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Boat Buying Bliss

“Hey old friend, it’s been a while,” I said to a familiar face.


“Yes it has been too long, but I’m glad I came along for a cruise on the bay. I’ve been meaning to ask you a question, Krabby”


“Of course, let’s hear it.”


“My husband and I have made an offer on a boat and there are a few things I could use your advice on.” explained the potential boat owner.


“That’s great, I thought you guys would never make the jump into boat ownership bliss again. We will need drinks so we can toast to the occasion, while you tell me about your concerns.” I exclaimed.


“Ok, cheers. I guess they are not exactly questions that I have, but more clarification that I need. We negotiating the purchase of a 30’ inboard diesel semi-displacement cruiser. She’s about 20 years old and looks to be well cared for. I would ask you to take a look, but she’s on the Gulf Coast. We have hired a surveyor whose nickname is the ‘Deal Killer’. I thought you would appreciate that.” I chuckled and she took a breath and a drink.


“Sounds great, so far - your surveyor sounds like my kind of guy. What are the issues that concern you?” I asked.


“The only real question is on the performance of the boat; there seems to be some discrepancy from what the listing says and the research I’ve done. The listing claims the boat can cruise at 15 knots with a top speed of 18 knots. The fuel economy is stated to be 2.5 MPG at cruising speed and 2 MPG at top speed. When I checked with owners of the same model boat, I get different data. Should I let it go or make a point of it on the sea trial?” queried the concerned boat buyer.


“I know how you can be a stickler for details when it comes to data. You know the saying, ‘figures don't lie, but liars can figure’, this is just as true in the world of boat sales as anywhere else. That said, I don't think the numbers here sound too far off.” I paused for a sip and some quick calculations.


“You told me she has a 200hp single screw diesel. That should get you close to the 18 knot top speed, but the 15 knot cruise might be a little optimistic. I’d say closer to 12 knots. The fuel consumption is close also. The rule of thumb is 5 gallons per hour per 100 horsepower - at full power (200HP) she’ll burn 10 gallons per hour. If she makes 18 knots the MPG will be 1.8. I don't think you can complain too much if the actual performance is within 5 or 10% of the listed performance.


You bring up a great point; the purpose of the sea trial is to ensure the boat performs to what is on the listing sheet, it Is not like test-driving cars at the dealership to see if you like how she runs. This is why I encourage buyers to charter a similar boat first to ‘test-drive’ it and see if they like it. I think you told me that you have friends with a similar boat - maybe some of their favorite food and drink would encourage them to take you and your husband out and give you some time at the helm. That way you can see if you are comfortable with the way the boat handles and you can be objective when you sea trial your prospective new boat,” I explained.


“Ok,, that’s good advice. What other things should we look for on the sea trial? Inquired the persistent buyer.


“Your surveyor will need to check the boat while underway for leaks, vibrations, etc. and make sure the controls and steering gear operate smoothly and safely. If there are issues that are not disclosed in the listing, then the seller must repair them or reduce the price for an agreed amount to compensate for the cost of the repair. If the boat does not perform anywhere close to the way it was advertised, you can walk away or negotiate a lower price. This is why I encourage buyers to schedule the sea trial before the out of the water survey - so if there are issues found, you can walk away before incurring the cost of the haul out and full survey.


I have a couple more things to consider when shipping your boat to San Diego. It's unlikely that there is a truck sitting outside the gate at the boatyard ready to transport your new yacht to you. Before you close the deal, make arrangements to store the boat until the truck is ready to load. It's usually very expensive to store the boat out of the water during the waiting period and it could take a couple of weeks to arrange transportation, especially if you want to save money by utilizing a backhaul (an empty truck coming back to SD). Arrange with the seller (or broker) to move the boat to the yard for loading when the truck has arrived for pickup - since you will not be there. If the truck route will encounter freezing weather, you will need to have the systems winterized to protect from freezing. Additionally, if there is a way, then water will enter the bilge during transport, so make sure the drain plugs are out or there is a way for the bilge pump to operate. On the San Diego end, you’ll need to make arrangements at a yard to unload and launch the boat - in advance. Tell the yard about any tasks on your wish lists - in advance. We have been good friends long enough for you to know that boatyards don’t do well with surprises - especially if you want the best value. Meet the truck when it arrives and let the yard know that you have inspected the boat for any damage from transport. Do this promptly - boat yards don't wait for free. Once the boat is clear to unload, inform the yard of important things like drain plugs left out, winterization, etc., that will make the commissioning in San Diego go smoothly. Lastly ensure that your broker has the title in your name and you have the completed survey before the boat is transported so you can acquire insurance." I said taking a breath after my monolog.


“Wow. I should know all that, but I just wasn't thinking clearly, you know, ‘boat buying bliss.’ Thank you I must owe you another drink,” she said gratefully,


“I’ll take you up on that aboard your new yacht when she arrives at the club”.

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