Personal Inspection

Well, today is the day…we get to see the boat that we have placed an offer on for the first time. Have you ever seen the movie Captain Ron? I have visions of showing up at the dock to look at the boat for the first time to see what the Harvey’s saw in the movie Captain Ron…I believe the quote was “What would she be worth if she was…in less than perfect condition?”

The picture I included in this post is the boat from the movie Captain Ron…not the boat we are looking to purchase, just in case anyone was confused.

Well, good news, things are never as bad as you imagine them to be. No, in truth the boat met our expectations. We looked in every nook and cranny of the boat with a flashlight, looking for evidence of water leaks and gaining a sense of the general condition. Yes, the boat is a little dirty from sitting on the hard, but I think we can see past that. To our untrained eyes, it would appear that we have passed the personal inspection phase and will now move on to someone with a more trained eye to give us the run down and opinions about the condition of the boat and all the systems.

We are off to Florida

Here’s where we are headed. Fort Pierce, Florida. The boat is lying in the Harbortown Marina just waiting for us to come take a look.

We have scratched a few more items off our list. Purchased plane tickets to Florida. Arranged a date and time for the survey and sea trial of the boat to occur. I mentioned previously all the steps we took to select our boat surveyor, however there were a few other points of coordination involved. We needed to align all the stars to ensure the boat was available to be surveyed – currently the boat is on the hard (meaning on land, not in the water) – it is incumbent upon us as buyers to have the boat either hauled out of the water or in this case, into the water, so the boat surveyor can perform his full survey.

We also had to coordinate dates and times with not only the surveyor, but also the broker, who is typically present during this time. Coordinate ourselves and our work and kid schedules. Coordinate flight times, hotel, etc. Typically the current owner or seller is also in attendance at the time of the survey and sea trial as well, however in this case, they were not able to make it.

So, the stars have all aligned and we are soon to be on the plane heading to Florida to see the boat for the first time! Much excitement!

Well, with the offer step out of the way, we have some work to do…

One of the next steps is to find a qualified yacht surveyor. A surveyor is something fairly equivalent to a home inspector. You hire them to come and inspect or survey the boat with the hopes of finding out the true condition of the boat and any material defects that would influence the purchasing decision or the final selling price. Notice I said, “with the hopes of finding out the true condition…” This would be dependent on the qualifications and quality of the person you hire to perform the survey. But no pressure….. Big decision that we are spending significant dollars on, so we hope we have found someone well qualified.

Not a fan of leaving such big decisions to fate, we start the process of systematically finding, what we hope, is a qualified surveyor.

1) First we asked our broker who he might recommend for a surveyor. Of course, this is not going to be our only step. Asking and accepting the recommendation of the broker, who is motivated to close the sale of the boat to make his commission, regardless of the true condition of the boat, is a bit like putting all your eggs in one basket. So, we hear his opinion, will validate his opinion and move on
2) We called the local boatyard where the boat is currently slipped and asked boat mechanics there who they would recommend for a local surveyor. Those who work in a local boatyard typically see and work on boats issues that have been identified by surveyors and have opportunity to perhaps understand who is doing good survey work and perhaps who isn’t
3) We checked out the certification agencies who certify boat surveyors
4) We checked online boat forums for opinions from those who have had boats surveyed and who they used and who they recommend

We now have a list of 3- 5 surveyors that are under consideration. From this list we did the following:
1) Call each and ask for a sample survey
2) Find out their availability to perform a survey on the dates we require
3) Talk with them about their approach to survey and what we as buyers can expect. Specifically telling each that we intend to look over their shoulder as they perform the survey, not to get in the way, but for us to better understand the results of the survey and what they found. Those who are not comfortable with our involvement in the survey are automatically removed from the list.

Through this process, we were lucky to find one surveyor in particular that was mentioned by all that we talked to, as the best in the state of Florida. The boatyard told us they would not recommend anyone else.

Well one item taken care of on the list – surveyor….check

We made an offer!

Well, the title says it all, yes we did make an offer on the latest Island Packet 380 located in Florida. Things are moving fast. We were with some close friends for dinner tonight and borrowed their scanner to scan all the documents that needed to be signed and sent back to the broker. We have had a lot to think about over the last few days. What constitutes a good offer? We have understood for quite sometime what we are willing to pay, however we really like this boat, so what are we willing to do to make it ours? Will we need to make any compromises?

We have begun to think about things like needing a boat surveyor, insurance, where to dock the boat, we need a slip, we need transportation to ship the boat from Florida to Minnesota. We will need to travel to Florida to see, inspect, survey and sail the boat prior to purchase. When will we be able to get down to Florida to do this? We need to purchase airline tickets. When will we close on the boat? What kind of time frame will work? Oh and then there’s the pesky issue of money. I guess we have to think about the deposit and ultimately the funds to purchase the boat.

Lots to think about, so I do what comes naturally to me…made an excel spreadsheet (those who know me will laugh about that one)

So, off to the broker went the papers once again with our signatures at the bottom. This time I really didn’t let myself get excited and reserved my excitement for the verdict regarding the offer.

Drum roll please…………….

Inside of 24 hours the broker called us to let us know that we have an agreeable contract with the sellers. Now this is getting exciting!!!! We have agreed upon price, contingent upon personal inspection, survey and sea trial. Now we have to get those items accomplished before we determine if this boat is ours or not.

Well, it’s been sometime since our initial 2 boat offers. I think after that experience, we decided that perhaps fate was telling us we should slow down a little bit and not get too far ahead of ourselves. So, over the summer of 2011 we enjoyed our current boat – Hunter 260 that we have had on Lake Minnetonka for the last 11 seasons.

We keep talking about boats and we keep looking at yachtworld everyday, still focused on Island Packet 380’s.

We have been looking at one particular Island Packet 380 that has been on the market for about 2 years now. We have gradually watched as the list price has dropped to something close to the price we are willing to pay. We have casually discussed this boat and reviewed the photos and information multiple times.

Mark, came home from work today and said “ummm, honey, I talked to the broker…” Remember that Island Packet 380 we have been looking at? Well, I called him up to see what the deal was with this boat since the list price had just dropped again.

Well, as you can imagine, the rest of the evening was spent in discussion about this boat, what did we think, did we want to make an offer, is it the right time to make an offer. Wait, didn’t we just send in money for our boat slip for the 2012 summer season? Can we ask for our money back? (Remember that part about getting ahead of ourselves)

Well, we spent the better part of the next 2 – 3 days talking more about this boat and the what ifs. Placed a few more calls to the broker to ask some questions and ultimately decided…..

(more to come, you didn’t think I was going to give it all away in one blog post, did you?)

Offer #2

Lately, we have been narrowing our yachtworld searches more and more specifically to include Island Packet 380’s. I think we have, with some degree of accuracy, determined that this boat would be a great boat for us and meet our needs and wants.

We are starting to get a better sense of the various features and options that are included on Island Packet 380’s and have regularly done some comparison shopping of one IP 380 to other IP 380’s, going so far as to create a spreadsheet that compares features and options of all the IP 380’s currently on the market against our previously stated purchase criteria and our want list. This has served us well to better guage the list price against what the boat has to offer and ultimately what we are willing to pay.

Today, we contacted a private owner who is looking to sell his Island Packet 380. Who knew that offer #2 would come only 4 days on the heels of learning that we were not successful on offer #1. I guess once we started this ball rolling, it has gathered some speed.

This particular Island Packet 380 is a fresh water boat, which is a very attractive feature. It means, less wear and tear on the boat and it’s components overall from the corrosive effect of seawater and salt air. This boat doesn’t have any much optional equipment aboard as the previous boat did however and at a slightly higher price point. There is merit however to not having alot of extras aboard. This means that there may be less changes or alterations to things that might not be the way we would prefer they be and we have the time to add our own customizations and equipment as time allows.

Buying a boat is in some ways no different than buying a house. You aren’t going to find the one that has everything you want. Any purchase will be weighing the features and the necessary compromises.

So, we send an email and have a phone conversation to discuss the boat and price with the owner. Ultimately, this round is a fairly abbreviated experience since the owner is firm on his price and it doesn’t match what we are willing to pay.

Offer #1

Well, making the decision to actually place an offer and generate an official document with our signatures on it, with our proposed price, is an exciting and scary step. If you have been following along, clearly we have been in the “shopping” mode for a few years, however making an actual bona fide offer…well that changes things a bit.

We contacted the broker that we have been causually chatting with, who happened to have the listing for this particular Island Packet 380 that we are about to embark on down the path of purchase.

Being new to this boat purchasing process, we kind of entered into this thinking that we would ultimately own this particular boat, never thinking that things do occur along the way that get in the way of that happening. So, you let the excitement build, only to learn that perhaps it’s better to contain the excitement until the papers are signed making her ours. It’s really hard not to be excited, don’t you think?

Well, a few specifics about this particular offer. As I mentioned, we made an offer on an Island Packet 380. This particular boat has just come on the market, has been out cruising, been well-maintained and has the word “New” on many items on the listing. And, I might add, at a list price that is actually reasonably close to what we are willing to pay.

Because we live in Minnesota and have a limited opportunity to go view a particular boat prior to making an offer, we understand that what is going to work, for us at least, is to place an offer on a boat sight unseen. We feel comfortable doing this because once you have seen an Island Packet 380, all others are similar and only vary in condition and features. Now condition can play a huge factor, however we will take our chances and deal with this in the process of personal inspection, survey and sea trial.

So, we put in the offer with the broker….now, we wait to find out what happens next.

Then, the phone call comes, this boat has generated alot of interest. There are 3 similtaneous offers on this boat in the short time it has been on the market and we are not the highest bidder.

We have a couple of things playing in our favor 1) we are not in a hurry to purchase 2) we know what we want to pay and aren’t willing to go much over that due to # 1 and 3) there are many other Island Packet 380’s out there.

So, for this round, we learn more about the process and learn more about our tolerances and what we want, in what time frame and take that knowledge with us to the next time.

Boat Shopping Trip #2

Mark has a business trip planned in the Houston, TX area, so we thought this would be a perfect opportunity for me to tag along on the trip and look at some boats! Not a lot of big, ocean going boats in Minnesota, so any chance we have to get near big water and big boats is the perfect opportunity to do some more shopping.

After limiting our yachtworld search to the Houston/Kemah, TX area, we have identified several boats that we have not had the opportunity to see up close and in person that fit our purchase criteria. On this list for viewing this trip includes the following:

40′ Passport
46′ Formosa
36′ Pacific Seacraft
42′ Westerly
37′ Tayana

We were particularly interested in the Passport and have considered the Passport 40 to be one of the boats at the top of our shopping list, but we hadn’t seen one yet. A call to the broker was placed and we scheduled a date and time to walk the docks and view the boats on our list. Up to this point, we haven’t really been all that “schooled” in terms of how these arrangements work, how to work with a broker or things of that nature. Only have heard and read other people’s stories and experiences on the web. That gives you some sense of what to expect, however you never really know….until you know.

We had a great couple of days in Kemah. It was awesome to see some of the boats that we had only seen in pictures. General impressions – you really can’t judge the real space or feel for a boat from looking at pictures. You can only tell if it’s too big, too small, not enough storage, doesn’t feel comfortable, to dark, etc by spending time aboard.

We were disappointed to learn, once we got there, that the Passport had been sold between the time we placed the call to the broker and when we arrived in Texas. Here we learned a few more valuable lessons of how this boat buying process works.

Lesson # 1 – At least for us, we learned that it only makes sense to deal with the listing agent. Dealing with a different broker who doesn’t know the answers to your questions and has to get back to you after checking with the listing broker just doesn’t make sense. It was a bit like playing the telephone game and we never felt like we got a direct response.

Lesson # 2 – If you are serious about a boat, put some money down or put in an offer to demonstrate your interest. We were disappointed that the Passport was sold prior to us arriving in Texas and after seeing the boat lying in it’s slip, we wished we would have made the commitment and extended an offer to avoid having it sold prior to our arrival in Texas. It was a great boat.

The spring of 2009 finds us on our annual spring break trip to Siesta Key, FL. After surfing yachtworld.com for a considerable period of time, the time has come that we thought it might be a good idea to actually look at a few of these boats live and up close. Where to start….

We opened the only sailing magazine that we brought with us to Florida and turned to the back to locate a yacht broker that might be nearby. We called one such broker who was in the Tampa area, just a 1 hour drive away from Siesta Key. We called and scheduled a day and time while we were in Florida to come over and see some boats they had for sale. We spent about 3 – 4 hours looking at 3 boats, all Island Packets. We looked at 2 Island Packet 380. One was “The Belle of Virginia” and the other was “Likeke” We also looked at an Island Packet 420 “New Harmony”. The owner was aboard the 420 and we found out he was from Minnesota, how awesome!

This trip has given us alot to think about, hmmmm….we kind of like those Island Packets.

Since we were in Florida and liked what we saw with the Island Packets, we took another day and did a factory tour of the Island Packet factory in Largo, FL. It was very educational to see them building boats with all the various stages of completion.

We have to realistically narrow down our potential boat list…after all, we can’t buy them all! If you were to ask 8 sailors what constitutes a great cruising boat, you will, of course, get 8 different answers. At the end of the day, the answer to the question, “What makes a great cruising boat?” is “The one that meets YOUR needs.” So, after much discussion of features and functions, here is the list that we have come up with –

Price Range
100 – 200K, up to $250K

Use
Live aboard, off-shore capable

Length
35 – 45 (ideal 38 – 42)

Age
Comfortable with any age boat, condition and construction are
more important than specific age or era

Condition
Good to Excellent, not a project boat, ok if it requires some
deferred maintenance

Underbody
Modified full keel, cut-away full keel or modified fin keel with a
skeg-hung rudder or protected rudder
Not interested in boats with a fin keel and a spade rudder

Material
Fiberglass

Cockpit
Prefer aft cockpit, but would not rule out a center cockpit if it
were the right boat
Must have combings of adequate height for comfortable seating
and benches of adequate length for lying down in cockpit
Stern rail seats would be great

Rig/Sail Plan
Cutter rig, prefer without a ketch or yawl, but would not rule out
a ketch or yawl if placement of mizzen mast makes sense
Would not consider a ketch or yawl on the lower end of the
length specified
Indifferent about a furling main vs a standard main with lazy jack
or stackpack, either is fine
Roller furler on the head sail a must
Roller furler on the staysail and self tacking staysail would be
great
All lines lead aft to manage sail plan from the cockpit

Construction/Design
Prefer a boat with traditional lines and nice overhangs, love wine
glass transoms, however may have to compromise on this to
achieve 2 cabins
Not interested in a boat with teak decks

Performance
Looking for a cruising boat, not a racing boat. It is important that
the boat have good sea motion and stable (i.e. no pounding)
with good both up wind and down wind performance
Although we realize that the type of underbody we are looking
for will mean this will not be an extremely fast boat, however it
should not be a tub either

Engine
Accessibility to the engine for maintenance and repairs is
important. Ratio of HP to displacement should be close to 2 HP
for every 1,000 lbs of displacement.
Don’t want a boat that is underpowered. Engine hours should
not be excessive, low engine hours would be great
Prefer an engine that has parts and maintenance/repairs
available in the state cruising area

Interior
Minimum 2 cabins with at least one berth queen size or larger
One head – prefer separate shower stall or at minimum the ability
to pull a curtain around to not get entire head wet
Good sea berth in salon
Galley small enough to brace yourself in a seaway but with
enough counter space to work without having to move to open
the frig
Generally, not too dark or broken up down below. Bright & airy
with adequate ventilation – one large hatch for each area and
dorades
Well laid out nav station is important, a place to sit down, table
large enough to handle charts, back or side area that can handle
the addition of electronics

Electronics
Prefer minimum electronics on board and will plan to add these
closer to our cruising departure

Specific Boats we are interested in:

Mason 44
Gozzard 44 (“A” layout only)
Island Packet 350, 38, 380, 40, 420
Cherubini
Alden
Hylas
Bristol
Cambria
Little Harbor
Cabo Rico
Norseman
Robinhood
Valiant
Kelly Peterson
Passport
Formosa
Tayana
Hans Christian