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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
not all sellers mind you, but in the last two weeks I went and looked at two sailboats that looked nothing like the pictures that were sent to me. My wife and I were powerboaters with friends and relatives with sailboats. A year ago we finally got a day sailer and have learned a lot and have found sailing a lot of fun so we decided to get a swing keel cabin boat. On Craigslist I found a Southcoast 22 that fit the bill and after emailing back and forth with the seller and looking at pictures drove 150 miles after work one evening with cash in hand ready to buy. Got there and the boat had been sitting under a tree for two years. The deck was covered in mold and lichens and the cabin had 4 inches of standing water in it from where he had not gotten the hatch closed. Wouldn't have mattered as the gaskets were shot anyway. This boat was advertised as ready to sail just needing a new home, but the sails when taken out of the bag had mouse holes in them.

Last night I go look at one locally. Again it was pictured in the water and one the hard. Priced about what one in good shape would sell for. Got there and the boat had not been sailed in awhile. The keel would not come down and the boat had been demasted at one time and a poor patch was done on the mast step. I would have been afraid to raise the mast. We are fairly certain it had gone turtle at one time or had been twisted. At least I did not drive 150 miles one way.

Oh well the search continues.
 

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Freddy,

Don't feel too bad -- yours is a somewhat typical story, or at least one we hear here often enough.

I can't really answer your question -- too many different kinds of owners to generalize. But I can offer a little advice.

First, if at all possible, try to confine your search to your local area. This will save you a lot of potential grief and aggravation. Driving a half hour or so to look at a badly neglected boat that has been represented otherwise is a learning experience. Driving 300 miles roundtrip is an exercise in pure frustration.

Also, while I do not know what your price range is, I can say that it rarely makes good financial sense to travel far and wide in search of relatively low-cost sailboats. Time, travel and transport expenses can eat up much of the "bargain" these boats represent. Not to mention the added leverage the seller has when they know you've come all that way.

Finally, try to narrow your search to one or two particular models that would work well for you, rather than whatever boats are being offered in the current classifieds. That way you can become, if not an "expert", then at least confident in your ability to size up individual examples. Be patient, and with your new-found knowledge you will recognize the good one when it eventually turns up.

And, after seeing how poorly some boats are treated by their owners, be prepared to pay a fair price for the one that's been lavished with care and upgrades.;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I have been doing just that. However, here in the midwest the boat selection is somewhat limited close to home so I don't mind driving a little ways. It is sad to see how some boats are treated. A little maintenance goes a long way. Learned that in powerboats as well. The only two times my current powerboat has had to be towed in was that it ran out of gas and neither time was I driving it. It has a guage, but apparently is it harder for some to read than others.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·

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I know what you guys are going through. Not much here locally. There's a lot of junk, a lot of fixer-uppers, too. And people are really proud of junk I wouldn't feel safe in.
Not looking for the deal of the century (although it would be nice) but I'm willing to pay a fair price for a good boat.
Next week I'll be going to the east coast to visit family and hopefully I'll come home with a nice trailer sailer.
 

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Try buying from a broker. At least they might be able to offer a decent description of the current state of the vessel. As they are on commission brokers are not too interested in wasting half their day to show you a boat they know is mesrepresented and you will not want - this because it wastes their time too.

I had a great experience with the broker selling our current boat. he described the condition perfectly.

Mike
 

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freddy, that's the price you pay for shopping for a used anything. Car, boat, lawnmower, doesn't matter. All you can do is write it off and wish them bad karma.

Next time around, ask them "how recent is this picture?" or tell 'em "I haven't completed my anger management classes yet, my parole officer said to make sure to ask you if there will be any surprises when I get there? Because I'm almost off parole, it'll just be another six months now."
 

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I have seen brokers misrepresent boats too! I went and looked at a $100k boat (a Westsail 42) that looked great in the photos on Yacht World.

I would feel out the seller. If you get a good feeling and the guy sounds knowledgeable that is always a good sign. Before driving I would have a couple good long conversations and have some prepared questions:
Is the boat dry?
Does the engine run well?
Is there any softness on the deck?
Are the stantions solid?
Is there any signs of leaking at the chainplates? ports?
etc...

If you talk with the owner through the basic soundness of the boat you should get a better idea. If there is any questions a close up photo is easy to email. If the owner doesn't know or won't bother to send you the info....easy... skip it!
 

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When we were looking for our boat we saw a lot of boats that had been left to sit. Dirty and with obvious deferred maintenance, like the owners having decided to sell just walked away. We saw a number that were in process for some repairs, pulled apart and messy. And these guys were asking top dollar! You would think they would want the boat to look good. The boat we bought was cluttered and in need of cleaning. But was actively being used by the PO.
 

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I spent a ton of money surveying a Beneteau 423 in Annapolis, only to find out that the boat had sunk at the slip at some prior time. There was moulding around the floor to hide the "line" where the water had discolored the bulkheads.
 

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I spent a ton of money surveying a Beneteau 423 in Annapolis, only to find out that the boat had sunk at the slip at some prior time. There was moulding around the floor to hide the "line" where the water had discolored the bulkheads.
Thats a great story. How did you find out about the sinking? Moulding?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
the search is over

finally put an ad on the local Craigslist describing what I was looking for. A couple of days later a guy who had just sailed a Siren down from Minneapolis to St Louis replied ready to sell. We met agreed on a deal and now it is mine all mine. Well mine and my wife's

 

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good things come to those that wait! Glad you got what you were hoping for.

Fair winds always!
 

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Similar experience

My experience was similar a couple months back, including an owner withdrawing a boat from market the day before my planned visit that required an airplane ticket and hotel room. Also asked an agent 5 or 6 specific questions, got answers, went to look at the boat and 3 of the answers given were incorrect and misleading.
 

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My recent boat shopping was very educational, about 3/4 of the brokers just want to move the boat at the highest price possible without disclosing any problems. I was looking for a sound older boat that sails well for under 10k. A high percentage of boats sitting in the broker yards had soft decks, soggy bulkheads, blown out sails and were full of black mold or mildew. Or some obscure engine that parts for are now unavailable. Dumpster bait. The one that were sound usually were slugs on the water. I could not believe the absolute junk people are trying to unload. Maybe they got taken a few years back and are trying to recoup their losses on someone else.
Anyway I ended up with a 74 Mull Ranger 26 in decent shape and very fair price. She sails nice! Points high, planes well downwind, cooks on a reach. just a great boat.
After this experience I think I am almost qualified to be a marine surveyor.
My advise to any buyer would be to get a boat that has a known history and good reviews, otherwise you will be the one stuck trying to unload junk no one wants.
 

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"about 3/4 of the brokers just want to move the boat at the highest price possible without disclosing any problems"
Remember, Ken, that the normal broker is what is called a "Seller's Broker" or seller's agent, and it is his legal responsibility to get the highest price he can. And by doing so, he gets himself the highest commission, so he is doubly motivated to stay ignorant and ask for more money.
There are a few, rare few, brokers that have reps for being honest and not wasting the buyer's time, but they are the exception to the rule. That's just the way it is, the broker is not your friend, he is your opponent in a zero-sum business game.
 
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