On the boat buying process

Several readers on their journey towards boat ownership have contacted me with a few questions which I’ll try and answer here for all.

Can you give us a bit more info on your buying process? How much work does a boat from 1989 actually need?

Based on the almost hundreds of boats we have looked at, there is no black and white answer to these question. Happy Dancer was pretty much ready to go. We still spent several thousands (yes, BOAT does stand for Bring On Another Thousand) on additional kids and safety equipment like a new EPIRB, netting for the boat, a new tablet with Navionics installed, a new laptop with OpenCPN as backup, floatable hand-held VHF with integrated DSC and GPS and our Yellowbrick which allows you to see exactly where we are. Some of them were our choice, others would be considered basic must-haves, especially with two little treasures on board. But again, there is no one answer.
Most other boats we saw, some with a considerably higher asking price, were in a shocking state. When mould grew out of the galley cupboards, we generally didn’t even bother to check the state of the keel bolts. When sails were torn, and navigation equipment from last century, we didn’t bother exploring the state of the engine. Either someone looks after his/her boat, or they don’t. If they don’t, boats deteriorate like the rust on our foldable bike off the stern pulpit. Unless you go for a plastic fantastic production boat, the age of a boat doesn’t tell you much. It’s the previous owners and their way of using and looking after the boat which make or break your deal.
If you are handy and have time on your hands, there’s a few good deals around which you can bargain for. The other option is to commission someone else to do the work for you. However, if you can’t be there to supervise, learn and improve with the handymen, I’d think twice about commissioning someone else with getting your boat seaworthy. I once spent several months in an Italian boatyard and that’s enough to say that that’d never be an option for us. If you’d rather spend your time sailing, you need to put in the time in beforehand looking at as many boats as necessary until you find THE one. When you’ll see it, you will know.
We don’t like schedules, so unlike people on a sabbatical, we took the luxury (You don’t have time, you make it!) to spend six months cruising Europe in a campervan to find our proper boat. We looked at as many as we had to, to know what exactly we wanted and at what price we could expect a good deal.
What work did you need to do on Happy Dancer
Like mentioned before, we set sail two weeks after moving on board. During the upcoming winter and before next year’s Atlantic crossing, we will replace the standing rigging, service the engine to the most minute detail and stock up on triple spares, renew our hatches, reseal our shroud plates, fit a wind vane in addition to a few smaller upgrades like disconnecting the water tanks, fitting a gas detector, fixing the living room clock etc.
I’d doubt that there’d be a boat out there ready to cross an ocean with you and whole heartedly recommend spending some time sailing before such a big venture. They say you need between one and two years to properly know a boat. We are into our humble week seven and so far couldn’t agree more.

HD in Kioni_415

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One thought on “On the boat buying process”

  1. Hi Dimi, Very much agree with your comment about maintenance and using the yacht and its gear or it all deteriorates and jams.

    We’d add to your post that if you wait to find the perfect boat, or stay in the marina till your yacht is absolutely perfect, you will never go. Maintenance and refinements are an endless task. Cast off the line and refine your boat’s set up as you get to know it and use it. We are big believers in getting the essentials right, then enjoying the adventure. Chris & Wade

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