As you know by now, Vacilando is for sale. We’ve had some people come see her this past weekend and as Melody and I were “sprucing” up, we laughed about all the times we had gone to look at boats and found that most were amazingly cluttered, comically dirty or down right misrepresented.
Whenever people come aboard our boat they almost always say, “Wow… you live on this full time? Where’s all your stuff?” We love hearing that. It’s the highest compliment because the one thing we can’t stand is clutter. If it doesn’t fit, we don’t need it.
We have no hammocks full of crap hanging in the v-berth. No stacks of papers on shelves or clothes packed into the quarter berth. We don’t even have a quarter berth for that reason!
I remember on one occasion flying from Nashville to Miami, renting a car and driving to Key Largo to look at a Westerly that looked really nice and was listed at a great price. Red Flag! When I finally found the little marina and met the guy on the dock, my heart sank. I realized at once, I’d be leaving in about three minutes.
The photos online had obviously been taken several years before and what he had done was refit one side of the boat! He painted, and did the brightwork on ONE SIDE. The other side looked as if it just survived Hurricane Andrew… barely survived. When I pressed him and said he owed me about six-hundred bucks for the wasted trip, he was shocked and perplexed that I couldn’t see the potential.
As Mel and I laughed at that stroll down memory lane, she said, “You should do a blog post on how NOT to sell your boat!” Well, here it is.
Tips On How To Sell Your Boat (And How Not To)
Attention all you dreamers, wanderlusters and wanna-be pirates, take heed. I know exactly what you are thinking and experiencing as you sit at your desk dreaming of the day the kids move out, you can sell the house, tell your boss to shove it and toss off the dock lines, bound for sandy beaches and drinks shaded by tiny umbrellas.
I, too, have spent countless hours at my desk looking at boat porn, crafting my list of the perfect vessel to carry us away. And I was shocked and amazed at the listings that I found online from owners and brokers alike. Some made me laugh hysterically at the liberal use of terms like, almost bristol and sail ready.
Look, Mr. Boat Seller, if you can’t pick up your Tommy Bahama boxer shorts before you snap a photo of your v-berth, do you really expect me to believe you changed the oil in the diesel at regular intervals?
If you take a photo of your galley and in that photo we see what you are preparing for lunch, i.e., the nasty cutting board with a dirty knife, paper towel roll laying on the stove and a Publix grocery bag hanging off the companionway ladder, do I really think you’ve lubed the thru hulls and checked the engine zinc?
Pet owners… we might be amongst the worst boat owners out there. Why? Cause we think pets are people. Some of us are worse than others… just sayin’… I’ll leave it there. But, if you have cats on board and they “do their business” in a litter box, it smells. Trust me on this. It does. I’m sorry. I don’t wish to hurt your feelings. but cat poop and pee stinks. If you are selling your boat, leaving your cats tootsie rolls in the litter box does not make me wanna buy it. I’m proud of Bootsy… yes I am… but I will pass on your Tayana.
Google “Sailboat for Sale” and spend a few moments looking through the listings. It’s comical, really… and quite frightening. Melody and I spend many hours walking around marinas on a sunny Saturday or Sunday with coffee in hand and our faithful Jet in tow, just looking at boats. Yes, we are in the market for our forever boat but I just love sailboats and could spend every day studying keel configurations, rudder design, cabin layouts and rigging set-ups.
A couple weeks ago we drove down to Ft. Pierce to see one of the boats on our short list. They only made 63 of them and most of them are overseas but this one happened to be an hour away and the price was right. Red flag… right!
The listing said, “Ready to go cruising! All she needs is your stuff!” Of course, I can look at photos and see that she was not quite so but… she was close and we wanted to see her in person to get a feel for the actual space and decide if she should remain on the short list or be crossed off. Crossing boats off the list is just as important as adding them. This particular boat had obviously been on the hard for a couple years at least. I won’t go into the litany of repairs needed but suffice it to say, she was not ready to go. She was ready for a complete re-fit.
How To Quickly Decipher Boat Listing Descriptions
I decided that there was a certain code to boat listings and here are some helpful hints to decipher some key phrases commonly used.
If the listing says, …all she needs is some cosmetic attention, that means she needs a deck re-core, toe rails replaced, hardware re-bedded, a bottom peel and barrier coat.
The engine ran when parked really means the diesel is seized up and needs a total rebuild or better yet, chuck it overboard… it’s an anchor now.
My favorite? …all she needs is some updating. Translation: the cushions are old and musty, neither the head nor the faucets work, a family of gypsies is living lazarettes, the electrical system is a complete rat’s nest and when you pull the headliner to run those new wires, the mold behind it will look like you’ve been cultivating your very own blue cheese crumbles! Mmmm… get some romaine lettuce, some red onion and lots of tissues because you’re gonna cry long and hard as you write those checks.
People, if you wanna sell your boat, pick up your panties, tidy up the galley and if you list your awesome nav station as a strong selling point, let us see the nav station, please.
Even if you don’t wanna clean up entirely, here’s a tip… when you photograph the port side settee, move all the shit currently on that settee to the starboard side, take the picture and then… move all the shit on the starboard side back to the port side, etc… etc… Get it?
Clean the head! C’mon… clean it. Most likely you haven’t done it in months, it needs it. Put your toothbrush, Viagra and assorted creams in a cubby and if you absolutely must include your bath towel in the photo, maybe… fold it.
Do’s and Don’ts of Boat Listings
Here are a couple examples of what works and what doesn’t when you want to sell your boat.
This does not work:
This works… (but we could be biased!)
This doesn’t work.
And this definitely works.
Good luck people!
mark bratz says
Hey Melody and Chris: This is a GREAT article. As you know, we just got back from Florida where we took delivery of our new (well, new to us) boat. We bought it sight unseen. Sure, lots of pictures and we did hire a surveyor . . . but we hadn’t ever put eyeballs on the boat.
PHEW, it turned out fine. We love it. 90% positive surprises and 10% bad surprises. Yep, we’re in the market for a brand new Genoa. Any suggestions?
But I do have to laugh at your description of all of the ads and looking online. Yep, lots of time with “boat porn” for both Shawnae and I. Frequently at work, I’d get an email saying “hey babe, check this one out”. I’d write back “hey, you’re supposed to be working . . . but cool boat. What do you think?” ha ha ha.
Great post – made me smile.
Thanks Mark! Hope you two are doing great! What did you end up buying and where are you keeping her now! It was a fun piece to write with exaggerations and all!
mark bratz says
Hello Chris: We ended up buying a Catalina 320 (2001 model year). We love it – absolutely LOVE it. Things worked out very very well. The broker was a useless jerk and about as helpful as a 3-legged toad. But, despite that, I think we lucked out and have a GREAT boat.
It was very scary buying it without actually seeing it. Yep, we hired a surveyor, but WE didn’t get to see it.
Lots of surprises (of course), but 90% of the surprises were good, and 10% of the surprises were bad. I’ll take that ratio any day.
She is on the hard now in Indiantown, FL. That’s about 25 miles up the St. Lucie Canal (about half way between Lake Okeechobee and Stuart, Fl). We are headed back down to Florida right after tax season (big grin) in Late April to spend 2-1/2 weeks on board. We hope to make an offshore run down to the Keys and maybe as far south as Key West.
Ariana and Matthew s/v Aventurine says
Great article. I loved the picture of the guy in the v-berth, that is ridiculous. Also, I noticed the picture of the head had a can of Raid in it….obviously the boat has critters. Lovely!
Thanks Ariana, and I saw the Raid can, too! Oy – I don’t understand some people! :)
Where are you guys now?
Brian Kumia says
Chris! Nicely done. Simple conversational style made it an enjoyable read. If you ever get a chance, read the book S*hit My Dad Says. May be inspiration to get you launched into penning your humorous perspective of the boating community. Fair winds and following seas my friend.
Brian! So nice to see your comment. I hope you are well and all is right in your world. Thanks so much for reading along and corresponding. That’s the best part of all of this! My best to you and your wonderful family. Hope to see you this summer if we get back to the Bay. Peace my friend
Marian Maxwell says
Too funny. You could go into the boat staging business. That looked like John Marshall in the v-birth. I had to look real close to see that wasn’t Mel showing off her great bod.
HAHA! No Marian, I was the one with my leg sticking out. ;)
Excellent article! I’m a home stager and I wrote about this on my blog. Google “home staging tips could help sell some ships” if you care to read it. The pictures you shared are both horrifying and hysterical and very representative of what I’ve seen. It’s beyond me how people can be so ignorant on preparation and presentation when it comes to selling their boat.
Hi Sharon- this post was strictly for fun and meant to add some humor to the whole process. We have friends who have cats and we have a dog as sometimes our boat is a total mess. After a heavy post it’s always nice to try to make folks laugh (ourselves included). People are strange and beautiful creatures indeed.
You missed my favorite. “Too much to list!” Which usually means that either that was the list already and there’s nothing else or that the various drawers and lockers are filled with an amazing musty tangle of green and rust colored bent hardware and unidentifiable pieces parts, most of which never had an application on this particular vessel or were fished from a dumpster.
Fun post, and yes I think that girl in the bikini could probably even sell my boat… :-)
Ha! Yes, that should definitely be on the list! We always said if we ever got one of those “too much to list” boats, the first thing we’d do is throw almost everything on the boat back in the dumpster where it belongs! And someone should start a “rent a bikini model to help sell my boat” business. Could be quite lucrative… ;)
Guys, I like this one so much I want to re-blog it. Just had the same experience with a dog and multi-cats on a boat we looked at sun
Jackson S says
Sharing this with some of my friends who sell boats for a living, they will love this