I started the search for my boat in 2006 about 6 years before actually buying it. I did not want to be pressured into anything and keep any sense of urgency out of my buying process.

I primarily used Yacht World to look for boats. Once a week I had a report of the new boat listings that meet the criteria of the boat I was looking for e-mailed to me. Don’t be too concerned with the listing price but be specific about the specifications of the boats you want.

The first boat that I looked at was a Morgan that was located in New Orleans. I talked to the owner a number of times and he had nothing but good things to say about the boat. I put a deposit down and arranged to travel from Oregon to New Orleans to inspect the boat. The owner was leaving the country at the time that I could travel to New Orleans so he left the keys with another person that lived on a boat in the marina. The day before I was leaving the owner informed me that there had been a little diesel spill that he had forgot to tell me about. He also told me that there was a small scratch on the starboard side.

When I arrived at the boat I found that the pictures had been taken 5 or more years before. To verify this when I returned home I blew up the photo of the bow and found that the picture had a year 2000 registration. Also the small diesel spill had been understated and not properly cleaned up. This resulted in all the cabin decking being saturated and the smell of diesel in the cabin was unbearable. The small scratch on the starboard side was more like a gouge over 10 feet long and there were other numerous gouges, but smaller, on the rest of the hull.

This was my first experience with putting down money on a sail boat and even though I got all my deposit back that didn’t cover the costs of inspecting the boat.

After this I had some serious personal events and as such I was not able to actively pursue new listings. I still kept up with the current prices using the search function of Yacht World. In 2011 I was back on the active search for a boat. This time there was a boat located in California that was close enough for me to drive to. The first thing I did was ask the listing agent a number of questions. The answers satisfied me and so I arranged to inspect the boat.

When you inspect a boat I suggest that you bring a flashlight and a small camera with a flash. Take a lot of pictures. I use the camera to reach around corners that I can’t get see into. Also be sure that you know how to get the camera to self-focus. My eyes are not as good as they used to be and there are times that I missed things when I am inspecting the boat that are captured on the pictures. This boat look good but the one disqualifying thing was that the owner had worked for an electronics company and he had rewired the boat with a very nice, but nonstandard electrical panel. I was worried about obtaining parts, especially in foreign countries.

Again I was not out a deposit but I did spend money driving there and time off from work. The last boat and the one I purchased was one I was sure that I was not going to get. It started out that the boat looked just right for me and by chance I was going to be in the location of the boat for work so I would not be out any money for travel or missed work.

I traveled to the location and completed my work but when I contacted the listing broker he informed me that the owner had received a deposit and he didn’t want to show the boat to me. He offered to show me some other boats that were close but I said that I was not interested in “just looking at boats with him”.

A couple of weeks later he contacted me and said that the buyer had not been able to complete financing and the deal had fallen through. The listing agent said that he regretted not showing me the boat the first time in case the buyer were to back out. I was doing a lot of traveling during this time and it was a couple of weeks before I could arrange to inspect the boat. This time I had to make a special trip and take time off to go down to the Bay Area to inspect the boat. The boat looked like something I would like so I started the process of validating what I would offer and what deposit I would put down. During this time I found out that another person had looked the boat and the listing agent wanted to present both offers that Monday to the owner. In order to determine the value of the boat I contacted boatus.com and asked for an estimate of the value. I also looked up the value on the NADA site boats.com. The boatus value was quite a bit higher than the NADA value. I used the NADA value and made an offer, contigent upon the survey, at about the value that they listed.

The owner accepted the offer and we proceeded on to the next phase of the buying process, the survey. There had been an independent survey done for the previous buyer and I contacted the same surveyor in the hope that he would have additional information about the boat that a new surveyor would not have. Also the previous survey had included a haul out and sea trial that could be referred to. As a buyer you should know that one of the first questions that a surveyor asks is if there has been any other surveys done and if they could see them. Considering that this surveyor had done the previous survey he had all his notes to refer to. The survey came back and now was the time to renegotiate the selling price.

The listing agent never likes this part as it requires them to fight for the lower price while reducing their commission. Finally the owner agreed to the new selling price and it was time for the paper work. You would think that the first thing would be obtaining financing, but if you are buying a boat you should be able to pay cash for it or you shouldn’t be buying it. First you need a place to park what will be your new boat. Contacting the marina where it was at the slip rates were reasonable so I started the paperwork to keep the slip the boat was currently at. Second you need insurance for the boat as that is required in order to rent the slip. The last thing I had to do is get the balance of the monies to the agent. I applied to two seperate companies for the same insurance. The insurance is required by the marina to rent a slip. Also since my return on my investments is more than the interest rate to finance the boat I decided that I would finance the boat. The next thing is the bill of sale. This is filled out by the owner and should be notarized and the original sent to you via the broker after the funds are distributed.

Purchase Checklist For A Used Sailboat

  • Boat US Membership
  • Yacht Purchase and Sale Agreement
  • Counter Offer
  • Contract for Survey
  • Buyer’s Closing Statement
  • Application for Initial Issue, Exchange, or Replacement of Certificate of Documentation; Redocumentation (CG-1258)
  • Optional Application for Filing (CG-5542)
  • Buyer must sign and have notarized.
    • Bill of Sale
  • Owner must sign and have notarized.