Who would have thought the boat buying process would be fraught with so much danger. The process seems straightforward enough – find a boat broker, get him to find you a suitable boat, have it surveyed to make sure it is not a lemon and go sailing. Well, that is once we have figured out how not to sink the boat on our first outing. There are literally hundreds of boats for sale on www.yachtworld.com in our price range and it looked like we would be spoiled for choice.
The learning curve with the RV was rather steep and so I thought it would be a good idea to do as much research as possible before starting the boat buying process. What an eye opener this has been!
My first introduction to the state of the industry was when I came across a book titled ‘How NOT to Buy a Cruising Boat’ by Deb and TJ Akay. The title looked rather interesting and the marketing blurb stated that they had a bought a lemon and wanted to make sure no one else had a similar experience. So I ordered the book. To say that I feel sorry for them would be an understatement. By their own admission they were sold a lemon. On the face of it they did everything right. This was not their first boat, they had it surveyed and trusted the broker and the surveyor to be both competent and honest. Nothing could be further from the truth, the surveyor turned out to be worse than useless and the broker not quite honest. They bought their boat for US$62 500 and spent another US$74 500 getting the boat ready to sail. And they did most of the work themselves. The drive train, surveyed and found to be in good order, failed within 10 operating hours.
Sadly their story is not unique. A search of the internet reveals many such horror stories with incompetence and dishonesty almost being the order of the day. There are very few people who have anything nice to say about boat surveyors. Boatyards are littered with broken dreams and their owners are now trying to recover some of the money they invested in the boat. Others are aware that their boat has a major problem and are now keen to get rid of the boat and have someone else pick up the tab for the repair bill. I thought this may be a problem unique to the USA but these horror stories are not confined to the USA.
So how do we avoid being the next horror story? We need to know what to look for. So I ordered books, lots of them.We also went to the Boat Show in Sarasota. That in itself was quite an education. If only money were no object! The boats were lovely but way beyond our price range. But they did give us some idea of what we are looking for. We also arranged for a boat broker to take us to view a few boats in our price range. We now have a good idea of what we are looking for. So between building the website and finding out how boats work and what to look for, the past few weeks have been rather busy.
Building the website has also proved to be an interesting process. Rather than simply getting someone to build it for us, I decided to do it myself. Another steep learning curve. First there was finding a company to register our domain name (we went with Namecheap), then finding a company to host the website (we went with Siteground), then deciding on a website content management system (we went with WordPress), then selecting a theme for the website (we chose Tesseract) and then actually building the website and writing the content. In addition to the website, we built a separate Facebook page and a Youtube page. Now all we have to do is figure out how to make videos.As for buying a boat, never before has Caveat Emptor been more relevant.