Fort Lauderdale, FLNovember 16, 2016 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 19 °C
What a week of admin. I'm going to go right ahead and tell you that we're not going to buy a boat. We've taken a good charter offer and we'll be setting sail Friday from Tortola if all goes to plan. Here's how it played out:
Jools landed us a great air bnb in Fort Lauderdale where we set up office for the week. It was perfect for our needs: great wifi, pool, full kitchen, a/c, free parking and intermittent company. Fortunately for us our nudie host kept his clothes on and nobody was scarred for life. What a character.
Getting up to speed.
Unfortunately for us, when we really started lining up boats to inspect, we struggled to find any within our criteria in or near the boating mecca that is Ft Lauderdale. Why? Let's just say you don't buy a used Camry at Mercedes dealership. Turns out boats that go to die (or get saved by fools), wind up on the west coast of Florida. So we had to get picky cause we sure as hell weren't driving 5hrs each way more than once.
Choosing our boat.
Choosing a boat is like choosing a house and a car at the same time. It's not easy. And to make things worse if you buy a lemon you can't just call AA. Here were our criteria:
No structural or rigging issues.
Sleeps 3 comfortably with an optional 4.
Requires minimal superficial work - no electronic or engine repair.
Located close enough to drive to in a day and sail to the Bahamas in a week or two.
Ocean going boat with reasonable shallow draft under 40ft equipped with as much of the following as possible:
-depth and log
-vhf and radar
-house and engine batteries
-altenator and wind generator and or solar panels
-fridge, oven and stove
-dinghy, outboard and davits
-water and gas tanks
-main and furling gib
-dunny and shower
-liferaft and epirb
-2x anchors and chains with windlass
Oh, and all that for a lousy 30k. Challenge set.
To quote my father "Time spent in reconaissance is seldom wasted". So we did our research. And boy was there a lot to learn. We must have looked at 20 or more boats online comparing hull makes and sizes, reputations, and history. We discovered all kinds of new nautical jargon and American terms. We had to google just about every piece of electronic equipment. We had to rank importance of equipment based on where we intended to go. Each boat location had to be considered with sailing times and haul out locations. And worst of all we had to speculate (or worry) as to just what made the boat so cheap.
Like Jools said "It's all a big game. We're just wee fish and there are some big old sharks out there." Never ever buy a boat without inspection and take every word from a broker with a grain of salt. No offence to brokers you big old sharks.
Three days in we'd found two or three potential boats within a couple hours drive of each other. The first in Fort Myers was perfect on paper and ranked highly in Jools' excel sheet (yes we were scoring boats in excel - we're engineers dammit!). Upon inspection we were broken men. Our boat we had travelled the state for was an absolute lemon. The photos on the website would have been taken over a year ago and she'd seen little if not no love since. Wendy's for lunch and another few hours drive hardly brought the mood back.
The second boat we saw didnt look excellent on paper but it exceeded expections. So much so we cancelled our next inspection. What a beaut. In mint condition with everything working. The only thing we were left to ponder is why she was so cheap. The question remains unanswered.
Meanwhile scotty had found a long term charter site which we had begun negotiations with. Based out of the BVIs, this was a promising option which had to be explored.
Having a boat on the table for a purchase option and a pencilled in charter made things pretty simple to run a cost analysis. All the unknowns for getting a boat in the water were now known. One big question remained in resale value which we took a stab in the dark or three. Combining all our brains we mustered a shared google sheet (loving sheets right now) and crunched the numbers. It actually came out really tight for a two month trip - three months would have favoured the purchase option. Factoring in the risk of selling and breakages, plus time in haul out and yard work and getting to Florida - charter just made sense.
Obviously disappointed we're not proud new owners but at the same time pretty happy with the peace of mind. We also spent a bitbof time exploring the city and joining in beach workouts/basketball. The contrast between the rich and the poor here is a strong as ever.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you spend a week looking at boats and not buying one. Time for a beer or three methinks!Read more