Walking the Plank
Blogging from
onboard Sérénité, Annapolis, MD, United States, North America
0.50 m

38.968167183118, -76.474732323022

Continued from Part I:  What I needed to be comfortable onboard was - mostly - an open question right up until I found my boat. Among the variables I had to consider were budget, living space, sailing performance, intended use (both short term and long term) and the initial condition of the boat.

My budget was pretty much a fixed point, I knew how much I could spend on the boat, initial repairs and maintenance, etc. With regard to living space I wavered back and forth between a wider boat with more interior space, but poorer sailing performance, versus a narrower boat which would sail better, but have less space. I also knew I didn't want a boat longer than 41' for two reasons: 1) budget - the annual maintenance, slip fees, etc. all increase with length, and 2) my recent sailing experience was on boats in the 27' to 37' range and felt that going much larger than 41' would put me out of my comfort zone for my current level of experience. I also knew that while my near term use was on the Chesapeake Bay, my long term goal was to someday do some long distance cruising. So, I needed a boat that could be used for blue water passage-making. At the same time all of the requirements were coming together in my mind, what I didn't want was becoming much clearer as I evaluated more boats.

Scary Boat 1: New life evolving in the bilges. Standing water, filthy bilges, and corroded wiring.
Scary Boat 2: Destined for the bottom of the marina. Leaks, water damage, and constantly cycling bilge pump.
Scary Boat 3: Mold remediation poster child. Black mold in all the enclosed spaces.

What didn't I want in a Boat...

The initial condition of the boat was an important consideration. Since it was my intention to move aboard right away, the boat had to be in serviceable condition. So, what I was looking for was a diamond-in-the-rough - a boat that needed some work but was, underneath it all, structurally sound and in good condition... There's really no delicate way to put this, so I'll just say it - there's a lot of junk on the market. The online pictures almost always look great and are often old photos of the boat from years ago. I looked at a lot of junk over the past few years, but there were some great old boats in the mix too. Early on I found a boat I thought to be pretty close to perfect - as far as what I thought I needed at the time - but it was too soon in the process and I wasn't yet ready to move aboard. The good thing is there's always used boats coming on the market and if you are patient you can find the one that fits your needs, your timing and your budget - so I waitedz

The Yacht Broker

Like a buyer's agent in real estate, yacht brokers are certified professionals who help you navigate the long checklist of things that have to be done between making an offer and closing. They know the market, boats, surveyors, how to write a sales contract, etc. and can be essential resources. Best of all they are free! Like real estate they split the commission with the sellers agent. My broker is also a live-aboard and has had a lot of useful advice on how to live on a boat. Reputation, how long they've been a broker and CPYB (Certified Professional Yacht Broker) certification.

Beginning the search

My primary source for finding boats was the internet. Like houses there are many sites that list boats. The best of these sites (e.g. YachtWorld.Com) allow you to search the listings using a variety of parameters such as type of boat, length, location, fuel type, etc. If you are using a broker (which I strongly recommend) you can then feed her/him the list of candidate boats you found and they will call and set up the appointments for you, otherwise you will need to do this yourself. Since your broker may have the inside track on some of the boats on your list, they may be able to provide information that is not included in the listing such as the time the boat has been on the market, the pricing history and - perhaps - whether the pictures represent the current condition of the boat.

The Marina

While I was searching for my boat I was also looking for a place to keep her. Since I was going to live aboard, the marina facilities and services were an important consideration. My requirements list was relatively short and included such things as the availability of water at the slip, availability of water in the winter, type of electric service, WiFi and the option for connecting a cable modem, ease of getting my boat in and out of the slip, etc. The most important item on my list was the availability of pump-out services all year long. The toilet, on a boat, referred to as the "head" in marine parlance, flushes into a holding tank which has to be pumped-out periodically. So, if you want to be able to use the head on your boat year-round, pump-out services have to be available all year. 

Buying the Boat

Once I found the boat I wanted to buy, my broker swung into action. With his input I decided on the initial offer price and the counter offers during the negotiation. Once the seller and I settled on a price, my broker drafted the sales contract - which everyone then signed - and scheduled the hauling, marine survey and sea trial.

Following completion of the survey and sea trial I had approximately 10 days to go through the survey report, get estimates on correcting any deficiencies found by the surveyor, decide if I would ask the seller to address them or take care of them myself. Once the process of negotiating the survey items is complete the Buyer (a.k.a. yours truly) can either walk away or give her Conditional Acceptance of the boat.  Sellers Items, Also during this time I had to settle on an insurance provider and secure a policy for my new home.

Once all of that was done it was move in day! Hooray!