Boat Shopping Sucks

Posted in: Buying on Saturday, May 16th, 2015

A strong statement I know, but it’s true.

For me personally I find it very hard. It’s an emotional and at times heart breaking roller coaster.

Hours are spent online pouring over hundreds of photos and listings.

A shortlist of practical options develops alongside a much longer wishlist of dream boats (commonly referred to as boat porn). There are so many things to consider. I like some boats, Ben prefers others, and occasionally we both like the same one and it gets added to the shortlist.

The boats listed with brokers benefit hugely from professional photos taken by brokers with their magic cameras, that add space and light. First time boat buys beware, the space and light isn’t always there! The privately listed boats suffer from very average photos taken by owners with their very normal cameras that make spaces look smaller and pokier than they are.  Photos like these make it hard to figure out the layout of the boat and struggle to raise enthusiasm levels. Don’t get me wrong, boat interiors are very hard to photograph and I would not like to rely on my skills when Tygress goes up for sale! You have to look past the quality of the photos and find the real quality of the boat. Read the listing carefully, request more photos if needed, get as much information as you can. Its so important to inspect any boat that catches your eye.

For me the inspection process is the most exciting and also the hardest part. It’s the part of the process when you get to step onto the boats you like and get a feel for them. It’s when the emotions really kick in.

Marina Boardwalk Vintage

We live aboard our boat so the boat shopping process for us is twofold. We want to buy a boat that will allow us to reach our sailing dreams, it has to be able to get us to the places we want to go, and we also want to buy a boat that is going to be good to live aboard. A boat with the right mix can be hard to find and it can be heartbreaking to find a boat with great live aboard qualities that we have to walk away from because of practical considerations.  Part of this twofold process involves picturing our life aboard each new boat to see if it would work for us. I imagine cooking in the galley, sleeping in the cosy berth, and spending lazy days in the cockpit reading. It doesn’t take long to get attached to the life imagined and the boat you imagine living it in. Heartbreak follows when you have to walk away.

So far this search there have been boats that have been a great price, that have had so much space and great live aboard qualities (read; a large, unbelievably comfortable leather settee) but that have simply had too much work to do (read: rust, rust and more rust). Which explains the great price part.

We have found others that have everything we could want in both live aboard and practical categories but that upon some deep thought, were really to big of a jump in size for our current experience levels. But oh how we loved the huge saloon settee that could seat 6-7 comfortably, we loved the roomy and fully enclosed cockpit, and we were seriously impressed with her 1000 litre water tanks and massive deck storage lockers! Sadly though, at over 41′ she was just too much boat for us and her ongoing expenses were daunting.

There was a boat we had discounted online as her interior didn’t appeal to us, I make no apologies that interior aesthetics are a big deal for me, so the lime green galley and 70’s tiles in the head were off putting. But we looked at her on a whim during a day of inspections and she had been weirdly tempting. Yes the lime green galley colour was bad but the space itself was quite functional and offered a good size pantry, which would mean no more rifling through multiple storage lockers wondering where’d i’d shoved the sugar last (Note to self: stop shoving things in random places!). And yes the tiles in the head were no less deeply retro in person than they had been in the pictures but the head itself was much nicer and roomier than we expected. Although she was priced attractively and a good size for us to handle, in the end it was the work still required that made her unsuitable. Our next boat will be ‘no work required’.

Which is why we put in an offer on a boat that is truly just ‘provision and go’. Our boat search, short lived as it was, is happily over.