The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

The Five Things We Need to Check When Buying a Boat

Given that Phyllis and I are considering replacing Morgan’s Cloud with a smaller boat, I have been thinking a lot about the process of buying a boat that will meet our specification:

  • 15,000 to 22,000 lbs (6800 to 10000 kgs) displacement, which will typically result in a boat around 36 to 42 feet (11 to 13 m) long.
  • Good sailing performance.
  • Almost certainly fibreglass.
  • Not a project boat. We are happy to do the usual tweaks that any new-to-us boat requires, but no refits and certainly no rebuilds. (That said, read on.)
  • Trans-ocean capable (in reasonable comfort and safety).
  • Price under US$250,000.

I have also:

This work has yielded a couple of conclusions:

Gonna Be Really Hard

I said right from the beginning that this was going to be a difficult spec to fill, but I was wrong. In fact, and contrary to what many people will tell you, because of two of the above requirements, it’s going to be very, very damned difficult.

The culprits are:

  1. Trans-ocean capable (in reasonable comfort and safety).
  2. Not a project boat.

Drop either, and literally hundreds, maybe thousands, of boats jump into the frame.

The other problem is that really good, well-maintained boats, from consistently good builders, are way more expensive than most people—including me, up until a few months ago—think.

And often, maybe mostly, when we find a boat that seems to break that rule, a closer look reveals a lurking problem that explains the price—teak decks that need replacing, often with water in the deck core under them, are a classic example.

So, if we had more than US$250,000 to spend, that would obviously help, but we don’t, so what to do?

More Articles From Online Book: How To Buy a Cruising Boat:

  1. The Right Way to Buy a Boat…And The Wrong Way
  2. Is It a Need or a Want?
  3. Buying a Boat—A Different Way To Think About Price
  4. Buying a Cruising Boat—Five Tips for The Half-Assed Option
  5. Are Refits Worth It?
  6. Buying a Boat—Never Say Never
  7. Selecting The Right Hull Form
  8. Five Ways That Bad Boats Happen
  9. How Weight Affects Boat Performance and Motion Comfort
  10. Easily Driven Boats Are Better
  11. 12 Tips To Avoid Ruining Our Easily Driven Sailboat
  12. Learn From The Designers
  13. You May Need a Bigger Boat Than You Think
  14. Sail Area: Overlap, Multihulls, And Racing Rules
  15. 8 Tips For a Great Cruising Boat Interior Arrangement
  16. Of Cockpits, Wheelhouses And Engine Rooms
  17. Offshore Sailboat Keel Types
  18. Cockpits—Part 1, Safe and Seamanlike
  19. Cockpits—Part 2, Visibility and Ergonomics
  20. Offshore Sailboat Winches, Selection and Positioning
  21. Choosing a Cruising Boat—Shelter
  22. Choosing A Cruising Boat—Shade and Ventilation
  23. Pitfalls to Avoid When Buying a New Voyaging Boat
  24. Cyclical Loading: Why Offshore Sailing Is So Hard On A Boat
  25. Cycle Loading—8 Tips for Boat and Gear Purchases
  26. Characteristics of Boat Building Materials
  27. Impact Resistance—How Hull Materials Respond to Impacts
  28. Impact Resistance—Two Collision Scenarios
  29. Hull Materials, Which Is Best?
  30. The Five Things We Need to Check When Buying a Boat
  31. Six Warnings About Buying Fibreglass Boats
  32. Buying a Fibreglass Boat—Hiring a Surveyor and Managing the Survey
  33. What We Need to Know About Moisture Meters and Wet Fibreglass Laminate
  34. US$30,000 Starter Cruiser—Part 1, How We Shopped For Our First Cruising Sailboat
  35. US$30,000 Starter Cruiser—Part 2, The Boat We Bought
  36. US$30,000 Starter Cruiser—How It’s Working Out
  37. Q&A, What’s the Maximum Sailboat Size For a Couple?
  38. At What Age should You Stop Sailing And Buy a Motorboat?
  39. A Motorsailer For Offshore Voyaging?
  40. The Two Biggest Lies Yacht Brokers Tell