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  #1  
Old 02-26-2013
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Question John Neal Boat Selection Consultation

Anyone have experience with John Neal?

I'm considering hiring him to assist me: Mahina Expedition - Offshore Cruising Instruction

I see a lot of potential issues with me going into this purchase blind and have had bad luck with Boat Brokers.

Unless some people have had a bad experience with him, I think this is a great idea.

Any thoughts, feedback etc. will be greatly appreciated.
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Old 02-27-2013
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Re: John Neal Boat Selection Consultation

I recently listened to John and Amanda on The Sailing Podcast, where John talks a fair amount about his consultation service and expertise. If you've never met John or aren't familiar with his background, it's worth a listen and may give you a better feel for whether or not you'll want to use his service.

I don't know John personally, but he seems like a nice enough guy with a ton of experience. However, I'm not keen on paid consulting services for finding boats, in general. There's just too much free information out there today with books, the internet, and others with experience who are willing to share for free. I also happen to really love researching and finding this type of information on my own.

Or maybe I'm jealous and wish I had the bluewater experience to start just such a consulting business of my own...

However, if you have a very specific situation, these services might come in handy. For example, let's say you want to purchase a boat on the west coast of the U.S. and do the milk run through the Pacific and then sell the boat for a profit in Australia/New Zealand, John might be able to help. He mentions his specific knowledge of the boat market in Australia and New Zealand in the podcast and has several contacts there that can also feed him information.

For what it's worth, John Kretschmer and Bob Perry also offer consulting services.
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Old 02-27-2013
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Re: John Neal Boat Selection Consultation

I'm kinda with Kwalt here.. Good on 'em if anyone can make a living and help somebody like yourself out, but in reality I'm not sure what you'd gain - but again it depends on your circumstance and experience, your needs (ie.. spending $5K on a starter or jumping in at $250K+ would put a different spin on the need) the cost of the consult and, I suppose, the consultant him/herself.

But there's no lack of assistance available on sites like this one and others, nowadays you can screen literally hundreds of boats in YW and other listing sites, there's always local opinions, just go hang out on a dock somewhere and look interested. You might even run into an unlisted gem that way.. " Oh yeah,,, old Fred's really looked after that old girl but he's getting on... might sell...."

I do think that cultivating an acquaintance with the background to help makes a lot of sense and most boaters/sailors are pretty happy to share. As always consider the source, do some common sense filtering (as you would with a broker) and I think you should be able to avoid making a major mistake in selection.

All that said obviously experienced people like the Neals and Perrys et al certainly have good insights to offer and for someone without the resources may find the whole experience very worthwhile.
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Old 02-27-2013
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Re: John Neal Boat Selection Consultation

Just start the thread here. You will probably get some good information, and even if you don't it's a hoot reading the arguments about what armchair is best for sitting in while telling someone else what to buy.
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Old 02-27-2013
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Re: John Neal Boat Selection Consultation

Interesting service.

I think a lot will depend upon what you are expecting to spend on a boat. If you are looking for a $5k boat, this service could be expensive. $20k, you may want to give it serious consideration. Higher - I would say why not, it's only a fraction of what you are looking to pay, and the advice will likely save you a lot of time/money.

If you were a member of a local yacht club, or new somebody, the chances are you could get advice 70-80% as good for free. For example, even with my paltry knowledge, I was able to save a friend around $20k on his boat purchase. Here, I'll give you that bit of advice for free: Boats around here are selling 20%-30% below the asking price, so make an offer in that range.

Good luck!
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Old 02-27-2013
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Re: John Neal Boat Selection Consultation

There is far more experience available on line combined than any one individual can claim. Just make sure to ask of the advisors actual offshore experience, not on his armchair advice. If he doesn't answer then assume he has little. Some very experienced people have a bias, based on the boats they have sailed, and make incredibly dense comments on boats and types of boats which they have zero hands on experience in owning or cruising in.
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Old 02-28-2013
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Re: John Neal Boat Selection Consultation

While I agree that with enough time and effort, one can cut through all the chatter and pick up some good information, but in todays society - especially on line - the majority of comments seem to fall into the "If you are not looking at my boat, its garbage" comments. Same can be said for politics, motorcycles, cars, trucks, sports teams etc. Honest, Educated and Supportive feedback is very rare when it comes to picking or purchasing something.

I did find it entertaining how some will criticize a boat just on its name when it is common in this industry to have a Manufacture name actually manufactured under several different manufactures. Morgan comes to mind in this aspect.

That said, I do find the forums very helpful on the how too stuff, but when it comes to critiquing or asking an opinion...there will just be a lot of chatter.

I should also note that when it comes to actual boats, I have little to no experience with them nor do I with true passage making. Because of this, I have come to the conclusion that I could benefit from someone like John. I did appreciate the reference links to the other two Consultants and I was able to weight out all three. In the end, I decided on John because of my lack of experience and I think the other two would be more in line with someone with some experience.

Hopefully John won't regret my decision after having to deal with this Newbie.
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Old 02-28-2013
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Re: John Neal Boat Selection Consultation

Real, I posted a thread here about buying a boat best suited for cruising the Bahamas and got a lot of very good advice. I'm not a newbie to sailing but I have not sailed out on an open sea for days on end, and know little about the Bahamas. People posting on that thread were very helpful and I did not get the impression that they were overly biased.
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Old 02-28-2013
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Re: John Neal Boat Selection Consultation

Based purely on speculation, I would think a service like this would have two main advantages:

1) Help you find a great "no name" boat. Known names sell at a huge premium. As a non-expert it can be scary to buy a boat from "Bubba's Boat Works" that built 4 boats in the late 80s before going out of business. Did their boats suck, or did they go out of business because they built them too well?
2) Help you find a boat with significant upgrades. If you buy a $100k boat and put $80K of upgrades into it and them immediately sell it, you will prob be lucky to get $120k. The buyer of this boat scores big time.

If a consulting service can help you with either of these, the small fee you pay may save you tens of thousands. With a proper consultant you are not just buying their expertise, you are buying into their network of contacts.
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Old 02-28-2013
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Re: John Neal Boat Selection Consultation

If you are thinking about using a service like that to find a boat for going offshore, I'd think again. If you are unable to find & recognize a boat that is appropriate for blue water, you are not experienced or knowledgeable enough to go out there.
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