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Date: 3 January 2017. Turn-Key versus Fixer-Upper.

© janice142

A new *Member of the Mailing List for my site asked for advice on how to buy his Last Boat. We both grumbled about sellers who lie, obfuscate, misrepresent and hide important facts about their boats. Folks, if your deck is so squishy I am sinking in, please do not have the audacity to call your boat in "Good Condition". It is a fixer-upper.

*Member off the Mailing List: That may sound fancy. This is me so you know it is easy. Simply put, each time I upload an article members of the list get an email with a link to the newest post. Actually what I do is copy off the top three items from the Archive page. [Email me at janice@janice142.com and say you would like to be included.] Of course this is free.

A PROPERLY PRICED boat with even serious issues is appropriate for some buyers. For those of us past the half-century mark having a boat that can be used immediately is often a higher priority. We do not have the time and years necessary to bring back from the graveyard a once fine vessel.

The problem is twofold:

Buyers want a turn-key vessel at at fixer-up price.
Sellers think their fixer-upper is a turn-key yacht.

*Turn-key is a term meaning you get on board, flip the ignition switch and the engine starts. She runs a-okay. Everything aboard the vessel works perfectly. Turn-key is the Ideal Boat for those who can afford her.


And that is where many have problems... reconciling the desire to "steal" a boat, get a bargain and make money in the process. Let me tell you right now: that scenario is not likely to happen.

Boats and boating are not about making money.
You are making memories and they are priceless!

For me I knew that a Turn-Key boat was not on the horizon. My budget was not going to get much more than fixer-upper. I realized the layout was "set in stone" so that aspect had to meet my expectations and desires. Seaweed has good bones.

Plus back then I was younger. I had the luxury of time to make her into all I desired.


Because I am on a tight budget I had to opt for a boat that did not have all I wanted at purchase. I knew Seaweed would over time have the accoutrements of fine life installed. Those items do improve her. They allow for long term happiness afloat. It has only been within the past year (nearly nine into my journey) that I have achieved the level of decadence I imagined all those years ago.

The Inadequate Boat (Gulfport too) article describes some of my journey  creating Seaweed as an off-the-grid haven.

The scenery is the same for me and the million dollar yacht anchored nearby. We both have great views. We enjoy the same world.

If I had the resources back then to "have it all" and buy turn-key, you bet'cha I'd have done so. I wanted it all then and still want it all now. The difference is I am close to achieving now what I imagined way back when.


Where the problem comes into play is when a successful man wishes to buy a boat. Some wealthy people do not want to spend unless they can make money. At the very minimum they wish to break even. Therefore pouring money into a boat does not seem logical/wise.

Boating is not an investment measured on a profit or loss spreadsheet.

I believe some should open their wallets and buy what will make them most comfortable immediately, provided the resources are there. Obviously someone who has worked hard and been successful can afford a nicer, bigger, better boat.

Buy your dream boat today. Enjoy life NOW
while you have your health. Do not wait.

You could be like Edwin enjoying an afternoon cruise while calling on the VHF. Life is good afloat.


Looking for a bargain while time speeds by is not smart.

None of us are getting any younger. Read Bob's article
Time Stopped every day until you find your Last Boat. Then buy her.

I suspect I have the better and happier outlook than many. I know that boating is about the experiences gained. There is joy, wonder and quality of life afloat.

Heading out a channel, observing wildlife and making memories. That is my life.

Boating is not about profit and loss. Not for me.

You will not be making money buying a boat.
You are gaining the experiences of life out here.


Thinking you can purchase a boat and then sell her years later for more than you paid is crazy. Why do some think that is possible?!? As boats age they are worth less. Your car does not go up in value after you use it for a few years. Why would anyone think a boat would become more valuable?

Airplanes, boats, cars and RVs are not investments. They facilitate wonderful experiences that are open to only a few. You cannot think of a boat as a Profit Center.

Boating is not a money-making proposition.
Life afloat is a memory-making experience.

No man or woman looks back on their life and thinks 'I should have worked more...' A happy life is about the enjoyment offered and being smart enough to grab it with gusto!

Cruising is camaraderie, adventures and making a lifetime of memories.

That is what my Seaweed is to me. And the same can be true for you. Don't wait to buy your Last Boat.

How long did it take to find your Last Boat?
And, how long have you owned her?


Pam in MN says on 6 January 2017: Good boat buying insights, Janice. As someone who is learning, the hard way, about the boat buying process I can appreciate the turn-key versus fixer-upper balance in purchasing. I missed out on a great little boat that wasn’t turn-key, but all the needed repairs/restoration had been professionally done – all that was needed was outboard repower, steering system install, electrical system rewire and a few other things. It was a simple boat with simple systems, but I was spooked by what needed to be done (not having owned a boat before). Now, I have a better perspective about what would be repair hell and just finishing up a great recommissioning start.

Live and learn!


Me: You are not the only one! M didn't appreciate a boat that had "almost everything" and then it was bought out from under him. Finding the right one is a challenge. More than I'd imagined...

A couple days ago we drove hours south of here to see another potential. It was a beautiful boat, but with a structural problem that could not be solved without major money. Plus it lacked an autopilot. M is convinced an autopilot is critical to his happiness quotient. And therefore it is.

What I might like/want/wish for, and another, well, those are two different things. Every one of us rues the "one that got away" -- for me, it was a sister-ship to Seaweed. What I didn't know then was that mine didn't track.

That one, by virtue of the keel that all 23' Schuckers (except mine!) have, well, it will steer a straight course. Such is life. For now and the foreseeable future, short days are fine. An autopilot might be nice someday however it is not critical for me. I don't get tired on the shot hops I prefer.

Each of us has shopped and "missed" something.

You will find Your boat one of these days. And though the one that got away had potential, it also had work too, before you could use her. We have options, and that is to buy and use now, or work on a boat. Your decision to pass was right for you at that time.

Thank you for your comment Pam. Not to worry about the one that got away. Another, better, finished one will come along. I just know it! Good Luck.



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