What It’s Like to Buy a Big Boat

We have just completed the process of buying a live aboard boat, and in many ways the process is more complicated and expensive than buying a house.

Our New Boat
Our New Boat

I have been very negligent in keeping up with the blog.  We have been spending all of our time buying a live-aboard trawler.  We’ve just purchased a 36 foot Albin trawler, soon to be renamed the Oceanus.  We’ve bought and sold a lot of real estate and a couple of small boats.  This process has been so different that we’ve spent all of our spare time trying to avoid disastrous mistakes.

How Boat Buying Is Different From House Buying

The New Boat Could Be Anywhere!

Looking for a boat, like searching for a new house, begins with internet research.  When you are searching for a house, you are usually looking at one or two areas.  Boats, on the other hand, are moveable, so your search is only limited by bodies of water.  We were looking to do the great loop, so we “narrowed” our search to east of the Mississippi! The only factor limiting our location was that the boat had to be connected to the Great Loop.

You Have To Put A Lot of Money Down

Before your offer is presented to the seller, the broker wants you to put 10% of the boat’s listing price into escrow.

Everything Costs More with a Boat

As part of your due diligence when you buy a house, you hire an inspector to point out any defects.  The inspector usually costs $250-$300.  When you buy a boat, you hire a licensed “surveyor.”  We paid ours closer to $1000.  There was an additional cost of about $400 to get the boat hauled out and power washed so that the inspection could be done.  Our boat insurance costs about 2% per year of our boat value, whereas our house insurance costs about 0.75% per year of the value.  There is no skimping on these costs.  You can’t get boat insurance unless you get a licensed inspection, and you can’t dock at a marina unless you have insurance.

Our Travel Experience Is Helping Us Get It Done

Our NonRev Benefits Were Handy In Our Boat Shopping

We were able to fly for free to cities near where boats for sale were docked.  We flew twice into Tampa and rented cars to look at boats.   We flew into Norfolk several times before buying our new boat here in nearby Chesapeake.  Before you get too jealous of our flight benefits let me tell you about our last experience.  On our last trip we waited at the Norfolk airport for 12 hours before we got on a flight.  It is a wonderful benefit but you must have a lot of stamina and be flexible.

We Used Some Points and Credit Card Benefits to Save Money

Overnight stays were covered by hotel points and we paid cash for the car rentals. The boat has two staterooms so we can now stay on board overnight.   When we get stuck in Atlanta we can use the SkyClubs (unfortunately there are no airport lounges at Norfolk.)  One of the new benefits to the AMEX Platinum card, which we both have, is $15 in Uber credits per month.  I never thought that we could take advantage of these credits, but we both used ours in July to get from the Norfolk airport to the yacht basin.  We plan on keeping a truck at the yacht basin through the winter and taking Uber back and forth from the Norfolk airport.

And Now……the Eclipse

The boat adventure will be put on hold as we position ourselves to watch the full eclipse coming up on August 21.  We’re driving our car full off camping gear out West in order to get the best view we can, unsullied from the overcast skies on the East Coast.

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