Boat purchase process

K2MSmith

Member II
Hello--
Maybe an unusual question for this forum but I am interested in making an offer on an Ericson. Could anyone provide me with some steps to the process ?. I've purchased houses, cars (used) but not a boat. The owners seems nice enough and we are not using a broker.

Any information or references would be appreciated..

Kind Regards,
K2
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
Let us know what model Ericson. The investment level sorta impacts the caution level.

Also, if there is a public listing, I'd provide it here. Makes for useful commentary about known issues, gear, price and so on.

I had the broker do the paperwork for Documented Vessel, but it is not especially onerous. Takes a long time to get the document.

What is important now is the surveyor. His or her report will not only gauge the condition, but probably also bear on the insurance policy to come (the insurance company will want to see it, and its list of "required" fixes). Do try some scheme where you are either there with the surveyor, or in close contact via cell phone Face Time or video. The surveyor's role is basic--did the boat sink at some point? Has the mast been repaired? But they are powerful sources of initial objective impression at just the time you need it. You may need also an engine and rigging survey, depending on the investment level.

Actually, not too different from buying a house. More fun. Feel free to share progress here, folks have all been there and can provide questions if not always answers.
 

Frank Langer

1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
Hi,

I have bought five houses, more cars for ourselves and four now adult children than I can recall, and three sailboats, and have used a process that has worked well for me. It's great that the owners seem nice and avoiding a broker may save you some money if the owners are a bit flexible. I am no expert in this, but the following may be helpful. Firstly, do due diligence to ensure that they actually own the boat and that there are no loans/liens/outstanding marina or repair bills against it--not likely, but be careful. Then do your own inspection of the boat (get a friend to help if you are inexperienced). Be respectful of the owner and point out positives to ensure they see you as being fair in your inspection, but also point out problems or repairs that you identify so they can see how you might formulate an offer. Try to accurately estimate the cost of repairs (make phone calls as necessary) so you can build that into the offer. Ask lots of questions about the number and type of previous owners, and maintenance that the boat has had, especially in the last few years. Try to avoid getting too emotionally attached as you go through this process, as you need to remain as objective as possible. Check for your model/year on Yachtworld website for comparison prices, especially in your geographic area, but beyond as well to get a feel for the market. Try to determine why the owner wants to sell, as that may affect his sense of urgency and flexibility.

At that point, when you have all the information you feel you need to confidently make an offer, I would sit down with the owner(s) over a coffee or in some comfortable place, describe what you have found and learned, and suggest a purchase price that you think is fair but slightly lower to leave some room for negotiation. Most boats sell for about 15% less than asking price, but sometimes much less depending on the situation. Also add in any additional clauses or factors that you want the owner to consider--such as subject to a satisfactory survey that you will arrange, a sail test to ensure the engine starts and you like the way the boat handles, any repairs you want them to complete before purchase, what items you want included (like dinghy, life jackets, anchor, bbq, etc.), date of transfer, think about where you will moor the boat (many marinas have wait lists). Then ask their thoughts on your offer and listen carefully, remain respectful, be willing to negotiate a bit depending on their reaction and reasons. But also be prepared to walk away, as there is always another boat, that may be even more suitable for you.

Once you have both agreed on the price and conditions, it's time to write it up. I don't do this in advance as it would result in too many changes, and informal discussion is more friendly until you reach agreement. Check with your local authorities as to what kind of bill of sale is required, and any special contents or process. The boat paperwork will likely need to be formally transferred at a local office. If you feel uncertain, and maybe even if you feel reasonable confident, you could have the final sale subject to satisfactory review by your lawyer, and have him or her take a look at it to be sure.

If you can arrange for the owner to spend some more time to show you all the intricacies of the boat, and maybe go for a full day sail together to learn how she handles, that would be nice.

Finally, if you actually buy the boat, develop a workplan of the repairs you want to do, starting with safety items, important mechanical items and eventually cosmetic/comfort items. And use this website for advice--there are lots of great experts here and they are friendly. :)

I know I've likely overlooked some key points, but others will also chime in and this will get you started.

Frank
 

K2MSmith

Member II
What is important now is the surveyor. His or her report will not only gauge the condition, but probably also bear on the insurance policy to come (the insurance company will want to see it, and its list of "required" fixes). Do try some scheme where you are either there with the surveyor, or in close contact via cell phone Face Time or video. The surveyor's role is basic--did the boat sink at some point? Has the mast been repaired? But they are powerful sources of initial objective impression at just the time you need it. You may need also an engine and rigging survey, depending on the investment level.

Actually, not too different from buying a house. More fun. Feel free to share progress here, folks have all been there and can provide questions if not always answers.
The Facetime video is a great idea as the surveyor prefers to do a solo survey with current lockdown (assuming yard is available).
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Not much to add to Franks' fine narrative.
I have No personal experience of buying a large boat without a broker or other professional representative.
(Altho I once was mislead regarding the builder of what turned out to be an illegal 'splash copy' of a Lido 14, when I had zero experience about assessing small dinghies...! I was younger and stupider then, and now am.... older... ) :(
I do know of buyers of houses and boats over the decades that used an attorney for the legalities and for doing a proper escrow accounting. This work was billed by a flat rate with some variance if extra time was involved. "Real Estate Attorneys" are probably more common than boating-oriented ones... we are really in a niche market.
You DO need a good survey, and it will be worth every nickel. And yes, that's just my opinion.
That survey will break out the condition in 3 sections: 1- things (hopefully very few) that are safety related and need immediate repair, 2- things that need fixing in the first year, and 3- longer term deferred maintenance that can wait for a year or so.
Here is a good list of things to check off, from (no kidding) the "Dean of NW surveyors". I have known Alison for many years, She reassures owners and frightens unscrupulous brokers.
She often helps me decipher the mysteries of the ABYC safety stuff, too. You will find, I hope, that a good surveyor is a good teacher. Good luck to you!
Main site link: http://www.almsurvey.com
 

K2MSmith

Member II
Thanks all for taking the time to respond with your thoughtful comments. I have checked the yard and they are potentially looking at opening up for surveys in a few weeks. I have a surveyor that I talked to on the phone and liked (recommended by a member here). Would there be a significant disadvantage in doing a "virtual" survey where I was not physically present but the surveyor was onsite with his phone and taking pictures (which is said he normally does) and perhaps doing facetime (assuming he has an iphone) ? I am assuming I can get an written offer agreement setup with the seller with generous dates on it due to covid-19 slowness.
 

Frank Langer

1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
Thanks all for taking the time to respond with your thoughtful comments. I have checked the yard and they are potentially looking at opening up for surveys in a few weeks. I have a surveyor that I talked to on the phone and liked (recommended by a member here). Would there be a significant disadvantage in doing a "virtual" survey where I was not physically present but the surveyor was onsite with his phone and taking pictures (which is said he normally does) and perhaps doing facetime (assuming he has an iphone) ? I am assuming I can get an written offer agreement setup with the seller with generous dates on it due to covid-19 slowness.
I think the important thing is to have a surveyor with a good reputation, that you trust, and with whom you can make an arrangement, as you seem to have done, whereby you can fully understand what he has found, the implications for repair, so you are not unpleasantly surprised later. Many surveyors won't let you look over their shoulder as it can hamper their work, and it seems yours understands the need to communicate well with you and is prepared to make that happen.
I think I would be ok with that, and a written report with pictures, recommendations and an estimated value of the boat.
Frank
 

frick

Member III
If you are going to have boat insurance.... Ask your Insurance guys for Surveyors they work with. I had one insurance company that turned down my application because my surveyor was labeled as direct competition to their people. I did not buy my insurance from them, as I was not going to pay for another survey. FYI that was BOATUS that rejected by surveyor.
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Back when we bought our prior sailboat, from a broker in Victoria, BC, I had to figure out how to hire a good surveyor far far from my home in PDX.
What was needed was a reference from someone who could vet the person(s), none of whom would be known to me. After some thought I decided to contact someone where the boat was at who was used to betting sums of money on the outcome of a marine survey.

I called and got thru to a couple of lending officers in big banks in Victoria BC, explained my situation, and asked them, just for good will towards a US purchaser, who they would trust with their bank's money to lend/risk on a used sailboat. :rolleyes:

After a brief conversation to get a little acquainted, and having each of them chuckle at the idea, they took me seriously and gave me several names. I went with a guy that was on both lists. He turned out to be a thorough guy, and crawled all over the boat, after it was hauled on a marine railway, and gave us a very good report. (We kept that boat, a Niagara 26, for ten years, BTW, and it was a great racer/cruiser.)

Another two cents worth of purchasing trivia.
 
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Mark F

Contributing Partner
Blogs Author
Hi K2MSmith,

I see you are looking for a surveyor in Alameda. What boat are you looking at? Blue Chip?
 

K2MSmith

Member II
Hi K2MSmith,

I see you are looking for a surveyor in Alameda. What boat are you looking at? Blue Chip?
Mark F, I did look at Blue Chip inside and out with the broker right before the covid lockdown a 3-4 weeks ago. Spent about an hour on it. It's a nice boat (32-200 I think). It was the very first boat I looked at (and first E32) and I thought I should look around more. Are you looking at this boat ?
 

K2MSmith

Member II
Berkeley marina just emailed me back and said they are not doing any haul-outs for surveys until the shelter-in-place order is lifted. Not surprising. It's not an "essential service".
 

Mark F

Contributing Partner
Blogs Author
Hi K2MSmith,

We did look at Blue Chip (E32-200) nice boat, well kept. I prefer the -200 series layout and my wife likes the -3 better. At this point I am pulling back from looking at boats and waiting to see how things shakeout.

That's not a good thing because I don't know how to stop doing projects on our boat. Currently working on a solar system. ;-)
 

K2MSmith

Member II
Hi K2MSmith,

We did look at Blue Chip (E32-200) nice boat, well kept. I prefer the -200 series layout and my wife likes the -3 better. At this point I am pulling back from looking at boats and waiting to see how things shakeout.

That's not a good thing because I don't know how to stop doing projects on our boat. Currently working on a solar system. ;-)
I'd like to look at more Ericson boats. Blue Chip is the only 32 I've ever seen. The other one was an E38 that needed a lot of work. Blue Chip looked like a good boat (although it looked like it has been sitting around for a long time), it didn't jump at me as one that I'd want to make an offer on right away. I think at that time, they were also asking 40K for it - I don't know if that is expensive for an E32, but if you are looking at 40K + 10-20K to add to it, then you have to start looking at 50K boats.... I've also bee talking to guys in the sf sss (which near me), so they have been giving some ideas about boats if I want to get into a little single-and ocean racing as well. So, I am in a bit of a thought process as to how I want to balance cruising with my wife and family and single-handing. I mostly single-hand, but I've had a lot of fun on the boat with my granddaughter as well.
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
Keep an eye out for Olson too, especially if you have racing in mind (and/or keep away from those SSS guys)....
 

eknebel

Member III
K2MSmith quote:"I am in a bit of a thought process as to how I want to balance cruising with my wife and family and single-handing. I mostly single-hand, but I've had a lot of fun on the boat with my granddaughter as well. "

There is quite a bit of good advice on this thread, but the most important and difficult question that often determines how much enjoyment the boat gives can only be guessed at by you. How you will really end up using the boat a few years into the future? Good luck with your thought process!
 

K2MSmith

Member II
How you will really end up using the boat a few years into the future? Good luck with your thought process!
That's an interesting question. I can only make projections how I've been sailing a club boat for last two years and what new adventures boat ownership will provide. Most of my sailing last two years has been in SoCal on a Beneteau 38.1 which I have a time share on. So I do a mix of single-hand sailing an day sails (3-4 hours) with family members and friends. There is the occasional overnight trip to Catalina. If you are in a club, there are some advantages in that you have access to a nice boat for less money, but you are restricted somewhat in it's use and flexibility (you have to plan ahead on when you want to sail usually - unless it's in the "off" season).
If I purchased a boat up in the Bay Area, the sailing is quite a bit different. I am also interested in getting into racing (most likely single-hand - I have tried crew racing in a class environment (in Ventura) and I didn't like it as much), but I still want to enjoy taking a cruise with my family and potentially doing some island exploration. That pretty much leaves eliminates a choice like a J/105 which would serve the racing need and can be SH, but without livable interior (at least for taller people like me), it wouldn't work well for any type of cruising or family live-a-board for a few days kind of thing.
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
Singlehanded racing frees you from the usual issues of boat choice. SSS transpac has been won in a Westsail 32--and Phil MacFArlane was winner overall in his Ericson 35-2. An Olson 30 has beaten a a Cal 40 to the finish line (different years). Steve HOdges won it a couple of yeas ago in his Islander 36. So all-around yachts do well.

I think it's the distances involved and the nature of the competition. Keeping the spinnaker flying at night is a different challenge from crew set spinnaker jibes in traffic. Endurance, judgement and routing rule.
 

K2MSmith

Member II
Singlehanded racing frees you from the usual issues of boat choice. SSS transpac has been won in a Westsail 32--and Phil MacFArlane was winner overall in his Ericson 35-2. An Olson 30 has beaten a a Cal 40 to the finish line (different years). Steve HOdges won it a couple of yeas ago in his Islander 36. So all-around yachts do well.
I'm wondering what the difference is in actual time between a (presumably higher handicapped) Westsail 32 and a faster racer-cruiser type boat (like maybe an Olson 34. A heavy cruiser with a full keel or maybe partial full keel (like a Crealock 37) might be more comfortable but does it take an extra week to get there ?
 
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