lose the boat you want.”
Search deeper. “Having
exhausted the listings of two or three
area yacht brokers, we then checked out
several local marina websites. There we
found what looked like a great 2002 Sea
Ray 26-foot consignment boat in our
Educate yourself. Carl is
an aerospace engineer and no technical
slouch. Even so, Debbie says, “he read
every blog, forum, owner’s manual, and
service manual he could get his hands
on, as well as watched every YouTube
video about Sea Rays and powerboats in
general.” They also checked the BoatU.S.
Consumer Protection complaint database to see if the boat, engine, or dealership had any complaints. Fortunately, any
reported problems were minor.
Negotiate. “This time we
asked about current offers on the boat,
and when there were none, we made
what we consid-
ered a reasonable
offer based on the
fact that the boat
had been sitting
for three years.
The owners countered and offered
up to $2,000 worth
of work at the yard
to get the boat in
counseled hundreds of boat buyers over the years,
Debbie made sure the offer was contingent on a satisfactory survey and sea trial.
Focus on the big picture.
All used boats (and many new ones) will
have some problems, says Debbie, and you
can’t expect everything to be perfect. “The
sea trial and survey didn’t reveal anything
serious or alarming, just the normal small
items found on all surveys. So we decided
not to nitpick the sellers. The engine and
other major systems on the boat were
our primary focus.” Debbie says that the
engine achieved appropriate rpms, and
the boat made its projected speed on the
sea trial. But the surveyor noticed a slight
miss in the engine; he recommended hav-
ing the engine’s computer read for fault
codes and getting the injectors cleaned.
While this was seemingly minor, Debbie
felt that this type of problem, if not fixed
before the sale, could be an indicator of
something more serious later, so she had
the dealer address it.
Get it in writing. If your
offer includes repairs, get everything in
writing. Debbie’s deal included $2,000
worth of service, but without a list of
what was performed, there was no way
to be sure the money was really spent on
“Before settlement, we were given an
invoice of items the sellers paid for. We
were happy about it because, in addition
to noting that the injectors were cleaned,
it actually included a few things, such as
a windshield-wiper repair, that we didn’t
expect,” she said. “A big chunk of the
$2,000 went to draining 3-year-old stale
gas from the boat, which is expensive to
dispose of because it’s considered haz-
For a complete guide
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