the boats had problems not revealed in the listing or discussions with the seller's broker. I had gone to the professional surveyor sites (i.e. SAMS and NAMS)and gotten contact info for several surveyors in the area near the boat. I then emailed them and requesting information on rates. Based on their replies, I then telephoned several likely candidates. I made my decision on hiring after having personally spoken with several of them. Most of the ones I contacted said that the cost of a full survey would be reduced by the cost of the walk-thru.
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Old 08-27-2007
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The place to start is with the broker. Get your ducks in a row and ask very specific questions in writing about the boat and its history. Ask for pictures of anything the online listing does not show...ask for a copy of the last known survey. Visit the owners group and find out what DOES go wrong with these boats and then ask the broker about those things. Once you are satisfied, then...

Make sure the broker knows that this is an expensive trip for you and that you will be quite angry if you make the trip and find thing not exactly as described. Do this on the phone...not via e-mail.
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I had a harder time buying my new (to me) boat than I did selling my old one. A large part of the challenge was trying to extract information out of the brokers. With a couple notable exceptions, most brokers were very, very vague on the details of the boat and the boat's condition.

I came to the conclusion that this was intentional and designed to get me out there to look at the boat. No big deal with a boat in the general area, but extremely frustrating when a visit to the boat meant 2 days of travel.

One tactic that worked was to ask the broker to take specific photos - some weren't willing to do so, but it did let me know more about the boat than the listing disclosed. In one case it led to an offer and a weekend trip out of town for haulout and inspection (too bad I didn't ask the broker to take a picture of the bottom of that boat).

To answer your question though, yes, some surveyors will examine a boat and give you a general condition report without the detail and expense of a full survey.
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Old 08-27-2007
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"I came to the conclusion that this was intentional "
Jason, any salesman (tv's, boats, cars) who has had professional sales training will do the same thing. You can't make a sale, without the customer. And once you have the customer in your clutches--there's always a way to make the sale. If for no other reason than because the customer is tired, worn down, and often more willing to compromise or yield simply in order to get done with it all.

I tell you that not as my opinion, but as the result of professional sales training I once had. The kind an employer spends good money on.
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any salesman (tv's, boats, cars) who has had professional sales training will do the same thing.
I guess it works because it seemed like a nearly universal practice, but it sure made shopping for boats long distance difficult. I can't imagine travelling for a weekend after a broker says, "Put an offer in on it, then you can have it surveyed."

That was a common refrain. Of course, my favorite broker comment was, "Most boats under $100,000 don't keep maintenance records." Followed by the suggestion I put an offer in and get a survey.
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