ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Sell Your Boat Without Getting Ripped Off

Updated on February 16, 2016
Captn Robert profile image

Robert Beringer is a Florida-based marine journalist who writes for most national sailing, boating, and outdoor magazines.

The Two Greatest Days in a Boater's Life

One of the oldest marine maxims is that the two greatest days in a boater's life is the day he buys his boat, and the day he sells it. I’m here to tell you that’s just not so, because the latter day far outshines the former. Ask any salesperson you know: selling is harder than buying.

Long & hard I had searched for her: a stout craft that would take me and my new wife to ultima Thule and back. Using a combination of print ads, the internet, and a good salesman in St. Petersburg I zeroed in on a short list of finalists in southeast Florida and bought my plane ticket.

I was hoping to find a recent model with low engine hours, and to avoid a “bargain” boat—one that would require a lot of repairing and refitting.

In one frantic weekend I put 250 miles on a rental car, treading the decks and soles of maybe 40-boats before I saw the winner floating in the canal behind an airline pilot’s house in Punta Gorda: a 1992 Catalina 34 in mint condition. “This boat is awesome”, I told him during the test sail. “Why would you want to sell her?” He laughed and responded that, “my friends all have power boats and I can’t keep up with them.”

No question about it, the day I closed the sale did not feel like one of the greatest days of my life. How would I pay for, sail, fix, and outfit this leviathan? The newly christened Ukiyo (Japanese for The Floating World) tugged at its dock lines, mocking my ineptitude.

Docking was particularly vexing, a couple practice runs ended with the boat being “stopped” by the pier. But after a few weeks of constant practice (and careful fender placement) the initial squeamishness of this large purchase gave way to a complete sense of peace and satisfaction. How could I have lived so long without this floating home of ours? We were married on the foredeck and we never looked back. For the next five-years we touched almost every port between Pensacola and Philadelphia, putting 12,000 miles under our keel.

And then something wonderful happened that set the stage for the other greatest day in a boater's life. Two baby girls, in rapid succession, came screaming into our lives. Thank Poseidon they both enjoyed the boat, even when it bounced around, but before long our erstwhile spacious boat began to shrink. First I was evicted from the fo’c’sle to the bunk in the saloon, and then my wife found herself bumped from that comfy corner a few months later.

Here Come the Scam Artists

Obdurately, the girls and their accoutrements grew. One cartload trip from the car became four, and one Target bag full of garbage became five. Clearly, it was time to either trim the crew or increase the size of the boat. Alas, boats are not like houses that rooms can be added to, you must discard the old and purchase a larger version.

So with heavy heart I put the for sale sign on the hull a few months ago, with an asking price of a little above its book value and ran ads in various media. I believe I set my expectations appropriately: it’s a tough market out there, gasoline and home foreclosures are at record levels, adult toys do not sell quickly.

The print and internet ads I ran drew a tepid response. Most of the calls went something like this: “sounds like a nice boat, but the price is a little more than we wanted to spend.” Another cheeky respondent wanted to “rent” the boat for the summer, offering scarcely more than the cost of the slip.

But by far, the largest number of responses have been the infamous scam emails, most of which sound too good to be true (and you know what that means). Here’s one I received, word-for-word:

I am an agent interested in immediate purchase of your item. After several consideration over the advert placed on the website,my client has really shown interest in it.The payment that will be drawn by my client would include the cost for shipping this item to my client and my commission would be included on the same payment. We shall solely be responsible for the shippment of the item and let me know how much you are sell the item last, my client wil know exactly amount is paying me asap via email for futher questions as regards this transaction,if you really show willingness in selling this item

This is the poorly spelled bait letter sent from foreign con artists to hundreds of boat owners in hopes of finding a few who are desperate enough to fall for this old ruse. Just for fun I responded, and received this reply:

Hi ,
Thank you for your response,Well happy to inform you that i have concluded payment arrangements with the client, who really commended your Boat and has instructed to move on with the deal at the price of ($55,000),He said he will be going on a vacation soon and will rest virtually all the transaction on my shoulder and assign an agent like wise that i will work with and stressed that he will be issuing out a cashier check of ($63,300) which was a refund payment of a cancelled order earlier made by him but will be filed in your name for the payment by his debtor,you are only required to deduct the cost of your Boat which is($55,000) and send the back the balance when payment gets to you to the agent whose information will be given to you as at when due, he will be needing the funds to offset shipping charges, taxes and other cosmetic repairs/touches of the goods he bought,which your Boat is inclusive,the agent will be responsible for signing and transfering of title paper and also pick-up of the Boat and other items bought by him in U.S.A accordingly.

Smells fishy, doesn’t it? Who buys a boat without seeing it and arranging for a reputable marine survey first? This overpayment scam is listed on as #4 on the top ten hoaxes in history. You should never accept money orders or checks and turn around and send part of the money to anyone, no matter what the reason.

I have already seen replacement boats that would be perfect for a family of four, but the only thing worse than not having a boat, is having a boat you can’t get rid of—I insist on selling the old before buying new. Perhaps it’s time to give in and list with a broker.

And so, the girls continue their growth spurts and our weekend sails on the St. Johns are happy, if crowded affairs. Ukiyo remains posted online while I search for a buyer and dream of a large aft cabin that I can forever lay my head in; with plenty of room for family and friends.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      B. Brother Tom  

      9 years ago

      "beware the seller"


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)