The purpose of this thread is to share my experience about another upgrade process (or I shall I say an attempt to upgrade) and provide some useful info, and alert my fellow boaters on some things to avoid. After watching the boating market and compiling a list of potential boats that met our criteria I made contact with the sellers/brokers to get the feel what I’m up against. We all know that prices are all over the place, so prior making travelling plans and looking at any boat I first have preliminary agreements and try to negotiate the price to be within a range that fits what I’m willing to pay for a boat. We had a separate thread on this and some people didn’t agree to this approach, but it’s my personal method. Once I know we’re within the range the rest is required detailed work, including performing personal inspection and sea trial. After looking at few 2000 and 2001 models we also looked at one 1999 that was presented as “in MINT condition”. Well, this was just another case when everyone’s view of a mint condition is very different and in some cases we walked off a boat after 5-10 min. So, with some level of disappointment we decided to include 2002 in our criteria and found one that was a good candidate. The only concern I had that it was a sale with bank involved. Not a REPO, but a short sale. But, I figured that as long as the boat is in good shape and the price is right that’s what matters the most. Here’s some information on the boat and the broker: http://www.yachtworld.com/core/listing/pl_boat_full_detail.jsp?slim=broker&boat_id=2003691&ybw=&hosturl=sovereign&&ywo=sovereign&&units=Feet&access=Public&listing_id=76276&url=&hosturl=sovereign&&ywo=sovereign& HULL NO: SERP54575102 ENGINES: ENGINE MODEL NO. 6CTA 8.3 M3 450C (430HP) ENGINE SERIAL NO. PORT 46146406, STARBOARD 46146951 [FONT= ]The Marina info: [/FONT] [FONT= ]Harborage Yacht Club and Marina[/FONT] [FONT= ]415 NW Flagler Ave.[/FONT] [FONT= ]Stuart[FONT= ], FL 34994[/FONT][/FONT] Selling Broker I worked with: Mike Ballard During my last conversation with the broker he assured me that this is one of the cleanest and well maintained 2002 the market with all items in the ad being true. This boat is in Stuart FL and he said that not to worry about travelling, because we won’t be disappointed after we see her. His most comforting statement was “I stand by my word as I’ll have to face you upon your arrival”. So, we booked the flight and went to see the boat. Upon arrival, our first impression was satisfying as this boat was definitely the best 400DB we’ve seen so far. However, we were faced with two surprises: The canvas appeared in very used shape with fuggy panels. We were disappointed b/c the ad clearly stated “new canvas with strataglass”. After performing basic engine room inspection I found that the last service was done in January 2008 (yes, almost 3 years ago). The first thought was that we have two warning flags and if we can’t find some solution and get comfort level we have to back off the deal before investing any more time and money. Well, after seen a serious buyer that just flew 1300 miles the broker apologized about the canvas and said that his firm will contribute $4K to the replacement cost. I thought that it was fair enough and now the only item I had to get to the bottom of was the true maintenance history. This was the time when broker had to confess and explain to me that the boat was at his company’s possession for the last year. Apparently, the owner wasn’t thinking clear and had her for sale at the skyrocketing price for over a year (since spring of 2009). After the bank started chasing him, then he finally realized that he’s got to drop the price to have her sold. This is when he took the original name “7 Day Weekend” off and relisted the boat as “new to the market” dropping $70K off the price. Note to the buyers, this is another sales tactic to watch out for. So, at this point everything above still doesn’t help me with the maintenance history, but the broker says that the owner has tons of maintenance records and it’s just a matter of time to provide them. The broker was able to stop me from walking away by producing a log of receipts showing that while they had the boat, they had a captain/mechanic who would go through all the systems (including running the engines and genny for 20-30min) and make sure that all is in working order. This was a monthly service the owner paid for, including a diver to maintain the bottom condition. At this time we were faced with the decision to keep going or walk away. Considering the fact that we’ve got canvas issue resolved and now we know that the boat wasn’t just a sitting dock, but rather somewhat cared for we decided to keep going and see what the next step will bring. The next obvious step was performance test, which tuned out to be another puzzle. The weather was perfect, 85 degrees with very light wind. We were in the local spot on ICW where the water was like a glass. The boat was very light on fuel (1/4th), no water or waste. She produced only top speed of 26.5kts @2600rpms. At that time I wasn’t sure 100% if those Cummins were 2600 or 3000 RPM rated. Based on my homework I thought they were 2600, but a mechanic I spoke to said that without checking by serial numbers we can’t say for sure. According to the SR specs the boat should be running in the range of 35-39MPH @ 2600rpm with these 6CTAs, which was a clear indication that the boat performed well under the speed range. This was my new concern to which the broker responded that they’ll be hauling the boat to clean the bottom and I would be able to test her again the following day. Sure enough she was hauled out and we could see enough bottom growth to create the drag. So, here comes the 2nd test run and she picked up 100RPMs and gained 1.5-2kts. The best numbers I saw 28.5kts(32.7mph) @2700rpms. At this time I knew that if these are 2600RPMs engines, having new bottom paint I have room to play with the props, providing that by loading her with all the fuel, water and gear I won’t loose all 100 extra RPMs she’s got to spare at the moment. It was another positive indication to keep going. Here comes another puzzle, when the genny was fired up it was running loud and making some extra knocking noise. I knew that Westerbeke generators run louder than Kohler ones, but this one just didn’t sound right. Having lack of experience with diesels and WB gennies I knew that professional opinion will be necessary here, but the extra noise sounded like a valve knocking noise. The broker advised to speak with his mechanic who was the person performing the monthly check routine on the boat. I also told the broker that due to the fact that the boat wasn’t used for the last year, I won’t proceed with the survey until I see comforting oil sample results. The mechanic came by to take the oil samples and said that the extra noise from the generator was nothing more than a leaking intake air filter gasket, which is 15min job to replace. He put a rag over it and the noise was somewhat gone. So, I figure that I’ll assume that this is the case for now and will wait for the oil results. My next step was to get as much as maintenance records I could and determine how much was really done and what’s due/overdue. It took these guys sometime to produce what they called complete historical records. Well, in reality it turned out to be about 50 pages of BS (some small stuff and one or two bottom paint jobs) and only couple of pages showing that generator was serviced in 2008. Zero info on the mains and the rest was the receipts of the monthly checkup service. No records were found for 2005, 2006 and 2007. Sea Ray produced good report that the boat had no recalls and Cummins also came back clean. All the info from boathistoryreport.com came back also clean. So, here come the oil sample results that show no red flags for the mains, but generator has some kind of a problem that require professional mechanic to investigate. At this time I compiled a list of all of my findings and concerns and present them to the broker. I also expressed a concern that this was my first time dealing with the bank-involved boat and I wanted to know what we’re up against. His response was that this is nothing very different from a regular sale and all the bank needs is the official survey report. The owner and the bank won’t listen to me or the broker, regardless how knowledgeable we might be, so if we want to move on we must proceed with the survey. He said that if we present a solid case with list of, let’s say $15K, “Mr. bank” might comeback and say “ok, we’ll give you $6K-$7K break to make the deal happen”. After performing intensive research on everything I found so far, I saw no extreme red flags other than unknown issue with the generator. To comfort me, the broker offered to contribute a full working day of his mechanic to go over the stuff I will ask him to do. Finally, considering that it looks like we worked out most of the big ticket items (at the time), we made the decision to commit and go with the survey. I figured that as long as I find top class surveyors to help me inspect her and answer some puzzling history on the engines and generator, providing the hull is dry we may have good chance to proceed with the purchase. I will leave out some details in regards to my shocking experience finding the surveyors, but I will share the fact that I found an outstanding hull surveyor who exceeded my expectations. Here’s his info: Blake Stahl (561) 722-1874 (Cell) (631)-946-0033 (Office) http://marinesurveyorgroup.com/about/ Blake also recommended to me a local certified Cummins dealer ACE MARINE DIESEL, INC. who sent me a person specialized in surveying and delivering boats (Matt 772-564-7055). I will simply say that Blake and Matt (Cummins mechanic) did an outstanding job and were worth every penny. At the end of the day I knew everything about the boat. These guys were able to find that the boat had a grounding about 5yrs ago and had damaged port side running gear, which required transmission replacement. The strut was not 100% aligned creating extra ware on the cutlass bearings. Blake was extremely thorough and was also able to find that the bow thruster was an after market installation that was done poorly. After spending extra time analyzing it we found that it had a very tiny leak. I always played back broker’s statement about presenting a good case with official report, which should make the owner and the bank face the reality and make necessary price adjustments. Well, needless to say the “figure of speech $15K number” broker used turned out to be $32,000 in reality to cover everything. Just for mechanical items the estimate was $13K, which included $3.5K for “REBUILD CYLINDER HEAD-CYLINDER #2 PROBLEM WITH INTAKE VALVE”. This is instead of 15min job broker’s mechanic told me. This is a classic example why it’s worth paying extra for mechanical surveyor besides just the hull surveyor. The rest of the $9,500 (on mechanical side) was for recommended service items where only couple items could have been postponed while majority was overdue since the last service was done in 2008. At this point I presented the case to the broker and said it’s his turn now to convince the owner and the bank and make them adjust the price. To make a long story short, weeks later the broker’s last words were “sorry, but my plan didn’t work and the owner is not willing to drop the price much to compensate the repairs, except for having our mechanic to fix generator and the bow thruster tunnel”. If you guys recall, this is the same guy who couldn’t tell the difference between $50 vs. $3,500 in generator repairs in his analyses. I know that anything is fixable and I personally can do a lot of the work myself, but I wasn’t planning to spend tons of money and end up with a pile of expensive projects on the new to me boat. This is the time when I said enough is enough and requested the refund of my 10% deposit. In the end, this turned out to be a very expensive learning experience. But, I felt more comfortable walking away from what one of my friends called “a pig with a lipstick on” vs. dealing with all the problems on this boat. In addition, I always reminded myself that I have a huge list of things that were found, but there could be always something that we (surveyors and I) still didn’t discover. As part of the deal we were also planning to keep the boat in FL over the winter and take some trips, but with the amount of work involved I was sure that most of the vacation time would require fixing the boat instead of enjoying it. I hope that this story will help some of CRS members keeping themselves out of similar troubles. But, this was a good lesson and reminder how brokers work and how they try to paint the picture where everything looks positive to suck you in deeper and deeper thinking that if a buyer just spent over a month of his time, $5K-$6K between travelling back and forth and the survey, he’s locked in. In this case the broker was wrong. Obviously, I left tons of details out of this long enough post, but if anyone has specific questions, feel free to post them here or PM me and I’ll be happy to share all the info. Happy boating, Alex.