COSTS TO BUY A BOAT
Cost of Sailing Courses
(Durban, South Africa)
|Yacht Hand Course for Margaret (2 Days)||
ZAR 4 500.00
|SAS Day Skipper Course for Peter (9 Days)||
|Ancillaries for Courses (Log Books, Manuals etc)||
|Short Range Radio Course||
ZAR 2 185.00
|S A Sailing and ICC Registration||
ZAR 1 040.00
Dodging a Bullet (aka the Reinke debacle)
Sydney, Australia - September 2016
After considering all the available options, we decided to buy the boat in Australia. It seemed to be the easiest option. We would buy the boat in Australia, register it in New Zealand and then cruise around Australia and the Pacific Islands before heading off to South East Asia and then further afield. A quick look at the boats for sale in Australia revealed that there was a reasonable selection in our price range and so, while Margaret cleared out the storage unit in South Africa, Peter headed off to New Zealand to spend some time with his children and then flew to Australia to look for a boat.
We were fortunate enough to have a car in Australia and Peter flew into Brisbane to pick up the car. The plan was to drive from Brisbane to Sydney stopping to look at some boats on the way down. We were ideally looking for a solid fiberglass boat in the 36 to 40 foot range with a centre cockpit. The thought of sleeping in a cramped v-berth simply did not appeal to us. The centre cockpit boats typically had a fairly large double aft berth. We were also determined to find a broker who was prepared to put in the hard yards and work with us rather than one who was simply looking for a quick sale. A few of the brokers we sent enquiries to were quickly excluded based on this criteria.
Peter looked at the Martzcraft 35, the Roberts 38, the Adams 40, the S&S 39, the Nauticat 38 and a few others, none of which were suitable. The Martzcraft 35 appeared to be the best option but they were overpriced. We quickly established that many of these boats had been on the market for over 12 months. It appeared to us that the sellers had unrealistic expectations and it took some time for them to realise that the market was not going to give them their initial asking price. One of the brokers who was prepared to put in the hard yards was Graeme Hedges from DBY Boat Sales. He was helpful, quick to respond to queries and went out of his way to help whenever he could. While Graeme was showing Peter a few of his boats, he casually mentioned that he had a 2001 Reinke 36 S10 for sale. The boat was a steel boat built in Germany and had been sailed around the world by a fastidious German solo sailor. We really weren’t looking for a steel boat (the thought of chasing rust didn’t appeal to us) but the fact that the boat had already done some serious blue water cruising got Peter’s attention. Graeme took Peter to see the Reinke and now Peter had a problem. All the research he had done was on fiberglass boats but he really liked the Reinke. The boat appeared to be in good condition, was about 10 years newer than most of the other boats he had seen, was set up for blue water cruising, the motor was oversize for the boat and the layout was good. To top it all, the German had left all of his tools and a ton of spares behind.
And so Peter started researching steel boats. The general consensus was that they were excellent boats with the only concerns being rust and electrolysis. There were no signs of either but the boat had a lot of stuff in it and some parts of the hull weren’t visible for inspection. Peter spent 3 days cleaning the boat and making sure that he checked every part of the boat. The boat had been on the market for about 8 months and the asking price had just been reduced to A$59 000. We made an offer of A$50 000, subject to survey, which was accepted.
And so we paid the deposit and arranged for the boat to be surveyed. There was a note on the specification sheet that the refrigeration needed re-gassing and, as part of the survey, the refrigeration system was to be checked by a specialist, a general survey would be carried out and the motor would be inspected by the local Volvo Penta dealer. The motor inspection was to include a full analysis of all the engine fluids – the engine and gearbox oil, the diesel (the boat had a 1 260 litre fuel tank which was full) and the engine coolant.
The German owner had an ultrasonic test done on the hull in Fiji in 2015 and Peter phoned the company in Fiji. They confirmed that they had tested the hull and that the hull was in good condition. We obtained details of the builder in Germany and sent them emails but they did not reply to these.
The first inspection was the refrigeration system. It turned out to be more than just re-gassing the system. In addition to the system needing re-gassing, the condenser coil was leaking, the thermostat was faulty and there was a possibility that the evaporator cooling plate inside the cabinet was faulty. The repairs would be somewhere between A$1 000 and A$2 000. Next it was the general survey. The surveyor was really good and looked in every dark corner and checked everything. As expected, he did find a few items that needed attention:
- The anchor winch needed a service – cost A$500.
- The plastic coated life lines should be replaced – cost A$2 000.
- There was wear on the gooseneck fitting – cost to repair A$400.
- Four cabin windows needed to be replaced – cost A$2 500.
- The Perspex in the windscreen needed to be replaced – cost A$3 000.
- The paint was peeling off small sections of the hull and would need grinding and priming before recoating and antifouling – cost A$500.
- The topsides needed repainting – cost A$2 000.
- The 4 batteries would have to be replaced – cost A$1 000.
During the survey I asked the surveyor whether I should be walking away from the deal or if these where just economic issues that the seller and I would have to negotiate. His view was that the boat was in good condition and that it was simply a case of re-negotiating the price. So far, so good.
Next it was the mechanical inspection. At this point the boat was being lowered back into the water and the surveyor climbed down into the engine bay to have a look. No sooner was he down the stairs than there where a few choice words from him. A big red flag popped up!
He spent a few minutes in the engine bay and then came back into the cockpit shaking his head, this really wasn’t looking good at all. The engine was running at this point and, whilst a little noisy, we put that down to all the engine bay doors being open. The surveyor revved the motor and the air was suddenly filled with a thick blue smoke and you could almost see the oil in the smoke. The thick blue smoke continued pouring out of the exhaust and the smell of oil in the air was now unmistakable. The deal died in the midst of that that thick blue smoke.
The surveyor (who was the official Volvo Penta dealer in Sydney) was of the opinion that the engine was glazed and would have to be replaced. The glazing was probably caused by running the motor at very low revs – diesel engines are designed to run under a fair load to avoid glazing. He felt that there was little point in going any further and there was no need to inspect any of the fluids. He would charge us for an hour’s labour which was very decent of him. The engine was also obsolete and spares were no longer available. The cost to replace the replace the engine, fix the items identified in the survey and fix the refrigeration would cost almost what we had offered for the boat. Even if we could get the boat for a give-away price, we did not want to spend time dealing with the repairs and also possibly new items that may only be exposed once the repairs started.
The costs to have the boat surveyed were as follows:
|Inspection of refrigeration system||
|Haul out fee||
A very expensive exercise but rather this than we buy a lemon.
Dodging another Bullet - South Coast 36 'Koshin'
Mooloolaba, Australia - July 2017
I do not by any stretch of the imagination have anything in common with Winston Churchill except for the fact that I am in complete agreement with his famous saying “I am a man of simple tastes – I am easily satisfied with the best of everything”. Going through life expecting or demanding ‘the best of everything’ is however a recipe for disaster and setting oneself up for failure, especially when it comes to dealing with boat brokers and sellers. The one thing I do however expect from them is a reasonable degree of honesty. The practice of selling a known lemon (or a pup depending on which country you live in) to another party without disclosing that it is a lemon is a despicable practice. And that brings me to the latest episode in our quest to find a floating home.
After a lovely two month trip to Thailand we had decided to resume the search for a yacht. During the last few weeks in Thailand we had again started going through the websites looking at what was on offer. It was amazing to see how many of the yachts we had looked at very early in our search that were still for sale, at greatly reduced prices. There were some newly listed yachts and one in particular that caught our attention. The yacht was a 1989 South Coast 36 named ‘Koshin’ and it was on the market for A$57 500. The name ‘Koshin’ means ‘delicate bud’ and that should possibly have been a warning.
The yacht was for sale through CP Yacht Sales Sunshine Coast and was in Mooloolaba in Queensland in Australia. The listing on the Yachthub website was extensive and it was evident that the yacht had done some blue water sailing. The listing stated that an out of water survey report was available and we emailed Colin Plant at CP Yacht Sales to get a copy of the survey report. The survey turned out to be an insurance survey for the owner Mr. Michael Wotton in January 2014. It is unclear how long Mr. Michael Wotton has owned Koshin for, but there is clear evidence that he has done so since January 2014.
The survey report noted a few small problems but only had two recommendations, “Replace all the crazed Perspex in the deck hatches and portholes” and, “Tidy up some of the timber veneer”. There were a lot of positives in the survey report: “A random percussion test found no soft spots”; ”The hull and deck are constructed of fiberglass and is [sic] good condition”; “Koshin is very well maintained and holding her age very well for a 25 year old yacht” and, “Koshin has already completed a Pacific circumnavigation and has proven herself”. The survey had been done by a reputable surveyor who is a ‘Member of the International Institute of Marine Surveyors’. Based on the Yachthub listing and the availability of the survey report there was nothing to indicate that much had changed since the survey report was done.
The South Coast 36 had been on our preferential yacht list from the beginning but they are hard to come by. They have a centre cockpit which means there is a reasonable size aft cabin and for a 36 foot yacht are very roomy below deck. They are popular in Australia and a search of the sailing forums found nothing but good reviews. It looked like a great boat and would suit us perfectly.
We have however learnt a lesson from the Reinke debacle and are now far more cautious. We searched the internet to see if we could find any adverse reports on the yacht or any of the parties involved but found nothing. It would also be a long drive (about 1 000km) from our caravan in Wyee in New South Wales to Mooloolaba in Queensland to view the yacht. We asked Colin Plant to “…confirm that the pictures are current and that everything on the boat works in every available mode?” and “Is there any outstanding maintenance?” Colin replied “pics r as boat is sitting, turn the key and of [sic] u go” and “yes everything works”. We also felt that the price of A$57 500 was a little high and indicated that if the owner was prepared to accept A$47 000 we would make the drive to look at the boat. The owner accepted our offer fairly quickly without even making a counter offer. This should, I guess, have been a warning sign.
We arranged with Colin to view the yacht and made the long drive to Mooloolaba, via Brisbane to look at another yacht, to view Koshin. Colin was very helpful and even though we asked to view the yacht on a Sunday it was no problem for him and he waited patiently while we took a few hours to inspect the yacht.
Our initial inspection went well and, as is to be expected for a yacht of its age, there were a few minor problems that would have to be fixed before we could “turn the key and of [sic] u go”. The biggest disappointment was the stove and oven. The pictures in the listing showed a lovely 4 burner stove with an oven and that was an important consideration for Margaret. The one on the yacht was however a much smaller 2 burner stove and oven that was not connected and when we queried this Colin advised that they had listed the boat without reference to a stove or oven. So much for the “pics r as boat is sitting”. On checking the listing we found he was right but we did feel it was a little deceiving to have a picture of an oven that was not on the boat. Colin’s view was that it would cost no more than about A$300 to have the stove and oven connected and get a gas compliance certificate.
After spending a few hours on the yacht and thinking about it overnight we advised Colin on the Monday morning that we would buy the yacht subject to a few conditions:
- A general survey including an out of water inspection.
- We wanted a suitably qualified contractor to give us a quotation to connect the stove and oven and give us a gas compliance certificate.
- We wanted the engine to be inspected by a suitably qualified mechanic.
- The listing noted that the standing rigging had been replaced in 2010 and we wanted a rigger to inspect the standing rigging and give us a report.
- A test sail with the surveyor on board.
- The listing noted that one of the water tanks (a 200 litre tank in the keel) had been disconnected and we wanted the owner to pay for the tank to be connected.
All of these conditions were accepted by the owner and we met with Colin and signed the contract. We then went about arranging to have all the inspections done. Colin had given us a list of contractors and between this list and asking around at the marina, we managed to get most of the inspections arranged.
The first of the inspections was the general survey. We arranged for Simon Lloyd-Parker from Marine Surveyors Australia to conduct the general survey which he could fortunately do the following day. We were immediately impressed with Simon. He had been involved in the marine industry for about 40 years, had built a few yachts and sailed extensively. He also had no objection to us following him around, peering over his shoulder and asking lots of questions. He arrived early in the morning and we arranged for the yacht to be taken out of the water at about 13H30 for the out of water inspection.
Prior to Simon starting the survey we took some video footage of the yacht.
It was clear from early on in the survey that “yes everything works” was not entirely accurate.
- Simon was concerned about the through hull fittings and the plumbing. There were some old through hull fittings that were no longer being used but instead of them being removed and the holes filled properly, they had been left in place and the valves turned off. This was, in his opinion, dangerous and had the potential for sinking the vessel.
- Simon was concerned about the wiring and recommended that a professional electrician check all the wiring. There were two 3 way master battery switches with one taped over. The vessel shore power was through a Kambrook type power board. The electrical wiring was a potential fire hazard.
- 2 of the solar watt panels were in poor condition and one was most definitely not working.
- The front anchor locker lids were leaking and the seals were missing.
- The toilet inlet and outlet hoses did not have anti-siphon vented loops fitted. The inlet for the toilet was though a valve that had to be manually opened and closed. If someone forgot to close the inlet valve after using the toilet the water would simply have continued pouring into the toilet.
- The electric windlass was not working.
After about 4 hours of working below deck peering into every nook and cranny, Simon went up onto the deck. It was at this point that things started unravelling at a rapid rate of knots. During our initial inspection the previous day we had been shown samples of the hull and deck materials. The current, or previous, owner had seen fit to keep the material every time a hole had been cut into the hull or deck. The hull was made of approximately 2cm thick solid fibreglass and the deck was a cored deck with fibreglass on either side of what looked like marine plywood. The cut out of the deck was approximately 6 or 7 cm thick and certainly looked very solid.
As he tapped around the mast with his hammer there was a very clear change in the sound coming from the deck. It was no longer the sharp crisp sound of solid material but a dull sound. That dull sound was from the plywood between the fibreglass being wet and the material starting to delaminate. There was a rather large area around the mast where it was very clear the plywood was wet. It got worse. Closer inspection revealed that the deck below the mast base was in fact compressed.
As Simon moved toward the bow there was another large area where it was clear that the plywood was wet. A closer inspection of this area revealed that someone had drilled small holes into the deck and then covered these holes very well so that they were difficult to see. This we were informed is standard practice when the plywood between the fibreglass gets wet. Holes are drilled into the deck through the top layer of fibreglass and resin is then injected through the hole into the plywood to stop the wood rotting any further and to strengthen the deck. A closer inspection revealed evidence of many such holes but the process had not worked. Even with all the holes and the resin being injected into the plywood there was still a dull sound from a large area of the deck. This area of the deck was completely wet and would have to be cut out and replaced.
There was another area toward the stern where it was evident that the same thing had been done. It looked like it had worked over this area as the sound from the tapping was sharp and crisp.
We stopped the survey at that stage as there was little point in carrying on. The wet compressed area around the mast was a huge problem and unless it was fixed properly there was a risk that the mast could break off the deck, especially in rough seas. The mast would have to be removed, the wet area cut out and then repaired before the mast could be put back.
Simon estimated that the cost to fix the deck alone would be in the order of A$20 000. Then there would still be the cost to remove the mast and to put it back up when the repairs had been completed. Between the cost to repair the deck and the items found below deck, the repair costs were already in the order of A$30 000. The yacht still had to be lifted out of the water for a below the waterline inspection, the gas contractor still had to quote, the rigger still had to inspect the rigging, the mechanic still had to inspect the motor and who knows what they would find. If the owner had failed to tell us that the core material in the deck was wet in places, what else had he conveniently failed to mention.
Peter was furious and made it known that he felt aggrieved. There is little doubt that the owner Mr. Michael Wotton was aware of the wet deck, had attempted to repair it and was now trying to sell the yacht without disclosing this to pass the problem on to someone else.
The insurance survey report from January 2014 done for Mr. Michael Wotton noted that the hull and deck were in good condition and that a random percussion test found no soft spots. Just over three years later there is clear evidence that there are large wet spots all over the deck and there is also clear evidence that someone has tried to repair these areas. The large wet compressed area around the mast is in fact dangerous and there is a risk that the mast could come off in heavy seas. With the deck in its current state, Koshin is true to her name – a ‘delicate bud’.
Trying to sell a lemon without disclosing it is a lemon says something about a person’s character. I am reminded of the quote by Warren Buffet “Honesty is a very expensive gift, don’t expect it from cheap people”.
The cost to have the survey done amounted to amounted to A$800. The cost of the survey was A$25 per foot which amounts to A$900 but the surveyor took pity on us and gave us a $100 discount.
Another expensive lesson and another bullet dodged.
1991 Roberts 38 Offshore 'Great Escape'
Adelaide, Australia - August 2017
It had taken over 15 months but we finally had our boat. You can read more about the boat and see the specifications here. We had first looked at the boat in September 2016 when it was listed at A$79 500. We again looked at the boat in August 2017 when it was listed at A$59 500 and, once the inspections had been done and allowances made for the work that needed to be done, we paid A$50 000 for the boat. As we have with our other adventures, we have listed all of our costs for the boat in the hope that this will be helpful to others. We are indeed grateful to all those who have gone before us who have shared their costs.
These are the initial costs to purchase the boat and have it inspected.
Haul out Fee
HF Radio Inspection
There is a common question asked of new boat owners by those who have owned boats for a period of time – the question is “What does ‘BOAT’ stand for?”. The answer for those who don’t already know is “Bring On Another Thousand”. It refers to the fact that boats are bottomless pits when it comes to money.
The inspections had revealed that we would have to spend some time and money to restore Great Escape to her former glory and get her ready for blue water sailing. It would take many thousands to do so and would be our introduction to “Bring On Another Thousand”. In addition to the dent that this would make on our bank account, finding qualified people in Adelaide to do the work proved to be a real challenge. It would appear that the bottom fell out of the marine industry in Adelaide a few years ago and everyone stopped training the next generation of shipwrights. The few shipwrights in Adelaide now have so much work that they can pick and choose the jobs they want and the smaller the job the less likely they are to want it. We really struggled to find qualified shipwrights to do the necessary repairs.
We kept a record of all the costs we incurred to get the boat ready to leave Adelaide.
|Transfer of Radio License||
A$ 1 164.81
|Engine/Gearbox Service & Inspection||
A$ 1 258.35
|Batteries (4 x 120 amp)||
A$ 1 400.00
|Replace Standing Rigging||
|Replace Cockpit Covers||
A$ 4 000.00
|General Repairs / Maintenance||
A$ 7 733.26