| If you are in the habit of attending boat shows (as I am), be careful. Boat manufacturers would like us to believe
they have created the perfect boat. The general drift of their sales pitch is always the same: “Plenty of room and safety for mom
and the kids, loads of performance for dad.” Unfortunately, when you are trying to decide which boat is best for you, most boat
sales people have never themselves done what you are about to do. Most have never lived on a boat. Most have never sailed
around the Great Loop or to the Bahamas or Caribbean. But believe me - they are eager to tell you what you need to do it - and
for the most part, with very rare exceptions, this will be about the worst advice you'll be given from anyone.
|Never buy an offshore vessel without
a "Certified Marine Survey" and a sea trial.
Actually, I will take that a step further... You should never buy "any" boat that cost more than you can afford to flush down the
toilet without first obtaining a Certified Marine Survey.
I am forever amazed at the number of people that purchase live a-board size boats without a sea trial or a Marine Survey,
and/or both. But it continues to happen, and of course, the horror stories keep pouring in.
Just a few weeks ago I received an e-mail from a couple who ask me if I would "help them" get a Certified Marine Survey on a
boat they wanted to buy. It turned out they wanted my help only because they were "too embarrassed" to ask the boat salesman
for one - because they didn't want to hurt his feelings by having him think they did not trust him. WOW!
Friends (both current and future). . . Buying an offshore vessel has nothing to do with trust - it has everything to do with
verifying your vessel's seaworthiness, and thus your safety.
Now, having said that, let me tell you a true story.
Years ago, I kept my vessel in a Marina where my slip was right next to a retired Navy Admiral who had a 48' Chis Craft steel-hull
Roamer that was in immaculate condition. For 7 years I watched this man board his vessel every morning, and take it out for about an
hour, and return. Then, he would spend the rest of the day washing it, polishing it, sanding and refinishing woodwork, changing oil,
and replacing worn parts. It was an absolutely beautiful vessel. Furthermore, every year he would have it hauled out, and the hull
repainted, and all through-hull fittings replaced.
When the Admiral died, his widow asked the Marina to sell the vessel. I recommended it to a friend. Who I took to see it, and he
immediately negotiated a deal with the widow to buy it - but contingent on a satisfactory Marine Survey.
Having been next to that boat for 7 years, knowing the Admiral, seeing him devote every day to the tender love and care of that boat,
and seeing how he kept up all the regular maintenance - I would have bet my boat - there wasn't a single thing wrong with his boat.
But there was.
When the Marine Surveyor came out and took x-rays (soundings) of the hull, he discovered a hole the size of a basketball, in the
forward port bow at the water line. Since we were all there watching him work, we couldn't believe the news. I immediately ask him
"How serious is it?"
"Serious enough," he said, "that I can put my fist through it."
Neither I, nor anyone at the Marina, even the Marina's mechanics, or the body shop crew that had just given it a new coat of bottom
But as he said he could, the surveyor walked over, and starting with his thumb, forced an opening and pulled away rusted steel held
in place by paint - until he made a hole as big as a basketball.
Now, it didn't spoil the deal, my friend bought the boat anyway, and of course, had the hull repaired. But, this entire situation could
have been a deadly disaster. Either for my friend, or for the Admiral, who I know had no idea that this situation existed. For if he had
of, he would have had it immediately repaired, and furthermore, would not have been taking the boat out every morning.
So, there you have it. No matter how much you trust your boat's salesman, the boat's owner, the boat's broker, or even your
knowledgeable experienced boating friend - ALWAYS VERIFY THE VESSEL'S SEAWORTHINESS WITH A
CERTIFIED MARINE SURVEY - ALWAYS!
| At boat shows you see all those beautiful boats floating peacefully at protected docks with fresh flowers on the salon
table, designer duvets on the beds and everything is all about features, aesthetics and super discount prices you will never
see again. Friends, this is so much BULL - they should be required to give away Porterhouse steaks.
As my son says, "Boat Shows are all about the Corian, not the core.” The pretty fluffy covers over the beds, the polished
sinks, the nautical curtains, the great looking towels in the head, and the galley decorated with flowers and table settings...
These are the things most buyers focus on, particularly those who are new to boating.
What is forgotten is the fact that this 10 ton (or heavier) object has to be pushed through the water. This means that most of
the vessel's life while underway everything that is not glued, straped or screwed in place - stays in it's place - not even the
pillows and bed covers.
So think very, very carefully about your sailing agenda. Many great blue-water safe, seaworthy vessels are on the market at a
much-much lower cost. Yes, they won't have all the glamour of a Boat Show or show room boat. Most will need sanding, painting
and polish before you will even want a friend to see it. However, if you are willing to do that, a great used vessel can often save
you $50,000 or more. The more work it needs, the more you can save.
If you insist on a satisfactory "Certified Marine Survey" before you buy - you can make a good knowledgeable decision
on whether or not to buy, based on expert knowledge of the exact condition this used boat is really in.
Now... Some of you might think that is a weird statement coming from me - the guy that preaches planning ahead
for living the dream.
While there is nothing wrong with the dream, the downside of having it, is that "life" gets in your way of living it. We all know
this is true, as we have lived through the realization that there is an enormous gap between our dreams and the reality of life in
which we live.
So, the first step toward living your dream sooner then later, is to be completely honest with yourself about "when" you can
Many people approach me with questions, first telling me they are planning to retire and either sail around the world, cross
the Atlantic, cruise the Mediterranean, or cross the south Pacific to Tahiti. Some simply want to cruise America's Great Loop.
“When?” Is always my first question.
“Oh, as soon as I retire... which I plan to do in 5 years." Is usually the response I get.
Of course, I encourage the dream. But, lets be real honest with ourselves here. I get these responses by guys not only in their
50's (who I would expect it from) but I also get it from guys in their 30's, and 40's, as well. All too often, even with guys in their
50's, that "5 years" stretches into 10 and 15 years. Meantime, if they bought their "dream" boat - they are paying for an under-
utilized larger, stronger, heavier, more expensive then necessary offshore vessel that they are cruising around with on those
perfect weekends that God made for us boaters.
The Point is - had they just been honest with themselves, and purchased for their current needs, the money they would have
saved - would indeed, have been enough to get them where they wanted to go years sooner. Instead, 5, 10, 15 years of huge
monthly Marina fees, slip fees, maintenance, etc. for a bigger more expensive vessel have chipped away a good portion of their
potential cruising funds. A smaller, cheaper boat would have done the job at a lot less expense.
|Please !!! If you are going to put your loved ones on it... Make sure you get a
Certified Marine Pre-Purchase Survey so you know it is a safe and seaworthy vessel.
Do you dream of "the boat" or do you dream of "the voyage"?
This is the first question you need to answer for yourself. If you dream of the voyage, then you want to make sure your
"boat" in fact, is not a dream buster.
My boating philosophy is all about "more fun than fuel". This translates into spending more on having fun when cruising, than
on your "boat and boat related" expenses. It generally means a smaller boat and a simpler boat. I'm not an advocate of buying
"cheap" by any means. Instead, I am an advocate of buying "smart". For me, that means buying quality. A quality used boat in
today's market can save you over 100 thousand dollars easily! That's enough to go cruising on.
Where will you be using your boat the most? This is the second most important question to answer for yourself. When
choosing your boat, it makes ALL the difference in the world "where" you will be using it the most.
If you are dreaming of sailing far off into the sunset, deep into the Caribbean, or on around in the world, you need a strong,
heavy and heavy duty off shore passage maker sailboat. If you are dreaming of cruising America's Great Loop, you need a
vessel with a shallow draft (we recommend no more than 5 feet.) On the other hand, if "sailing" is not your cup of tea, you will
need a full displacement hull, single engine, long distance Trawler - if you plan to go cruising on anything that resembles a
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|Buy according to your present needs - not your future dreams.
Additionally, you need a "frugal boat". That's one that doesn't require you to pour all your 'cruising
money down your fuel tank!
"More Fun than Fuel" Between 2013 and 2017 - I made two long distance voyages around America's Great Loop. Each voyage
averaged 6,300 miles, cruising an average of 142 days, spending 124 nights in a Marina, burning 900 gallons of fuel. I spent an
average of $4,000 in fuel, $4,200 in overnight Marina fees, and $900 in misc. Canal fees, maintenance and supplies for the boat.
This was ALL MY BOAT, FUEL & BOAT RELATED EXPENSES!
Average it out based on spending a full year cruising & living on my boat, and it comes to an average of $28.00 a day. That is
the total cost of my transportation & lodging for an entire year.
What that DOES NOT INCLUDE IS: My personal living & life style expenses such as food, beverages, ice, eating out, soap,
toothpaste, toiletries, clothing, souvenirs, on shore excursions, attractions, entertainment, Cellphone, Internet, Insurances, etc. So, you can see
what a 'frugal boat' can do for any budget. I know some boaters that spend $35,000 (and more) just in fuel alone to cruise the Great Loop.