After every major storm our Yacht Brokerage Company receives calls and emails from prospects that are looking for that “great deal” on a storm damaged boat. The purpose of this briefing is to try and put things into a proper perspective from a Broker who has decades of experience with Hurricanes and who, himself, has salvaged and rescued successfully more then his share of boats.
First of all, yes…., those great deals that one hears talked about on the docks do exist, but they are the rare bird and not the common find.
Also, to be able to take advantage of any hurricane damaged boat deal there are a couple of assumptions that need to be understood.
1. It is assumed that the individual(s) is dealing with an honest seller who is telling them the truth and is not trying to hide anything. This is where an experienced and trusted broker becomes very valuable.
2. It is also assumed that the individual(s) is very handy and experienced with boat repair and probably enjoys the smell of glass, paint, and fresh wood along with an assortment of various chemicals for cleaning and solvents for repairs. If one has to hire all of the people, or a boat yard, to do the work then this is most likely not for you. Yes, one can manage a major boat project and pay others to help, but expect to spend lots of time present and lots of time hands on.
Also, remember that the luxury of a good surveyor, and haul for inspection, may not be available, or cost effective, so that individual must rely on their own knowledge and expertise to make the decision to buy or not.
3. It is also assumed that the individual(s) can afford to lose most of their money invested in the project, because even the experts get stumped at times and have to Bail out at a loss.
The best types of damaged boats to invest time and money in are those that have little or no water damage. (More on this later.)
A basic hull or deck repair, above the water line, can be very doable. Also replacing a rig, ports, and/or hatches can usually be done without any unseen surprises and is pretty basic and straight forward for the knowledgeable.
However, remember that your hull and deck repair must be of professional quality or that area will jump out as any knowlegable boater, let alone a surveyor, will surely notice. This will put the boat in suspicion of having more damage or “cover up repair”, thus causing the boat to actually lose value because of a less then professional repair.
Engine and electrical damage because of water, both fresh and salt, are better left alone all together, or left strictly for the professionals. This type of damage can be very costly with lots of surprises lurking.
Fresh water damage is not as bad as salt water, especially if it is isolated in a paticular location on the vessel. The important thing here is to remove all of the water (moisture) as soon as possible, and to replace damaged or scared paneling, headliners, wood, etc..
Saltwater damage is another thing all together for reasons of corrosion and mold. Unless one removes all of the salt, and I mean all, the salt will act as a conduit for moisture, even moisture in the air, and this salt residue will retain that moisture in place so that mold, corrosion, and worse, can get a foothold and thrive. This may not become apparent right away. The unsuspecting buyers who buy such a boat can be in for major trouble and loss of money in the future.
The only way to remove the salt residue is to first remove all obstacles, such as interior paneling, liner, and wood, before attempting to remove the salt. Then one must clean and dry the area completely before replacing the covering paneling or liner. Also remember that removing salt residue is no easy matter, even when the area has been completely exposed.
Experienced brokers usually stay away from damaged boats, for worry of what may lurk unknown about until later. It also cost the same to market and takes the same amount of time, or more, to show damaged boats. For these reasons, and more, most brokers focus on boats that will sell for much more money with little or no problems.