The Buying Process
Once the decision to buy “new” has been made, and you are not buying from inventory, the long journey begins. I’m not overly analytical in selecting a boat. I’ve had them for more than four decades so I have a pretty good idea what I want – and it has changed dramatically over the years. I don’t plan on having one boat forever so planning for 5-10 years downstream doesn’t factor in. Looking at catamarans came late to me. I found them ugly, slow (cruising cats) and un sail like. I changed my mind after sailing against a Leopard 48 and climbing around a Lagoon 42 at a boat show. A trip to Miami in February 2018 convinced me that the Saona 47 would be perfect – I had barely heard of Fountaine Pajot, its maker.
Fountaine Pajot is the second largest cat manufacturer so I was convinced they made a decent boat. Only slightly more costly than the Lagoon and the Leopard, two major manufacturers of cruising cats, I concluded they were probably about the same quality.
Over the years I learned that the dealer is key to a happy boat acquisition so I went looking for the dealer with the best reputation. My local dealer was very small (and subsequently lost the FP dealership). Atlantic Cruising Yachts was the biggest and had an excellent reputation of commissioning and warranty support. Although headquartered in Annapolis, they have an office in Fort Lauderdale where I plan on having the boat commissioned.
After you have selected the boat the dealer provides you the Company’s retail price list. It includes at least 100 options which greatly increases the price. All the manufacturers do about the same thing. I poured over the option list for a couple weeks. After decades of boat ownership I generally knew what I wanted. I had lots of questions and the dealer walked me through them. I made a fair number of changes based on their recommendations. There are lots of third party decisions to be made. Simple things like what TV’s, or cookware, or bed and bath linens. Some more complex like Code 0 furlers.
I never negotiated price hard, but think I always got a “fair” price. If I pushed too hard, I figured, they would make it back during the commissioning process. You give them 10% of the purchase price and wait – and wait. During the next 13 months I dreamt and researched, making small changes along the way. Another 10% was paid in May 2019 with the balance due when the boat is complete, but before it leaves the factory.
I didn’t plan on financing the boat, but elected to borrow just under 50% for a couple years in case my current boat takes a while to sell. That was a complex, but painless process. How to get the boat delivered from France to Fort Lauderdale was another choice. Historically, most were sailed over on their bottom, but I didn’t want to get a heavily used boat. Before Hurricane Irma it cost about twice as much to ship it over on a freighter, but because so many boats are coming from France the cost, now, is about the same. I also needed insurance and because of the long distances I plan to sail the first year the application process is extensive. I also need a slip while in Florida. The dealer came through with a nice slip at a great price so long as I let them show the boat in the slip – a no brainer. We plan on shipping a pod load of stuff from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale from our old boat and new stuff acquired. Tax planning is not a trivial activity. Could I avoid sales tax in Florida and California? How to minimize tax on sale of the boat. What happens if we die while owning the boat? We hired a lawyer who walked us through all that stuff.
The final major hurdle in Coyote acquisition was planning its first year of sailing. We plan on sailing South Florida and the Bahamas as long as we can - to learn the boat, get things sorted out with the dealer and enjoying the dreamy waters. When do I need to sail south to avoid the hurricane season? Panama canal planning, crew acquisition, etc. are hours of planning delight.
In total, it will be more than two years from the time we decided to take the plunge and delivery. Hundreds of hours of planning have gone into it, but that, for us, is part of the fun.