Jan 2008 – Buying In Mexico

Interior of FastAlley

Interior of FastAlley

The East Coast of the USA is definitely the place to be if you want to buy a multihull because the shallow draft of multihulls is perfect for the Bahamas and Caribbean islands.  But my son had precipitously returned to Los Angeles from South Africa so I schlepped across country from DC to LA to be near my granddaughters.

For a number of months I had seen FastAlley (or Savannah as she was called at the time) advertised on the internet.  The boat was in Mexico and was advertised at a price that was double my budget – but Wow, what a boat.  The owners had been cruising around Mexico for 6 years and she was in Bristol condition.

A few months after first seeing her on the internet, I noticed that her selling price had dropped $20,000.  A while later the price dropped $20,000 again.  It was still outside my budget but out of curiosity I called the broker.  At the time you could buy a boat in international waters, and if you kept it outside the USA for 90+ days then you could avoid paying Sales Tax on the purchase price.  However, the government had just upped the anty from 90-days to 1-year.  So if you wanted to buy this boat and save the Sales Tax then you had to leave it outside the country for 1+ year.  Most buyers did not want to be deprived of their boat for so long.  And so the boat lanquished.

A few months later the price dropped $20,000 again. I called the boat broker and asked “What’s wrong with this boat?”.  The broker said that the trimaran had an outside hot/cold deck shower and this was putting off the women who, for the price, wanted an inside shower.  That didnt bother me unduly – I figured when I finally retired in tropical climes I will probably be grateful for an outside deck shower.

A little later it popped up on my search again and this time the price had dropped another $20,000.  I called the broker again and asked, “What is wrong with this boat?”. The broker said that the boat itself is beautiful, but it is in Mexico and most Americans consider that “international” which puts them off.   Since I was originally from South Africa and had been hunting for a multihull in Australia, the Mediterranean, and the Caribbean, I considered Mexico just another American “State” due to its proximity.  However, the price was still outside my budget, so I moved on.

Then the price dropped significantly again.  It was now approaching my price range!!  I called the broker yet again.  She said that the owner’s wife had had a baby and they just wanted out of the boat.  I made an offer.  They accepted.

I had my dream boat.

BUYING IN MEXICO…..

It is a relatively costly experience buying in Mexico – for starters the USA levies a Sales Tax on the purchase price even though you bought it outside the country.

Then you have the initial flight from the USA to La Paz, MX to see the boat.  So its the cost of a flight.  And the hotel fees there.  And restaurants.  And cabs.  Etc.   So you are out $1000 just to view the boat.

The marine survey is another $2000 on top of that – $1000 for the haulout and $1000 to the surveyor.  So by the end of the week you are out $3000 – and hopefully the boat passed the test otherwise its a sunk cost!

I was financing the boat thru the bank that had financed the current owners.  Because the boat is a non-production boat, finding financing is harder than a commercial production boat.  But I had the approval for financing and was committed now so I flew down to La Paz on Jan 18th 2008 to view the boat and do the marine survey.  I had asked to do a moisture test on the boat so that any non-visible rot below the glass would show up.

The surveyor was extremely thorough and went over the trimaran with a fine tooth comb.  The boat was in excellent condition and all accessories, like the dingly, dinghy engine, generator, etc all were also in excellent condition.  The boat is just beautiful.  And covered in GORGEOUS bird’s eye maple.  She is a magnificent trimaran, with so many loving touches that the owner/husband put in place for his wife.  I considered myself abundantly blessed to own this fabulous boat.

LOOKING BACK…..

Looking back I can see there are a number of reasons the trimaran did not sell quickly

  • When they initially put it on the market the complaint from the wives of the buyers was that it did not have an indoor shower.
  • When they first listed the boat, you had to leave the boat in MX for 1 year if you wanted to avoid sales tax.
  • It costs about $1000 to view the boat in Mexico with airfare and hotels and food etc – and you dont know if you really want it yet!
  • You need a skipper to deliver it usually (unless you have the time and skills) – about $5000 for the skipper expenses (his flight, food, etc) to bring the boat from La Paz to Long Beach, CA.
  • And if you want to be crew, you are looking at yet another flight to MX to join the boat.  And $300 stocking up with enough food and snacks for a 2-week trip is yet another cost.
  • You cannot SAIL from the Baja up the coast to California because the wind is directly on your nose, so you are looking at another $900 in fuel costs as you motor the boat all the way up.
  • The boat is 22ft wide so it has to have an end-tie.  There is a FIVE YEAR waiting list for an end-tie anywhere in southern California – five years!!  I suspect this was a big issue for buyers – where to put the thing?
  • Financing is hard to find because it is a custom boat and the Tier 1 banks cant find a comparable boat for pricing it – no comp, no financing – so I eventually financed thru the bank that held the original loan.

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