Tuesday, May 4, 2010

CAVEAT EMPTOR 'SEA CHANGE'

This Post was triggered by an article in the Business section under "Yachting Industry" of a South Florida newspaper entitled "Angry buyer wins suit against brokerage". It is fairly unusual to have a yacht brokerage sued much less have it ruled against them we read on. Since NAUTICAL LOG is not a newspaper so we shall not post the names of those involved just the story.

A Fort Lauderdale brokerage was found liable in a suit for damages by a Rhode Island man who filed the suit claiming the yacht he bought was "unseaworthy". The yacht buyer's attorney said "In the yachting industry it's an important decision - a 'sea change' if you will. Very few people take on the yachting industry."

It is not often realised that while a brokerage house may by knowledgeable about the yachts many of its sales personnel are not. Visit any showroom or boat show and one will quickly see that they are hired for their ability to make deals in high-end goods. Whether it be real estate, aircraft, luxury cars or yachts - it is apparent that personal attractiveness and charm is also a plus!! During many visits over the years to boat shows NAUTICAL LOG has been told and overheard some quite amazing sales lines about yachts.

In the case which went to court sludge was found leaking from the fuel tanks, the hull was flexing above accepted norms, the 'sea trials' were a run in sheltered waters not out in the Atlantic to truly work the vessel, core samples of the hull were actually from another vessel. It is clear that there were many 'red flags' in this deal that a knowledgeable buyer would have noted and not gone ahead with a purchase. However the yacht brokerage and others involved had a clear duty not to misrepresent the vessel to make the sale, this is how they got into trouble and later lost the case brought against them.

Now NAUTICAL LOG is not currently a boat owner - which might explain a few things - however should that change the key is preparation and boating knowledge. Depending on your current level of knowledge it will take one to two years minimum. Learn all you can, read boating magazines, take an online State boating course, visit boat shows, figure out the size of boat and its equipment, learn about financing. Get out on friends boats - if you have friends who have boats - join a yacht club, join the USCG Auxiliary for more advanced training including boat construction and engineering. Visit boatyards and boat builders to see vessels being built and repaired, get to know at least one naval architect. Once you feel you are ready visit the dealers, when you select one make sure the salesperson assigned has a boating license State or USCG and can actually handle a boat. Take a test run and on the second test run have your own nautical surveyor on board with you. Afterwards go and look at some more boats at other dealers and follow the same procedure. Remember you and the boat have to bond and feel right together, after all she will be your mistress!!

Good Watch.

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