There is no quick answer to this age old question. Whether I was to buy a new or used, oops "previously owned" boat, the questions and process were to be the same, only the price changes. I had decided to buy a used boat. My budget couldn't run to a new boat, nor my time. Few cruisers I have ever met purchased new boats.
Hmmm ......! Well it all came down to a lot of personal taste, likes and dislikes, and most of all what is it that I wanted the boat to do for me. Remember that this was to be my home for many years to come and a very large investment of time and money. So I thought hard about the requirements of the boat. I had had several boats over the years which helped me immensely in making my decisions.
I went to a broker I had used previously and borrowed all their books. There are several books that show complete manufacturer's specifications on interior layout, fuel and water capacities as well as engine size, etc.. I made a list of a dozen boats that seemed to fit the bill. When I had done this I hung around local yacht clubs and asked who has one of these or one of those. I made friends with the owners and asked if I could look at their boats and what they liked and what they would change about them. I very quickly started to remove boats from the list and add others that came to my attention. I got the list down to 6 makes and models in the end. That was almost 2 years of work. I spent every weekend walking the docks in different marinas looking at boats asking owners if I can come aboard and look at the interior and asked lots of questions about performance, etc.. Just about every owner took me in as I showed some genuine interest in their vessel and they were proud to show me around. They even told me the good and bad things about their pride and joy. I was able to remove more boats from my list that I didn't think had the cruising spirit but yet again added others. One of the best places I found was Cruising World's Fax line for boat buyers. (Look in the middle of any issue of Cruising World and you will find the information you need. They give you a listing of all the vessels they have records on, you select the number next to your choices and in a few minutes they send a detail fax to you of all the people that have participated in their surveys, including their phone numbers and facts about that type/model of boat. You can call the people and ask what they think about their boat. These people are from all over the continental US so you get a very wide variety of sailing experiences.) I changed my list again after some of my conversations. There is no quick answer to anything to do with boats. It took many hours, weeks, months and eventually years to just figure out the top six boats on my list. If you ask around this sort of time period is not uncommon, I have spoken to people who are still looking after years. Don't fall into the trap that there is the "perfect boat" out there with your name on it at a rock bottom price, because there isn't!
Let's look at some of the questions I asked of myself when it came to the boat. This may get a little confusing since some of the questions here are the same ones you will see in several other places. I did a lot of going in circles before I got me list of six together.
I have tried to put these questions in some sort of order for you, but of course as any of the answers change then so does the order. In other words when you answer one question you have to go back and revise any of the other questions you have already formulated answers to. Very confusing and time consuming!
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Revised: 19 September, 2005 .