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BigLake411.com • View topic - For anyone buying a used boat

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For anyone buying a used boat

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For anyone buying a used boat

Postby gerald » Fri Jan 21, 2011 10:13 pm

BUYER BEWARE! ...................... This is something I saved to help others.



I want to share my unfortunate story with other boat enthusiasts in an effort to help protect those who are looking to purchase a used boat. Life is too short.. learn from others’ mistakes rather than making them all on your own. The point I want to emphasize when purchasing a used boat is “Buyer Beware!” and pass along to readers a few suggestions on how to better protect yourself from unknowingly purchasing a previously sunk or otherwise damaged vessel.

My story begins following Hurricane Katrina during which I lost my sport fishing vessel. I have been an avid boater on the Gulf Coast since I was a kid living in Alabama enjoying the riches of life on the water. Boating and sport fishing played a major enjoyable role in my life to that point. Following the storm, I contacted a yacht broker working along the Coast and set out to find a boat to replace the one that was lost. Through conversations, the broker directed me to a boat in another state, and I went to look and see if it was the boat for me. We spent the next few weeks working out the details to purchase the vessel, i.e. purchase agreement, personal inspection, engine and mechanical surveys, sea trials, etc. Once these steps were covered, everything seemed to indicate that the boat was perfectly fine and that there were no major issues with it. I purchased the boat and took it back home.

In the next few weeks that followed, I had work performed on the vessel in the boatyard which turned out to reveal the most shocking fact about the boat. I had been sold a boat that had previously been sunk and totaled! The world seemed to stop in an instant and then the questions started to play out in my head. Who would do such a thing, who knows that it sank, who can I trust to find the answers? The broker came out to see the hidden waterline and was able to verify through an abstract of title that it had indeed sunk and been sold as salvage. For me, that was the worse thing that I could have been told.

As an owner/operator of a sport fishing vessel, this is a sport that requires a personal and financial commitment, always keeping safety as the top priority. If you have a problem offshore, it is not like calling AAA and hanging out on the side of the road until the tow truck arrives. Things can go wrong out there and people can get hurt! For me, the problems with a sunken vessel are the safety and reliability questions that will always play out in your mind while offshore. No safety, no confidence, no fun!
The aftermath of this discovery launched into a legal nightmare that would continue for over two years. During this time I committed myself to find out what had happened and what I should have done differently. As a result, here are my 10 suggestions to share that may help someone in his or her efforts to purchase a used boat. Buyer Beware!

1. FIND OUT WHICH STATES HAVE A TITLE LAW ON VESSELS. I know that Alabama does not. If the state does not have a title law, you are potentially putting yourself at risk to purchase a used vessel there due to possible gaps in the boat’s chain of ownership. States that have title laws keep complete records of the vessel’s ownership history which can help reveal whether the boat has ever been totaled, sunk, or otherwise significantly damaged. This makes it more difficult to lose a damaged vessel in the mix.

2. BEWARE -- INSURANCE COMPANIES ARE IN THE BUSINESS OF TOTALING DAMAGED VESSELS. They take possession and then resell them through salvage companies to individuals who often undertake to fix them up as projects. This in turn places vessels in large numbers back into circulation without proof or records on who repaired the vessel or if qualified personnel made the repairs to yachting standards. The repairs may not be fit for service and can place you at risk. In my experience, the boat while appearing perfectly normal aesthetically, had actually been significantly submerged in salt water for several days, totaled, sold for salvage, so-called “repaired” under the direction of a man without any boating experience whatsoever and sold to me as a quality used vessel for offshore fishing. Vessels that are totaled by insurance companies are not documented as vehicles are required to be. The best way to help catch this is to directly do your homework and check every detail before and during the purchase.

3. BE CAREFUL IN PLACING TOO MUCH RELIANCE ON ORAL OR WRITTEN REPRESENTATIONS MADE ABOUT THE CONDITION OF THE VESSEL. Make certain you verify first-hand all information on the vessel prior to completing the sale. Keep in mind that the sales documents often disclaim representations/warranties as to the condition of the vessel in addition to selling it “AS IS.”

4. INSIST ON A FULL WRITTEN “DAMAGE DISCLOSURE” SIGNED BY THE SELLER BEYOND ANY LANGUAGE AS TO THE BOAT’S CONDITION CONTAINED IN THE FORM PURCHASE AGREEMENT. Do this on the front end of the process to hopefully insure that any damage issues have been raised and brought to light among all parties prior to moving forward in the purchase.

5. VERIFY THE HISTORY OF THE VESSEL YOURSELF WITH AN ABSTRACT OF TITLE PRIOR TO COMPLETING THE SALE! This document can act as a guide to track the prior owners of a vessel, which may include a salvage company. An abstract can be ordered through the Coast Guard Documentation Center for $25.00 and will provide the most accurate vessel history. All you need to do is to mail or fax a request to the Coast Guard with the vessel name and Coast Guard Documentation number. Once you receive the abstract, call the prior owners to find out as much information as possible on the vessel. Ask questions about the vessel such as has it sustained damage due to fire?, has it ever been submerged?, ever been struck by lightning?, has it ever run aground?, were there any insurance claims on the boat while you owned it?, etc. If you do not, you are putting your self at risk! When checking the abstract look for salvage or insurance companies on the abstract, Do your homework and familiarize yourself with the names of as many companies that handle boat salvage as possible. If I had known about and obtained an abstract of title and called the prior owners to collect history on the boat, then I very likely would have caught that the boat had sunk and been totaled. I wish I knew that then, if so you would not be reading this now!

6. THINK LONG AND HARD BEFORE YOU SIGN ANY DOCUMENTATION THAT CONTAINS AN ARBITRATION AGREEMENT. Protect yourself at all times and keep all of your rights intact. Arbitration is definitely not there for your benefit and can hinder your potential for recovering losses if harm or wrongdoing has been cast upon your purchase!

7. READ ALL OF THE DOCUMENTATION CAREFULLY AND IDEALLY HAVE A LAWYER REVIEW BEFORE YOU SIGN ANYTHING!! I signed a purchase agreement on the front end to lock in the boat purchase price prior to inspecting it which is normally the practice when purchasing vessels through a broker. That documentation can contain legal language that may put your best interests in jeopardy.

8. BE VERY CAREFUL IN CHOOSING YOUR SURVEYOR. Make certain to pick a surveyor that is "SAMS” or "NAMS" certified. Verify that they have insurance and ask them to provide proof. Also, don’t assume that the surveyor will necessarily catch every issue, including whether the boat has previously been sunk or otherwise damaged. In my experience, the surveyor failed to identify the signs of the prior sinking and as it turns out was completely uninsured. Once we took legal action, there was nothing to recover against due to his mistake!

9. FULLY UNDERSTAND THE INTERESTS OF THE BROKER(S). Make certain if there are two yacht brokers involved in the sale that they disclose in writing which party in the transaction they represent, which companies they represent, how much commission they are making on the sale, and if they are working for the same company. If not, that can create a conflict of interest and put you at risk.

10. TAKE YOUR TIME. The broker(s) may tell you that they have other people ready to make offers, etc to get you to pull the trigger. Pay attention to every detail and don’t feel guilty about asking probing questions and insisting on having them all answered to your satisfaction! At the end of the day, if it all goes south, you may be stuck with the damaged boat and serious buyer’s remorse.

In closing remember, take your time, consider the source of the representations, do the homework yourself, and pay attention to every detail! I know for some of you out there this is nothing new. I hope for others such as newcomers to boating, it will be a useful tool to help guide you to a happy boating experience, which is the unfortunate opposite result of my nightmare and the horrible sinking feeling I now experience every day when thinking about boating.
.
Friday, March 14, 2008 @ 7:15:36 PM
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Re: For anyone buying a used boat

Postby Ray » Sat Jan 22, 2011 9:05 am

It has always been said to "never buy a used boat without an engine survey and a hull survey".
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Re: For anyone buying a used boat

Postby gerald » Sat Jan 22, 2011 11:27 am

gerald

 
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Re: For anyone buying a used boat

Postby Ray » Sat Jan 22, 2011 1:27 pm

There are independent boat inspectors. They know what to look for. Stringer and bulkheads, they have moisture meters to see if water may have migrated into places where it isn't supposed to be. This water could freeze in the winter and bust open the hull or stringer, causing lots of damage. Also check under each inspection plate. Look for soft decks. Tank cleanliness, sewer systems, electrical... ect.
They also do lots of non destructive testing.
For a center console, most could look your self. Just need to know what to look for.
If it is an outboard engine, they pretty much plug into a computer and see how the engine has been ran, then take oil samples and compression tests.
For an inboard gas or diesel engine, they look at a lot of stuff like exhaust manifold thickness, riser plugging, oil samples, compression, heat exchangers, temp. gun surveys at different areas of the engine and manifolds to check for high temps., cracked or rotten hoses that could cause the boat to sink. ect.

I am a boat fanatic. I love playing with old boats. I beat and banged on a lot of old boats in my lifetime, just looking for one to get cheap, fix up and sell for a profit.
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