Finding The Perfect Boat To Buy

No one can tell you what the perfect boat is going to be. In the end, the perfect boat is the one that works best for you on all levels. After all, owning a boat is not something that most people need, it is a non-essential purchase so more time tends to go into the research phase. It is also quite a bit of work to own a boat. If you simply cannot hush that voice in your head that says you must own a boat, well then it would be best to put your search parameters on paper. It goes without saying but I can imagine you already have some idea of what type of boat you want.

In my case, being 27 when I decided I needed to spend all my pennies on a sailboat, I started with price. I set the absolute maximum I could spend. (Side note- I definitely started with looks EVERY time I searched for boats, but knew I would have to set other search parameters). When setting that number, remember to have a separate dollar amount for what can be spent getting the boat up to snuff and operating, especially if looking into a boat that needs mechanical or fiberglass work.

I also knew I wanted a manageable cruiser big enough for overnights and cocktail cruises with friends; had to be fiberglass, diesel engine preferred, good stability characteristics and good sailing performance. Above all, I needed a boat with a classic looking profile and traditional details. Looking back on it, it is a little scary how obsessed I was with aesthetics.

I spent most of my time searching on yachtworld, Soundings Magazine, Boattrader , but I actually found what I was looking for in one of the local free publications in the Northeast; in my case it was Points East Magazine but those magazines are usually in all coastal regions and are usually a great way to find a quality for sale by owner boat, or used boats in brokerage. Some other examples include Latitude38 (West Coast), SpinSheet (Chesapeake Bay region) and in the back pages of magazines such as Sail, Sailing and Cruising World. There are usually classified ads for boats in online sailing forums as well. Ah, and we cannot forget the gem that is Craigslist, if anything some of the posts are good for a laugh.

Once I had found some local boats that fit my parameters, I set about emailing and calling with questions and making appointments and going to see boats. Check out Looking at Used Fiberglass Sailboats.



No business browsing for boats…

And Yet I found myself looking at boats for sale every day. I should repeat, I had zero business browsing as if I would just “click to buy” like I do on Amazon. I was not a yacht broker, and I didn’t have oodles of extra money just lying around in a boat fund. This yachtworld habit, which I will hear by refer to as the “YWH” started after I graduated from college in 2008.

I had always liked boats, sailing especially, but my experience was launch driving, teaching kids to sail dinghies, cruising to beaches in Boston Whalers and racing on any kind of boat I could find a ride on. I had never cruised a boat, and my parents didn’t own a boat big enough to sleep on. I just knew I liked boats, and wanted to sail more, and really get into bigger boats. I enjoyed walking boat shows then, and I still do! Again, I browsed boats for sale online as frequently as normal people check the weather, but I had no business doing so. I was just a tire-kicker.

Fast forward a few years and I at least had worked some jobs as crew on boats that earned me experience, and some money. I also attended the Landing School of Yacht Design, which was intended to get me launched into a yacht design career, but given the economic climate of 2010 when I graduated from that program, it did not pan out as black and white as it was supposed to. However I did get a job at a world wide sailboat hardware and rigging manufacturer brand, Ronstan, where I was able to put my technical skills to use and think about owning a boat full time again. The YWH picked up where it left off, and spread across printed publications which feature brokerage ads in the back. I savored the back pages of Soundings Magazine because I so loved the brokerage ads, and I thought I might find my boat. I never did find my boat there, but it did help me to understand the reality of how much it would cost to not only purchase the boat, but then pay for all the other expenses that come along with ownership. I also learned that the boat for me was going to be a simply designed sloop, with a classic looking sheer line. It was an ad for a Hinckley Pilot Boat (an early 35 foot Sparkman & Stevens design) and the Bermuda 40 which turned my search in the direction of what are commonly referred to as “plastic classics”, classic wooden yacht lines built in fiberglass, usually single skin glass throughout.


Hinckley Pilot 35 from