Sunday, October 13, 2013

Strike Two

Well, it doesn't look like we will be reaching an agreement on the Leopard 38 "Catzpaw" that we had under contract.  There is just too much work that needs to be done to this neglected boat to justify the price that the owner wants.

When we put the offer in on the boat we took into account the things we knew about that needed work plus a little for unknowns for a boat that has been obviously sitting neglected for a year or more. Tape on two windows and a hatch were obvious indications that they were leaking and needed to be rebed. Hull damage from what appears to be a scuffle with a dock.
Taped window and hatch
Impact with a dock?
We were told the house battery bank was not doing well and would likely need replacement (an understatement, they wouldn't hold enough charge to run the chart plotter alone). Various light fixtures were broken, one of the AC units didn't work, and there were other odds and ends that needed work. The gel coat was in poor condition from baking in the sun for a long time without so much as a wax, and the fact there was a marine sanctuary growing on the boat bottom made the neglect rather obvious. But despite all of this we liked the boat and were willing to give the boat the love it had been missing to bring it back to reasonable condition, so we took these factors into account and made an offer that we believed was more than fair given the typical price range for these boats is $150K ~ $175K.

Well, along came the survey and we found that far more than we anticipated was wrong.  There were 51 items listed in the findings and recommendation section of the survey. The diesel generator would not work and had enough wrong with it that the surveyor highly recommended replacement ($8K), The water maker that was supposed to be pickled but was not and pumps were inoperative ($5K), the windlass would not carry a load when we tried using it ($4K), and the electric winch was inoperative ($3.5K).  That's over $20k just to replace the top 4 items found during the inspection.  Add in the non-functional refrigerator, seized through hulls, various electrical problems and everything else that needed work and it came out to over $32K in parts and labor to replace everything that was found that we weren't expecting to find (the total refit cost we estimated was between $60K and $70K including these new items).

We decided that we would split the difference on that $32K, an offer our broker said was more than generous. Our hope was that we could do much of the work ourselves and perhaps repair or find used and serviceable parts to help lower the cost. We are also getting a bit tired of going through all of this process just for the deal to collapse and that has a bit of value itself.  So our broker went back asking for a concession at time of closing to cover half of the cost of the stuff we did not know about that was found on the survey.

I don't know if sellers have way too much emotion tied up in their boats that they can't see the true market value, if they are wearing the rose-colored glasses I mentioned in the previous post and see the boat as it was when they bought it and don't see how time and their neglect have reduced it's value (I think the listing from when the current owner bought the Leopard can be found here) or what the reasons are that some owners have over-inflated sense of worth of their boats, but in this case, the seller was only wiling to concede $5K.  That is less than 1/10th of what we believe the boat needs, one sixth of what it might cost to fix the items we did not know about and 1/3 of what we asked in concessions.  Needless to say, that is not going to happen. So much for being generous.

I'm starting to wonder if people selling their catamarans have been out baking in the sun too long (much like some of their boats). I'm also starting to feel a bit bad for my broker.  I know he put a lot of work into trying to make this deal happen and neither of us can believe that this is happening again. Well Pete, what did you once say to me..."they are always making plastic boats and another one is right around the corner."

And on that note, a new boat has come on the market that we might be interested in. The owner of the Tobago we saw during our last shopping trip has also reduced his price and, unlike this one, was an obviously well cared for boat. So, the shopping continues...


  1. Hang in there Mike...the boat that is perfect for you is patiently waiting. All these other boats are just temporary bumps in the boat search road.


    1. I'm sure the perfect boat is out there...just not sure if the owner of the boat will cooperate. ;-) We do have some leads which is good.

  2. How frustrating - hang in there! We're going to start shopping for our next boat in a while and I must say I'm not looking forward to all the ups and downs that come with making offers and counter-offers and then having to start all over again.
    Cheers - Ellen

    1. Thanks Ellen. Indeed the starting over after getting to the survey and sea trial phase gets old in a hurry.

      Good luck with your upcoming search, I hope it goes well for you.

  3. Argh! What a pain in the neck. Oh well, his loss. Having a boat in good shape that you trust will be worth all this effort eventually, I hope!

    1. Yeah, it's a pain...but less of one than buying a boat for more than it is worth and then having to dump a LOT of extra money into it to make it liveable.

      And who knows, maybe I can sell this latest survey to someone else who might look at that them some time and help recoup some of my losses (this actually happened with the first boat we had under half of the cost of the survey back).

  4. Just found your blog and holy crap, it all sounds familiar. We've been planning for 6-7 years for this and have gone through the same things with accepted offers and bad surveys. But we did pull the trigger and are now boat owners (we also used Jonathan for our weird is that?)
    Although I haven't gone into as much detail on my blog as you have - just started it about a month ago - you posts seem all too familiar. How many people out there are trying to do this??!! I will follow your blog, and if you want to check out mine, then go to
    Good luck with the search (and wish us luck on our newly purchased project)

    1. Hey Kevin,

      I am sorry it sounds familiar. In one aspect it is getting very old, but in another at least Jonathan is preventing me from making a much bigger financial mistake.

      Checked out your blog...congrats on the new to you FP. Good luck...hopefully sometime soon we can be neighbors (I was just down in Key West on this survey). For anyone else reading these comments...he's actually at

      There are definitely a few of us out here trying to do this. I don't know how many make it, but we are not alone.


      P.S. Not that I know..but I'd guess you are OK on the naming thing as long as you do the proper naming may just need to buy the more expensive bottle of champagne to appease Neptune. ;-)