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How We Bought Our Boat, Part 3

In Part 3, we narrowed down our choices, and ended up deciding on a Leopard 40. But which one? This >spreadsheet< listed out the available boats.

After watching boat prices for a year, I felt fairly comfortable predicting boat prices. For example, Boat #1 had been listed at $319k, then $299k without any movement, and I felt that $260k would be a good price. When the price dropped to $249k and it sold instantly, I felt that my math was validated. I wish we'd had a shot at Boat #1, but we didn't have the money ready at that point in our preparations.

The next great boat was #4. It had been on the market for a year, had a few price drops down to from the $300s to $285k, and I thought it was worth $250 or 260k. I contacted the broker and offered to fly down and see the boat if the seller would consider a lower offer....but the broker didn't even bother to pass my communication on to the seller. (Seriously, some brokers do their sellers a disservice!) This boat is likely still gathering mildew to this day, but maybe now they'll take someone's $260k...

Next, I got in touch with the owners of Boat #3. They were private sellers, and easy to communicate with. (they wrote back to emails, which was better than 2 brokers I tried to use) We made them a fair offer that was good for both parties, and we had a deal in the works.

On short notice I flew down to see the boat, and also paid to fly a surveyor in from Florida. In person the boat actually looked pretty decent and the online photos had been accurate. Surprise #1: The buyer had neglected to tell me that they'd bashed the starboard keel into a coral head a few weeks before! What?! Isn't this relevant info to share before having a buyer make an offer?!? Maybe they never intended to tell me, but the marina where it was repaired didn't have the matching shade of bottom paint, so they couldn't hide the repair. Shady business everywhere in boat shopping!

Fortunately, the L40 keel is just fiberglass and foam, the repair looked good, and there was no evidence of strain on the mounting bolts. This damage was annoying and dishonest, but not a deal breaker. The rest of the boat was pretty decent, the motors immaculate, and the electrical systems functional. Based on a small list of deficiencies we lowered the price by another $10k and the boat was ours!

Final step to making it ours: we needed the boat relocated to Grenada. We hired a delivery captain, and our new boat traveled 1000 miles with no major issues and settled into to Prickly Bay. Gretel finally got to see the boat for the first time in June, almost 4 months after we had made the purchase. And then came Surprise #2 our first night aboard: rain pours in through the hatch above our berth, whether or not the hatch is closed. Ugh. What will Surprise #3 be? Next week when the entire family moves aboard I'm sure we will find out!

Final thoughts:

-Think about what matters to you, then choose a boat model that works for your needs.

-Spend plenty of time following the transaction prices for that model. If you can, get to know folks who bought the same model, and learn from their mistakes.

-A broker isn't necessary if you have done your research. If you can find a reasonable private seller and make a fair offer you will both save some money.

-No boat is perfect, and you will probably spend every day of your future finding something to fix!