I’ve had to resist the temptation to publish this particular post, wanting to do some research into how other sailboat owners put their boats up for sale and whether me and my wife were on the mark or had somehow missed it (especially prior to publishing this post).
Ok, you’ve made the decision to sell the boat, you’ve decided to keep it at a dock or at the brokers docks,,,so what next? This one’s easy but you have to put in the work: Get your crap off the boat,,,,and CLEAN IT stem to stern. This isn’t just a cool nautical saying,,,,,it’s the real deal and we experienced it firsthand. I had NO idea how much personal stuff we had amassed on our boat (and we never even went cruising). Seriously, before you sell and perhaps before you leave to cruise, you should try to get all that personal stuff off,,,,declutter the boat. See, your house might look good with some stuff in it when you go to sell it, but anything inside a boat makes it look smaller. This is NOT the effect you want possible buyers to see when looking at storage, a wine locker and whether they could live on the boat. You want it to look huge, lots of storage, really!! I was under the impression we would knock it out in one afternoon- personal stuff off and cleaning done,,,right (with no dock cart, we had to haul it all to the car by hand). This was a fun afternoon, we didn’t even start the detailed cleaning, because the wet/dry vac decided to die that afternoon. If you’ve never done a great detailed cleaning to a boat,,,you’ll want a power sprayer and a wet/dry vac along with about 7 bottles of industrial degreaser (environmentally friendly stuff) like Simple Green or stronger. You will also want to enlist the help of someone who can’t quit on you,,,,like the other owner or said spouse. Or, if you want to break up with that special someone,,,,just tell them that the bilge floor needs to be white again before they get to leave the bilge area,,,,and see what happens. After I told my wife this line,,,,I learned several new combinations of words describing me,,,none of them able to be repeated on this blog post. The next two weekends were spent detailed cleaning the boat with a new wet/dry vac and lots of elbow grease. One thing I learned is that when you see the engine mounts sprayed with spray paint,,,,it’s not to hide anything,,,it’s to give them a coating to keep the rust off them. Also, give your teak (downstairs) some lemon oil every few months, don’t wait for several years then have to do it four times to get it right,,,,do it every few months like I’m advising.
Needless to say, we filled the garage back home with our stuff off the boat and got to learn all about detail cleaning the engine, bilges, under-floor spaces and all other spaces. It was something we should have done when we bought the boat, not when we were prepping it for sale.
As I alluded to at the top, me and my wife took our brokers advice and cleaned the boat, but we wanted to see how others presented their boats for sale. So over the last month or so, we’ve taken the time on several weekends to go aboard no less than eight (8) separate boats ranging from 40 to 63 feet in length. All the boats were actively on the market for sale, here’s few of the stats:
1. All eight boats we looked at were proven blue water cruisers capable of crossing oceans and were between 40 and 63 feet.
2. All the boats we looked at were built awhile ago,,,,1978 – 2000.
3. 2 of the 8 boats were clearly “staged” for sale. These staged boats were immaculate and had higher prices per capita for their age.
4. One of the boats clearly had not sold due to problems with its teak decks. Another clearly had not sold due to the fact it had no equipment (no windless, no dinghy, no headliner) and was in need of a total refit.
5. Except for the two staged boats mentioned above,,,all of the engines and engine rooms we looked at were dirty: engines not power washed, water in the bilge, dirt and hair under every panel you picked up.
6. And finally, one of my favorite boats that I didn’t get to look at in detail had someone living on it, with three cats and one dog (below decks). The boat was gorgeous, but I have no idea what the engine or engine room looks like. We’ll look her over again someday.
All of this looking convinced us we’re on the right course with the prep work we’ve done on Tulum. While we could not afford to get everything done on her we wanted; we know we’ve made her better than when we bought her and the eventual buyer will get a decent boat at a great price.