The Boat - 1991 Roberts 38 Offshore
It all sounded very simple, buy a boat and retire on it. It certainly wasn’t a novel idea, many couples have done just that. How hard could it be to buy a boat? We have lots of experience buying and selling houses, cars, motorbikes, an RV – even a few businesses – in multiple countries. We started looking seriously in August 2016 and did all the necessary research. We followed the blogs of others who have done, or are doing, it. Margaret joined the ‘Women who Sail’ Facebook page and we set about learning all we could about buying a boat.
We have dealt with Tim and Deb Akey's story (The Retirement Project) and took the lessons they have learned to heart. Pat and Ali Schulte (Bumfuzzle) had a similar experience with their 2002 Wildcat Catamaran and you can read about their experience with the Catamaran here. Then we had the Reinke debacle and the Kochin disaster and you read about those here. Lessons learnt – expensive lessons – but it could have been much worse.
After the Reinke debacle in September 2016 and the subsequent weeks spent looking at rubbish, we had become rather disillusioned with the whole boat buying process. It just seemed that the second hand boat market was a pretty rotten industry.
We took a 2 month break in Thailand and arrived back in Australia in July 2017 ready to have another crack at it. It had been almost 12 months since we first started looking for a boat. Then came the Kochin disaster. Now we were really disillusioned but determined not to give up.
And so it was back to spending hours trawling through the various websites looking for a boat. Many of the boats that were for sale had been on the market for a long period of time and we had either seen them or discounted them as options. It was while we were going through one of the websites that we can across the Roberts 38 Offshore in Adelaide. Peter had looked at this boat in September 2016. It was a lovely boat, set up for blue water cruising with everything we needed. When we considered the boat in September 2016 it was on the market for A$79 500 which we felt was far too much for the boat and the owner was in Thailand and difficult to get hold of.
It was still on the market but the price had now been reduced to A$59 500 and the owner was in Australia and keen to sell. We have elsewhere on our blog dealt with owners being attached to their boats. Our experience has been that most owners are emotionally attached to their boats and have usually spent a great deal of time and money on the boat. When the time comes to sell, they invariably think the boat is worth far more than it really is and it takes some time for reality to set in and for them to realise that the boat is only worth what someone will pay for it. This was a case in point, it had been on the market for a year and the price was now realistic. The boat had done some serious blue water cruising in the past but had been standing for a while and was now in need of some work to restore it to its former glory.
This was the broker's advertisement for the Roberts 38 Offshore showing the full specifications.
We made an initial offer of A$53 500, subject to a number of inspections, which was accepted. It is, in our view, preferable to have everything properly inspected before money changes hands and we arranged for the following inspections:
- A general survey.
- A full inspection of the standing rigging. We were aware that some of the rigging had to be replaced but we wanted a qualified professional to go up both masts to make sure there were no hidden surprises.
- A full inspection of the motor and gearbox by a certified dealer.
- An inspection of the HF Radio.
As was expected, the inspections found a number of items that needed to be attended to:
- The standing rigging had to be replaced. Some of the wires were fairly new but without knowing the exact age of each wire and when and where it was replaced, the insurance company would not cover the standing rigging.
- The motor and gearbox needed a major service but where in good condition.
- The Liferaft was out of date and would have to be repacked or replaced.
- The cockpit covers needed to be replaced.
- Two of the chainplates for the Mizzen mast where showing signs of rust and had to be replaced.
- As the boat had been closed up for a period of time there was black mould everywhere.
Following the inspections, the price was negotiated down to A$50 000 and we were finally the owners of a boat. You can see all our costs for the boat here. We finalised the negotiations at the end of August 2017 and it had taken us a year and 3 surveys to find a boat.
Then came the surprises. We had only been on the boat for a few days when it happened to rain one night. It is no fun being awoken in the early hours of the morning with water pouring through the hatch and landing on your head. And so it was that we discovered that all three hatches were leaking and would have to be resealed. Another rather large learning curve!
We did not intend to keep the boat in Adelaide and wanted to move the boat to Sydney as soon as we could. We would however have to attend to most of the items found in the inspections before doing so. We were living on the boat while the items were being attended to and our days were busy arranging for the repairs and cleaning the boat.
The boat was advertised as having 400 litres of water but we found we were running out of water fairly quickly. The only way to properly check how much water we did have was to run the tanks dry and manually fill them up. It now transpired that we only had 240 litres of water and not the advertised 400 litres. In addition, both water tanks were leaking. A check of the diesel tank capacity showed a similar problem. The boat had been advertised with 300 litres of diesel but in fact only had 200 litres of diesel. Had we known this was the case we would not have looked at the boat, let alone bought it.
Fortunately Australia has very good consumer protection laws and we made it very clear that we considered the misrepresentation of the water and diesel tanks capacities to be a material fact that induced us to buy the boat and we either wanted additional tanks installed to make up the shortfalls or the sale cancelled. The broker took the matter up with the owner but he wasn’t interested and decided to hide away in Thailand hoping the problem would go away. It didn’t go away and it was left to the broker to deal with the matter. To be fair, the broker accepted responsibility for the misleading advertisement and arranged, somewhat reluctantly, to have additional tanks installed to make up the shortfall. It did however take 5 months and the threat of legal action for this to be done.
While the additional tanks were being installed we attended to all of the other items needing attention. Finding tradesmen to work on the boat in Adelaide proved to be a real challenge, the levels of incompetence were absolutely mind boggling. Finding someone to replace the chain plates proved to be the most challenging of all. We contacted 10 contractors, 3 actually came to have a look at the problem and of these, 2 said the job was too complicated for them.
There were exceptions and we are particularly grateful to; Luke Barrows from Bravo Sails who helped us get the boat ready for the trip to Sydney, Ian Anthon the surveyor who we also appointed to oversee the installation of the additional tanks and approve the fitting of the new chain plates and Eddie from Portside Hydraulics who made numerous parts where spares were not available. Without their help we would still be in Adelaide. We finally managed to leave Adelaide at the beginning of April 2018, some 7 months after we bought the boat.