Did You Get A Good Deal On Your Boat?

Lagoon 380 Dinghy Davit System

Lagoon 380 Dinghy Davit System

Lagoon 380 Dinghy Davit System

Lagoon 380 Dinghy Davit System

Lagoon 380 Dinghy Tiedown

Lagoon 380 Dinghy Tiedown

It’s far, far more secure and stable than it’s ever been – though it took some noodling (and I chafed through my dinghy cover in a couple of places as I tried to solve this little riddle).  Onward, to the subject at hand. 

I get asked this question frequently.  It seems that since I’m doing boatwork, improving and repairing systems – people want to know if I still think I got a good deal.  To be honest, it’s a dumb question.  We’re supposed to be a little more politically correct and never admit that there are dumb questions – but I’ve largely given up on political correctness.  The question in question doesn’t seem dumb, if you’re the person asking it.  It seems like an intelligent question.  Especially for those people out there dreaming about a boat or in the market for one.  And I would love to help.  If there were a way to give an accurate answer, I’d do it.

BUT

The question presupposes some kind of boat-market-omnipotence.  I can’t (nor can anyone else) know of every boat for sale in the world.  I also can’t tell what every seller would actually take for their boat.  I also can’t tell the actual condition of the boat in question, even if there is a very descriptive online ad.  Add to that large differences in gear and outfitting on every boat – and you can see why it’s next to impossible to accurately compare these kinds of boats.  Especially when you don’t keep track of the market 24/7.  The best person to ask would be a boat broker, but they rarely speak plainly about deals – good or bad.  I would use a broker again, but relying on them for “good deal / bad deal” isn’t intelligent.  And even they wouldn’t know until after they’d purchased the boat and sailed/cruised/repaired it.  And by the time they’d done that, the market would have changed again…   

The truth is, the point is absolutely moot.  I have this boat.  I’m not selling this boat.  I’m not buying another boat.  And I have absolutely no way, based on the current information and my available time to determine if there is a better deal out there.  Even if there is/was a better deal out there, it would make no difference to me – so my time is much, much better spent figuring out what else I need to buy/fix/install/maintain/learn, so that I can get my ass to the South Pacific. 

On the other hand, I can say this:  I was very ignorant getting into this.  I have learned a ton.  I don’t know if I would have purchased this boat if I knew then what I knew now.   But with all things:  motorcycles, dogs, girlfriends, trucks, real estate, etc – you often change your mind after you’ve lived with your decision.  So – you live and you learn, and it’s only through the screwups that we really learn, me thinks.

Not to say this boat was a screwup.  Though the previous owner did hide quite a bit from me, that I never would have let slip – were I looking now. But that’s pretty common too – some kind of minor/major deceit from a seller to the buyer.  Thinking about it now, I’ve only ever heard complaining about previous owners.  So, even if I were to have purchased a different boat – it’s highly likely that I would have uncovered some fairly serious issues as I sailed and repaired and maintained said boat.

This boat was beneficial for me for several reasons, but the largest is the amount of trial-by-fire experience I’ve gained. I can diagnose and fix problems on the fly that most boat owners can’t.  I’ve learned specs, how to (and the importance of) actually measuring things.  I can handle mechanical, plumbing, carpentry and electrical issues – all without freaking out.  I can tell you the right solution to an SSB grounding problem, or fill your refrigeration system with the right freon (which I have onboard), or plumb and wire a wash down pump, or fix most problems on simple diesel engines.  Want to talk electricity management?  Water makers?  I know where to buy the right gear and know how to decide what the right gear is.  I still get stumped from time to time, but I know who to ask.  I still screwup, but I fix those screwups. Overall, this confidence in and understanding of my onboard systems is super-important – especially considering what isn’t in the South Pacific (see: civilization).  As far as purchasing a Lagoon 380 being a good decision?  I don’t know.  I’d love to sail faster, but I’d hate to have any more sensitivity to weight or give up any space.  I’d love to have more waterline, but with more boat you have more expense as you upgrade/repair.  I’m satisfied, usually, with the Lagoon 380.  It’s the most popular sailing catamaran in the history of sailing catamarans.  That says something. 

There’s also an immense amount of gear that I would have purchased and installed regardless of the boat I purchased.  And because I (arguably) paid less than market value on this particular boat, I was able to customize it and make it fit me without spending too much more than necessary. 

There’s the argument that if I had bought a different boat, I may have had to replace less.  That’s probably true, but then I’d be living with the mechanical/electrical decisions of another human with different goals.  My boat is a reflection of the things I value and the way I want to live – which is the way it should be.  And everything I replace is now new, meaning (in theory) it will be a while before I have to replace it again.

An example of the difference in priorities between boat owners is that I have a small marine diesel generator onboard that rarely works.  But it’s wired and plumbed and sometimes it works.  Most guys think that’s a problem when my genset doesn’t work.  But most guys need a generator to supply their energy needs.  It’s not a huge problem to me, because I installed a bunch of solar, with the correct wiring, on an arch that doesn’t get shaded and it all runs to an MPPT controller.  The vast majority of my energy needs (like 99%) are supplied by the solar – which doesn’t burn diesel, doesn’t eat impellers, doesn’t overheat, and doesn’t make noise.  It starts every morning when the sun comes up without me having to even leave my bed.  I don’t “need” a generator.  But another owner would probably have replaced this one, and passed on that cost to me – the buyer. 

Here’s another example:  Maybe another owner would have put a wind-generator onboard.  They’re ugly, loud, and dangerous.  They shade your solar.  Oh, and they’re expensive.  You can put up a ton more solar for the cost of a single POS wind-generator.  It’s not pleasant having a yacht pull into your quiet, tranquil, anchorage with one of those noisy wind-generators.  Or God forbid, two of those wind-generators.  But sellers buy them, and then try to pass on the costs to buyers.

So.

Did I get a good deal?  I have absolutely no way of knowing that.  If really pressed, I’d say that it’s close enough to a good deal that I don’t feel robbed.  I’d also admit that if I had been more patient and more knowledgeable, I probably could have purchased something with a higher market value without putting in much more money.  But if we all wait until we have all of the knowledge and we wait for the perfect deal… Well, we die.  NOW  has a monetary value too. 

Because I know some people are going to be unhappy with this answer, allow me to explain this another way, outside of monetary or perceived value.  Simply to illustrate how this “did you get a good deal” question serves to add no value.  Here goes. 

Most of the people who ask me this have a wife/husband.  If asked by married man whether I got a good deal on my boat, I would respond with, “Did you get a good deal on your wife?”

Seriously.

Maybe there is a better wife for you out there. Maybe there’s one that works out more, or is a hellcat in the sack.  Or younger.  Maybe your better deal won Miss Alabama when she was 23.  Maybe you’d even be able to stand your mother in law if you got a better deal.  Maybe there’s one out there that can cook a mean lasagna.  Maybe the best deal would have been the daughter of some oil tycoon and had a whole fleet of boats that she was just waiting to bequeath to someone.  Someone like you.

Or maybe it’s a moot point.  Because until you divorce this one (see:  sell your boat), you’re not going to get another one.  And we can all agree that divorce (selling your boat) is a messy and costly process.  And the truth is – it’s really hard to know who you actually married (see:  the shape of the boat you bought) without dating for a long time.  The facades can take a while to break down. 

In the boat world, you don’t get to date for two years before make the big decision.  You’re lucky if you get a month. You may buy sight-unseen.  You may only get to see your potential match once. 

This kind of boat, for this kind of journey, is a long-term relationship.  You buy the boat, then you fix/outfit it, then you go on your journey.  You have to put in (too much) time, money, blood, sweat, and tears.  And when you get to the point that you’ve purchased the boat – what is or is not a good deal makes absolutely no difference.  In 90% of circumstances you’re stuck with what you have.

So, before you go and ask someone if they got a good deal on a boat…  Think about whether you got a good deal on your significant other.  Or if your kids are the “right” kids. 

Afterall, maybe there’s a better deal out there.  If only you’d waited and watched the market…

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