Boat Buying Blues

Friday September 12, 2014


The skies here in Ponta Delgada have been gray just about every day since we’ve arrived, and they seem to be matching the mood on the boat. And for once, it’s not my bad mood. Let me just quickly say that I’m not always in a bad mood, but more than two days without sunshine can quickly put me there. Now you can see why we had to get out of West Michigan. It’s basically like Seattle but with snow instead of rain. The sun disappears from November until March and it suddenly makes sense of why areas like England that are constantly cloaked in gloom have a little bit of a drinking problem.

But I digress and should get back to the story. The last I left you with our new boat buying woes, we had just gotten ourselves here from Horta, and in that short 38 hour sail Matt decided he could not live without the 48 ft aluminum boat we’d been going back and forth on for two weeks. Even though it has some issues and the purchase of it would leave us broke for quite some time, it’s not every day you come across your forever boat within your price range while you’re still in your early 30’s and we decided ‘To hell with it, let’s still buy that sucker!’. So an email was sent out to the broker last Saturday and we eagerly waited til Monday to hear back.

Eagerly waiting brought us the news that just that day, other potential buyers had been on the boat and seemed quite interested. If we still wanted it, we’d have to act fast. The broker let us know that another offer would probably be coming in but if we raised ours just a little bit we might still have a chance. Hmmm, the whole reason we stepped away from this boat last week is because we didn’t know if we’d be able to afford it with the necessary repairs it needs, and now we were being asked to throw more money on the table. After taxes, fees, registration, and blah blah blah, we weren’t even sure if we’d have enough money to cover all of it. Buuuut, it would be our forever boat. A fact that we just couldn’t leave alone.

Since we had no idea what ‘just a little bit’ entailed and the broker could in no way give us a figure, we countered with another 5k on top of our original offer and hoped that would be enough. We waited a few more days to hear back, the incoming information being that there were now multiple other people out there vying for this boat and our offer was not yet high enough. No agreements had been made though, and if we could go a little higher she might still be ours. It seems as if we were getting ourselves into a bidding war. One that we could not afford to participate in much longer.

I gave Matt the go-ahead to up our offer by only $2,000 more, really the highest we could go at that point, knowing that it probably wouldn’t be enough but having to give it a try just in case. We were indeed right that it did not match the offers of the other interested parties and soon came to find out that bids were reaching the original asking price. As much as it pained us to acknowledge it we had to accept that we are not getting our dream boat.

The thing that ails us the most, especially Matt, is that we had it. It was ours for the taking and had we not spent so much time in Horta contemplating and speculating on if this boat was for us, the papers would already be signed and a flag flapping the name MJ Sailing would be staked in the hull, warning off any other potential buyers that even tried to look longingly at our new boat with checkbook in hand. Both of us had already gotten so excited at the prospect of this new boat, already assuming that we’d be moving into her in mere months, that it’s hard to get over the shock that we’ll still be cruising around on the ‘Dip for awhile. We love this girl but let’s face it, she’s not 48 feet. And she has no pilot house, which Matt desperately wants.

Comments keep floating through the air murmuring things like ‘If we were on the new boat we’d have our own separate shower stall with constant hot water….If we were on the new boat I could store a million kitchen utensils and have a coffee maker on the counter…If we were on the new boat I just look out the window from my seat and see what’s going on….If we were on the new boat I could sleep while you watched tv and I wouldn’t even hear you’. All if these ‘if only’s’ that we’ll never have the chance to experience now.

So yeah, the mood around here has been pretty bleak lately and I don’t think it has everything to do with the weather. Maybe we’ll just head up to McDonald’s again, the American equivalent of drinking, and drown our woes in a few Big Macs.

7 thoughts on “Boat Buying Blues

  1. So sorry things didn’t work out on the boat. I could say, “It happened for a reason” or “there’s something better out there for you two” (and there probably is), but I know that doesn’t take away the disappointment. Just focus on the fact that you do live on a boat and you are traveling … (something we can’t wait to do) and keep looking.

  2. When one door closes another one usually opens! It sounds trite but it’s usually true. It’s 2 months or so since you wrote the post so I hope the Med is wonderful for you.
    I also just wanted to say your view of England isn’t very accurate. The weather isn’t always gloomy and any drinking problems don’t include everyone- the same problems exist in the US I’m sure. People like you and I are just fortunate to have made different choices.
    Happy sailing.

  3. I spent a week of vacation in London with my wife and kids about 15 years ago. Each morning we would jump on the underground to explore some old castle or something. Do you think we could a word out of anyone? It was like the world of the dead. We were all bright and bushy tailed and they were all hung over! You play, you pay.

  4. Not to worry! Your forever boat is still out there somewhere. A metal sailboat with a pilothouse does make the picking a bit slimmer, but don’t forget to take time to enjoy the hunt.

    Oh, and you’re wrong about the sun in West Michigan too! I’ve seen it at least once already this November. 😉

  5. Having had a brokerage in the family, it is the oldest trick in the book to raise the offer on a boat by saying another party is interested and put an offer on the boat. If you put in an offer and it is not countered and you get the BS story that someone else is interested in the boat and putting in an offer, there is a chance you could be being played. What will happen is you tell them your final offer is in and valid for a week from the time you put it in, otherwise walking away from the table.

    If it is a game, they will come back in that time and say something like the other party could not get financing, or something to that sort and accept you last offer. OK, at that point you know they played you, so play them back. Get a really good out of the water survey and nickle and dime your offer back down based upon the condition. Also bring in a mechanic for a mechanical and engine survey with compression test. Now your offer is back down where it originally is and there is a good chance they accept it. Or the survey will show a boat that is actually worth the latest offer.

    I hate these games, and I usually let brokers know up front when looking at boats to please be straight and honest with me, and I will do the same for them so everyone comes out OK in the end. Make sure they know there is no emotional connection to the boat or the deal. If you love the boat and emotional about it, they will hook you. Keep in mind that it has been famine for many of these brokers with the bad economy and a couple hundred extra on a sale goes a long way for them and they are working for the seller, not the buyer. Our latest boat, went through the same game, and we played as stated above to get the boat back to what it was truly worth – our original offer.

    And you will never go more than a year before finding the perfect boat. In fact, there is a Westsail pilothouse out there that has your names written all over it and close to the old homestead… Check Yachtworld.

  6. Lynn, you’re right that I’m a bit behind on posts, it will be nice to catch everyone up on what we’ve actually been up to. Another door has opened and we’re jumping anxiously into it! My view of England was really just a joke. That everyone there is always in and out of a pub. There are definitely areas in the US that have the same problem. Just saying that if there’s nothing good to do outdoors, may as well head where everyone knows your name and grab a pint. 😉

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