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Author Topic: Long distance boat shopping  (Read 624 times)

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Tmacmi

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Long distance boat shopping
« on: April 27, 2021, 11:36:59 AM »

I must say that I'm a bit flummoxed by this long distance boat shopping.  I found one boat that checked all our boxes about 11 hours away. We were interested enough that I would have considered driving out there. Fortunately the broker gave me a survey, or I should say partial survey because the purchaser stopped the survey based on immediate findings. The boat had clear evidence of a serious grounding. When I asked the broker he said "no groundings were reported"

There are a couple of other boats for sale about 8 hours away, but I have no interest in driving to these places if they can be vetted remotely.

I've come up with a list of preliminary question and photo requests, but I wonder if they'd be taken seriously. What do you think?

Is there a current survey
Has this always been a fresh water boat
Age of Sails
Age of Standing Rigging
Photo of keel
Known evidence of Catalina “Smile”
Evidence of rot at mast step
Engine Hours
Last replacement of cutlass bearing
Has head been replaced
Have holding tanks been replaced
Has the hot water tank and hoses been replaced
Is there a maintenance log
Have the traveler bolts been thru-bolted (pre-1988)
Has the alternator bracket been replaced (M25 21hp Universal, pre 1988)
Has the wiring harness been upgraded as recommended by Catalina
Have bronze steering idler pins been replaced with stainless (Year of concern?)
Has the filtering screen on the fuel pick up hose been removed
Have stanchions and chain plates been re-bedded
Close up photographs of all deck penetration (stanchions, chainplates, hatches, portholes,) both outside and inside where accessible.
Close up photos of keel stub and keel to hull transitions fore and aft
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KWKloeber

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Re: Long distance boat shopping
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2021, 01:45:17 PM »

You can ask, but frankly unless the broker is a VERY honest and reputable person, it’s pretty much don’t ask, don’t tell. Like a real estate broker, what they don’t know about, they can’t honestly reveal.
Except in a few states yacht brokerage is unregulated.

Your questions are valid and useful, but some shouldn’t be show stoppers at all.  Even a hard grounding isn’t necessary a show stopper. It’s not the action but the result that matters.  What conditions did the survey reveal?
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Ron Hill

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Re: Long distance boat shopping
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2021, 02:03:19 PM »

Tma : It looks to me like with all of your questions, you are asking survey questions!!  Some of your questions the owner may not be able to answer because he/she will not know unless it is an original owner - i.e. hot water tank hoses? /  steering idler pins?  Your pre 1988 should be changed to pre 1987.

Be interesting what kind of answers you get as compared to you yourself looking at the boat!!

A few thoughts
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Noah

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Re: Long distance boat shopping
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2021, 02:06:39 PM »

Looks like Ron and I were responding at the same tine. He must be faster at hunt and pecking the keyboard. I also believe many of those questions an owner may not know the answer to, unless he/she did them or had them done. Many boats have had multiple POs. Some questions such as requesting pics of stanchion and deck hardware backings are unreasonable. Also, some such as rotten mast step in bilge, etc are very early model year specific. And many of the “critical upgrades” on our website may have not been preformed, but it dosen’t mean it is a “bad” boat, it just means you could/should do them after you buy it. None are very hard nor expensive to complete.   The broker or owner may answer your questions... but many of the questions may not be deal breakers, as Ken says. Depends how much work you want to do. No substitute for seeing the boat and poking around it yourself. It is part of the fun buying experience IMO..
« Last Edit: April 27, 2021, 04:22:24 PM by Noah »
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Stu Jackson

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Re: Long distance boat shopping
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2021, 03:37:48 PM »

In general, I personally believe this could be considered an intrusive list of questions to ever just simply send to anybody you do not know in a personal sale; might be different to a broker who most likely wouldn’t answer any of them.

I also personally believe it is an EXCELLENT checklist to be used when YOU go see the boat.  It is similar to one I used, put together in a word processor with long underlines after each comment for space for me to record my comments.

You’re not the only skipper who has dealt with long distance boat purchasing.  I did not, because when I lived in San Francisco, we looked for an entire year for nothing but Catalina 34s in the large Bay Area, and saw all sorts of example of horrible neglect and abuse.  Eventually we found The One.  And we didn’t even look at the dealers used car lot because in the late 90s no one was selling their C34 because there wasn’t another Catalina in their lineup to buy that was better unless they moved to a C42!  True back then.

You may want to poke around on www.cruisersforum.com and do some searching or even ask a blunt “How do you do Long Distance boat searches?”  There’s a wealth of knowledge there, too, and folks there aren’t looking specifically for ONE particular boat like you are, they look for “seaworthy 34 to 42 foot offshore…blah, blah, blah…”  but still have the same challenges.

Your checklist also reflects that you have been doing your research and homework on C34s.  Good for you!

There is NO other way to buy a boat than going to see it.

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Is there a current survey – these are rarely shared, someone paid for it
Has this always been a fresh water boat – shouldn’t make any difference, it’s condition, condition, condition; it’s also a personal choice: yours not the sellers; I could argue that my boat which has always been in the water may be in better condition than one that sits out in a Chicago winter on stilts!
Age of Sails – not unreasonable question, but two year old sails put away wet???  Age & Condition of sails would be better
Age of Standing Rigging – good one
Photo of keel – and/or Do you have any photos of the last haulout? May be “softer” and more helpful.
Known evidence of Catalina “Smile” – I’d think of a way to put this more gently
Evidence of rot at mast step – ditto and as Ron said, it’s limited to way early boats
Engine Hours - not unreasonable question; ask what engine, too.
Last replacement of cutlass bearing – might be easier to ask “Do you know when…”
Has head been replaced – useless and unnecessary, simple replacement less than $300 - 500 for the head; personal choice
Have holding tanks been replaced – people just don’t do that on our boats, I’ve heard of ONE in a quarter century
Has the hot water tank and hoses been replaced – it’s a water heater not a hot water tank.  Not unreasonable questions, but also not deal breakers.  If they haven’t, they may still be fine, but as a new owner you’re gonna want to find out right away.
Is there a maintenance log -  good question
Have the traveler bolts been thru-bolted (pre-1988) -  good yes or no question
Has the alternator bracket been replaced (M25 21hp Universal, pre 1988) – good question but see engine hours comment above
Has the wiring harness been upgraded as recommended by Catalina – take out the as recommended…limited to earlier years for the voltmeter part, too
Have bronze steering idler pins been replaced with stainless (Year of concern?) – Ron answered this one
Has the filtering screen on the fuel pick up hose been removed – good but most will think it’s odd in this day and age; easy to check, may be considered an OCD question, better to ask when you go see it
Have stanchions and chain plates been re-bedded – useless, either they leak, or they don’t and you’ll have to check
Close up photographs of all deck penetration (stanchions, chainplates, hatches, portholes,) both outside and inside where accessible. – just a poor question
Close up photos of keel stub and keel to hull transitions fore and aft – see Haulout above
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Tmacmi

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Re: Long distance boat shopping
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2021, 06:09:01 AM »

Thank you to all for responding and in such detail. I realize the list is pretty intense and would require wordsmithing. As Stu suggested it should become a checklist for an in-person inspection

I think the real answer is to be patient and wait until there is a boat that is within reasonable driving distance. Reasonable being defined as not too far as to be thoroughly disappointed if its a wasted trip.

I think the first boat I mentioned gave me pause. I am really glad he shared the survey. KWKloeber, the survey indicated evidence of a significant repair at the fore end of the keel and a lengthwise crack at the aft end of the keel. There were varied returns of percussion soundings at the transition of the hull to the keel. There was also a crack in the bilge below the mast step.  There were other items as well; a mast step repair that didn't appear to be professionally performed, a soft sole in a location and extensive areas of elevated deck core moisture. I know that maybe I could negotiate the price to be reflective of the repairs, but something like a substantial keel repair by a yard 11 hours away just isn't on my to-do list.
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scgunner

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Re: Long distance boat shopping
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2021, 07:57:11 AM »

Tmacmi,

Well I have to say that's an impressive list, I'm even more impressed by the fact that it's a primary list suggesting that there's a secondary list. Let's look at it from the seller's point of view, there's a possible buyer 11hrs away who wants you to jump through some major hoops taking a lot of time and effort with no guarantee that he'll even come out and look at the boat let alone make an offer on it. Unless he's desperate, how interested do you think he is going to be with you as a buyer?

Since there don't seem to be any boats within 8hrs of you at some point you're going to have to make at least one long distance drive. At this point all you should be trying to determine is which boat(s) is worth making the drive to take a look at.

I don't know why you're flummoxed, so far the process seems to be working out pretty well. Just based on all the red flags you can probably eliminate the 11hr boat, so that's one drive you won't have to make. Now you can move on to the 8hr boats and you've cut six hours off your drive time.
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waughoo

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Re: Long distance boat shopping
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2021, 12:23:35 PM »

I did a video tour of my recent purchase after wearing out the broker with questions.  I can't say the video tour was very helpful honestly, but it was interesting to see a bit more of the boat and hear it run etc.  I eventually had to hop a plane from SEA to STL, then drive for about 2 hours to Lake of the Ozarks to review the boat and have it surveyed.  As someone that is keen to fix things, I was less worried about the "this and that" which is buying someone else's old boat.  I was mostly interested in making sure I didn't find major damage or inoperative expensive things.  All that said, surveyors in the Ozarks for sailboats leave a LOT to be desired (compared to my experience in Seattle).  I also got a little too excited and probably fell in love a bit early.  Because I had planned on buying a tired boat and getting back into spec, none of what was missed in the survey scared me.  I actually appreciated the fact that most everything was "fully depreciated" so that I didn't have to compromise on gear just because it was already there.  My big win was that the sails were MUCH better than expected.  Additionally, it had a bunch of electronics that were neglected and stopped working due to lack of maintenance or service.  Thus, when I got to playing with things, I was able to save most everything except the fridge and stove.  For the stove, I bought someone's old CNG stove and swapped out the orifices from the rusted out propane stove into the CNG stove and all worked great! 

Anyway, think about it this way, even if the trip is a bust, you are going to be a LOT more familiar with the next one because you took the time to review the first one with a problem.  The more you look at, the better feel you'll have for the brand and the model.  Plus, I can't think of a better way to spend a weekend, but a road trip and knocking about in a marina or yard looking at boats!
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Stu Jackson

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Re: Long distance boat shopping
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2021, 12:30:49 PM »

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Anyway, think about it this way, even if the trip is a bust, you are going to be a LOT more familiar with the next one because you took the time to review the first one with a problem.  The more you look at, the better feel you'll have for the brand and the model. 
>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Very good advice.

When we saw what finally became our boat, the seller said to me, "Are you sure you're not a broker?  You seem to know a lot about this boat."

I'd spent hours on the then-very-basic C34 website.  Back then only the Projects and FAQs were available, along with the old now-outdated by this very forum, email list.  That's how I was able to conjure up my own checklist.  That plus seeing a lot of boats, in my case only C34s.
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Phil Spicer

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Re: Long distance boat shopping
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2021, 05:39:57 PM »

  Check all the listings you can find within a 6 to 8 hour drive. Make a list of all the boats you would like to
look at, plan a route, take the time (long weekend) and gas up the car. Do your homework, make some calls and talk to the sellers, see who is excited to hear from a buyer.
   I'm in Ohio and found our 34 in Lake Norman,N.C. That was about 10-11 hours away...with children. The sale, surveyor, truck transport and a lot more, all done by phone.....After we Saw the boat.

   I realize I don't know your time restraints, just something to think about.
      Happy Hunting!   
               Phil
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KWKloeber

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Re: Long distance boat shopping
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2021, 06:18:20 PM »

@tmacmi

Keel joint cracks and refairing is something MANY of us have dealt with.  Cracks at the keel to keel stub transition aren’t necessarily a huge repair (many do it themselves, as I did (and more.))

Does the work need to be done that far away?
Whereabouts are you (and that boat)?

Wean you negotiate a great discount on the boat based on that yard’s estimate and then fix it closer?

I’m not trying to talk you into that boat, but certain repairs may seem more daunting at this point in your search, than they really are.

What’s your skill level/desire to do repairs yourself. There’s a lot of helping hands on here that can guide you into making a bit-perfect boat into a perfect boat for you.

Ken
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So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the tradewinds in your sails.
Explore.  Dream.  Discover.   -Mark Twain

Tmacmi

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Re: Long distance boat shopping
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2021, 06:33:25 AM »

@tmacmi

Keel joint cracks and refairing is something MANY of us have dealt with.  Cracks at the keel to keel stub transition aren’t necessarily a huge repair (many do it themselves, as I did (and more.))

Does the work need to be done that far away?
Whereabouts are you (and that boat)?

Wean you negotiate a great discount on the boat based on that yard’s estimate and then fix it closer?

I’m not trying to talk you into that boat, but certain repairs may seem more daunting at this point in your search, than they really are.

What’s your skill level/desire to do repairs yourself. There’s a lot of helping hands on here that can guide you into making a bit-perfect boat into a perfect boat for you.

Ken

Thanks Ken!

I don't think I described the damage well. This isn't from the keel to the keel stub. Its at the transition from the stub into the bottom of the hull itself. The survey suggests exploration for delamination fore, aft and sides where the stub transitions into the bottom of  hull. I was reading a couple of posts related to repairs after a grounding in this forum. It could even extend to damaged stringers at the aft end of the keel stub where it would "punch" up into the bottom.

This boat is at the far west end of Lake Superior. I keep my boat in South Haven. The boat would have to be shipped 400 miles to Milwaukee, then sailed across the Lake to our place.

As for the amount of work I'm willing to do, I have been doing a mini-refit of the boat we bought 2 years ago. New black water tank, replace plumbing hoses, electrical, new propeller shaft, running rigging replacement and other minor items. I'd like to get a boat that requires basic maintenance (critical items aside) for 2 seasons before I started refitting the portions over time.

If I was doing this with a building, I'd have the engineer spec the appropriate repair, then hand the repair specifications to the general contractor and have construction work done in conformance with the plans.
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KWKloeber

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Re: Long distance boat shopping
« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2021, 08:26:21 AM »

@tmacmi

Thanks for that additional explanation.
It paints a whole nother picture. :shock: :shock: :cry4`
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Twenty years from now you'll be more disappointed by the things you didn't do, than by the ones you did.
So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the tradewinds in your sails.
Explore.  Dream.  Discover.   -Mark Twain

Catalina007

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Re: Long distance boat shopping
« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2021, 06:24:38 AM »

There are some good ones with good long term reputations. But 95 pct of the time the broker input is useless.
 
Early in the process ask the broker to have THE SELLER  respond in writing to the question:
Does the seller have any knowledge of groundings, floodings, or structural repairs.
If the seller is not on record, everything else is useless. Put in in the sales contract   
Same if you are buying a used car.
A seller should have no problem answering this question
« Last Edit: April 30, 2021, 06:25:32 AM by Catalina007 »
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girmann

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Re: Long distance boat shopping
« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2021, 05:28:02 AM »

Not to beat a dead horse, but here’s a story.

Wife grew up on a boat, and I came to sailing later in life. After 2 years of dinghy sailing lessons and then basic keelboat, we set out to search for our perfect sailboat - a Catalina 30. After three months and dozens of boats, we found nothing that met even our preliminary requirements, my father in law took us aside and asked us this:

“Do you want to spend your time shopping or sailing?”

The point was clear - much like the Pardys “Go small, go simple, go now.” We ended up buying a Catalina 28MkI that was seaworthy, but met maybe half of our earlier “requirements”. The difference was that we would be on the water in August, with plenty of a season left. We probably put 20k into that boat over the 6 years we owned her and sold her for $18k last year. (Again, did we want to wait for the most amount of money we could get, or did we want to buy a 34?) If we were a bit more selective about the first boat we bought, there were pitfalls that we could have avoided. But then, it would have taken longer to find the right boat. In the end, we had a lot of fun on the 28 and made her a much better boat than when we found her. I wouldn’t trade those experiences for any amount of time or money.

I’m not trying to put down your list - these are things that you absolutely need to know about your boat. Clearly you need a boat that is seaworthy. But with a list of requirements this stringent, you’re going to shopping for a while. Do you want to shop for boats or sail them?
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