The Art of Boat Shopping

I want to start this off to share that we are not experts at shopping for used boats. We are also not brokers, nor looking to make any money selling boats. We are merely interested in writing a little blurb on our experience, sharing what we learned with hopes to pass on a little tidbit. As small as it may be, we hope it comes useful to others who are new to the process.

Start with a List

What are your criteria? What are you must-haves? What are your would likes? And what can you add later? When you build this list, you will find some of your ideas shifting from must to likes and vice-versa. You may also find your criteria shifting again once you begin boat shopping. The internet provides hours of information on used sailboats. Here is a site that lists boats under $50K that could be a start for a few.

Realize Your Tastes

When we began our physical boat shopping we quickly realized we have champagne taste but also with a beer budget.  Respectively, our criterias shifted a bit once we visited many boats. For an example, we really wished for a pullman berth but to have the pullman we had to accept the head to be located at the bow area. We preferred not to be looking forward at the actual head.

Total Cost of Ownership

So what is your budget?  Because your decided figure drives everything!  How you determined how much wiggle room (financially) do you have, padding is essential for those surprises. Consider additional line items to for your budget: boat insurance, marina fees, transportation, surveyor fees, to name the top few.

Survey Matters, or Surveys Matter

There are a plethora of boat surveyors; all coming with their own set of expertise. Surveyors also come with their own reputation and get much of their work by word of mouth. So ask around to other sailors. Ask around a lot and get as many opinions and references as you can. We found from our research that there are two very good surveyors, and conveniently one on each coast. On the East coast, it is Lee Taylor and the West coast Alison Mazon

After Chris sold the dream to me, he began an extensive list of boats that may fit our needs. Keeping in mind that the list he made was purely created by reading and view about the boats. If they fit us, then, criteria, they made the list. The list was long but so was our list to acquire knowledge about boats in general. The long list quickly became shorter after we stepped onto boats we thought we were interested in. Like buying a house or renting an apartment, you know after the visit if a boat will meet your criteria. The process of elimination was quicker than we thought and we were down to our short list of the boats. The tedious game to locate boats proved more work ahead if we want our dream boat. What we wanted was not that plentiful in the PNW.

While viewing the boats we felt would fit our needs, we acquired some tips from Practical Sailor’s DIY Survey Check List for Used Boats. We also utilized many online resources to acquire terminology, for example, this article from BoatUS, speaks on getting the right survey for your boat. When viewing potential boats, you owe it to yourself to take the 30 minutes and go over the Check List. Using the checklist kept us focused on what to look for and the important questions to ask. Very helpful when the ‘helpful’ broker is chatting away at ya. 😉 The practice narrowed our list to a short list of two boats.

When you have your short list – congrats to you because it is your dedicated leg work that will reward you with your dream boat.

Your next step is getting started on purchasing the ‘found’ boat that you can’t wait to call yours. Remember to negotiate within your financial means because though you fell in love with ‘that perfect’ boat, we can say from experience, ‘boats do grow on trees’. The right fit will come now that your boat shopping knowledge base is strong.

Keep your dream alive because this can be you someday.

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