ON SELLING A BOAT — T
hat tired old saw about "the happiest day of your life is when you buy or sell your boat," is nonsense, and I wish people would quit saying it. That, and "would you do mine next?" when they see you cleaning your boat. Yawn. Selling a boat is like any other transition in life, with a few marine-centric challenges. This happens to be fresh on my mind as I just sold my 30-ft 1967 Lindsey liveaboard sloop. If you are currently trying to sell your boat, take heart from the following tips and trials hardwon from my recent boat sale adventure. 1) Don't Believe Everything You Hear: When various marine professionals tell you it will take 18 months to sell your boat and that this is a lousy time to be selling, remember, you're in California. Any time is a good time to sell a boat. Boat buying is not a logical or rational decision. It is purely a gut feeling. When someone gets a serious jones for a boat, they will not rest until standing on the deck of their very own Black Pearl. How fast you sell depends on your marketing strategy, patience and willingness to bend when an opportunity comes along. 2) Know Your Timeline: If you are in a rush to sell, you will probably have to compromise either your price point, purchaser approval or both. Do the calculation of slip fees spent for every month you don't sell, and set a date for when you will lower your price and by how much. Try not to confess any urgency to sell with buyers. Appearing desperate to sell will only whet the capitalist appetite to get a 'deal'.
PHOTOS C. SHELTON UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED 3) Market Honestly: All of the prospective buyers who saw my boat agreed that my description was accurate. Play up the attributes of your boat, but don't neglect any serious deal-breaker details. It's a waste of time for both you and the prospective buyer and makes for an awkward moment of admission when they discover the omission. 4) Advertise Broadly: Latitude 38 has a classified section, of course, but since my boat was located in Southern California, I didn't think Bay Area buyers would be interested in trekking down to Oxnard. I have since learned that serious buyers will go far and wide to see particular boats, cramming several viewings into the same day. A savvy boat seller will give the prospect some kind of info page to take with them, as buyers get dizzy after seeing too many vessels, and can't remember what they saw. I ended up trying The Log, www. SailboatListings.com, www.sailboatdata. com, www.TinyHouseListings.com, and Craigslist. I also had a page on my website, put up posters, and alerted local yacht clubs. I posted big For Sale signs on my boat that you could read from shore, and hoisted the multicolored flags up to the mast in a 'can't-miss-it' display. Honestly, the most response was from Craigslist. I suspect that's also where the spam ads and calls originated.
5) Dismiss Unwanted 'Help': There are apparently rogue yacht brokers trying to 'help' you sell your boat. They will start the phone call by asking if your boat is still for sale — as if they are an actual prospective 'La Bonita's Summer of Love, United Colors of Benetton cockpit cover, which buyer. Listen for turned out to be a charming selling point for the new owner. the sounds of a call center in the background. The first time one of these rogues called, I was polite and said "no thank you and take me off your list please." After a dozen such calls, well after the boat was sold, I unleashed my best colorful sailor expletives. I haven't heard from them since. And then there are the locals. Everybody's got an Page 100 • Latitude
38 • April, 2018
opinion. Some people will want to know how much you want for your boat and will always say you are asking too much, and, "Ya know, it would really sell much quicker if you just painted it white to make it look less like a hippie boat." Well, my boat was born in the Summer of Love. It completely deserves its three-tone paint scheme and Colors of Benetton full cockpit cover (scavenged canvas). It was meant to be a liveaboard vessel, and so has . . . quirks, or customizations. That's what people did with their boats back then. Advice to neutralize the personality of the boat was an annoying and frequent chorus that ultimately turned out to be invalid. The person who bought it was attracted to the unique character of the vessel. Trust your instincts about your boat and tune out the people who start with "You know what you really have to do . . . " 6) Set a Fair Price — with Wiggle Room: If you love your boat, you will not feel very objective about the price. For some people, it's just a thing to be traded for money. In my case, my boat was my home for 10 years. I touched every part of it at some point and did not want to just sell it to some knucklehead who would crash her on the rocks the first time out. Identify the price at which your stom-
The April 2018 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.