Advice needed: retired and looking for my first boat

magicol

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I am about to take the plunge and buy my first cruising yacht. I have sailed and raced dinghies all my life but I have promised myself something to get me and my wife afloat in comfort. We are based on the west coast of Scotland and the budget dictates second hand. However, I don't want a project and the wife insists on comfort and reliability but appropriate for exploring this wonderful coast. I have followed some of the posts on this site and understand something of the conflict between those who advocate real boats and those happy with AWBs. I think we fall into the latter category and have been looking at Hanse, Bavaria and Jeanneau: around the 30ft mark and around 5 / 6 years old would fit our budget. This is my pension pot at stake so I want to get it right. I really would welcome advice on the strength and weaknesses of suitable boats. Also, it seems to me that most boats are sold through brokers; are there any protocols I should follow? Is the asking price sacrosanct or what sort of offer might be made without causing offence?
 

nickf

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Personally I would charter a few models/makes that you are interested in first - you will find enough Jen, Ben and Bavs on charter to help you narrow the choice down.
 

V1701

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The sailing season really is short in UK unless you don't mind being out in less that ideal conditions. Have you thought about something with an inside steering position - Southerly maybe or LM30? Not motorsailers but still boats that you can sail...
 

slipknot

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That's what I did, and boats that I thought would like, I wasn't that impressed with. It helped me choose the ideal boat for me. I hope you make a good choice too and have lots of fun.
 

Sinbad1951

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There are so many variables here I dont know where to start.
1st the easy bit. The selling price is always aspirational. What you can purchase a boat for is how flexible the seller is. Late Autumn is a good time to buy as the previous owner doesnt have the hassle or expense of getting the boat laid up over the winter nor does he have expense of tarting her up for the Spring launch/sale.
2nd. Which boat. Buying a newish AWB does not absolve the boat/engine from defects. Sometimes an older boat that has been loved, fixed, improved will be a much better buy. You will know how a boat has been looked after when you have seen a few. The ones that get put up for sale with the dirty dishes in the sink are not good candidates!
As a dinghy sailor you will be drawn towards those boats that have similar characteristics and handling. Lightweight, easy to sail and responsive. This does not make them comfortable and reliable as your wife wishes, in fact those characteristics can do the opposite. They can be twitchy, be subject to a lot of wind movement when berthing and have a stern that catches every wave whilst you are trying to sleep. The slap, slap slap of that will make for sleepless nights.
Most modern AWB's have aft quarter cabins in the length you specify. These look great but are not easy to get out of if there are two people in the bunk. The midnight wee takes on rather convoluted movements which include drawing your knees up and swinging through 180 degrees on your bottom trying not to kick the missus in the head. Be warned.
I would suggest that you go to 'latesail' or similar and charter a boat of your desired length. Preferably in sunny climes where you can lounge in the cockpit and deck and then transpose this experience to the same boat in Scottish waters. Will you want to be lounging on deck when its minus 4 and/or the midges have attacked.
Walk around the local marinas and see which boats people have. These will indicate what works in your area.
Apart from that the best thing to do is to charter a few boats. Yes, an expensive experience but it will save you thousands if you buy the wrong one.
Good luck.
 

Caer Urfa

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I am about to take the plunge and buy my first cruising yacht. I have sailed and raced dinghies all my life but I have promised myself something to get me and my wife afloat in comfort. We are based on the west coast of Scotland and the budget dictates second hand. However, I don't want a project and the wife insists on comfort and reliability but appropriate for exploring this wonderful coast. I have followed some of the posts on this site and understand something of the conflict between those who advocate real boats and those happy with AWBs. I think we fall into the latter category and have been looking at Hanse, Bavaria and Jeanneau: around the 30ft mark and around 5 / 6 years old would fit our budget. This is my pension pot at stake so I want to get it right. I really would welcome advice on the strength and weaknesses of suitable boats. Also, it seems to me that most boats are sold through brokers; are there any protocols I should follow? Is the asking price sacrosanct or what sort of offer might be made without causing offence?

Years ago I spent a full year looking for my last boat before I retired, here on the North East coast like the West coast we do not lack wind or rain, I saw little pleasure in sitting in a yacht getting absolutely soaked and cold as like you I was not getting any younger.

You answer is a motor Sailer, I can sail on the tiller or sail in good weather on the helm in the dry, people who say motorsailers don't sail very well most likely have never been on a good one, also remember you and the wife have to handle the boat yourselves and your are not getting younger, get yourself a real boat for cruising and I would look at a Colvic Watson 28'-6" or a Colvic Watson 31'-6".

As for buying negotiate and negotiate its your hard earned money and always buy SUBJECT TO SURVEY !

Mike
 

TQA

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I don't know the UK market but was in a similar position a few years back looking for my forever boat to retire on.

It may be better when you are looking at 5 yr old boats but it was not uncommon to come across wildly overpriced boats in the USA and Caribbean.

A very useful resource is a website called soldboats which gives the selling prices. Unfortunately not open to the public but brokers can access it and a friendly one may let you peke over his shoulder.
 

Tranona

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If you are looking at boats from the big 4 mass producers in that size range they are all much the same - a bit like choosing a Golf/Focus/Megan etc. They are all aimed at the same broadish target market but each tries to differentiate in relatively minor ways. Have a look at a few and you will quickly get a feel for the features that appeal to you. Having just been through this process, albeit with a new rather than secondhand boat with a short list that had one boat from each of the 4, we found it quite difficult to choose out of 3 (the fourth was eliminated early on partly because it was quite a bit "smaller" than the others) and would have been happy with any of them. In the end chose a Bavaria as overall it had a better feel and was replacing an older, bigger Bavaria that had been very satisfactory. While recommendations from other owners are interesting, be aware that they are not unbiased because most owners buy boats after a lot of research and are usually in love with their purchase!

You will find that all the boats use very similar equipment and at 5 years old should not need any remedial work. As already suggested, asking prices are not fixed, but on a boat of this age there should be very little in the way of variations in condition, nor of negotiable remedial work, but look carefully at specs, particularly what might have been extras when new as adding features like electric windlasses, navigation electronics, extra sails can add considerably to cost.

As to the buying process, suggest you get a copy of the RYA book on buying secondhand boats which goes through it in detail with useful check lists. A boat of this age should have a clean set of documents as it is likely to still be with the original owner. Most boats will be private purchases (even if a broker is handling the sale) so there is no guarantee making a survey important. However, you might find a boat that is owned by a dealer having been taken in part exchange for a new boat. Some dealers selling boats in this way offer a short guarantee period which can be useful.

Now is a good time to buy as the market is very slow for all sorts of reasons, but do not expect to sellers to be falling over themselves to reduce their price to get a sale. Most owners are not forced sellers and would rather keep their boat than sell for a knockdown price.
 

rob2

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Don't worry about offending anyone. Offer a little less than what you think it's worth and only grudgingly work toward that. My mate had his brother phone a seller and offer a tenth of the asking price without survey - it certainly put him in a better light when he made a sensible offer and then reduced due to faults found in the survey! If anyone gets offended, just move on. On the other hand, don't mess people about for too long if you're not interested. We've all gone to look at a boat because it's the only local example of the marque and can't otherwise decide whether to travel to the one you're really interested in. Just make it a fairly quick viewing at a time convenenient to the seller.

As others have hinted, in a marina wives like a big open interior with all mod cons. I can assure you that once you're sailing in a chop, a more snug cabin where you don't have space to get thrown across is good. Mind you, a less beamy boat won't throw you about as much as a more modern design anyway. Large cabins and double beds are of no use at sea, but great on day boats and throwing a drinks party. Thing is, you can get on with a large cabin - you just can't use it.

Rob.
 

drakes drum

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I am about to take the plunge and buy my first cruising yacht. I have sailed and raced dinghies all my life but I have promised myself something to get me and my wife afloat in comfort. We are based on the west coast of Scotland and the budget dictates second hand. However, I don't want a project and the wife insists on comfort and reliability but appropriate for exploring this wonderful coast. I have followed some of the posts on this site and understand something of the conflict between those who advocate real boats and those happy with AWBs. I think we fall into the latter category and have been looking at Hanse, Bavaria and Jeanneau: around the 30ft mark and around 5 / 6 years old would fit our budget. This is my pension pot at stake so I want to get it right. I really would welcome advice on the strength and weaknesses of suitable boats. Also, it seems to me that most boats are sold through brokers; are there any protocols I should follow? Is the asking price sacrosanct or what sort of offer might be made without causing offence?

1/ AWBs are "real boats" - ignore the silly prejudices some people have.
2/ as an ex dinghy racer, you need something that sails well or you will be unhappy. So avoid tyhe heavy old long keel types just as much as the floating caravans. I suggest a cruiser / racer boat like (say) a Benny First.
3/ If it is your pension at stake dont think twice about offending someone. I have a pal who bought a Sadler 29 bilge keeler for 13k in decent nick. The seller started off asking 21k at which price my pals wasnt interested . So he made a silly offer expecting to have to walk away.
4/ If you can find what you want privately , buy that way. Brokers often want ridiculous levels of commission - 8% is mentioned. Obviously buying privately you and the seller can split that sum.
5/ Take your time. Boats are far easier to buy than to sell so you need to be sure. Best idea is to decide what sort of boat you want and then charter one to see if it really suits. Then buy.
 

magicol

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Thank you everyone, for such prompt and helpful replies. I wish I had posted three months ago! First the answers to questions: I am 62, fairly fit and my wife is less of an enthusiast than I am but enjoys fair weather sailing and exploring. I hope to have other crew and I am also keen to sail singlehanded at times. I have an opportunity to try out a Bavaria at the weekend and so I will go armed with all the suggestions posted here and I am looking at the possibility of a short term charter early next month in a Hanse as I have never sailed on one of these boats. I also take the point about inside steering and have not ruled this out. Also, importantly, I take the point about an older boat lovingly cared for and I have seen examples of these around Scotland's brokers. Thanks too, for the advice on the process of buying. Even with my limited experience, prices for similar boats seem to vary considerably even within the same brokerage. I had expected brokers to maintain a level playing field on boat values. It has encouraged me to look privately. And finally, yes, I will take my time. I am not about to rush into this decision.
 

ProDave

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One thing that has not been mentioned is WHERE are you going to keep the boat? Perhaps you have that already sorted out?

I did it completely wrong of course. I bought a boat, towed it home on the trailer, then set about looking at options of where to keep it. That started badly as the first harbour I enquired at I was told the waiting list was so long that it was pointless adding your name to the list. Thankfully both the 4th and 5th that i tried had space.

So you might (if you have not already done so) want to find out what's available near you. If the only space available is a drying harbour, that will influence what type of boat you buy (bilge or lifting keel)

You also need to consider winter storage crane in and out etc.

If you choose a mooring rather than a marina or harbour, then you will need a tender and think about space to store the tender or do you have to bring that home every trip?
 

Tranona

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Do not be misled into thinking private sales are necessarily at a lower price than buying through a broker. The "market" determines the price and if selling through a broker the seller pays the commission. Private sales can of course be good because you are dealing direct with the owner, but not all owners are good at selling and often have an inflated idea of what their boat is worth. Buying through a broker puts the transaction on a business footing with a proper contract that makes clear what the deal is, security of money and confidence in documentation. This is where brokers earn their keep and why both sellers and buyers use them.

You don't say what your budget is, but there is a nearly new latest model Bavaria 33 currently for sale (in Devon) at a significant discount from new. Quite a few earlier 30/31/32 models in the £50-60k range and similar Hanse, Beneteau and Jeanneau 32/33' models in the same price range.
 

Bobc

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Go for an AWB, but buy the biggest one you can afford. Don't be scared about the size, and don't let people tell you that they become a handful.

The bigger they get, the easier they get (until you start getting above 50ft, which you won't get even close to), and the extra room, weight, and sea-keeping ability makes for a much nicer way of life.

Personally I would go for a 2000-2003 36-38 footer rather than a 2006-2010 30-32 footer.
 

jwilson

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If you have sailed and raced dinghies you will want something that is good to sail: with all respect to Caer Urfa and the many undoubted virtues of Colvic Watsons, they are just not that good sailing boats, especially to windward. The more expensive Fishers are much the same - they go to windward very well under engine. If you do decide on a motor-sailer, something like this http://www.yachtsnet.co.uk/boats/c27215/c27215.htm will sail fairly well. You can't buy that one though - the new owner sailed her away yesterday!

On the south coast I'd suggest you look at modernish production cruisers, just as you describe, but for the often gusty winds off the hills in Scotland there are virtues in slightly older production cruisers, or cruiser-racers. The broad sterns of most recent AWBs give lovely aft double cabins, but you pay a price in early broaching as the boat heels, and the broad transom lifts the rudder out of the water.

Once you decide what you want, pick the very best example of the type you can find, even if it costs a bit more than other tattier/less well equipped examples, and get a survey.
 

Bobc

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The broad sterns of most recent AWBs give lovely aft double cabins, but you pay a price in early broaching as the boat heels, and the broad transom lifts the rudder out of the water.

That's a bit of a sweeping statement isn't it? It's true of some of the newer ones, but there are a lot of production boats with very conservative lines that don't do that at all (the older J&J design Bavarias for example).
 

blackbeard

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Thank you for your very well thought out posts.
As others have said - don't be in a hurry! time is on your side. Use the rest of the season to try out as many boats as possible. If you join a club they will probably run a crewing list, and might also have moorings (as you will have gathered, the mooring issue is crucial), and there will be plenty of people to give advice. There are also clubs which run their own boats which are available for members' use (usually with an experienced Skipper and Mate aboard).
On type of boat - opinions vary as to which is best, some are prepared to swear till all is blue that the Cornish Shrimper (at about 19 feet overall) is the ideal, others will go for something larger. (My own is 25', bilge keels). You need to choose what is right for you, and there is no telling until you try.

Two other points.
Retired people rarely have as much spare time as they expect; and:
You will need, or be able to rapidly acquire, basic boat DIY skills. The maintenance-free boat is yet to be launched (except, possibly, for the Laser dinghy). This very forum will give an indication of what is likely to be needed. Don't assume that new+shiny= trouble free.
 

Ric

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I'd choose your size on what you can afford to maintain. A good rule of thumb is that maintenance doubles very ten feet of LOA. My 31ft boat has averaged out at €150 per month to maintain over twelve years of maintenance. That includes renewing the sails twice. I do most maintenance myself, but have sometimes used the yard to do antifouling if I am too busy. On top of that, I have spent a lot more on improvements to the boat, on average another €150 per month. Sometimes the line between "maintenance" and "improvement" is a bit blurred - e.g. is a new chart plotter "maintenance" if the old one still works? Anyway, you get my drift!

As others have said, a bigger boat is more comfortable and faster. But there is no fun in owning a bigger boat if you can't afford to maintain it and so sail it around with clapped out sails and rigging with barnacles all over the hull.

I've lost track of the number of marina neighbours who have bought boats then sold them after a couple of years because they underestimated the running costs.
 

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