How Not To Buy A Boat?

21 Mar

Satori Post refit

I was after a blue water boat, something that I could safely take offshore and across oceans. Full keel, traditional looks, cutter rigged. I wanted something with a large production run so I would not have to plow as much uncharted territory when refitting and maintaining it. But most of all, I wanted something affordable. Actually no, I wanted a deal.

I love deals, I attribute it to my mother and her love of coupons. There is nothing quite like finding that diamond in the rough, pulling it out of the bushes and bringing that baby home for months of TLC. I’ve applied this to classic mustangs, Italian sport bikes, houses and most of all, boats.

So I convinced myself it was time to start looking for that special 12 ton hole in the water. I looked and looked all over the internet, comparing all of my requirements and developing a short list of boats. The site Blue Water Boats was such a great tool for comparing and gaining basic knowledge of what is out there, highly recommended. Initially it was the Westsail 32 and perhaps an Alberg 30. Both of which were plentiful and could be found relatively cheap.

Then I found it, the Tayana 37. Rather than go through the song and dance about the boat itself I’ll direct you over to Blue Water Boats Article on the Tayana 37. I finally found the boat that had the quality, looks, and price point that was in my budget. I scoured Yacht Trader looking for project boats. I even came close to buying a complete disaster in Virginia and due my openness about the deal on public forums, someone else purchased it right out from under me. 

Satori as she was prepurchase

In hindsight I’m glad the deal fell through. A few weeks later I went to Galesville, Maryland to look at a 1980 Tayana “Vacilando”. The Broker met me there and we went through the boat. He knew nothing about her except that the current owner had purchased the boat at auction. Nothing had not done anything with the boat in years, I estimated it had been sitting on the hard, winterized for about 4 years. As I looked around the boat, I noticed there were extra fuel and oil filters in the locker and books with all the manuals and service records above the chart table. The chainplates knees had been redone (a major and annoying repair needed to Tayana’s of this vintage) and over all the boat looked like it had been in good repair up until it was winterized and left on the hard.

So I made an offer of $27,000 on the spot to the broker. I told him I could do cash, and that it was pending him finding the sails. I also told him I would need to know by the weekend. I think it’s to my advantage to rush people when offering a lower but attractive cash deal. The broker calls me the next day and says the owner can’t find the sails. I tell him for $5,000 less I will still buy the boat. The seller agrees and we set closing for the weekend.

Now I know conventional wisdom is that you get a survey, dot your I’s and cross your T’s. I had no idea the condition of the engine, rigging or electronics. (though a 36 year old boat needs pretty much everything replaced) I went on a hunch that this boat had been maintained up till a few years ago and used the unknown to my advantage with the broker and seller.

Weeks later I found a complete set of sails plus spinnaker and storm Jib under the forward double bunk.


This article was syndicated from Cruising – Beautiful Crazy Happiness


  1. John

    It’s incredibly lucky that you managed to not only pull off this risky transaction, but also find the missing sails and more within the boat itself. While I wouldn’t recommend this practice to new prospective boat owners, if you have the experience to (fairly) confidently make this sort of wager, it’s something to look into. In your case, the worst that might’ve happened would have been some time lost to get the boat in running shape. Thanks for sharing.

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