Join Date: Jul 2002
Thanked 4 Times in 4 Posts
Rep Power: 14
First boat blues - need help!!!
R, I''m sure you''ve beginning to appreciate that we all hold firm views on the basic issues you are raising despite some of those views being quite divergent. That should encourage you to adopt some of our own, based on what you''re seeing in the boat yards and at the docks. So here are a few more views I''ll offer as mine, not necessarily those others should hold:
1. Brokers are people. Some are more incented by today''s dollar while others see their role as a profession, know they''re in it for the long term and are more honest than some of the ministers in my home town. For first-time buyers, the right broker can be of immense help; the trick is getting the right broker. You might canvas for some recommendations, as repeated praise with the detail to back it up is a reasonable indicator in any profession. (BTW the same is true of surveyors, you definitely should contract with one once you are considering a purchase, and they often provide a basis for reducing the asking price by far more than their fee should the boat need attention in important areas). I worked with a broker when purchasing my 4th boat, he''s now in his 24th year with the same company in Annapolis, and I think we benefitted from his role despite being the listing agent. The main thing working against you using a broker is that the commission on the boat you seek will be small. A broker with a long-term perspective will hear you talk about ''the next boat'' and see his/her time with you as an investment. But again, the challenge is to find the right broker.
2. 95+% of the boats in your price range will be production boats; so what? (The other 5% will be homebuilt or finished out from a bare hull & deck and, as a group, probably suffer from greater design compromises, construction short-cuts, builder ignorance and impatience, and/or poor economies of construction than the production boats). Forget about such labels and get on with the task at hand: finding a ''right boat'' for you. Who cares what label it has?
3. You''re looking at 20-25 year old boats, given your size range and budget. You should assume that much of the original equipment in a boat of that age is approaching the end of its finite life span. The hull, deck, spars and some of the incidental items aboard will probably have many years left. Some essential components will have years of service left only depending on the previous level of use and care given them by the former owners (sails and engine are examples). Most of the other original gear (pumps, wiring, breakers, lifelines, running & standing rigging and so on) has already passed its finite life span and has seen rebuilding, repair and/or replacement before you showed up. That''s the price of owning an older boat; the benefit is that you can have the same fun, comfort level, etc. as someone who paid 5 times as much for a new one...it''s just that you have to pay as you go. Don''t begrudge this effort (and pull some money back from your initial purchase budget if that''s financially required), as this is the process of building your body of knowledge about a boat''s systems that will make it possible for you to move up to a more complex boat in the future and have the competencies such a boat will require of you. (Boats age primarily due to 3 factors: the care they''re given, the frequency with which they''re used, and their local environmental conditions. Boats on the Great Lakes or the Pacific Northwest will look fresher, show less corrosion, etc. but that''s essentially irrelevant for you. Just feel good about not shopping in e.g. Florida, were boats are worn out sooner and look it.
4. Don''t underestimate the value of an active owners group. IMO one of the benefits of making a ''pedestrian'' boat choice (e.g. Catalina, Pearson, Tartan for your location) is the large body of knowledge available to you, and the colleagueship that evolves from networking with owners of sisterships. It''s a great way to learn a lot about your boat quickly, and meet some nice folks along the way.
Supplement your boat shopping with some selective reading (e.g. Calder''s Electrical/Mechanical guide, Vigor''s book on the best small boats, Spurr''s history of fiberglass yachts). Keep up a dialogue with your partner about what you''re *really* going to do with the boat, and maintain a clear view of this when shopping and - yes - talking with brokers. None of us know what you''ll end up deciding but, given the effort and openness to views you show, it will be unlikely you''ll make a wrong choice.