Join Date: Feb 2009
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yes, there are good vessels for $1.
As a former Dockmaster at high end marinas in the northeast, here's my experience on free vessels and a few thoughts about the OP of this thread.
Yes, I thought perhaps OP may be a scam. There was a scammer scent about it. But unsure, I responded anyway because there are good, free boats out there. If the poster was for real, she decided she had nothing to lose asking for help. Maybe she could have gotten help fixing what she had, maybe not, but that wasn't what she was asking for. Some posters brought that up and if she or any 'real' readers with the same needs read it, they got some insight on how to repair what she had.
More sailboats are donated than powerboats. Some are in great working order, sometimes not. Many of the ones in poor condition are donated to marine foundation- though the foundations are pretty fussy about which poor condition vessels they'll take. They rehab them as a teaching tool and then sell them (usually way under market to move them quickly) to raise money or keep them in their fleet. So they often want specific makes.
The ones that are outright gifted to individuals usually go by word of mouth or sometimes found under free on Craigslist.
You don't need a sad story to ask for a gifted vessel. You don't need any story at all. You just need desire, persistance and humility. Maybe you'll be successful, maybe you won't.
There are some great boats out there for free or for donation. Best time to get them is at the end of the summer season. You have to get out to the boat yards, marinas, boater's pubs, marine foundations, riggers, dock hands, surveyors, sailing clubs, yacht clubs and talk to people. Most are friendly, helpful folk. If they're not, NEXT. I recommend sticking to your local area, if at all possible. If not, go where there is the biggest concentration of sailboats, especially high end marinas.
In these areas, except for racers and sailors who are in love with the the sport, most owners hardly use their sailboats. Usually it's one of many toys. Sometimes, they can't find any crew or they're just not physically capable anymore. Other owners are just waiting for the perfect weather day.
Generally there are two different types who donate boats ~
1. Dedicated sailor who loves the 'sport' but finds themselves in ill health and can no longer sail. Or the widow of said sailor. They don't need the money, can't deal with a sale and the donation is often worth more to them than a sale. They either donate the boat to a sailing club, which will try to sell it for market value, or advertise on Craigslist under boats for free or start asking around among their sailor friends and the folks at the marina.
2. 'Fat cat' owner loses big paycheck or all their investments tank and now they can't afford to pay the pool guy let alone the yard or marina bills, and the impeding winter or summer slip or storage fees and insurance preminum are looming.
Maybe they've listed the boat with a broker or brokers but the boat market is swamped with boats. They have no idea how to use the internet to sell it on their own. Boat doesn't sell in time to pay the marina bills or insurance bills.
Now the owner just wants to get rid of this vessel and all the bills associated with it. I personally helped 4 owners in the last 2 years with giveaway boats from a 20 foot daysailer with an working outboard to a 30 foot Cape Dory. They were all in great shape, the owners just wanted out quickly and couldn't sell. Some couldn't even deal with the selling process and had many other pressing demands on their time. 2 of those boats found new owners who never could have afforded the purchase price even at firesale prices but could afford the ongoing maintenance. The other two were abandoned and the marinas are stuck with trying to obtain title so they can either broker a sale or donation.
One week last fall, I called over 20 people to come and get a 25 Catalina, 1980 something. They all declined. The ones that were serious, figured they'd pass til spring so they wouldn't have to pay the winter storage fees. They also were betting the economic climate would get worse and they'd be more boats to choose from come spring.
If you'd made it this far in the post, my point is that there are great free boats out there. You can do your own preliminary inspection to decide whether you want to spend the money on a survey. If you think it's worth it,
spend the money on the survey. Never take one these puppies without a survey unless you've got the wallet and/or the stomach for the consequences.