If you don't want to sell your sailboat,,,,,don't put it up for sale!

(This post is PG-13) I have some frustrations with folks who put their boats up for sale,,,,,then don’t do bend over backwards to make them sellable or get them sold,,,,,read on:


The link to the post above is literally the 5th post I had ever written and the blog had a total of two followers at the time.  I used the post to vent a bit about this same topic.  We had decided to survey a Wauquiez Amphritite 45 that had some challenges at the time of survey (like the roller furling didn’t furl) and the survey value came in less than our offer.  The survey also pointed out deficiencies that needed correction.  In light of this, we asked for a respectful survey allowance (money off the overall price of the boat) that the owner denied and we pulled out of the deal.  However, we were out for all the costs of haul out and payment to the surveyor.  In retrospect, I’m thinking the owner probably just wanted a survey done of his boat and probably didn’t really want to sell the boat at the time.

We’ve bought and sold a sailboat since then.  Tulum IV was in great shape when we sold her and we did EVERYTHING the broker asked us to do in order to get her ready for sale and make her  more sellable.  We cleaned her, oiled her teak, cleaned out all spaces and power washed engine and bilge spaces, had the bottom painted, new sailcover made, new mattresses, new canvas dodger and a myriad of other things.  The biggest thing is that even when hot wife lived on Tulum, we kept her in museum ready shape, nearly perfect every day that my wife left for work and on weekends in case anyone came to look at her.  Eventually, this paid off and her forever buyer found her.

I’ve looked at a lot of sailboats in the last several months and get frustrated with folks who put their boats up for sale,,,,then don’t give a damn how they look while they’re for sale.  REALLY,,,,have you ever looked at a bilge with 3-feet of something in it and tried to make a decision on whether that’s water with one drop of oil or oil with one drop of water?  Does this make you motivated to see the diamond in the rough?  Hell no!  It frustrates me that I might be seeing a diamond in the rough but have to think past the oily bilge, smelly engine room and personal stuff on YOUR boat to see if there’s potential to buy it.  It’s also hard to convince a smart and thinking wife that there might be potential,,,,,cause she can’t think past the equipment that supposed to make life easier on the boat,,,,but doesn’t work because you were too lazy to fix it before you put the boat on sale.  All those repairs you didn’t do to your boat,,,,I understand (cause you’re selling your boat,,,,,and repairs are expensive)  However,,,,there should be repairs on things that the spec sheet lists as operational.  This shouldn’t even be a question.  If someone has listed something in the spec sheet as operational and it’s bolted to the boat or a permanent piece of its gear, it should be operational or you as the buyer should have the owner bring it to operational working,,,,or ask for a survey allowance.

Utter fucking frustrations with boats I’ve seen for sale:

  1. Oily, dirty bilges or engine rooms- (if your boat is for sale, why wouldn’t you clean up its spaces?)  It’s probably just laziness, cause even if you can’t do it, there’s some really talented people you can hire to do the work for you.  #1  Frustration!!!!
  2. Major problems that should have been disclosures up front–  did you grind your boat into the bottom then not tell anyone,,,,but the cracks in the keel tell another story?
  3. All of your personal crap on the boat–  When you put your boat up for sale, your personal stuff isn’t part of the deal.  Take it off the boat.  Hot Wife lived on our boat while it was for sale, so I get personal stuff.  But we cleaned out three carloads of stuff to empty most spaces on the boat prior to her living on it.  It’s pretty awesome when stuff left on the boat includes your toiletries, kitchen stuff and every locker on the boat still has personal stuff in it.  Clean your stuff off your boat prior to putting it on the market or right after you do, then folks can actually see all the room on board.
  4. Unmotivated Owners– If you’re trying to sell your boat,,,,you should put it’s best face forward NOW.  Get the boat professionally cleaned.  Get it waxed (yes, it makes a difference).  Clean out the boat.  Clean the white stuff,,,,(you know, where all the dirt can be seen?).  If you have repairs on the wood or spaces downstairs, get them done.  Soak your salon teak in Lemon Oil a couple of times.  Find your documentation for all the work you’ve put into the boat (when was that bottom job really done?)  Talk to your broker about what will make your boat MORE sellable and do what you can with the budget you have.  We couldn’t do everything that our broker wanted us to do all at once because of cost, but we eventually did everything he wanted us to do and the boat sold for a fair price.
  5. Ignorance of Coast Guard regulations–   I was nice to say ignorance, but the fact is that there’s a whole lot of folks who know what they need to do and just won’t send in the money to register their boat with the Coast Guard every year.  And,,,,most boats we’ve been on do not have the proper safety gear or warning placards (stickers) on them, automatically meaning the owner probably doesn’t know the regulations.   Talk to your broker and make sure your boat has the proper safety gear (one Life Jacket is not in compliance and yes, flares have dates on them dummy), placards and registration prior to sale or prior to a solid offer.  What a great impression it makes on me when I’m told the boat is not currently registered with the Coast Guard, it’s flares are out of date, there’s only one adult life jacket on the boat currently and there are no current regulatory placards! 

Lastly, there are reasons that these things don’t happen and it has nothing to do with laziness.  Sometimes owners get sick or pass away and the family is left to cope with the sale of an unfamiliar boat possibly across the country at the mercy of a yacht broker they’ve never met.  This happens.  When we bought Tulum IV, one of the owners had passed sometime back and his wife was trying to get the boat sold.  The boat was in good shape and ready to sell, but these things do happen.  For those who have not passed or gotten very, very sick,,,,I still have my frustrations.

6 Responses

  1. We always thought that the state of the boat reflected its up-keep/care by the owner over the years. Apart from the above (am right with you) – an advert with no picture, or a picture of a “sister ship” – this put me off straight away, how easy is it to snap a shot these days?
    We also found that the brokers in the US weren’t interested in selling their clients’ boats – incredible, I wonder if they knew (the clients).

    1. I agree, but in some cases the brokers have to do what their clients tell them. But, still frustrates me. We’re still in the Aleutian deal, but we have not committed yet.

      1. Often, we’d ask in a brokerage to view a boat in the next few days to receive a response, “you have to telephone me, and telephone me two weeks in advance to arrange a viewing date” – this yelled from the back of the office, he couldn’t even get up to speak to us – shame he didnt’ know we had money burning a hole in our pocket! And I’m sure their clients don’t instruct them to do that!
        Best of luck with the Aleutian.

  2. When I bought my boat I was told the holding tank was empty. When I had it hauled to my marina the FULL tank emptied into the bilge from the crack in the side put there when it froze the prior winter. Yay!

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