Join Date: Aug 2007
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I'll take a somewhat contrarian view.
There are some very good deals out there... you just do not know (yet) if this may be one. First, do not fall in love with it.
The retrofitted outboard issue is the tough one and should probably be solved first. If you can't find a cost-effective solution here, walk away. I assume the outboard is on a lift on the stern, and I think you're courting big problems in a 30-footer in heavy seas (when you need that power most).
Seek out a couple marine mechanics for their ballpark estimates on what you might spend to get a rebuilt Atomic 4 installed. People turn their noses up at A4s, but they run (and run) and would probably be your best solution in this lower-cost boat. How many powerboats have gas engines and don't blow up? Lots and lots. moyermarine-dot-com shows A4s for $1K to $2.5K (before installation).
Don't forget if an A4 is viable, you'd now have an outboard you can sell to offset some of this cost.
Once you have a decent estimate for an A4 repower, get Don Casey's book Inspecting the Aging Sailboat and the boat inspection tips right here on SailNet. Perform your own detailed inspection (take notes and photos) looking for reasons to reject the deal. Consider cost-to-repair (soggy decks and blown sails are expensive to fix, new plumbing and wiring are not so bad if you're even just a little handy).
If it passes muster, make an offer, contingent upon a survey. People get heated about the politeness of "lowball" offers, but just look at all the donated boats where owners really cannot be bothered with the selling process. This owner may "want" $7K, but may take $3K... you only know if you ask (I've found an offer made with a refundable deposit gets much more consideration than simply asking "Would you sell it for $ XX?"). Sellers can be anxious if you catch them just right; I paid $1200 for my HR28 that first-listed on Craigslist 6 weeks earlier for $6K.
But DO get the survey and be cold-hearted as you evaluate the results and make a final purchase decision.
Bottom line is I do agree that an outboard on a 30-footer is a non-starter. But if you're a bit of a wheeler-dealer, maybe you could get that boat with an A4 installed for that same $7K (total)... getting seller price concessions, getting a replacement A4 installed at a reasonable price, selling the old diesel and outboard, etc.
Last, don't fall in love. It is a business transaction. But one can get a lot of boat for not much money if you're creative (and lucky).