The Cost of Buying and Selling our Boat

As we sit in South Florida cowering from the cold and snow up north, we are fortunate enough to have some friends in the area with boats that are very similar to ours, which we sold in the fall of 2018.

Our boat was a 2015 Leopard 44, while our local friends all own the Leopard 45, an evolution of our model and a beautiful boat. Some have been on their boat for a year or so, while others are just getting started, still doing custom work and upgrading systems.

Hanging around these great folks and their beautiful boats has started us thinking about getting back into our next one, perhaps a bit sooner that we had planned. With the terrible exchange rate of the Canadian vs US dollar, and the lack of available Leopard 45s on the used market, we had assumed it would be at least a year or more before seriously starting to look again. Well, the motivation is there, so we figured the best way to look at the next boat is to review what occurred the last time, and like most people, the key factors to consider are generally associated with money.

As we meet more and more Leopard boat owners, we’re discovering that most of them are not terribly rich. They are typically middle-class folks similar to us who have worked hard, saved along the way and for the most part, made wise decisions to grown their savings. They were fortunate to retired, or semi-retired, and  young enough to enjoy an active cruising lifestyle, with income from their pensions and/or investments to support them. So affording a boat, doesn’t mean you need tons of money, you just need to have a good measure of what is coming in and going out, then develop a plan based on that information.

With a nod to Golden Eye, we like to refer to Christa as the Evil Queen of Numbers.  She carefully tracks all our expenses, which has provided us with a great Excel spreadsheet that covers everything from our initial plans and assumptions, to the proceeds of the sale. Some of these hard numbers confirmed a few things, while others were a surprise once all the numbers were tallied.

The topics we are reviewing for our own purposes towards the next boat are listed below. They will also serve as a good source of information for others and their own planning. As we finish a post for each topic, it will be linked to the associated page:

All of the dollar amounts will be in US dollars to reduce any confusion, so keep in mind that if you are reading this from outside the US, the exchange rate fluctuations can have a significant impact on your budget and spending, as it certainly has with us. As an example, take a look at the 5 year CAD vs USD chart. Imagine your surprise and frustration if you started your 5-year plan in 2014 when the Canadian dollar was almost 95 cents US. Couple that with the fact that with these kinds of boats, the supply can’t meet the demand in either the new or used market, which drives the cost up even further.

The dollar figures will mean something different to everyone based on their own financial situation. A variance of a few thousand dollars may be an annoyance for some, but a deal breaker for others depending on the circumstance. In our buying experience, we walked away from the first boat offer after flying to Tortola in the BVI, over a difference of $9,000 with the seller, but we have spent many more times that amount on items we wanted, but didn’t actually need, on the boat we did buy. This is because we had decided early on that we would spend more money to get a better boat, in essence looking for “best value” as opposed to “the best price.” Would someone else have done the same thing? How does each person define value?

Hopefully we can help add some financial context for folks who are looking at getting into a catamaran, or any comparable vessel. Keep in mind that this is just data, with a small bit of information about our thinking at the time. Each decision can be seen as either good or bad depending on an infinite number of variables particular to each individual.

And always remember the famous quote that says, “Sailing is the most expensive way to travel for free.”


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