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Questions and Answers for new Cruisers Shopping for a Boat

November 22, 2015

Here is an email we recently recived with some interesting and important questions I think most of us have before casting off the lines. I've edited (changed) the names, but I think we all can relate.

 

 

John: Hi Brad, Krista, & Cole, My name is John from Santa Barbara, California, I have been following you from the start. Very happy to see that you sold your house and are back in the water on the

boat.

My girlfriend Jane, our dog Ben, and I plan on following in your footsteps and casting off the lines to start our adventure around the first of February when Jane retires.

We will be coming to Florida the first 2 weeks of December to shop for a Catamaran and from watching your videos and reading your blog, it looks as though we are going into it with about the same amount of budget as you had or possibly a little less.

Great job on your refit by the way, Saltair 3 is Beautiful. I am a contractor/ finish carpenter so all the remodeling you did is right up my ally so hopefully that would save us a little ...

I have a few question for you Brad if you wouldn't mind me prying. I believe that I will be doing everything to our boat that you have done to Saltair 3.

 

Brad: I would love to share all that we have done to our Cat. But there is far too much to document here in email. I think it will take me a few weeks to put it all together including pictures. I think I will leave that for a Blog Post, but I will do my best to answer your other questions. 

 

John: In fact Saltair 3 was on the list of boats that I gave to our broker to look at when were in Florida. They say everything happens for a reason so I going with; Since you were able to sell your house and take unbound off the market and me finding your website, that your supposed to mentor me through the process...LOL Just joking but really could use your help :)

Back to my questions. What did the owner of "Unbound" (Saltair 3's previous name) want for her and how much did you pay?

 

Brad: This is a bit of a personal question. We put a lot of time, effort and work into the boat that we did not get paid for as you do in renovations of your home, almost 3 months of 7 days a week and long days doing it. We couldn't have afforded this kind of a boat without doing so much ourselves, but I’m afraid others while shopping would not see the value in asking for that compensation.

The asking price before we found her was originally $240k. But when we found her they had dropped their price and now wanted a lot less

We made an offer but the broker said they wouldn’t go for it but that he would present the offer anyway. They accepted! But after the Sea trial more was found to be not working i.e. the outboard motor on the dinghy, both Heads, the stove and oven. So we offered a little less and they accepted.

In hind sight we would have offered even less because more was in need of attention or repair than the first in your face things found by the Surveyor. We've since upgraded so many systems and things onboard

We did have a Surveyor do a survey and we think that they are somewhat useless, at least our was. He did not do much more than go for an afternoon test sail with us on a sunny day and point out the obvious, like that the Heads were not working and that the Dinghy motor was not either. These things are easlily noticed, (Cole reported that the heads were inoperable) well at least by a hands on person. I could go list more...

We have spoken to so many other cruisers that have the same opinion. The caveat here is important though; TAKE your TIME and scrutinize EVERYTHING! Bu Insurance companies do require a Survey in order to become insured. Kind of ridiculous when you think about it. Seems someone is working together here. But it is what it is. 

 

Florida is very expensive as far as just about anything you want to have done on/to your boat. With soooo many Mega Yachts there with endless amounts of money to spend, we the little guy get sucked into it all and have to pay what the Mega Yacht owners pay or we go elsewhere and there isn't really any better place than Southern Forida to outfit your boat or have specialized work done to it. So it is what it is.

Moorage alone for our Cat was $2400.oo per month. There is the Northern Coast near St Augustine or into Georgia where I've heard it is not as hectic, trades are more easily booked and the costs are lower, but for us it was Southern Florida.

 

There are many crooks out there too. We have heard contractor horror stories and actually just heard another one today! The boat owner was telling us about how so much work they had paid to have done to their boat was done improperly or lied about. The boat owners were absent for much of the work, trusting it to be done properly or even trusting that it would be done at all, and that they would be charged accordingly for work done. This is not what happened though.

Work was incomplete or improperly done and they had to re-do much of what was supposed to be done in the first place. It was a Jeaneau 54 and the couple with their young son was from New Zealand.

The old joke B-O-A-T stands for Bring Out Another Thousand always mystified me. I never had to bring out another thousand on any of the other THREE sailboats I have owned over the years, but when I started having work done in Florida that acronym rang far too True.

Even the simplest quotes were a thousand minimum.

 

We oversaw EVERYTHING that went on with our boat. We kept track of hours worked and even fed workers that forgot or just didn't bring a lunch. We didn't want their blood sugar levels to dip too low and their work or concentration suffer because of it.

Drinks were always offered too, so that on the hot days dehydration wouldn't affect them.

Crazy but true, and if I was able to lend a hand or do it myself, I did, and the same for Krista.

Our poor son although so capable of keeping busy, was left to his own devices while we worked long days 7 days a week for almost 2 months.

Get quotes and be sure to tell them that those quotes MUST be adhered to. One contractor quoted us $6,000 for our cabinet and remodeling of our kitchen (Galley). We told him we could go ahead with the work but that $6,000 was the TOP of our budget. When he was finished he told us it would now be $9,000 because it had taken longer than he had expected.

We had not agreed on this and were afraid we would have to come up with the extra $3,000, money that was not in the budget!

We argued the point and he eventually gave in. In Florida they are very aware of lawsuits. If something is going sideways threaten legal action. We never had too, probably should have on at least one occasion, we were told that it would get results, but we're not the threatening type. Caveat here; be careful with that one. I don’t threaten but it may just be the small advantage you need in time of trouble.

Another horror story we have heard 3 times now and from completely different boat buyers is; you need to document ALL that you see when you view the boat especially if you are using the Big name brokerages for Cats or the like. These naive boat buyers viewed a boat they liked, then made an offer. Eventualy they agreed on a price and when they were ready to pick up their new to them Catamaran, so many things we not as viewed! Shore power cords were not onboard anymore ($500 each), dinghy engines were not onboard, a radar was missing and they were told that it had been “Stolen” and it was after the purchase and therefore not the Brokers responsibility. They had to pay more to simply get back these originally viewed items. Even Sailing Uno’s (you can google their personal blog they are from our home area) had their cockpit table removed, they were told it was not on the contract and that is was an "extra", many other such nightmares happened during their purchase. I could go on… 

 

 

 

John: How much did you spend on the total refit?

 

Brad: We spent $95k that included the kitchen and a new pantry in each hull, the Lithium batteries, the solar arch and panels, complete new navigation equipment including Auto Pilot, Wind meter, wind vane atop the mast, Radar, hybrid touch screen chart plotter, depth sounder, kitchen stove and oven, sinks and taps, toilets, refridgeration (3 new) running rigging, standing rigging, everything. So much to list…

 

John: How much were all the electronics?

 

 

 

Brad: Electronics were a big part and include the Lithium batteries and the solar arch and panels and ALL new Navigation Raymarine. I should really do a Blog post of all we did… IT included a Wifi booster on the spreaders (I am really starting to love it!) it included Radar and AIS transponder too. Probably close to $45 all this included.

 

John: Do you have radar?

 

Brad: Yes and we have really come to love it too, especially being able to follow the speed and size of Squalls and being able to steer around them 

 

John: How much for the batteries and are they worth the more money?

 

Brad: I think they are AWESOME and worth the money. But caveat here too. Generators have high resell value associated with them but I'm not a fan of running a generator all the time. Lithium are amazing! AGM lead acid are the most popular and work like this; They are only able to drain to 50% because below that they begin to sulfate and their life begins to dissapate. They charge quickly up to 80% and then go into float mode for the remaingin 20%. Float mode is a trickle charge sometimes just 2 amps.

So with a 500 amp hour battery bank of lead acid you get only 30% of the available power, the 2 amp trickle charge is used up before it even ever hits the batteries.

Lithiums on the other hand can be drained to just 5% without memory and they charge full blast up to 100%!

They can take the FULL charge avaialable right up until they are FULLY charged! No FLoat mode. This gives you 95% of your battery power available.

Soooo with an AGM 500 amp hour bank you have 30% usable, times that 30% against the 500 amp hours bank and it equals 150 amp hours available.

Lithium Ion has 95% usable, times that against the 500 amp hour battery bank and you get 475 amp hours of the available 500.

I’m sure you can see the benefit. Now consider the costs. AGMs if properly used get 3-5 years of life. If improperly used they get 1-3 years of life.

Lithium batteries without a “memory” last up to 25 years. Of course this is unproven yet because they havent been around for 25 years but all tests show it to be true. 

Some peple will say “New Batteries on this Boat” I say sarcastically “Big Deal” they could have easily been abused and now have less than a year left in them. Lithium are hard to abuse but they are expensive. I have Valence brand and they cost me $1900 US each. Lithium VS AGM $1900 ea VS $500 ea. Lots of things to weigh in here.

 

 old batteies

 new Lithium Ion batteries

 

John: We have between $130k - $150k to spend on our boat, am I in the ball park?

 

Brad: That’s decent if you are fine with a 38 foot cat but that’s more than enough boat to get you around the world in my opinion and from what I've heard and read.

There were a few larger and older boats that were $90k to $100k while we were looking but they needed quite a few things. There are boats out there so don’t be discouraged.

I met someone today with a really nice boat and what sounds like a really big monthly payment. He is so anxious to find a job in the BVI’s that it sounds like he isn’t enjoying much that he and his family set out to enjoy but I don’t want to judge just an observation after conversation. 

 

John: Brad my broker wants us to put 20 k into a trust with his company (Blank yacht sales) before we go to Florida.  He says that is a way for a seller to know we are serious when we make an offer on a boat. He said that if we didnt find anything on our trip to florida that it would be refunded to us.  Did you do anything like that? My next question is about banking, I have read alot about the high fees to get money from atms and banks around the world. I know from our previous trips out of the country that it is a pain in the ass and expensive. Is there a certain bank we should put money in to keep these fees at a minimum. How do you deal with this?

 

Brad: I did NOT send a deposit to our Broker UNTIL we found a boat we liked. I would not do this if I was you. I think it is a ploy by your broker to keep you under his thumb and working with him. If he has your money you have to work with him until he gives it back to you. Wait until you find a boat you like then give the deposit to show the owners you are serious. That is what we did, in fact we looked at all of the boats we liked by ourselves. We didn't have a broker with us ever, unless the listing broker showed up. We did not give a deposit until we found the one we wanted. We looked from the top of Florida to the bottom and from the East Coast to the West Coast, all without a broker.

 

John: Would love to see the list of boats you saw and your notes on them. :)

 

Brad: I actually took my GoPro with me for every Cat we looked at and made videos of them so we wouldn’t get confused with how many we saw and the differences between them all.

I may be able to come up with a list

 

 

 

John: I thank you for your time and look forward to running into you, hanging with you and having you over for dinner somewhere around the world....

 

Brad: Now that sounds nice : )

Hope this helps!  

 

 

Cheers John!

Brad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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