Thursday, October 7, 2010

Buying The Yacht

The Pic is a Pacific Seacraft 40, if we had an extra $200K in the boat budget this would have been the boat.

I planned on titling this post "Buying The Boat" but then I read the first chapter of the latest edition of "Chapman's Piloting: Seamanship and Small boat Handeling". In the first chapter it clearly states that a boat is any vessel up to 40 feet in length and a Yacht is over 40 feet. Wand'rin Star is 42' so our little boat is a "Yacht". The average length of vessels who are out there cruising with a couple on board is 40'. I started the search for our boat by setting 38' as a minimum and 44' as a maximum. There are a lot of factors to consider when you are trying to determine the best boat for your particular purpose. Our search for The Boat took about 3 years, but I started organizing the search almost 4 years before we planned to buy the boat. This is a common past time of boat owners to get on the Internet or just walk the docks to check out bigger boats. I have organized the our particular process into about 16 different categories :

1. Dream the dream, subscribe and read the sailing magazines that cater to the type of sailing you are interested in. There are lots to choose from and I usually had about 4 subscriptions to magazines like Practical Sailor, Sailing, Cruising, Latitudes and Attitudes, This Old Boat are a few.

2.Estimate the range in terms of size of boats that you will include in your search and a maximum you are willing to pay.Next research This is the ultimate boat site that has thousands of boats used and new to dream about.

3. Create a spreadsheet and list every boat that catches your fancy. The spreadsheet will develop over time as you begin to understand the characteristics in a boat that are most important to your planned use. We had over 50 different boats listed on our spread sheet after the initial research on We would add 15 more through other sources.

4. Find a good broker and stay with him. We went through two brokers before we found one that actually listened to us and was always available and patient enough to work with us for over two years.Kent Little at Sealake Yachts in Kemah was our man. He actually sold us our second boat, that was not exactly a smooth experience but it turned out well so we returned to him for our third boat and we really put him through the paces for this round.

5.Step on a lot of boats, this process will narrow down the list as you become familiar with aspects you dream about. Always go back and add your new found data to the spreadsheet, list why you are eliminating a particular choice. Move it to the bottom of the list and create a rejected category.

6. Read everything you can get your hands on: "The complete Guide to Choosing a Cruising Sailboat" by Marshall, and "Sailboat Design" I and II by Robert Perry are must reads.

7.Research design Ratios and add this information to the spreadsheet. Understanding design ratios helps to take the subjectivity out of the process and help you make a more objective decision. You will not buy a boat just because it is "Pretty" Goto

8.Seek training and gain experience: Experience means sailing as often as possible in as many different settings or boats as possible. make lots of sailing friends and go out on their boats in their environments. Take all the ASA sailing courses or just jump in and get your Captains License.

9. Prepare a boat budget. Know exactly your limit financially and save 3 times more money than you think you will need. This will leave a comfortable cushion for all the "unexpected cost" and keep the Admiral on board.

10. Charter one or more of the type of boat you are interested in. We had the opportunity to go on three charters before we purchased our Yacht, and one of the Chartered boats was in the Top Ten List on the spreadsheet.

11 .Narrow the list to a Top Ten list and go wherever they are for sale to step on them. This process will definitely re-sort the list.

12. See the vision, make the dream a reality. If you haven't already created a vision board to view several times everyday, then this is the time to do it. Make your" Ten Step Plan" listing what is left to do in your life to actually get to the point of owning the boat of your dreams.

13. Prepare your financing early. Now that you have done all the above the rest moves quickly and you need to be prepared if one of your top three choices all of a sudden becomes available for a better than expected deal.

14. Monitor the market and re-visits boats on the web often to check for price reductions.

15. You will now know it when you see it. Through this process by the time you step on the boat you make an offer on you will know as much or more then the present owner, broker or surveyor. The things that you will not know are hidden to everyone except perhaps the present owner. These are your future boat projects. Thus #16 is very important.

16. Hire a independent surveyor, this is the guy that the local boat brokers are not fond of, he causes consternation for them and the present owner. He will at least make sure you are not about to buy a vessel that could sink next week and help you get a fair price for the vessel. There might not be such a surveyor in the local area so it would pay to have one brought in from another area who is so respected.

I could easily write chapters on all of this, but I am not sure when I would find the time to do so, there is a lot of work to be done on Wand'rin Star as it is. One last Word of Caution: If you follow this process you will get what you want.

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