Top 10 Valentine’s Day Cards from Your Boat

Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate love, and the love you have for your boat is strong. It’s a bond that requires hard work, trust, dedication, tears of joy, tears of sadness, laughter, happiness, and support. In your eyes, she’s a perfect beauty, and you just can’t help but dream about the day when you two get to sail off into the sunset.

If only our boats could talk—what would they say? They would obviously share their mutual sentiments about our unconditional love. They’d tell us all about their favorite summer days on the lake, or the day you two caught that record-breaking fish. And when it comes to being your Valentine, your boat would know just the right way to express her feelings…

Check out Boat Trader’s Top 10 Valentine’s Day Cards from Your Boat.


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Editor’s Note: This article originally published in February 2017 and was updated in February 2018.

Storm-Damaged Boats, Part 2: Untangling the Mess

What happens to storm-damaged boats? The initial answer depends on if you have your boat insured and the particulars of that policy. I’ll discuss what happens to storm-damaged boats down the line when they may be resold, but for now, let’s start by assuming your boat is storm-damaged and you have no coverage. Do you realize that you may be personally liable for salvaging your boat and paying associated costs and/or fines for fuel leaks and other hazards to the environment? Which is why, for those choosing insurance, you’ll want to pay particular attention to the “salvage” portion of the insurance contract.

storm-damaged boats
Over 100,000 boats were damaged across 19 states by Hurricane Sandy alone. Will you end up owning one? And how will you know?

I’ve been speaking with members of BoatUS’s Catastrophe Action Team, or CAT, to help me understand the intricate world of disaster recovery specific to boats. (See Storm-Damaged Boats, Part 1.) BoatUS insures over two million boats in the U.S. and since they mobilize for major storms they have a unique perspective. To quote CAT team member and BoatUS’s Director of Technical Services, Beth Leonard, “It is not for the faint of heart.”

They start by assembling a diverse group of subcontractors, from marine surveyors to transportation and logistics folks, as well as their own claims administrators, to dig through the piles of damage, literally and figuratively. At first they can’t tell an insured boat from any other and often they begin by providing a marina owner a salvage plan for all the boats that had been on their property. The CAT team is routinely on location for weeks on end, with no power in the community , surrounded by people dealing with catastrophic loss.

Once the boats are recovered from their far-flung storm-tossed destinations, they are identified, tagged, and examined for damage, and a report is written. Surprisingly, BoatUS was writing checks to some policy holders within a week of Sandy coming ashore in the mid-Atlantic states.

At this point, it should be pointed out that boat owners need to be able to prove ownership post-storm. Think about this for a minute:  All your paperwork proving ownership may be gone, as well as your home. In some cases boats are still missing — sunk or never located. In order for the insurance company to pay off a total loss, they will need to gain ownership of the boat and be able to transfer clear title. Being proactive and storing records and pictures safely, like in a safety deposit box, may save much trouble down the road.

Boats deemed a “total loss” may still be worth something; it’s just that the “agreed-on value” listed in the insurance policy is less than the estimate to repair the damage. For example your boat is worth $50,000, your insurance coverage has an agreed value of $25,000, and the damage is estimated at $35,000. The boat is totaled for insurance purposes, but, in this case, boat owners may buy back the boat  at a negotiated price (presumably less than $15,000  in this instance) and have it repaired themselves, or they are paid off completely and the boat is assigned to a “liquidator”.

Boat liquidators are something like a consignment shop. BoatUS gets a percentage of the money to defray their costs when the boat is finally sold or parted-out. The hard part for all concerned with storm-damaged boats is that there is no equivalent of a Carfax in the boating industry at this time, meaning that you don’t always know if you’re buying a boat that has been damaged. A case in point from Sandy: one of the boats was identified by a surveyor as having been previously damaged in Katrina. How it got to the mid-Atlantic coast from New Orleans is still a mystery. Read about how to avoid buying storm damaged boats.

Next blog I will talk about the national boat liquidators,  how to contact them and look at their inventory.  I’ll also discuss potential advantages to buying a storm-damaged boat.

Price Assessment: How Boat Brokers and Surveyors can Help

Most people would prefer to sell their boats without a broker and not have to pay the broker’s fee. For smaller boats, less expensive boats, and common makes and models, it’s possible to zero in on pricing using resources like the NADA Guides. But for larger, more expensive boats that may be powered and equipped differently from one hull to another, it’s a different story. If we all had the time and expertise to manage the pricing, marketing, and paperwork involved in selling a boat, brokers would be in short demand.

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There are good reasons for commissioning an owner’s survey. You can demonstrate condition and value to a prospective buyer as well as use it as a basis for adjusting value for insurance coverage if the boat doesn’t sell.

So, let’s suppose you already have a potential buyer for your boat and what you want is a way to come to a fair price – one that eliminates your emotional high price tag and your prospective buyer’s attempts to get a below market value.

You probably don’t have the time or the tools to evaluate the marketplace as well as a broker. And even if you do, the other party may still think your number is biased. One solution is to hire a broker for a price assessment only.

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Some brokers will help establish price without actually brokering the deal.

I know a few brokers in the industry, and none of them charges me when I call for a price range on a particular boat. Pricing is something they routinely do, and they have the recent sales data at their fingertips. Even so, the range can be pretty wide depending on condition and the equipment found on a particular boat. Prices are based on comparable listings of recent sales by make, model, and year. If you don’t have a broker friend who will look things up for you, you might offer to pay for this info.

I ran into just such a case this past week. An owner of an offshore passagemaker, a Hylas 49 sailboat, was showing the boat to prospective buyers. The buyers were pushing for a lower price because the boat was not equipped with a life raft, watermaker, and a few other desirable features they felt were essential on boats of this type. The owner bought the boat ten years ago (when the market was higher) and had strong feelings about how well the vessel was maintained, as well as a personal knowledge of how much time, money, and effort that took.

The solution was twofold: hire (or befriend) a broker who can provide the comparables and then hire a surveyor to assess physical condition and provide a written report. Armed with the pricing range versus similarly equipped boats, along with a condition statement, you as the owner have pretty powerful proof that your price is fair. I know that owners don’t usually pay for surveys or other info, but for short money you can avoid the broker’s fee and convince your would-be buyer they’re getting a fair deal.

It may even lead to peace of mind for you if you are unsure of the market and anxious to sell the boat quickly without a broker—at a fair price. The owner in possession of a surveyor’s condition report is also privy to  previously unknown problems, and when price negotiations are delicate s/he is prepared with a just price to make the transaction happen.


Boatyards in Winter

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The Winter Boatyard may be silent on the outside, but it's busy with unique winter work.

Boaters in cold climes are in stasis through the long winter nap, but not boatyards. In boatyards, a flurry of unique work goes on unseen at this time of year. What kind of work? you might ask, for nary anyone in the general public can determine any activity from the external look of a winter boatyard.

But deep in the heated sheds and administrative offices there is life. The Operations and HR managers are working on ads for spring-time help in the paint department and looking for kids to man the gas dock this coming summer. By now stock room personnel are completing their inventory audits. Sales staff members are sending out mooring contracts, soliciting pre-launch work, and producing the first blush of spring launch schedules. In the heated boat sheds, high priority winter projects get a final coat of varnish or paint, a new engine, a swim platform. The engine shop has rows of outboards undergoing annual maintenance. Yard management is preparing to attend the local winter boat shows and the purchasing manager is placing discounted bottom paint orders by the pallet for the coming season. The launch crew is performing maintenance on their skiffs and equipment.boatyard

It is this busy planning and preparation before the storm of customers arrives in early spring that will make things go smoothly when the snow and ice retreat. The air in the boatyard is already ripe with anticipation. You might not see it, but a boatyard in winter works toward a boater’s dreams soon to come true.

Boat Equipment: Making a List, Checking it Twice

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What’s in Your boat?

As the Christmas holidays approach I’m sure you’ll hear the song about old St. Nick—“He’s making a list and checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty or nice.” As it turns out, I’ve always been a list maker, too. Not because I’m keeping score, but because it has helped me to remember and organize what I needed to get done.  Now I see that boat insurance companies are suggesting it would be prudent to make a list of all the equipment onboard your boat—in advance and just in case, for insurance purposes.

Here’s a piece of paper, quick now, write down everything residing onboard your boat.  Perhaps if we give it a few days, you’ll remember more, yes? If someone was naughty and something went missing, how long would it take you to notice?

Like many suggestions, you might even agree this is a good idea, so put it on the to-do-list. Great–another list of things to remember, like making another list.

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Listing all equipment onboard for future reference is a good winter project

Well, let me help. It isn’t such a bad idea to know categorically what is on your boat. And better yet, it would help from a safety standpoint if your guests onboard knew what you had —and where to find it. I have already suggested in an earlier blog that you remove everything from your boat as part of your winterization and maintenance routines. If you followed my previous advice and the equipment is now piled in your basement, for instance, it would be a good winter project to go through it, evaluate it, organize it, and yes, list it. Heck, you might even find something that needs replacing and put it on your Christmas wish list!

Now that you have the lists made, organize the stuff into plastic containers or duffels (with labels of course) so that putting it all back on board in the spring is easier and your guests can find it. For those weight-conscious racers like me, now’s the time to get ruthless and remove what you don’t absolutely need—and for the ultra-competitive, even weigh the containers of equipment before they go back onboard.

In addition to peace of mind about possible insurance-related catastrophes, you’ll also have an organized boat for safety purposes, and when it comes time to sell, a complete equipment list to include in your for-sale listing.  See how all this list-making begets other helpful list-making—and don’t forget to check it twice.