Jul 29 2009

Searching for a Sailboat – Part 2

You know, there are a lot of boats out there for sale.  There are quite a few that are what I would consider reasonable, and then there are the really cheap ones.  I have learned a lot from our first buying experience.

First of all, never trust anyone.  We were sold a boat that had taken on water and we had no idea.  We asked about some water that was standing in the lower area, and were told that it was rain water that had come in.  Were also told that the boat had two batteries, a power inverter, a VHF radio and had been cleaned monthly.  All of these were lies.  By the time that we had the chance to have a good look, we could tell that there was going to be trouble.  The morning that we woke up and noted about a quarter inch of water standing on the floor, we knew there was a bad problem.  About a thousand dollars later, she was out of the water and sealed.  When we contacted the seller all he would say was “I sold it as-is”.  No feelings of regret and no apology.

We recently went to look at a larger used boat that were interested in buying.  This time we were looking much more closely to the details that might set off alerts.  The first thing we noticed was in the ad.  There were no interior pictures.  There would be no reason for this unless the interior was a mess.  The pictures of the outside of the boat were really low resolution and didn’t show how dirty it was, either.  And, as we suspected, the interior had been completely redone, but not in a good way.  The owners were really young and had evidently torn out or painted over all of the wood.  They had sold things for one reason or another, like the steps that you use to get in and out from below.  It would have been nice if they would have taken pictures of all the bad spots and let us know in advance, but they did not.  What you get when you are not completely honest in a transaction like this, are buyers that would never have bought what you had to begin with, that leave angry because there was not an honest disclosure.  If I had been on the fence about buying the boat, I would have immediately backed out when I learned that they had not disclosed everything, wondering what else might be lurking in the darkness.

Sad indeed, but you really can’t trust ANYONE.  Best thing to do if you are not experienced in what you are looking at, is to have an expert go with you to inspect the boat.  At the very least you should be able to take her out with or without the owner to test all systems.

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  • Chuck

    Can you hire an engineer that specializes in inspecting the integrity of a vessel?

  • Yep. There are people that do just that, and they are more than willing to inspect boats.