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Old 05-08-2014, 09:12 PM   #1
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Boat Search 101

Our own RT Firefly made a wonderful suggestion in another thread, a sticky thread covering the many steps involved in a successful boat search and acquisition. This thread will remain open for all to contribute however I do request we limit our contributions to the topic of locating and purchasing a boat.

Let's see what we can come up with folks.
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Old 05-08-2014, 10:34 PM   #2
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I'm certainly no expert on the search and acquisition process, but we just closed on a Defever 44 nine days ago. Here's how we approached it:
  • Research, research, research. I read everything I could get my hands on, walked docks, hung out on forums like this and talked to anyone I could about boats. Without a doubt, the most informative source of info for me was TF. And I'm still doing this, although for different reasons now . . . to learn how to operate and maintain vs acquire. The learning never stops.
  • Checked out real boats. My wife and I went to Trawlerfest, attended a Kadey Krogen rendezvous, looked at a few boats that were for sale and shamelessly asked owners of models we were considering if we could check out their boats. Most were extremely generous, invited us aboard and took us for rides. We also chartered a Krogen 42 for a week in Florida. There was no substitute for hands-on, eyes-on experience to narrow the choices.
  • Developed our priorities. Also, what we would compromise on. I used to think I had to have a pilothouse, but (while I still like them a lot) actually being on boats with and without one made me realize they were not deal-makers or breakers.
  • Watched the market. Kept track of the two finalist models on Yachtworld and other listing sites until we had a decent grasp of pricing trends in various locations.
  • Took the plunge. When the right boat came along, we knew it. But making the initial offer and accepting the boat after the survey and renegotiation weren't cut and dried decisions. For us, there was definitely an emotional threshold to cross before we could open our wallets that wide. All of the preparation helped make it less traumatic, but we still had to look each other in the eye and decide that this was a mutual choice. You'll understand when you get there.

I'd be afraid to total up the hours we spent on all of this, but so far, we're very happy with the end result.

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Old 05-08-2014, 11:09 PM   #3
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The first step in picking a boat is to decide what you want the boat to do.

Do you want to cross oceans?
Do you want to Coastal Cruise?
Is fishing important?
How many people do you want to take along?
How long do you plan on being on the boat at a time?
Is this a weekend and vacation boat, or is this a boat you want to cruise full time on?
Do you plan on anchoring out allot, or are harbors and their social life more fun?

Answer questions like that (and more), long before you even think about features or brands.

I see too many people make general statements like "I want a Full displacement boat" or "I want a sundeck", without realizing that all boats are a compromise in space and performance.
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Old 05-09-2014, 06:22 AM   #4
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Answer questions like that (and more), long before you even think about features or brands.

Unquestionably correct!

The boat that will fill your desirements can only be judged by YOU!

Make a list , check it twice.
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Old 05-09-2014, 08:14 AM   #5
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Greetings,
Mr. CP et al. The mention of my suggestion in another thread and failing to mention what I mentioned is, well frankly unmentionable.
The gist of what I "suggested" is : Don't get emotional about any particular vessel until after you have come to know and love her. Meaning well after purchase. You can get emotional about the lifestyle and the places you can go or go back to by water. Keep your feelings out of the decision. NOT the search, the DECISION.

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Old 05-09-2014, 09:01 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RT Firefly View Post
Greetings,
Mr. CP et al. The mention of my suggestion in another thread and failing to mention what I mentioned is, well frankly unmentionable.
The gist of what I "suggested" is : Don't get emotional about any particular vessel until after you have come to know and love her. Meaning well after purchase. You can get emotional about the lifestyle and the places you can go or go back to by water. Keep your feelings out of the decision. NOT the search, the DECISION.

Excellent advice, Mr. RT. Easier said than done sometimes, but if you're not prepared to walk, you're setting yourself up to be a victim. My mantra during any large purchase is: Don't fall in love with a [insert house, car, boat or whatever]; it won't love you back.
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Old 05-09-2014, 02:23 PM   #7
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greetings,
mr. Cp et al. The mention of my suggestion in another thread and failing to mention what i mentioned is, well frankly unmentionable.

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Old 05-09-2014, 05:02 PM   #8
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Research should first be directed at the buyer .. not the boat. To some a boat is a work of art and they get immense pleasure every time they see it or think of it. You could almost say nothing else matters for them.

Many others would buy a boat like they would buy a lawnmower, a garage door or a furnace. Nothing beyond what the item can do for them v/s the cost.

Some on TF may not admit it but they just don't want to be seen as cruiser type people and halving a trawler gives them a salty and perhaps higher masculine image that they prefer.

To some their intent for usage is clearly seen from past experience or reading or both and they can describe the boat the'll end up w quite well. It could be socializing at the float or long distance cruising by anchor, marina or city float.

Some are overwhelmed and are new to boating. Some may jump right in and be out-boating many of us after a few years. Others may never need to go beyond the dabbling stage to be fully satisfied.

So I submit that one should do a serious bit of introspection and learn the fine art and science of objectivity before forming any visions of what the boating picture will hold. Regarding similar activities observing what one has done in the past and how it turned out is a big plus too.

Just my off the top $.25 worth.
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Old 05-09-2014, 06:54 PM   #9
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Often how you handle things like this comes from experiences in your background. I approached it much like I've always approached major business decisions from equipment to systems and software.

The first part of a process is always defining the requirements. You do whatever is necessary to determine your must haves and your wants but not deal breakers. Yes, I even created a spreadsheet to which I could compare items to my requirements. To truly know our requirements required some looking itself and the further we went the more detailed they became. But the requirements included cost, size, singles or twins, galley up or down, number of staterooms and heads, bridge or not, speed, range, fuel efficiency, draft, air draft, crew accommodations or not, storage of dinghy or tender, headroom/height. Then specifics about spaces that were mostly wants but not musts, although some were musts. For instance, are enclosed showers essential or is wet ok? What size bed in the master stateroom. Dark or light woods and coverings. Teak or not? Engine room space. Storage. Type of appliances. The list goes on and on but often as you see things that you don't like in the process you narrow it down. For instance, we finally eliminated one boat we really liked over the size of the refrigerator and freezer and lack of galley space to have larger.

Once the requirements are established then it's simply a matter of finding the best match. However, it's not all science and numbers. It's a feel too. We chartered and when we chartered a specific boat, it just felt right for us. We liked it. We'd done our homework and now this was like a long demo. And if it doesn't feel right, it isn't. Wait for the right one. At some point you'll have to decide which compromises to make, but they won't bother you.

Don't think it's a quick process either. You cannot safely bypass steps. It can take anywhere from a few months to a year or longer to figure it all out. Until you do, charter or find other ways. Likely as a couple, you'll be like every couple on the television show "House Hunters", looking for different things. But then the boat that satisfies you both will appear. And when others tell you what you should get, they're not you. They can advise, tell you boats to look at. But it's such an individual choice.
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Old 05-09-2014, 10:08 PM   #10
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We found our list of things that we did not want was a lot longer than the things we "must have". After much debate, my wife wanted galley up layout and centerline master bed arrangement. I wanted single diesel engine and some type of dinghy davits that did not need to pull the OB all the time with my bad back.
Be realistic in your intended use of the boat. You can to do the Great Loop without a Nordhavn.
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Old 05-09-2014, 10:32 PM   #11
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We found our list of things that we did not want was a lot longer than the things we "must have". After much debate, my wife wanted galley up layout and centerline master bed arrangement. I wanted single diesel engine and some type of dinghy davits that did not need to pull the OB all the time with my bad back.
Be realistic in your intended use of the boat. You can to do the Great Loop without a Nordhavn.
We found very similar things to you and some then opposite. Galley up was a must. Twin Diesels. Flybridge. Dinghy storage on bridge, nice capacity crane plus decent size dinghy/tender. Minimum 6-8" ceiling heights. King size bed in master stateroom strong preferred, queen minimum. Here's one that's heresy here, ability to cruise around 20 knots when desired.

All those and many other things simply personal preferences. No better one way or another, many would choose opposite us. But one by one our list of possible boats was narrowed down.
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Old 05-09-2014, 11:26 PM   #12
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As part of the "what will I use the boat for" consideration; an important question is: What are your local cruising waters like?

Is it protected water, or open sea?
Is it generally calm, or windy most of the time?
Is it skinny water or plenty of depth?
Is it clear boating or full of crab pots and logs?
Is it well serviced for fuel and supplies or remote?

These issues narrowed down my boat choices considerably.

Anther question to ask yourself about how you use your boat are: How do use your time?
Will you do quick half day trips or lengthy cruises?
Do you want to maintain your own boat or hire someone to do it?
Will you visit your boat daily or once a month?
Do you enjoy working with wood, fibreglass or steel?
Are you looking for something to fill in your idle hours/days doing maintenance or something to just climb aboard and go.

Also - Where will you keep it? -
Your private dock, a marina, on a mooring, close by, far away, covered/open, on a trailer?
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Old 05-10-2014, 12:13 AM   #13
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This discussion is very timely for us as my wife & I are finally able to look down the road, uh, make that waterway and start planning a Loop in a couple of years. Part of the journey will be looking for that perfect place to come back to for retirement.

My wish list (currently) is: 34'-40', single, flybridge, easy dinghy doodling since we have a large dog,15 kt speed if needed otherwise hull speed, 5' draft max (4' even better), single stateroom (guests can sleep on the couch), A/C for southern cruising, and some nice woodwork inside.

My wife's wish list is considerably shorter: it has to be pretty! (I just read her the post and she laughed saying "you don't know me that well!")

We will probably go to TrawlerFest in Baltimore in Sep if all works out jobwise. I hear there could be a few boats there. Looking forward to soaking up some of the amazing experience and knowledge freely given on this site.
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Old 05-10-2014, 08:41 AM   #14
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The best advice we ever got was "don't buy the biggest boat you can afford, buy the smallest you can live on." Also need to be honest with your want/need list. After some research and soul searching, many "needs" can turn out to be "nice to have" or blling.
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Old 05-10-2014, 09:31 AM   #15
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Also remember that if you are spending extended time aboard interior volume generally equals comfort. People tend to kinda poo poo this during the looking phase but its really true. You live inside the boat. Larger is more comfortable for extended time aboard.

This is where the trade offs come in.

For a given length there is only so much possible space.

Nice wide decks for example might mean easier docking, but they also mean a smaller interior.

Aft cabin designs are larger inside and often have HUGE semi outside spaces but can require stairs to get on and off the boat, making it more difficult to fish from, or get onto a skiff. Pets can have a real challenge with some aft cabin designs.

Pilothouse designs provide a separate room to operate the boat from, and a separate place to hang out, but pilothouses represent windage, making the boat sometimes a challenge to get into a dock.
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Old 05-10-2014, 10:13 AM   #16
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I simply wanted a boat my 6'4" body could stand upright in and sleep comfortably in.

That eliminated most boats. I found my GB42 with a king bed and plenty of head room. Bought it on the spot, then learned about GB and trawlers.
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Old 05-10-2014, 10:32 AM   #17
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The best advice we ever got was "don't buy the biggest boat you can afford, buy the smallest you can live on." Also need to be honest with your want/need list. After some research and soul searching, many "needs" can turn out to be "nice to have" or blling.

I realize this is contrary to what most people advise, but on the theory that varied opinions are helpful.....

I'd suggest buying the biggest boat you are comfortable with from an accommodations, handling, and cost standpoint. Whatever boat you are in, it will seem smaller over time, not bigger. What seems like an unmanageable size to handle will quickly become second nature. What seems like lots of storage space will quickly become full, and what seems like a far away destination will soon become close by and you will be seeking greater adventure. It's much more common for people to upsize rather than downsize, and I think this is why.
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Old 05-10-2014, 11:43 AM   #18
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A wonderful tip that came my way came from a broker.

Ideal boat is one that several owners have pumped a lot of money into their favorite thing like engineering, paint and decor, add-on equipment ect ect.

Some people do extensive re-fits on boats w new engines, fuel tanks, awlgrip finish, lots of electronics, a super dinghy ect ect.

A 1974 trawler is only worth so much no matter how much has been pumped into her but the sky's the limit of re-fits.

Look on YW and see that some boats stick out in this way.
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Old 05-10-2014, 01:03 PM   #19
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The best advice we ever got was "don't buy the biggest boat you can afford, buy the smallest you can live on." .
While that may be true for you, for others it isn't. Space can be very nice to have beyond the minimum. Also, don't overlook the waters it's to be used on. If one is going to stay inside and use the ICW might be one thing, but if you like to go outside you may well want a bit larger.
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Old 05-10-2014, 06:51 PM   #20
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Living space is a subjective issue for sure. I prefer being outside whether it be camping, boating, or other activities so some deck space is a good thing. I am assuming the comments made regarding larger sizes includes storage space such as needed for that extra roll of paper towels or the child sized PFD that is only used a few times a year. Usable, logical space is important. Would a drawer for DVD's be more important than a cranny to tuck in a hard drive? Would I use a small cooler more than a dedicated locker for lines? I think though the biggest determining factor is where can I go with it? I do not have a burning itch to explore the Bahamas (been there, got robbed). I do want to find quiet anchorages to watch the sun come up. I figure this is all just part of the journey.
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