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Old 10-06-2016, 07:05 AM   #1
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City: Albany, NY
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Can a boat purchase get any weirder?

Our plan was to buy a smaller boat than the Manatee we sold in GA or FL so as to get a two month jump on our winter cruising. Whew! I'm glad that plan didn't work out.

We found a larger boat nearly 1000 miles in the opposite direction that looked like too good a deal not to investigate. Fresh water, always stored inside in a heated shed, etc. I wrote the broker and said that the boat was a logistical challenge for us and, if there was any reason it couldn't leave immediately for FL, please don't waste our time. A couple days later, we were in the car headed for Detroit. It was a panic departure because the broker said the only haul out window for a week was in two days.

Two hundred miles into our drive, the broker called to tell us that he had just learned that one of the engine fresh water pumps had been sent out for rebuild so the boat couldn't be run. With the time pressure of the season ending and needing to get the boat out of the lakes, we decided to do the inspection and haul out and come back for a sea trial prepared to depart on delivery if it was satisfactory.

We arrived at the boat and the seller promptly showed up. She started telling us her long sad story of job loss, break up with boyfriend who ran boat, son with cancer, etc. She and Patsy bonded and began dickering about price of furniture to be left on the boat. She proudly showed us the very complete set of original equipment manuals and maintenance logs kept since the boat's launch. These were headlined in the listing as the second of three great reasons to buy this boat. (Fresh water and inside storage being the first two.)

The broker showed up and said his boss wouldn't let him run the boat to the travel lift on one engine. I suggested using the tender and outboard alongside to assist him in. Turns out the tender, shown in the listing, belonged to the boyfriend and we couldn't use it. I asked about the yard workboat and there isn't one. What planet are we on?

So, we inspected the boat, fell in love with it, and returned to the office to make a deposit and sign a sales contract. What? No sales contract. The gave us a hand written invoice like you might get buying a drill at a country hardware store. I shrugged and we signed. 90% of what is in those 5-6 page contracts we are used to just protects the sellers and brokers.

Because the seller had told us how urgent it was that she get the boat sold and because of our need to get it out of the lakes and through the Erie Canal before the onset of bad weather, I decided to take the financial risk of driving out in a one way car rental and flying in delivery crew. If the haul out or sea trial turned out to be unacceptable, we would all just have to return home the way we came. Once again, we were facing the only available haul out slot for over a week.

The boat looked great at haul out and ran great on the sea trials. The only issue was the drip pan full of oil under the generator. The boy friend evidently had just stopped working on it when he and the seller broke up. We were prepared to buy the boat at the very low price even with out a generator.

The seller then refused to close and I began racking up hotel bills and meals for all of us. In fairness, her son was entering hospice. The brokers offered to send someone to the hospital for her to sign her name in the four places that would close the deal. She refused. We learned that one of the two brokers was talking to us and the other in the office was talking to the seller. They evidently were not talking to each other very much. The seller began to make noises about withdrawing the boat from sale.

One broker told us that, if we hadn't started talking with the seller about the furniture and other stuff we were paying for on the side, it should have been included in the sale. Why then did they let her on the boat and not answer our questions as to whether the boat was staged and what was included.

The seller called me at one point and told me how much she liked Patsy and I and how sympathetically we had treated her when we met. We agreed to pay too much for the furniture and dinghy but it was still an unreal price for this boat.

We then drove over to the broker where they asked me why we were talking to the seller and what was this about my abusing and "violating" her an our first (and only) meeting on the boat? These two reports from her to different people were within the same hour. The only time I was ever in her presence was with Patsy there. The seller was again making noises about pulling out of the deal. The broker told us they had assured us they would sue her if she did. I totaled up the over $3000 we had invested at this point in travel and hotels and told them to tell her we would be suing as well.

The seller agreed to come in with her lawyer two days later and sign. We watched the beautiful weather window starting to close and continued running up motel and meal bills. BTW, the seller had told us that we could all stay on the boat for this trip but then told us that the marina had refused to allow that because of "insurance". I later talked to the marina and they told me it would be no problem as long as the owner agreed. Another lie.

The seller finally showed up with her lawyer and signed. The "lawyer" turned out to be the former boyfriend who the broker recognized from so Facebook research. He said not much as she signed.

We went in for the final paperwork and the broker told us that the cleaning person returned from the back room after opening up to find the seller in the office. He told here to leave as they were not open. The broker then found that every file and piece of paper related to the boat were missing from the desk top where they had been laid out for the closing. They called the seller and told her that, if she wasn't back with the files in ten minutes, she would be talking to the police in twenty. She returned and closed.

We then went to the boat we now owned and discovered that every single equipment manual and all the maintenance logs, which had been neatly stacked on top of a locker, were going. Lots of other valuable stuff was left on the boat so it wasn't a theft. It was pure spite. The broker has tried to get her to produce them and we have filed a formal complaint with the Sheriff but she denies any knowledge. I'm sure they are in a trash bin somewhere. I'm glad there is an Internet but not having all those original paper manuals with the serial numbers and dates of purchase written in along with knowing things like what anti-freeze was used, when the oil was changed, etc. is always going to be galling. Somewhere in her psychosis, she thought it was our fault that she lost her job and boyfriend and had to sell the boat. She took her revenge.

We then had a great trip down the Detroit River and ran non stop to Lackawana. We got fair beat up in Lake Erie where, as they say in Maine, it was as dark as the inside of a cow. It sure would have been nice to have those manuals as we tried to figure out the functions of the old CRT radar. However, the boat ran well and it was very reassuring to go through such conditions without a problem. It was not a smart thing to do in a just purchased old boat but, if we hadn't left, we would have been in MI for a long time and I would have lost my crew.

The trip through Erie Canal was one of the great cruising experiences of my 30,000 plus miles. Patsy joined us in Tonawanda and traveling in a big, comfortable, boat eating frozen dinners prepared in an oven (which I have never had on a boat) with good friends doing the kind of canal cruising we have been talking about for years made it all worth while.

The boat is now in Coeymans, NY being prepared for continuing on south although we are wondering anxiously, along with many here I am sure, how much damage the infrastructure of the ICW is going to suffer in SC, GA, and FL.

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Old 10-06-2016, 07:18 AM   #2
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Sounds like a story out of the Twilight Zone.


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I want to spend some time, Not come and go in a heated rush.....
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Old 10-06-2016, 07:34 AM   #3
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Thank you for sharing. Sorry to hear about the crazy sale but at least it is over now and you have another story to share with other boaters. Sounds like your plan to buy a smaller boat was subverted. I hope the seller's situation improves and she gets some help. Hopefully your interactions with her are done.
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Old 10-06-2016, 07:35 AM   #4
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WOW! What else can you say. To bad to lose all the manuals and logs, I have found the same to be invaluable in the first couple years of owning our boat. Well hopefully all the bad is behind you and only good to come. Good luck with the rest of your journey.
Allan & Ann
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The Titanic by professionals
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Old 10-06-2016, 10:06 AM   #5
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Congratulations on the new boat, sorry about the strange buying experience. There are a lot of very weird people in the world, unfortunately your seller was one of them.

Have a fun and safe trip.

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Old 10-06-2016, 10:22 AM   #6
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Sounds about average.
Al Johnson
34' Marine Trader
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Old 10-06-2016, 10:27 AM   #7
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City: Albany, NY
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Originally Posted by O C Diver View Post
Sounds like a story out of the Twilight Zone.
And that was just the tip of the iceberg.
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Old 10-06-2016, 11:21 AM   #8
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I tried to buy a boat through a broker about 10 years ago. Each time we had an appointment to get aboard to take a walk through, the owners son never showed up. I was not the first that this had happened to. The owner was 500 miles away. The 3rd visit, no son to unlock the boat. The broker actually found a forward hatch unlocked and we both entered the boat. She was beautiful. I knew she ran great as I used to run over to watch and hear her as she left her slip on the weekends. (love the sound of big Detroit Diesels). The broker said he was tired of the uncooperative son, so he actually gave me the owners name and telephone number. We verbally agreed to a price, contingent on a sea trial and haul out.
The owner flew into town and had an argument with his son, who was upset he was losing his condo on the water. After the son was hauled off by the sheriff, the owner changed his mind and took the boat to San Francisco where he worked. In retrospect, it may have been for the best in my case.
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Old 10-06-2016, 11:46 AM   #9
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Way too much drama for me. I would have bailed, early.
Currently boatless but looking. Avatar is my first boat....Holland, 1965 ish.....
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Old 10-06-2016, 12:01 PM   #10
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City: Albany, NY
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Originally Posted by oscar View Post
Way too much drama for me. I would have bailed, early.
We would have also for any other boat we have looked at. But, we got this one which is larger and in 4-5 times better shape than our last one for less than half the price. The difference fresh water makes is incredible. If I ever buy another boat, I'm not even going to bother looking anywhere but the Great Lakes.
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Old 10-06-2016, 12:29 PM   #11
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Not exactly the same but I will share a strange experience too at the time I was looking for my first boat end of last year and beginning of the current year.
Looking at boats I found a nice 43 Gulfstar that was looking in pretty good shape. It was mentioned that the generator was brand new and that the 2 Perkins had been totally rebuilt so it looked like a bargain to me. The boat was equipped with stabilizers, and I liked the shape of the hull.
I then contacted the broker by email and after 1 week still got no reply. I was thinking ok maybe they are not email fans I can understand so I called them (The broker was a boat shop here in Quebec province). A nice girl answered to me and the broker was not in so she told me she will call back... one week later no call yet.
So I called them back, this time she forwarded my call to a representative who was replacing the formal broker etc. So I told the guy that I was interested in the 43 Gulfstar they were selling... he did not look aware of it. Ok he was replacing the formal broker so let's forgive him. I described the boat, gave him the number mentionned in the description etc He found back the boat in question then told me "You know the picture that we put on were not really representative of the real condition of the boat" ????? What did he meant about "the real condition of the boat". Then told me that the fridge has been removed from the galley, as well as the stove, that the previous owner started to redo the whole wiring on the flybridge but did not finished so the whole wiring was still to be done etc etc and that finally to get this boat in good shape it would need a 10K$ investment. I was thinking ok well if the hull is good and the mechanic is good and I can have a good price why not so I asked him to send me all the information he has about it, a copy of all the papers etc and that I will call him to see it... 9 month later I am still waiting for his reply!
Sometimes I ask myself if this guy really wanted to sell it as it looks like he was not very interested in any offer.
Anyway finally I found my baby and I am very happy with it but I found that a bit odd.
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Old 10-09-2016, 10:24 PM   #12
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I'm with you on the Great Lakes boats, Roger.
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Old 10-15-2016, 06:13 PM   #13
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Roger, my hat's off to you for sticking with it through it all. If it was me, I would have bailed much earlier in the process.

I should count my blessings that the purchase of FlyWright went so smoothly. I now consider the PO a friend. We took a day trip last spring that we both enjoyed. I learned much about the boat that never got discussed during the buy.

I hope your memories of the purchase "adventure" are soon overwritten with memories of fun boat times with family and friends. That's the best thing about boats...the next adventure is just 'round the next corner.

My boat is my ark. It's my mobile treehouse and my floating fishing cabin. It's my retreat and my respite. Everyday I thank God I have a boat! -Al

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Old 10-16-2016, 07:57 AM   #14
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I was dealing with an estate sale. Nuf said. LOL!
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Old 10-16-2016, 08:52 AM   #15
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WOW - OP purchase story is nearly nuts; guess crazy is better term! Good on ya Rodger that it worked out in long run. HUMMMM - Sure don't wonder why the gal owner has no boy friend. And, sorry for the other down falls she is experiencing. But, do have to wonder if she was telling truth on those instances too???


I consistantly purchase from the owners - with CA$H!. Tried brokers a couple times over the decades, due to boats that seemed real good... too much BS in the game. Not rocket science to do full due diligence on a boat regarding haul out, sea trial, pro marine surveyor, pro mechanical surveyor. Oh yes - and the most important thing... thumbs up from Linda!

Of course, it is good to have pretty complete self-knowledge of what a boat is all about. My marine doings starting from mid 1950's afford me that capability.

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