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Old as Dirt!
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
If you knew a boat was not right for a novice sailor (with a very young family), would you sell it to him anyway? It is a question a friend and I have been discussing for a couple of days without coming to a satisfactory conclusion.

Some background: For many years, my Pal has made a side-line vocation of buying boats that have been languishing for some while and so are in sad shape and can be had at deeply discounted prices; fixing them up—and particularly the cosmetics—and reselling them for a modest to respectable profit. He focuses on boats offered for sale by people that sailed them to some distant destination; became disenchanted with “Cruising” in the process (often because they started with the wrong boat); were unwilling to return the boats to their home ports; and, simply wanted to get rid of them ASAP at the least cost.

Some months ago he acquired an early ‘90’s Beneteau that had been sitting, uncared for, in Key West for several years at a steeply discounted price from a fellow in New York. After effecting some minor repairs, he managed to return it to the Tampa Bay area (but not without difficulties) and proceeded with a fix-up apace. (Frankly, when I first saw it after the delivery, it looked one step away from the breaker’s yard!) Now, after several months of cleaning, repairs, a paint-job on the decks and new canvas, the boat looks very nice and should perform reasonably well for a knowledgeable sailor although it’s near 7 foot draft will make it problematic in Southwest Florida. While a nice boat, it is not well suited for a novice in any sense nor to this locale.

Recently, my Pal offered the boat for sale on one of the FSBO sites at a very reasonable price and quickly had a buyer in line. The buyer, however, turns out to be a young newby sailor, just now taking his first sailing lessons, for whom we both agree the boat is surely inappropriate. The buyer was advised of such, diplomatically, but demurred and is more insistent about acquiring the boat than ever. The question then is, is it appropriate to ignore the obvious and proceed with a sale or not, keeping in mind the biblical admonishment to “Do nothing to another that you would not have done to you.” (i.e. am I--obligated to be--my Brothers Keeper?) I have my own take but wonder what others might think.
 

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Asleep at the wheel
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It sounds like your friend has already done the most important thing (from an ethical/personal integrity perspective), which is to make the prospective buyer aware that this isn't a great choice for him. Does your friend think the boat is likely to endanger the buyer or his/her family? If so, he may feel better if he refuses to sell it to the buyer. If not, he may find comfort in the fact that the buyer is going to buy anyway, and at least he is selling the buyer a boat that is seaworthy. Perhaps outside of the buyer's current abilities, but seaworthy.
 

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Chastened
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Your "pal" isn't obligated to sell the boat to this guy. He's not selling for a brokerage, or for another owner. It's his boat, and it's his right to sell it to anyone he sees fit.

Your pal also may feel that he doesn't want to witness all of his hard restoration work go right down the drain when this newb crashes or abandons the boat. That's certainly understandable.

Tell the buyer to piss off and buy a Catalina 27 if he doesn't want to sell to this novice.

The other side of the coin, is: "I warned the buyer, it's his responsibility now. I've got my payday and I'm whistling on my way to the bank."

I don't think either choice is inappropriate.
 

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Sea Sprite 23 #110 (20)
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I think he needs to get a second opinion in there on the newbies behalf. Have your pal get in contact with the place the guy is taking his sailing lessons and have them talk to him
 

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Chastened
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Two words: liabilty waiver.
You gotta be kidding.

People buy high performance cars that they aren't qualified to drive, all the time.

People fresh from getting their motorcycle endorsement on their driver's license kill themselves on high-performance crotch-rockets every spring.

The dealerships should make people sign waivers? That implies that the responsibility of the purchase can be transferred to the seller.

No thanks.
 

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Old as Dirt!
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Jim et al,

The yacht is a fairly sophisticated racing boat designed/intended to be sailed by a crew of 5 or so. Among other matters, the spar is "bendy" and depends upon runners set up properly, for example, and so is not well suited for casual cruising. To keep the boat on her feet does/will require knowledgeable sail management and reefing (in the boat's current configuration) is not a one man job. Is the boat seaworthy? Yes, it seems so, and handled by an experienced crew can likely provide a heck of a ride. I just have misgivings about turning it over to a novice.

Several years ago on a cruise to Key West, we ran into some really crappy localized weather between Cape Romano and Smith Shoal in the middle of the night. With the first gust of cold air from what had been leeward, we quickly reefed down, snugged the boat up and had wet, bumpy, uncomfortable couple of hours but no undue excitement and we arrived at the Galleon Marina the next morning in due course. Later in the day a number of other boats arrived that had been participating in a race from Naples to KW at the same time, several looking quite worse for wear-tattered sails a broken boom etc. At one point, my wife happened to go into the ladies room where she encountered a young woman in tears, having a melt-down. It seems she and her young husband had been caught unawares and had really had the crap knocked out of them during the storms with the boat knocked down at one point (later we did see seaweed in the spreaders). Everything spilled out of the lockers and much, in glass jars and bottles, shattered, spilling the contents over the sole (the smell from the boat, even dock-side, was pretty horrific and I was told the interior looked like it had been hit by a tornado). The woman was so traumatized she refused to go back aboard (even after her husband and some friends had more or less cleaned up the mess) and so stayed in a room at the resort until she could catch a puddle-jumper flight back to Naples. They survived but I'm reasonably certain the experience put paid to that couple's yachting.

If one foresees a potential disaster….?

FWIW…
 

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Opportunity:
sell to the moron, let him break the boat, buy it back cheaply, fix what moron broke, resell at a second profit.

upon thought, I'll elaborate my own experience:

One my first races with my Hobie 16. A tropical storm was approaching the general area. I called the race organizers who said 'yeah, we're still holding this race and novices are invited.' I got there, race some distance away for me, and found 30kt winds. I asked a very experienced racer who was there whether I should go out. I got a noncommittal answer. Thus encouraged (nobody was negative) I swallowed my nervousness and went ahead and tried to go out, did all the wrong things and managed to hit another boat. Owner of hit boat was an abject *******. All around bad experience.

I obviously didn't quit sailing, but I will say this: I did ask, which is more than it sounds like your prospective buyer is doing. Having learned a hard lesson, I got over it. It's not your job to teach lessons, and you can't fix stupid.
 

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Gee, I don't know. Sailing is fun. Sailing is a small community. Everyone knows what everyone does in sailing. Even buying and selling boats can be fun. Treat someone badly, and scuttlebutt travels far and wide. I still take phone calls from the guy who bought my last boat for advice. Any excuse to talk about boats!

Save the dog eat dog for Wall Street. Life is too short. Counsel the guy. Help him get the right boat, even if it's from someone else, and in the end, people will want to do business with you.
 

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Captain Obvious
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I think your conscience is already telling you the answer. If it were me- I'd be against selling it to the guy. You just hate to hear the horror story that is bound to come back to you, hate to see things go wrong. I'd warn the guy off.

Sooner or later the right buyer will come along.
 

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There is a psychological term for thinking that you are responsible for someone else's actions. It's called co-dependency.
 

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If I had listened to people on internet forums Before i bought a boat for my circumnavigation i would have bought a 22 foot wooden double ender, no engine and with 14 mizzen masts.

You say the guy is selling "Now, after several months of cleaning, repairs, a paint-job on the decks and new canvas, the boat looks very nice and should perform reasonably well... it's near 7 foot draft"
Well, whats wrong with that?
Eh?
The only thing wrong is you superimposing your opinion of a persons knowledge and personality.

If its now a good boat at a "very" reasonable price you mate isnt ripping anyone off. If the draft is deeper than you would like, then the new owner will find theres deeper water a bit further out. How do you know the buyer wants to gunkhole in SW Florida? Maybe he doesnt mind a bit of careful navingating in Tampa bay because he feels the open ocean beckons?

If you say the boat is good for that price/vintage/style etc then give the guy a few months doing his sailing course and he will be fine with it. Sailing isnt rocket science. Even the vikings could do it. :)

Mark
 

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Just read the post re boat being a Beneteau First. How big? Over 40 feet? Sill I dont think theres anything inherently wrong at all. Could give the guy a whole lot of fun being able to go in some local races to get his sailing knowledge up.

Re early comments about liability waivers etc, thats BS... The responsability is on the buyer in a latin term "caveat emptor" buyer beware.

Of course he will have googled the boat and found out its a racing boat etc. that research you must assume has been done diligently... Thats why they call it due diligence. :)


:D
 

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Asleep at the wheel
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If you've explained the boat's inherent issues (i.e., that she's a racer that needs a real crew, not a cruising boat) to the buyer, and it's still what he wants, then maybe he knows more than you do about what he plans to do with her. He may already have a crew, and plan on racing her (though he won't tell you that out of fear that you'll jack up the price), with maybe the occasional spin with the family to keep them interested. He may also be ready to move her to deeper waters somewhere else. I'm not sure where, on the east coast, that "somewhere else" might be, but that's a separate issue.

Ultimately, it's up to you (or your friend). Can you sleep with yourself at night knowing that the guy is out there on that boat? If so, then sell it. If not, then hold off and find another buyer. To your fundamental question, no, you're not the buyer's keeper, but you do still have to look at yourself in the mirror in the morning.
 

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Knowledge is not ability and the prospective buyer may not understand that and be emboldened by the lessons he may have taken. What I would do is to take him out for a sail on a pretty spritely day, demonstrate and then let him sail with you playing guardian angle. Both of you may be surprised.
When we started selling tandem bicycles at our bike shop we were advised to employ this scenario: take the person who would be the stoker, normally the wife, out for a demo and have a very controlled ride. Talk to her, let her know when rough pavement was coming, tell her to signal your turns, alert her to objects you would pass close by, all the good things a captain is supposed to do. Then take the would be captain out, but put him in the stokers saddle. Ride like a banshee ape, take corners as fast as possible, hit every pot hole and don't tell him diddly about what he can't see. Half way through the ride stop and explain what you just did and explain the responsibilities of the captain to his stoker. Then let the new captain dive you home. At the end of the ride explain to him that there is nothing worse than riding a tandem bicycle by yourself. Worked every time.
Some form of this would surely clear the air between seller and buyer and result in a positive arrangement. I don't believe in down selling someone who lacks experience or ability, but would make sure he understands what he's getting into and offer suggestions on how to develop experience and ability safely.
John
 

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...the boat is surely inappropriate. The buyer was advised of such...
He got good advice and appears intent on ignoring it. As they say, a fool and his money are soon parted.

If your friend refuses to sell this boat to him, he will surely buy another boat, that is at least as inappropriate, from someone else. Hence, refusing to sell it to him will not save him from himself. What's more, you did warn him. Hence, you have met your moral obligations.

Sell him the boat!
 
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