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Old 08-20-2015, 09:12 PM   #1
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Greetings from the Napa Valley

Just getting started on learning about trawlers, and am really impressed with the support and knowledge base of this forum. Wow, what a great, caring, expert community!

Am hoping to purchase a 36' - 42' boat and dock somewhere on the San Francisco bay. But only after plenty of research and introspection on what matters to me.

One thing that seems obvious to me is TANSTAFL - "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch." New boats are really expensive, and older boats can be much cheaper, but given the complexity of the mechanism, older boats face innumerable potential mechanical and electrical issues (read "expensive"). And I know that condition is everything for an individual boat, in terms of maintenance and upkeep.

So maybe a dumb newby question - overall, is there some sort of "sweet spot" of price/depreciation/age/condition? Are boats like new cars, that depreciate quickly right off the lot, or do they hold their value over an extended period? Are you smarter to buy an older boat and plan on extensive refitting, or buying a newer boat and paying more to start?

Thanks to all, and look forward to many years of conversation.
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Old 08-20-2015, 09:48 PM   #2
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Haven't yet noticed anything that resembles a sweet spot such as you describe, Hawkman. Older boats that are on offer for prices near the lower end of the range for their year and marque can generally be counted on to have problems. I call 'em "special needs" boats.

When you spot something that you like and that seems affordable, go look at it. After doing that a few times, you'll be amazed at how sensitive your nose becomes for what is and is not a good deal. Naturally, don't pull the trigger on anything without a professional yacht survey. Indeed, since you know where geographically you'll be shopping, it's not a bad idea to form a relationship with a surveyor in advance of your need. The right surveyor can be a wealth of info.

Bon chance, and welcome to the TF!
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Old 08-20-2015, 11:46 PM   #3
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That's a great idea about locating a surveyor prior to shopping. I have used the broker supplied surveyor on my last two purchases and never felt I truly got a fair shake.
I don't have a great acronym to use- but don't spect no return on a boat investment! We paid $82K for ours after hard negotiations from Patricia- 6 months after Katrina hit and we lost our 28' Bayliner. My thoughts were that due to the shortage of non hurricane boats, and due to all the boats that needed replacement.. I had myself an investment . Of course most of those boats never got replaced. And my creds with Patricia on "boat investments" has never materialized...
On the other hand- last year we listed the boat for a VERY short time and the broker had us down for the low $70s and felt we could expect the mid sixties. As long as you don't count things like bottom jobs, oil coolers, electronics, anchors, air conditioners and batteries- then I guess you could say I wouldn't exactly be taking a bath if we sold her for $65k.
Having said all of that..... I STILL think that the future of the 1970-80 and 90s slow ugly boats (trawlers) is gonna get EXTREMELY good. It's like land. There's never gonna be any more made. Same way with these currently affordable "yachts" the we here are sporting around on. My money goes to seeing $100k and north of that for a vessel similar to ours that has had the constant time and money necessary spent to maintain and improve these old girls .
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Old 08-21-2015, 10:02 AM   #4
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Steve (Forkliftt) wrote: "I STILL think that the future of the 1970-80 and 90s slow ugly boats (trawlers) is gonna get EXTREMELY good. It's like land. There's never gonna be any more made. Same way with these currently affordable "yachts" the we here are sporting around on. My money goes to seeing $100k and north of that for a vessel similar to ours that has had the constant time and money necessary spent to maintain and improve these old girls."

I hope that's true. But a strong market for anything requires lots of buyers with money. The surge in the so-called "trawler lifestyle" that happened in the early-mid 2000s owed to many baby-boomers cashing out of their primary residences during an overheated real estate boom. That phenomenon seems unlikely to repeat in the near future. So we need to ask: who will be the buyers for our 1970s-1980s vintage trawler yachts in the next decade or so, and where will they get the money?

Another consideration: a 1970s vintage fiberglass boat is now 45 years old. Every year from now on, a big cohort of boats will pass that milestone. To a bank or credit union, that's an old asset with high costs of upkeep and little chance of appreciation. Put differently, institutional financing for old boats is already scarce, and will become increasingly so. Our resale market going forward will be mostly limited to buyers with cash or enough other assets to cross-collateralize a boat loan.

Given the large trends in the U.S. economy and personal wealth accumulation, I expect that any older trawler-type yacht that I buy now will be difficult to resell when I'm ready, be that in three, five, or seven years. The assumption driving my price ideas then is that this is strictly an investment in quality of life. If things turn out differently, hooray - that'll be gravy.
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Old 08-21-2015, 10:21 AM   #5
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There are so many similarities to trawlers (or whatever they are called and motorhomes. From engines to tanks to wiring, generators, water conservation, how big is too big? and so on. Our 45' Newell was one of the best made coaches. Ours was a 1998 and in better shape than a much newer other brand mass produced motorhome. But even so like Blissboat said financing can be very difficult. There is a point where a certain vintage should reach its bottom on depreciation, as long as it is maintained properly. That is where I bought the Newell, sold it a couple years later for $10k less, not including updates and maintenance of course. I'm hoping to do the same when/if I buy a boat in a year or 2. And I plan to be a cash buyer, hoping that'll get me a better price....
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Old 08-21-2015, 10:50 AM   #6
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anybody keep stats on boat prices over time?

this all makes a lot of sense - I'm too new to the game to have any perspective (torn between the idea of getting a great bargain, with an inflated opinion on how handy I am in fixing things, versus paying through the nose but having something that works really well from the get go; between spending all your time in the yard, or on the water). I wonder if lenders that finance boats would have statistics on price/depreciation over time? Do you think there is some organization (lenders, appraisers, etc.) that would keep stats?
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Old 08-21-2015, 11:24 AM   #7
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Hawkman, to your two observations:

1) Unless you really enjoy things like carpentry, grinding fiberglass, plumbing, engine repairs, painting, varnishing, and making endless trips to parts stores (after endless hours of shopping on-line), better to buy something that is close to being usable for the kind of boating that you intend.

2) Kelly Blue Book purports to report some boat prices, but its data doesn't seem to me to track the real world very well. Most (not all, but most) yacht brokers will say anything to make a sale. An experienced and truly independent yacht surveyor will likely have better data than anyone. She or he sees lots of sales contracts while evaluating the boats involved, estimating the cost of their unmet needs.

Occasionally I'll follow a make, model, and year-range of boat for sale on the brokerage websites so as to get a feel of how fast they sell at various price points. Sometimes, when a boat I'm following is reported as "sale pending" and then disappears from the broker's site, I phone to ask politely how much it went for. Most brokers find a way to avoid answering ("no one here remembers, the records are gone, the seller wanted it kept confidential," etc.). apparently figuring that knowledge is power. Still, I have been accumulating an admittedly imprecise knowledge base relating to boats that interest me, enough so as to recognize a fair asking price when I see it. That's still no assurance that its a good price - only an inspection will tell you that.
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Old 08-21-2015, 01:16 PM   #8
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Does it make any sense to buy a boat sight unseen (with local surveyor's opinion of course)? There are so many boats far away from the SF Bay area (Florida, Chesapeake, New England, Europe, etc.). that are very interesting, even including shipping fees. But then you're relying on a broker/surveyor you've never met. Ideally, I would get to know and trust a local surveyor that is experienced with trawler issues, then use them whenever a likely and local boat turns up. But that really limits the field. Do you have any experience with buying at a distance?
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Old 08-21-2015, 01:26 PM   #9
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No No!! And once you have gotten to inspect some boats locally you will understand why. Width of a walkway, head room, smell, soft decks. These are things (unless disclosed) that you will never experience from afar. An old trawler- if you haven't had a chance to explore one yet- is a bit "different" than I think most people expect. It's often loaded with tons of old dark wood inside. Chances are- it's gonna smell like diesel, poo, or just "old" inside.

I wouldn't trade it for anything. But I still remember the feelings I felt the first time aboard these floating antiques.


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Old 08-21-2015, 01:48 PM   #10
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Thanks, that's really great and sensible advice. I can just imagine the nightmare of taking delivery of a boat that I've never seen!!!
Speaking of diesel smell, do all diesel engined trawlers smell of fuel?
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Old 08-21-2015, 02:08 PM   #11
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Forkliftt is right. The newer the boat, the more conceivable such a thing could be, but even then only with plenty of side doors out of the deal - contingent on survey (by a surveyor of the buyer's choosing), contingent on buyer's personal inspection / approval, etc.

People buy new boats all the time sight unseen (Nordhavn, Grand Banks), but the manufacturer and authorized dealer take some responsibility for the buyer's satisfaction. The older the boat, the more variables in its condition, all having to do with how responsibly its owners cared for it.
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Old 08-21-2015, 03:31 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hawkman View Post
Does it make any sense to buy a boat sight unseen (with local surveyor's opinion of course)? There are so many boats far away from the SF Bay area (Florida, Chesapeake, New England, Europe, etc.). that are very interesting, even including shipping fees. But then you're relying on a broker/surveyor you've never met. Ideally, I would get to know and trust a local surveyor that is experienced with trawler issues, then use them whenever a likely and local boat turns up. But that really limits the field. Do you have any experience with buying at a distance?
Think of it like buying an older home. Would you buy one based on pictures only and the opinion of the pre-sale inspector? I would have to see it myself to make the decision to purchase. I presume you have never owned a large boat before but have owned a home. Think of the crapshoot you would be playing if you bought your first home based on a realtor's website and a report from an inspector. You definitely need to go look at a bunch of different vessels and see what you like and dislike and take your time on deciding. To quote what has been said on this site many time before...'the right boat will pick you'. Good luck in your search.
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Old 08-21-2015, 03:36 PM   #13
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Got it - thanks, everybody! The hunt begins!
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Old 08-21-2015, 06:15 PM   #14
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Speaking of diesel smell, do all diesel engined trawlers smell of fuel?
The crappy ones do.
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