Date: 28 July 2015. Finding Your Boat
multi-part of the series on locating an inexpensive boat to live
aboard. The previous parts are:
Finding Your Boat (part 1),
Finding Your Boat (part 2),
Finding Your Boat (part 3)
When looking for your budget dream
boat, the usual methods have been discussed. They include shopping
auctions and those advertised in
Trader magazines. Those methods, while effective "miss the
boat" (pun intended) quite often. The least expensive boats are
usually not officially listed anyplace. Here's how to find them.
In the previous article I
suggested you make a list of all boatyards, marinas and boat storage
facilities within three or four hours of your home. Visiting those
places will net you an education in and of itself. Look particularly
for boats with For Sale by Owner signs.
Ideally, what you want is a boat
with a faded For Sale sign. Know that psychologically, a For Sale
sign indicates the owners have already decided to part with the
boat. It's a cry for help. They want someone to come along and buy
their boat. That's where you can help.
You are the solution! Seek those
boats that no longer please their owners.
Folks buy boats thinking they will use the vessel all the time, then
life happens and the boat sits. It is costing the owner a fee each
month for dockage. All too often owners will look up five or ten
years later and realize they've not been aboard. The boat has
cost them more in storage fees than it did to purchase.
Your job is to ascertain if the
boat is worth anything. Provided she's structurally sound, you need
to know or learn the following:
Does the deck squish when you walk
or is it soft in places?
Is there anything costly that must
be done immediately?
Are the fuel tanks black iron and
Is the motor seized and in need of
Will an outboard push her through
the water okay or must you opt for an expensive inboard motor?
Call the numbers on those signs. Leave a message with
your phone number. Also, take a page out of your notepad and tape it
to the sign providing your contact information and write that you're
interested in purchasing the boat. You might want to bring some
Ziploc baggies to put your note inside if your area is subject to
the thunder-boomers we get around here.
Contacting the owners of neglected
vessels sometimes will elicit offers for you to take the boat off
their hands for free. Not always mind you, but it does happen.
Before accepting a Free Boat, make sure you
have her surveyed. Even free, some boats are not worth owning.
Survey a Free Boat
article speaks to that issue. Be aware.
Have you found a possibility
not displaying a For Sale sign?
If you see no For Sale
sign but recognize what appears to be an abandoned boat,
here's the next step:
Stop by the
manager's office at the marina. Ask him if the boat you're
interested in is for sale. Try to get contact information on
the boat owner. If that's not possible, leave your name and
number to be passed along to the vessel's owner.
Tell the dockmaster you're
interested in buying a live-aboard vessel for when you
retire in a few years. You want it now so you can start
fixing it up. Ask if any slips have boat owners who might be
willing to sell.
The dockmaster may point you to boats that are
possibilities. Follow up, even if you think the cost will be
beyond your budget. You might be surprised by the asking price. If you're willing
and the boat suits, you could manage to get a
know who owns what. They are a good source of contact
information for boats you're interested in buying.
At boatyards, wander
around. Do-It-Yourself boatyards are the best for this. They are
filled with folks who are attempting to make their vessel
into a better boat. Fellow boaters may know of boats whose
owners have given up and left.
The manager of the boatyard will have title to a few of the
abandoned boats too, or he'll be able to get the title. Ask if he
has any that would work in a few years for a life afloat.
If so, and even if not, leave your name and phone number on
boats that interest you.
Check at storage
facilities too. The manager there will know what boats in
storage are behind in their monthly fees. Those gals and
guys (the managers) know what's what. Schmooze them, and
leave in the office your name and number in case they hear
of a boat that might suit you.
The idea is to get yourself at least a bit known to those
who have their finger on the pulse of boats that are
available. They have more sources and will hear more sooner than you
ever will. Make a good impression and you'll hear about
these boats before the general public.
As always, continue to check
plus look for For Sale signs wherever you travel. Someone might have
a decent boat in their side yard, just waiting for an offer. Try to
ascertain why the boat is for sale too. Then tailor your offer to
meet their needs.
If the owners are overwhelmed by bills
and the marina dockage or storage facilities fees are just one more thing, you
will be able to alleviate same and they might even give you the
boat. Make sure you get a clear title. You don't want any
unpleasant surprises later.
Were I boat shopping today
in addition to the big three, plus the local
Trader rags found in convenience stores I'd be driving a circuit
around my home. The goal would be to take a year and find The One.
At first look at the expeditions as an education. Any boat you
find, especially one that is free, have surveyed.
To reiterate, the
Survey a Free Boat
article offers a note of caution. Read it.
Before you spend the cash for a
survey, take a lot of photographs. Study them in full size for all
the details your eyes missed on the first visit. Are the fuel tanks
leaking? Is there damage inside to the woodwork where water
intrusion has occurred near window frames?
Any boat stored under cover might
be a-okay and dandy. It also might be a damp tub that leaks like a
when it's raining outside.
Your goal in this stage is to go
out and see boats. Get the lay of the land. Be prepared to see a lot
of dregs before you find that diamond in the rough. Depending upon
how rough and your talents at rehab, you may find a boat that is
just right for less than you imagined.
Sea Hag Marina is a busy place on the 4th of July.
Visualize yourself living afloat at
a marina initially. You'll need the base of being able to step
ashore, especially in the early stages. I cannot tell you how nice
it is to be able to run into a hardware store when I need some
terminal rings or butt connectors in the midst of a wiring project. The convenience of having a
store nearby cannot be overstated.
A friend of mine, Tom, lives on the east coast.
He was given a Bristol 24 by Joe, another friend of mine. Tom wanted a boat
for day sailing with his family. Joe and his wife Suzanne had a spare boat
paying storage on in Atlanta. Now both families are pleased.
Getting the word
out that you want a boat is a good thing.
Total honesty regarding living
aboard is initially unwise in my view. Too many don't understand the
world of boating, thinking you either must be a millionaire or are
destined to become a boat bum. There are plenty of us in the middle,
and we're having a wonderful time.
If a boat interests you write out
a note, leaving your name with the owner. A couple days later again
visit the boat for a more thorough look-see. Bring a friend who
doesn't love the boat, with a set of skeptical eyes.
Find out from the
owner how much he is asking for the boat.
Do not name your price initially. The first to speak loses. Always.
You've bought items subject to
negotiation before, so go for it. The worst that can happen is you
not get this particular boat. And frankly, you've lived a long time
without this boat. There are others out there. Your search ought to
come up with a few that meet your needs.
Price, quality, gear, and where
she is all will influence your decision. Let a good surveyor guide
you. And good luck!
Just remember: no
boat is perfect.
It doesn't matter if you've spent
one million or two thousand dollars. Something will be wrong that
needs fixing, replacement or changing. The longer you have your
boat, the finer she will become. Make her better than she was, and
definitely make her yours.
The view is the same rather you're on a $5,000 boat or a million
dollar yacht. They've got ice though. We won't, at least not at
purchase. With the addition of a $70 Haier cube refrigerator while
staying at a marina we can have cold beverages.
It's not a bad life, and in the
meantime, save your
pennies for those upgrades you're sure to want.
The final part will be posted in a
couple days. In the meantime, gas up the automobile and wander your
region. Look for old and faded For Sale signs. If you see a boat
that has possibilities parked in the back yard of a house, leave
your name and number on the door of the residence.
You will never know if
a boat is available unless you ask. Asking costs you nothing.
Have I missed any spots you'd find a boat for sale?
And, where did you find the boat you bought?
Finding Your Boat (part 3) ~
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Your Boat (part 5)