Our (less than awesome) Sailboat Buying Experience

Leanne and Kevin on their 2006 Fountaine Pajot Eleuthera 60

As of today, we are the proud owners of a beautiful 60-foot sailing catamaran; a 2006 Fountaine Pajot Eleuthera 60. This post is an uncensored summary of our experience, including the good and the bad. There are many YouTube videos and blog posts floating around the internet that made the boat purchasing process look fun and easy. We are busy entrepreneurs, with customers and readers whom we love – and can’t simply abandoned to focus on purchasing a boat. Our experience was anything but enjoyable and rather chaotic – The experience may have been less stressful if we could have ignored our day-to-day responsibilities for a few weeks, but that wasn’t an opinion. We are happy that this part of our boat life experience is done.

We are writing this post to help others prepare for what sprung out and surprised us, but more importantly for ourselves to look back on and… laugh.

Who we worked with

After watching the Gone With The Wynns videos, we contacted Just Catamarans and were connected with Larry Shaffer as our broker. Once we found the boat, the purchase process and registration was initiated by Just Catamarans and handled by YachtCloser. For insurance, we worked with a couple of brokers to get quotes and ended up working with Hugo from Hanham Insurance Agency. Hugo was exceptional and came to our rescue on the day of closing. Kurt from Pantaenius was another broker we worked with, he was very organized and quick to reply, but the policy didn’t provide sufficient storm coverage for us. Trip Vawter, coordinated by Just Catamarans, was our surveyor and our boat was hauled out of the water by Rybovich.

Chaos and frustration

We don’t have anything to compare our experience with, other than what’s on social media — so our experience may be the best experience possible or the worst; but it’s probably somewhere in between. In hindsight, the biggest mistake we made was to rely on others. We also, for some reason, expected a clearly defined process that we would follow. Instead of trying to describe what we mean, here are some examples of things that caught us off-guard.

Example 1

With the final payment sent to YachtCloser, in the middle of our 14-hour-a-day road trip to Florida, we receive a call from Lisa at YachtCloser letting us know that we will likely need to have the boat hauled out again. Why? Because the boat exceeds a certain length, and if we want the boat registered in Canada, a tonnage survey is required. The cost... at least $5,000 USD. -- Thankfully Lisa was able to find someone who could do the survey without having the vessel hauled out and we "only" paid $1,025 USD.

Example 2

Seemingly endless "we are sorry, we can't insure you" replies got us sweating until hours before taking possession. The two main factors that made insurance difficultly were (1) our lack of boating experience, and (2) the size of the boat. After having owned a motorhome that was too big for many places, we made sure to explicitly confirm with our broker that getting a bigger catamaran wouldn't put as at a disadvantage over finding a shorter boat -- well, we should have done more research ourselves.

Example 3

We had to rush to Canada to initiate the wire, sending the final payment to YachtCloser. Minutes after we completed the paperwork at the bank, we sent the receipts to Madison at YachtCloser. No reply acknowledging the receipt of the email. We followed-up a few days later, asking if the wire arrived, no reply. We found out from her colleague, days later, that the wire had arrived.

We tried to get a hold of someone other than our broker at Just Catamarans, but none of our calls were returned (other than by our broker). The responsibility for it all falls squarely on us. At the end of the day, we are the ones who wanted to buy a boat — we are responsible for the experience.

Our tips

Clearly, we know almost nothing about buying a boat, but if we had to do it again, here are 3 things we would do differently.

Follow-up often (and then some)

Don’t wait and hope to get a reply, follow-up until you have what you’re after. We quickly learned that unless we constantly follow-up, things would be even more chaotic than they ended up being.

Example

We chatted with Just Catamarans about getting a number of items added to our catamaran, including solar and lithium-ion batteries. As next-steps we agreed that Just Catamarans would provide an itemized quote. We've already followed up, no quote yet... so we'll follow-up until we get that quote.

Communicate clearly and set expectations

Avoid using acronyms and avoid referencing other emails; include everything that is needed, even if you’ve already provided it. Set clear expectations as to when, where, who, how…

Example

We didn't push hard enough to coordinate the day of our survey with our broker, as a result, we spent 30 minutes running around the marina, trying to find our broker.

Always get a second and third opinion

We quickly learned that everyone we met had an opinion, and often, it was an opinion based on incomplete information. Everyone provided their opinion with the best of intentions — but that doesn’t make it a good opinion. There are plenty of forums such as Cruisers Forum and r/boating on Reddit to get some additional feedback.

Example

The selling broker made a comment regarding the dinghy, which was not part of the deal, being a dinghy we didn't want anyway. It turns out the dinghy was almost brand new, in amazing shape, and we ended up getting it after doing some research and chatting with the owners.

What’s next?

We decided to swap out the existing batteries with lithium-ion batteries, primarily to maximize the output of the solar panels we are also adding and also to reduce the weight. So far, our experience with the Just Catamarans service team has been outstanding – Rafael and Jennifer have been very helpful, welcoming, and easy to communicate with.

The other big item on our list is… learning how to sail. We reached out to Blue Water Sailing School and booked a week full-time learning on our own boat.

We will make sure to provide an update.

Shout Out

Max-Prop Classic from PYI

We are always learning and heavily rely on manufacturers of parts to help out by answering our questions about their products. Most of the time our questions fall on deaf ears, but sometimes we are thrown back by the amount of support we get.

We are trying to figure out how we can get the blades of our propeller to move into a position where there is less drag, while we are sailing (this is called feathering). Our props are two Max-Prop Classic, so we reached out to PYI, the manufacturer in Washington state – and WOW, their support was incredible. Ben, the person who replied to our email was very helpful, sending documents and links to how-to videos. Thank you Ben!

The Two Explorkers 2018-10-01T18:11:14+00:00

2 Comments

  1. Michelle Schroeder-Gardner October 5, 2018 at 12:02 pm - Reply

    This is such a great read! We bought our catamaran in May, and experienced many of the same things (but with different companies!). So, that is just funny – must be common.

    • The Two Explorkers October 5, 2018 at 12:09 pm - Reply

      Hi Michelle, it’s nice to hear that we aren’t alone and it’s not uncommon. We still get fooled by social media sometimes and momentarily forget that “if it seems too good to be true it probably is”.

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