This post must start with a confession. A confession about myself and an accusation about my lovely fiancé. We both suffer from severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. At least when it comes to boats, that is. In our incessant, all consuming hunt for the perfect boat, we pore over all the yacht brokerage sites in the western hemisphere, all the Craigslist ads up and down the west coast, including some that are in languages we don’t understand, and constantly hound our sailing friends for recommendations of “good sailboats in the 30’ range”. And once in a while, perhaps every month or two, a sailboat presents itself that we both get excited about. It’s located in a marina where we wouldn’t mind living, the lines are beautiful, she appears to be well kept, and the price seems to be right. In fact, the price often seems too good to be true. Here’s when the OCD gene gets triggered.
We commence to search for anything that was ever written on the model, reviews, forum threads, off hand comments about the particular boat, the designer, or the boatyard that built it. We scramble for any clue that might indicate quality of build or common problems that owners have encountered. We have a spreadsheet with 158 rows, each assigned a particular facet of the boat or its gear, and each item has predicted replacement costs, both highball and lowball, so that we can analyze the particular boat we’ve found and hopefully garner some semblance of an idea of how much she’s worth, and how much she’s really going to cost us. So far we’ve gone through this exercise in its entirety for two separate boats.
The first was a Valiant 32 in La Paz, Mexico. The Valiants, designed by Bob Perry, are regarded as top quality vessels, very well built and usually far beyond our price range. They are also exceptionally beautiful. The price of this particular Valiant was within our range and we were very excited, to say the least.
The research frenzy began, and after a few excited days we stumbled across the reason why she was priced in our budget. The broker did mention it had been slightly damaged in a hurricane – but that it had been fully repaired. He failed to mention the boat sat for days being pounded into a concrete boat ramp, the stern had split in two and the entire front half of the boat had been submerged for days…details we found through some intense Google searching Thank goodness for the internet!
The second was a Mariah 31 in Puerto Vallarta, another beauty that appeared to need a little work, but was priced well below others of her kind. It turns out that this boat was going to take another $40,000 and a year of work to refit her after purchase price, according to a helpful friend who is a year into refitting a Mariah 31 of his own. Thank goodness for the willingness of other sailors to pass on hard earned knowledge!
These exercises are not in vain, however. Though we’ve decided to pass on each of these vessels, we now have an extensive knowledge of the characteristics, the history, the strengths and weaknesses (as much as you can learn from reading other people’s reviews, anyway) and their market value. While a week of internet research does not an expert make, we have compiled a treasure trove of information on this handful of boats. The education we’ve received, on everything from bronze chainplate repair costs to Bob Perry’s personal thoughts on weather helm correction, have been invaluable to us as boat shoppers, and hopefully as sailors as well, and we’d be happy to share what we’ve gathered if anyone has an interest.