The ultimate guide to buying a used sailboat: Baffi’s boat inspection

The Mediterranean Sea has always been a siren’s call to individuals who adore the sea due to its turquoise waves, golden sunsets, and the promise of adventure. Many of us cherish the desire to sail these storied waters, discover undiscovered coves, and anchor in charming coastal villages. But a boat is necessary to make this fantasy a reality. A boat that can resist the rigors of the sea, one that can serve as a home away from home, not just any boat.

On the chilly morning of February 20, 2020, we found ourselves standing on the deck of a potential candidate for this dream – the sailboat named Baffi.

With the salty sea breeze in our hair and the gentle sway of the boat beneath our feet, we were there to inspect Baffi, to see if she could be the one to carry us across the Mediterranean.

Joining us on this critical mission were the boat broker, the owner of Baffi, and a seasoned boat surveyor, an expert in boat inspections. Each of us had a role to play, each of us had questions to ask and answers to find. The broker, with his sharp eye for detail, the owner, with his intimate knowledge of Baffi, and the surveyor, with his years of experience in assessing the seaworthiness of vessels.

Buying a used boat is not a decision to be taken lightly. It’s a journey filled with meticulous research, countless questions, and careful inspections. It’s about understanding boat types, navigating through boat traders, and exploring boats for sale near you. It’s about finding that perfect vessel that not only fits your budget but also your dreams.

And so, we began a quest that would take us from the deck of Baffi out into the open sea, and then to the boat yard of Santa Lucia Marina in Saint-Raphaël. We were there to discover if Baffi was indeed the sailboat we were looking for, the sailboat that could make our dream of Med sailing a reality.

Join us as we recount our experience, share our insights, and hopefully, help you navigate your own journey towards buying a used boat. Because every dream deserves a chance to set sail!

Why buy a used boat?

The question of whether to buy a boat, especially a used one, is a conundrum that has puzzled many a prospective sailor. It’s a decision that carries with it a sea of considerations, a tide of questions, and a current of emotions. But fear not, for I’m here to help you navigate these waters.

Buying a used boat, like Baffi, is akin to embarking on a treasure hunt. It’s about finding that hidden gem that’s been loved and cared for, a vessel that carries stories of past adventures within its hull. It’s about finding a boat that has proven its mettle against the elements, a boat that has been tried and tested. But it’s also about finding a boat that has character, a boat that has a soul.

There’s a certain charm to used boats, a sense of history and adventure that new boats often lack. They’ve weathered storms, they’ve sailed under starlit skies, and they’ve been a part of memories that are as vast as the sea itself. And there’s something incredibly romantic about becoming a part of that legacy, about adding your own chapters to its ongoing story.

But the journey to buying a used boat isn’t without its challenges. It requires a keen eye for detail, a willingness to ask hard questions, and the patience to find the right boat that fits your needs and budget. It’s about understanding the difference between a cabin cruiser and a sailboat, knowing where to find the best used boats for sale, and recognizing the best used boat brands.

However, the rewards can be well worth the effort. Used boats often come with a lower price tag, making them a more affordable option for many. They also tend to come with additional boat accessories and upgrades that the previous owner has installed, adding to their value. And let’s not forget, used boats are readily available for you to set sail immediately, unlike new boats which often have long waiting periods.

If you’re still wondering Should I buy a boat? and you’re open to the idea of buying a used one, the answer to that question lies in your dreams, your budget, and your willingness to embark on a journey of discovery. It’s about weighing the pros and cons, understanding what you’re getting into, and ultimately, following your heart.

Every boat has a story to tell, and buying a used boat gives you the chance to become a part of that story. It’s an adventure waiting to happen, a journey filled with potential discoveries, and at the end of it, you might just find your dream boat, just like we found Baffi.

Finding boats for sale

The quest to find the perfect sailboat is a journey in itself, a voyage that takes you through a sea of choices. It’s about understanding the different types of boats, from the sleek and speedy cabin cruiser to the sturdy and reliable sailboat, each with its own unique charm and set of features. It’s about knowing where to look, who to ask, and when to make your move.

But finding the right boat is only half the battle. Knowing when to buy is just as crucial. The best time to buy a boat, we learned, is when you’re ready. Ready to take on the responsibility, ready to invest the time and money, and ready to embark on the adventure that boat ownership brings.

However, if you’re looking for a deal, the best time to buy a used boat is typically during the off-season. Boat prices tend to drop during the colder months, as demand decreases. Sellers are often more motivated to negotiate, making it the perfect time to find your dream boat at a dream price.

Therefore, if you’re considering buying a boat, remember this: the search to find the perfect boat is not a race, but a voyage. It’s about exploring your options, understanding what you want, and knowing when to make your move. And who knows… your perfect boat might just be a click away, waiting for you to set sail on your own Mediterranean adventure.

The boat inspection process

The day of the boat inspection dawned bright and clear, a perfect day for a voyage out to sea. But this was no ordinary voyage. This was a journey of discovery, a quest to uncover the secrets that Baffi held beneath her hull. This was the day of the boat survey.

A boat survey is a crucial step in the process of buying a used boat. It’s a thorough examination of the boat, conducted by a professional boat surveyor. It’s an opportunity to uncover any potential issues, from structural defects to mechanical problems. It’s a chance to ensure that the boat you’re considering is not just seaworthy, but also worth the investment.

We had chosen our surveyor carefully, after contacting the boat insurance company where we planned to insure Baffi. The insurance company needed a survey to determine the boat’s value and to avoid paying for a survey twice, we decided to choose a surveyor from their list of agreed surveyors. It was a decision that not only saved us money but also ensured that our marine survey matched the requirements of the boat survey for insurance.

The boat survey cost can vary, but in France, you can expect to pay an average of around 20 euros per meter of boat length. The boat surveyor cost, on the other hand, can range from 200 to 600 euros, depending on the complexity of the survey.

As we set out to sea with the surveyor, we went slowly through his boat inspection checklist, making sure that no stone was left unturned. From the condition of the sails and the rigging to the state of the engine and the hull, every aspect of Baffi was scrutinized during the boat inspection.

boat inspection at sea marine survey
Boat inspection at sea along the shores of Saint-Raphaël

Setting sail

As the sun began to climb the sky, casting a golden glow on Baffi’s weathered deck, we set sail. The engine roared to life, a powerful heartbeat beneath us, and the main sail unfurled, catching the morning breeze. There was no genoa, but Baffi moved with the grace and agility of a dancer, her hull cutting through the water with ease.

The broker, a seasoned sailor with a deep understanding of boat types, took the helm, guiding Baffi out of the harbor. Beside him, the surveyor watched with a keen eye, his years of experience in boat inspections evident in his focused gaze. They worked in tandem, their movements synchronized as they navigated Baffi through the calm sea.

The owner, Mr. Isnar, stood slightly apart, his hands clasped behind his back. There was a strange reluctance in his demeanor, an avoidant air that seemed out of place on his own boat. But we paid it little mind, our attention focused on Baffi and her performance.

As we moved further away from the shore, we began to test Baffi’s capabilities. The engine, a vital component of any boat, was our first focus. We listened to its rhythm, felt its vibrations, and watched its performance. It was like listening to a symphony, each note telling us a story about Baffi’s heart.

Next, the marine surveyor turned our attention to the rigging. These lines and cables, often overlooked, play a crucial role in a sailboat’s performance. They are the veins and arteries of a boat, carrying the force of the wind to the sails and enabling the boat to move. As we checked each line, each cable, we gained a deeper understanding of Baffi’s strength and resilience.

Finally, we tested the main sail. As it filled with wind, Baffi seemed to come alive, her speed increasing as she danced with the waves. It was a sight to behold, a testament to the power of the wind and the elegance of a well-designed sailboat.

Throughout this initial sailing experience, we discovered Baffi’s maneuverability. She responded to the helm with ease, her movements smooth and precise. It was like she was a part of the sea, moving with it rather than against it.

As we sailed back towards the harbor, we knew that Baffi had passed the first test. But the boat inspection was far from over. There were still many questions to be answered, and many secrets to be uncovered. But for now, we reveled in the joy of sailing, the thrill of discovery, and the promise of adventures to come.

The Sailboat Inspection: Hauling the boat out of the water

Arrival at the boatyard

As Baffi’s hull cut through the final stretch of water toward the boatyard, a sense of anticipation filled the air. The Chantier Naval Raphaëlois, located at the exit of Santa Lucia harbor, was a hive of activity. The air was filled with the sounds of work: the hum of engines, the clatter of tools, the shouts of workers. It was our first time in a shipyard, and the atmosphere was electric, charged with the energy of creation and repair.

The distinct smell of the sea was amplified here, underscored by the pungent scent of rotting barnacles from the boats that were getting cleaned. It was a smell that spoke of hard work and dedication, a testament to the countless hours spent maintaining these vessels that dared to challenge the sea.

Baffi was gently guided onto the dry dock, her hull rising from the water to reveal what lay beneath. But we didn’t look right away. The hull had to be pressure washed, the layers of sea salt and marine life scrubbed away to reveal the bare surface beneath. It was like preparing a canvas for a painting, the anticipation of the reveal adding to the excitement.

lunch Le Belouga Saint Raphael
A delicious burger for lunch at Le Belouga Saint-Raphaël

Lunch break and return

As the boatyard buzzed with activity, we found ourselves dispersing for a lunch break. The separate meals were a missed opportunity, a pause in our shared journey. I had hoped to spend this time with Mr. Isnar, the owner of Baffi. His stories, his experiences with Baffi, would have added color to our understanding of the boat. Every boat carries a history within its hull, a narrative woven from the adventures it has embarked upon, and the people it has carried. I had hoped to hear Baffi’s story from the man who knew her best.

But as we ate in separate corners of the harbor, each lost in our own thoughts, I found myself reflecting on the journey so far. The anticipation of the boat inspection, the thrill of setting sail, the buzz of activity at the shipyard – it all felt like a dream. A dream that was slowly turning into reality.

Returning to the boatyard, we were greeted by a transformed Baffi. The hull, once hidden beneath the waterline, was now exposed, revealing a patchwork of peeling paint and signs of marine life. It was a stark reminder of the time Baffi had spent unmoved in the marina water, proof of the resilience of nature.

But beneath the peeling paint and the remnants of barnacles, the hull looked in excellent condition. The sight of it, standing tall and proud in the afternoon sun, filled us with a renewed sense of excitement. The boat inspection was far from over, and there were still many secrets to uncover. But as we stood there, looking at Baffi, we knew that we were one step closer to making our dream of sailing the Mediterranean a reality.

Exterior boat inspection results

As the sun began to dip towards the horizon, casting shadows across the boatyard, we gathered around Baffi. The boat expert, a man whose years of experience were etched in the lines of his face, held a special device in his hand. It was a tool designed to measure the humidity within the hull, a crucial factor in assessing a boat’s condition.

As the device hummed to life, we held our breath. The numbers that appeared on the screen would tell us more about Baffi than any visual inspection could. They would reveal the secrets that lay within her hull, the truths that the eye could not see.

The numbers were better than expected for a boat of Baffi’s age. The hull was dry, a sign of excellent maintenance and care. The expert found no osmosis, a common issue in older boats where water infiltrates the hull, causing it to blister and weaken over time. Nor did he observe any risk of its creation in the near future. It was the best news we could have hoped for!

Emboldened by this good news, Mathieu went to settle the boatyard fee. The cost of removing Baffi from the water, pressure cleaning her hull, and returning her to the water was a necessary expense, an investment in our future voyages.

But Mathieu did more than just settle the bill. Filled with optimism, he scheduled the repainting of the hull for March 16. It was a decision that spoke of his confidence in Baffi, of his belief in her potential. And as a bonus, he managed to secure a discount, a small victory in our journey.

As we stood there, looking at Baffi, we knew that we were one step closer to our dream. The boat inspection had revealed Baffi’s strengths, her resilience, and her potential.

Docking and detailed inspection

As the afternoon sun was warming us up, we sailed back to the marina. The old owner, Mr. Isnar, stood back, leaving the task of docking to the broker. It was a surprising move, but with so many hands on deck, the maneuver was executed smoothly. Baffi slid back into her berth as if she had never left, her journey at sea a secret she carried beneath her hull.

With Baffi safely moored, we embarked on the next phase of our boat inspection – a detailed tour of her interior and exterior. The boat expert led the way, his experienced eyes scanning every inch of Baffi. He pointed out the old electronics, a nostalgic smile playing on his lips as we tried to start some of them. It was a journey back in time, a glimpse into the past through the lens of Baffi’s history.

We rummaged through every nook and cranny, his camera capturing detailed images for the report. The expert explained everything to us, his knowledge and experience evident in his words. He even taught a few new things to the old owner, a testament to his expertise.

One of the most valuable pieces of advice he gave us was on how to recover some of the existing equipment. He showed us how to remove the lines, rinse them thoroughly from saltwater, and clean them in the washing machine. It was a simple yet effective method to restore their properties before deciding to buy new ones. It was a lesson in resourcefulness, a skill that would prove invaluable in our sailing adventures.

As we concluded the detailed inspection, we were left with a deeper understanding of Baffi. We had seen her strengths and her quirks, her history etched in every line and curve. We had seen her not just as a sailboat, but as a companion for our journey. And as the stars began to twinkle in the night sky, we knew that our adventure was just beginning.

Boat inspection conclusion

As the detailed boat inspection came to a close, we found ourselves standing on the pier, the boat expert by our side. The air was filled with a sense of accomplishment, the successful completion of a crucial step in our journey. The expert, his eyes reflecting the wisdom of years spent in the company of boats, shared his final thoughts.

He assured us that the detailed written report would reach us in a few days. But he didn’t leave us in suspense. He made it clear that Baffi was well worth the investment. In fact, she might even be worth a little more than our offer of 27,000 euros. It was a testament to Baffi’s condition, a validation of our decision to consider her as our future sailboat.

With a sense of gratitude, we thanked the marine inspector. His guidance and expertise had been invaluable, shedding light on aspects of Baffi that we would have otherwise overlooked. We said our goodbyes, the promise of the detailed report a bridge to our next interaction.

With the boat expert’s words echoing in our minds, we hurried back to Baffi. It was time to communicate our decision to Mr. Isnar and the broker. The anticipation was palpable as we shared the news – we were buying Baffi!

Naming our future boat

Every boat has a name, a moniker that carries its spirit, its essence. For us, the name of our sailboat was more than just a label. It was a symbol of our journey, a testament to the pieces of our dream coming together. And so, when the time came to name our boat, we chose Puzzle.

The story of how Puzzle got her name is one that is dear to my heart. It was during Baffi’s boat inspection, a moment of quiet amidst the hustle and bustle of the day. We were in the saloon, putting back the sofa cushions on the starboard side after checking the storage underneath. The cushions, each unique in shape and size, fit together like pieces of a puzzle.

“It’s like a puzzle”, the expert remarked, a hint of amusement in his voice.

“Yes, exactly!”, I replied with a cheerfulness in my tone that belied the significance of the moment. For me, his words held a special meaning.

You see, Mathieu had wanted to name the sailboat Puzzle from the very beginning. His love for the series How I Met Your Mother inspired the choice. At first, I was hesitant. The name didn’t resonate with me. But Mathieu, with his persistent affection for the moniker, used it so often that it began to grow on me. I found myself referring to our future houseboat as Puzzle.

And so, when the expert made his offhand remark, it felt like the universe was aligning itself in our favor. His words were the last piece of the puzzle, the final affirmation we needed. At that moment, everything fell into place.

Our sailboat, once known as Baffi, was going to become Puzzle as soon as we signed the papers. It was a name that encapsulated our journey, a name that would carry us across the Mediterranean, one wave at a time.

Boat buying experience – what to look for when buying a boat

Buying a boat, especially a used one, is an adventure in itself. It’s a journey filled with anticipation, excitement, and a fair share of challenges. But with the right guidance and a keen eye for detail, it can be a rewarding experience. Here’s a short account of our experience buying Baffi, now known as Puzzle, and some tips for those considering buying a used boat.

The process of buying a used boat begins long before you set foot on the deck. It starts with research, understanding what you’re looking for, and setting a realistic budget. It’s essential to know the type of boat you want, the features you need, and the price range you’re comfortable with. For us, Baffi ticked all the boxes. She was the right size (even slightly bigger), had the features we needed, and fell within our budget.

Once you’ve found a potential boat, the next step is the boat inspection. This is a crucial part of the process, as it reveals the boat’s condition and any potential issues. We enlisted the help of a boat expert for Baffi’s inspection, ensuring a thorough and unbiased assessment. From checking the engine and rigging at sea to inspecting the hull at the boatyard, every aspect of Baffi was scrutinized.

The boat inspection also provided an opportunity to learn more about the sailboat’s history and quirks. We discovered the old electronics on board, learned how to recover some of the existing equipment, and even found a name for our sailboat during this process.

After the inspection, it was time to make a decision. Armed with the expert’s positive feedback and our own experiences with Baffi, we decided to take the plunge. We communicated our decision to the owner and the broker, then later signed the paperwork, and officially became the proud owners of Puzzle.

Buying a used boat can seem daunting, but with the right approach, it can be a smooth and rewarding process. Here’s a quick checklist to teach you how to buy a boat:

  1. Research. Understand what you’re looking for in a boat and set a realistic budget.
  2. Find potential boats. Use resources like Boat Trader and Autotrader Boats to find boats for sale near you.
  3. Inspect. Enlist the help of a boat expert for a thorough inspection. Use a boat inspection checklist to ensure all aspects are covered.
  4. Decide. Based on the inspection results and your own experiences with the boat, make a decision.
  5. Buy. Communicate your decision, sign the paperwork, and celebrate becoming a boat owner!

Remember, every boat has its own story and quirks. It’s about finding the one that fits your needs and resonates with you.

Buying a used sailboat to sail the Mediterranean dream

As the sun began to set on that memorable day, our hearts filled with a sense of accomplishment. We had navigated the complex process of buying a used boat, and now, we were going to be the proud owners of a sailboat that was ready to sail the Mediterranean Sea.

Looking back on the day’s events, from the detailed boat inspection to the final decision, we realized the importance of each step. The meticulous inspection revealed the true condition of the boat, the expert’s guidance provided invaluable insights, and our own experiences confirmed that we were making the right choice.

The process of buying a used boat, while challenging, was a rewarding journey. It taught us the importance of research, the value of expert guidance, and the joy of finding a boat that resonated with us. It was a journey that led us to Puzzle, a sailboat that was more than just a vessel – it was a dream turned reality.

Are you still wondering what boat should you buy? The answer lies in your dreams, your needs, and your budget. Whether it’s a cabin cruiser, a yacht, or a sailboat like Puzzle, the perfect boat is the one that fits your vision of sailing. It’s the one that calls to you, the one that feels like home the moment you step on deck.

I encourage you, dear soon-to-be sailor, to consider buying a used boat. It’s an adventure filled with discovery, learning, and ultimately, the joy of owning a boat. And who knows, maybe one day, you too will find yourself sailing the Mediterranean Sea, the wind in your sails, the horizon beckoning you towards new adventures.

In the end, buying a sailboat is more than just a transaction. It’s the first step in a journey beyond the confines of the land and into the vast expanse of the sea. It’s a journey that begins with a dream, navigates through the process of buying, and culminates in the joy of sailing. And as watched the Mediterranean Sea stretching out before us, we knew that our journey had just begun.

About the author

Mirela Letailleur The Travel Bunny

Mirela Letailleur, a seasoned travel blogger from Romania currently residing in the sun-kissed South of France, is the mastermind behind The Travel Bunny. Her blog is a treasure trove of insights on affordable European travel, where she shares her unique experiences and practical advice. Mirela’s expertise extends beyond the typical travel guide, as she is a local travel expert and a creative problem solver, always ready to navigate the challenges that come with exploring new territories.

But Mirela’s expertise doesn’t stop at land-based adventures. She has a wealth of knowledge on the ins and outs of boat inspections and the process of buying a used sailboat, making her an invaluable resource for those looking to embark on their own nautical adventures. Her firsthand experience, coupled with her knack for breaking down complex processes into easy-to-understand guides, makes her the go-to expert for aspiring sailors.

Read more about Mirela Letailleur

After finding the perfect used boat for sale, check out these travel blog posts about Med sailing
From dream to reality: Med sailing during the pandemic in 2020
Our sailboat search in France: finding the right sailboat
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