Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Can I Haz A Boat Broker?

It seems like forever since we started looking for a broker to assist us in locating a boat.  We decided that this would be a good idea since 1) we are first time buyers and 2) we are about 1000 miles from the nearest ocean.  The problem has been finding one.  What we wanted was someone that knew more than the average about catamarans and could assist us in locating and "pre qualifying" the boats (so our trips to the coast wouldn't consist of a lot of time spent looking at junk).  It hasn't been an easy task.

I started by consulting the oracle for any reviews or recommendations we could find.  I quickly found that there weren't any glowing recommendations for brokers, only a couple of "beware" comments, and none that mentioned catamarans specifically.  So, we then started looking for brokers specializing in catamarans in Florida since we figured that would be the most likely location for finding a boat.  From there we would read the bios of the brokers and search for any comments specific to the broker.  When we found one we liked, we would send out an introductory email.

After a number of emails, we got a single response.  Initially he said he was busy but would look into things for us and get back to us.  About a week and a half later, we get an email stating he was going to be working on a charter for the summer and would have an associate of his...in Washington State...contact us.  It took another couple weeks before his associate contacted us...but that was OK since we wanted someone in Florida and had moved on anyway.

We decided to try and contact a couple of the brokers that we had initially contacted about specific boats we were interested in (and who responded) to see if they would be able to help us as a buyers broker.  After what we thought was an email miss-communication we thought we found one.  We agreed that it would be a good idea to chat on the phone and he suggested talking on a Saturday afternoon.  I didn't get a response when I asked for a time and so we ended up waiting around starting at 10am on Saturday (noon in Florida).

We waited patiently at home for the call until about 4pm.  At that point we gave up as we needed to get some chores done.  He finally called...on Sunday evening.  We weren't there so he left a message that he was "out on the water" over the weekend. He didn't offer any sort of apology for missing the initial call, even when we later explicitly mentioned that we waited most of Saturday for his call.  Not a good demonstration of the communication abilities we will need for this process.

We decided to write this guy off when he contacted us via email again to say he would have "one of his associates" work with us.  We didn't really expect much, and were pleasantly surprised when his "associate" contacted us almost immediately.  He setup a day and time to call us and called when he said he would.  He has also provided us with a number of listings just to help gauge what we are looking for in a boat.  He seems to understand the difficulties we are trying to work around shopping from a distance and thus far has also provided a lot of useful information on the boat buying process.  So, after disappointing performance from a number of professional boat brokers, this latest hand-off seems to be a promising prospect.  Glad we gave him a chance even after the poor experience from his "associate".

Given the economy and that the typical commission on a boat is 10% (5% to buyers agent, 5% to sellers agent), I'm surprised that it's been this much of an exercise to find someone willing to help us spend $100~180k.  I know we aren't looking at multi-million dollar boats, but a motivated buyer with cash ought to be worth something.

I think we finally have a buyers broker.  Now to find our boat.


  1. Wow, that certainly was an ordeal to find someone to give $5-8K to.

    Good luck and I hope you find your right boat!


    1. Exactly Jesse.

      I don't know if it is the added hassle of a remote buyer or if we are just "small potatoes" since this is the lower end of the catamaran market. This new guy seems good thus far, so hopefully it will all work out well. Keeping fingers crossed.


  2. Have a look at Prairie Dream:

  3. I admire your "Let's Get On With It and SAIL" attitude. Good for you. I know you are looking for a Lagoon 37, but you can also get a really good monohull for about the same 100K price. If you want to look at a full keel model, look at Island Packet Yachts, then focus on the older models like the IP38 or IP35, these you can buy for 95K to 120K. We have been sailing and cruising now for 10 years, the last 2 years fulltime. http://www.IslandSpirit.us so, get out here and enjoy.

    Here are IPs for sale by owners

    If you want a really great all around yacht broker who will really help you, then call ED and Debbie Whiteaker here:

    Just trying to help out, as I found you via Zero to Cruising...


    1. Hi Hayden,

      Thanks, although my attitude might be better described as impatient. :-) While my body is at work, my mind has already gone sailing. If we could find the right boat, my body would join my mind.

      A mono would seem to simplify things a great deal as there seem to be many more of them at "more reasonable" prices. IP's are nice boats, we saw a couple at Annapolis when we were at the show. Unfortunately our trip to Florida for the catamaran class and mono charter convinced my wife that we WILL be getting a catamaran. (story here) She's never been all that comfortable with heeling and I think that trip sealed the deal. I have to admit, being on one right after the other, the difference in fatigue at the end of the day was noticeable.

      We did end up finding a broker that we are happy with (actually, it was the "associate" in this post, and he was everything the the first one was not). Unfortunately he can't build me a new Lagoon 37 for our budget. :-) He has done everything I could have expected of him and then some. Reminds me I need to write a post about him still...where does the time go...oh yeah, that dreaded 4-letter word "work".

      I do appreciate the help! If you happen to know of any catamarans or catamaran designs that fit the bill, I'd love to hear about them.