Buying Bargains in Panama and/or Mexico - SailNet Community

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Old 11-01-2007
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Buying Bargains in Panama and/or Mexico

firstly thanks to everyone who chimed in about WHICH first boat to buy for my intended cruising grounds of Los Angeles/local islands/Mexico. basically "the biggest cal you can afford" is actually pretty sound advice. and that's what i'm doing. yesterday i was looking over a Cal 34. the owner knew this particular boat was way too tired, too much of a project for what i wanted, so we began to discuss boating. he said something interesting: want a good deal on a good boat? buy in mexico, and panama (both of which i get to fairly often on business). cruising dreams come to and end, wallets run dry, and yards get ownership of boats that they'd like to get rid of as soon as possible.
anyone have any experiences, suggestions, opinions on this? it's certainly an option for me.
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Old 11-01-2007
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A few of problems I see with doing this.

First, you'll need to find a way to get the boat surveyed properly. That isn't as easy to do in Panama and mexico as it is in the United States.

Second, you'll need to jump through some hoops to get the boat documented, at least if you're planning on getting USCG documentation for the boat and sailing under the Stars & Stripes.

Third, the dollar is pretty weak right now, which makes boats in foreign countries a bit more expensive than they would be otherwise.

There was a thread on buying a boat in Mexico earlier this year, and the consensus was that with the dollar where it is right now and the other issues of surveying, transferring ownership and such, that buying in the US might be a better deal.
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Old 11-01-2007
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Boats always look better in an add than in person. I recently looked at a boat in Mexico. It was not a charter boat but showed wear of a boat at least twice as old. You can generally expect that a boat in those areas have been used pretty much full time, that's the nature of where they are either by retired folks or full time cruisers. Sun damage from down south is also considerable.

I also found that the boat was not outfitted for where I wanted to use it.

This is not to say that if you go somewhere you could find a deal. That is always the case.
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I mentioned in a recent thread that you can conceivably visit six to ten boats in one trip to, say, Panama, because potential boats are only going to be in a couple of anchorages/yards. Mexico would be more problematic.

It would be worth it, however, if you find one or two or three decent prospects, to fly in a surveyor. That might cost two grand, but if you are spending $100,000-$200,000 grand, it's 1-2%. Cheap insurance.
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