Used Sailboats in Foreign Countries

Carnival occurs.  Which is, apparently, a complete shutdown of Central America

  • Marina finally returns our email – they can’t haul the catamaran, it’s too wide
  • We call the surveyor, the listing broker, and re-arrange for another marina (more back-and-forth)
  • We find out that it’s $300 more to do a sea-trial on the same day. No-brainer, I need that info.
  • Confirmed sea-trial with listing broker and surveyor
  • Boat owner decides he wants to put the boat on the hard. Promptly does so
  • Surveyors show up, do everything they can with the boat hauled out
  • Owner decides to get the bottom painted, won’t let the surveyors do the sea-trial
  • I get an email saying they could only do a portion of the survey, and it would be another $300 for them to return and do the sea trial
  • I’m livid.  I need to know the working condition of the catamaran before I book flights, take off work, etc
  • My broker reminds me that I might have just gotten a bottom job and didn’t have to pay for the haul-out
  • I calm down a little. But my emails still contain explicit language
  • The surveyors and my broker promptly schedule a sea-trial
  • I decide that’s not smart.  I’d rather see the results of the survey, then if I’m OK with that I’ll fly down there and be present for the sea-trial
  • The surveyor doesn’t take credit cards, so I have to do an international wire transfer, which takes more time and money
  • I get the preliminary survey – it’s very superficial and contains about 1/4 of the information I need
  • TONS of back and forth, but we’ve killed too much time – we now need an extension of the contract
  • Finally get the extension, the day before the contract is terminated
  • Then I have to book flights, hotels, and transportation. Oh, and get time off work
  • Surveyor agrees to give us a ride to the marina (he’s headed there anyways)
  • Then it all blows up.  Now we’re trying to find our own transportation
  • Costs of Used Sailboats in Foreign Countries

    The moral of the story:  even when everyone’s interests are aligned, there are some additional costs (both mentally and financially) to evaluating used sailboats in foreign countries.  Don’t forget to account for that.

    At this point I don’t have much info on the catamaran in question, and my costs to get that info have been substantial.  Here’s what a full survey on a used sailboat in a foreign country will cost me.  Note, there’s still a fair chance this won’t be the boat.

    • Survey:  $826
    • Additional cost for sea-trial:  $326
    • Last-minute flights: $1200
    • Transportation in-country:  $300
    • Accommodations:  $150
    • My sanity
    • Time off work

    Total monetary cost = $2800

    Logic and Such

    I can just picture people reading this and cringing.  Cruisers especially. So here was my logic for doing what I did:

    • I wanted to be as cost-effective as possible, I’m on a pretty tight budget
    • Flying in a catamaran-specific surveyor is a very expensive ordeal (see budget comment above)
    • Even with said surveyor, I would have run into many of the same issues (schedule conflicts, additional costs).  Those issues and costs would have been magnified, if I had went this route
    • I needed to see and sail the boat before my purchase
    • I needed a professional survey, even if it didn’t have all of the information I wanted

    The Silver Lining

    All indications are that the boat is in good to excellent condition (for it’s age).  We believe the price is under market (more on this if I close).  I didn’t have to pay for new bottom paint ($2K ish) or haul-out ($450 ish).

    Finally, my broker – who has an immense amount of experience in this particular make/model of catamaran is going with me for the sea-trial – that’s very valuable to me.  My sanity aside,  if the boat is in the condition reported – we’re on to something.  Possibly something really life-changing.  And, to be fair, anyone my age deciding to complete a sailing circumnavigation (with minimal sailing experience) can hardly lose much (more) of their sanity.  So there’s that.

    Central America, Here I Come

    I have a flight this Friday, but some of the details are still up in the air.  Nonetheless, I’ll have a decision by next Monday.  Which blows my mind when I think about it.  Gotta start packing.

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