Monday, June 11, 2012

Same boat: Apples to Apples? Not Quite!

Scott and I have been looking at several different models of boats, and have seen numerous examples of each of them.  While the boats might look (almost) exactly the same, they most certainly are not.  Every owner customizes his or her boat in a certain way, and in order for Scott and I to be able to keep all these boats straight and know what each offers (and which is the better deal) - Scott made a spreadsheet.  Again, it really pays to be married to an engineer!

While this does require a little bit of work, it is well worth it because not only does it organize all the information swimming around in our heads on one piece of paper, it offers a side by side comparison of the boats we are looking at.  We learned a lot when we put the boats we are considering into this spreadsheet, and discovered that our contenders are - as we suspected - very different indeed.  They are, however, all appealing in their own ways - what one boat has, another does not and visa versa.  There is no glaring "winner" which is precisely why a spreadsheet like this was so necessary.

For those of you looking for a boat and interested in our spreadsheet, the information we gather is the following:

For most of these line items, you will want to know at least three things: a) if the boat has said item b)type and c)year.  For many of these articles, you will also want to make specific notes on the condition.  Do not forget to include things on this list that are not only important to you, but things that you have grown to like such as, "aft deck shower" or "# of opening ports/hatches".  You will not get all of this information from a listing, you will most likely need to speak to the broker and probably even the owner to get all of these questions answered. In the "notes" section, Scott and I made specific observations about what said boat would need to get it up to the cruising condition that we are used to, such as: "needs SSB" or "needs watermaker".  Other notes such as "dinghy unsuitable" or "radar and chartplotter may have issues" went in that section as well.

We put all of the items listed above in one single column on an excel spreadsheet, and then in the subsequent columns filled out the appropriate information for Boat A, Boat B...etc.  That way, all the information is side by side and very easy to compare.  You'll be surprised what you learn when you view boats this way!

Again, we're not telling you what we've come up with - but we do have some answers (wink) - and it looks like we'll be making an offer on Boat #1 in the near future!  Might we have a new home in the next month?!?  

Brittany, Scott & Isla 


Anonymous said...

Hi B, S & I

Good post, didn't know there was so much involved in buying a boat. One question though, what does the 80% Offer mean?
Keep up the good work


Lisa B. said...

Thanks so much for sharing this process with us all. I look forward to you finding just the right boat for your family and sharing the details of why and how you chose it with us. Isla is growing way too fast and is absolutely beautiful!

Ernesto said...


When my wife and I were looking at boats and wanted to compare them against each other, we used a similar method. But what made the choice easier (and also helped us remember "how much" we liked each boat) was the addition of a scoring system. Basically, we gave each item a weight and then gave each item for each boat a score. Our items were similar to the ones you listed, plus a few more. We then computed each boat's final weighted score and the comparison was as easy as comparing an 80% to a 65% score.

Of course, our list of items and compromises was quite fluid at first, both on the actual items and their weights, but as we honed in on the issues that mattered the most to us, the comparison became easier.

We're both computer scientists, so we needed the numbers :)

Good luck with your purchase!

Claire said...

This is really useful!


Windtraveler said...

@Ian - 80% is just a good gauge for negotiating purposes. Most boats these days are selling for about 80-90% of the asking price.
@Lisa B - thank you for that nice comment!! We look forward to sharing it with you as well...Isla is a little doll - we love her SO much it is insane!! Going to be 3 months soon, can you believe that?!?!
@Ernesto - GREAT info...yes, we almost did a point system as well but didn't need to. That is a GREAT idea though for when things get REALLY close :)

s/v Odin the Wanderer said...

Hi Brittany,
I know this is a really old post, but we are finally ready to make offers on boats and are trying to decide between two. This was immensely helpful. I tried to make a spreadsheet, but it was all over the place. Hubby says he "has it all in his head," but I'm learning that he is losing track (because what was in the ad, wasn't necessarily on the boat or agreed with what we were told by the broker). Thanks for sharing your hard work with others.

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