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Don’t buy an X-charter boat is often spouted as gospel by those who frequent internet forums. Their reasoning is typically that the boats have been “rode hard and put up wet”, used and abused by their crews or bareboaters and thus will be full of problems to the potential buyer. While there may be some truth in that, purchasing an X-charter boat from a reputable company could offer some benefits.

“If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.” Joeseph Goebbels

Before our friend Michael purchased One Love and renamed her, she was named Serendipity and was a bareboat charter vessel in the Moorings fleet. She was in the program for 5 years before being offered for sale by her owner. What many would-be buyers may not know, when a Moorings boat is sold it goes through as extensive Phase Out before the new owner takes possession. The idea is that this is when many of the vessel’s deficiencies are taken care of, and we all know that all boats have issues, new and used.

In our personal case, we had Serendipity professionally surveyed on March 7th, this being a condition of the purchase contract. The survey resulted in a CAOV (conditional acceptance of vessel) which listed 77 items that would need to be addressed before closing on the boat. The Moorings looked at that list and agreed to tend to 76 of those items, the other 1 being attributed to normal wear and tear. 76 out of 77 is pretty good, right? The question is, would they follow through?

As it turned out, the Moorings crew had tackled the vast majority of the items before we even arrived in Tortola. When we did show up at their Phase Out facility in Hodges Creek, we found numerous men at work on the boat, each tending to their own specific items.

With the BVI carnival commencing shortly after we arrived, we ended up in a bit of a time crunch. Having addressed almost all of the items on the CAOV, Michael was under some degree of pressure to sign off on the boat even though we had yet to take her out for a sea trial. It was then that we had to take another leap of faith.

After being encouraged by both the Moorings broker Richard and the chief of the Phase Out team Robert, Michael decided to sign off on the boat and then take One Love out for a week-long shakedown cruise, under the assumption that they would fix any problems that we encountered after carnival. Well, of course we found problems! That was no surprise to any of us. I should point out that Michael signed off on the boat with these questions still in the air even though he was being advised otherwise by several friends. The fact is that we simply believed that the Moorings guys would do what they said they would, making good on their promises.

Throughout the course of the week, we had been in contact with the Moorings through our broker Wiley, letting them know the items that we felt would need to be looked after. When we ultimately showed back up to the Phase Out facility first thing yesterday morning, the guys descended upon the boat like flies, each already having been tasked with certain items on our list. I should point out that while several of the items were no brainers that had to be addressed (gear oil leak from the sail drives), it could have been argued that a few of them were not on our original CAOV and thus wouldn’t be fixed. In spite of that, we received absolutely no grief from the Moorings crew, especially Robert, who had no problem getting his fingers dirty, fixing the odd issue himself while his guys tended to other matters.

I am writing this post while sitting on One Love as she remains tied to the dock at Hodges Creek. There are still one or two things to be addressed this morning and I suspect the guys will be showing up here shortly to resume work. Our experience with purchasing an x-charter boat, specifically one from the Moorings, has been anything but negative. A good thing to remember is that just because you read something on the internet does not make it true.

51 Comments

  1. Awesome feedback Mike! I think Moorings sets the standard for phase out operations. When we looked at purchasing a Lagoon 410 back in 2005, I was amazed then at the level of detail Moorings was giving the vessel we were looking at. I say this because I looked at 10-15 boats from Fort Lauderdale all the way down to Le Marin. Nobody else came close to Moorings. So many others had filthy bilges, mold under everything, and were generally unkept. Kudos to Moorings, and we will be working with them again in 18-24 months..

  2. I would like to believe you, but I was just told not to believe everything I read on the Internet… My head is spinning…. I need some rum….

  3. Congratulations to you and Moorings for getting everything fixed. The amazing thing to me is that they had this expensive boat in charter with 77 things wrong with it. Do you have any idea why they did not keep up with at least some of them along the way? Especially if all the fixes were on Moorings dime at the end. Does not give me a warm and fuzzy feeling about chartering from Moorings unless you go with the “new” boat fleet.

    • We were extremely detailed in our list! I am sure that at least some of the items would have been addressed anyway at the next scheduled maintenance session. Then again, I don’t know exactly how they organize that.

  4. Not surprised. We bareboat chartered with Moorings many times and considered putting a boat in their fleet many years ago. They always delivered what they promised, which kept us coming back.

  5. Appreciate the article Mike – I, as I’m sure some of your other readers, are dreaming of the day that we either buy a used charter boat to refit and go cruising, or potentially buy a boat and put it into charter (5 years before a refit and going cruising!). I met someone last March down in the BVI who had just bought his boat (my dream boat – the Leopard 44) through Moorings and had placed it in their fleet for a 5 year term. It was early days, but he was extremely happy with their service and the experience thus far.

    Any chance you can post the list of 77 issues? We want to see how picky you are, and how serious the issues were! Also, what was the one item they refused to fix? (you say why, but not what!).

    Fair winds,
    Dyce

    • The list included everything from replacing mildly chafed lines to re-bedding of hatches/windows to repairing spider cracks in the gelcoat. The item they did not agree to was replacing the shower fixtures which no longer look nice and shiny. We’ll be replacing them on our own dime I guess.

  6. Great post captain Mike, I was hoping hear some of the nitty gritty. Your even getting refit captain experience. I’ve heard over and over that the truth is in the pudding……will this be banana cream? 🙂

  7. Still dreaming of an X-Yacht 😉

    http://www.x-yachts.se/

  8. Good post Mike!

    Good info, and yes, contrary to what I believed.

  9. Mike … Getting 76 out of 77 items addressed without issue sounds awesome. Curious as to what types of things you actually had on the CAOV (any chance list might find its way online). Did you list every deficiency you found and hoped for the best? Are their certain things just expected they will address if pointed out?

    Also not asking the price paid but curious as to the percentage of the asking price that was negotiated (if thats not crossing a line) and if you believe that had an impact on what they were willing to repair?

    As usual your blog is great and enjoy following you two!!!

    • Our friend paid 100% of the asking price. He wanted a 4600 and we knew exactly how many were coming on the market out of charter. This one was priced lower than some others and we had it under contract early. I do not think that the selling price had anything to do with how the phase out team treated us. I do think our attitude towards them had a lot to do with it. In other words, we were cool. If you act like a dick, I suspect you’d get treated differently.

      As for the list, I mentioned a few items in my answer to another comment. I am not going to post the entire list but it was quite varied. Yes, I suspect they would have fixed a bunch of the stuff even if we hadn’t mentioned it.

  10. Great review! Its nice to see someone take the time to write up something positive on buying an ex-charter boat! If I were in a position to choose either an ex-charter Leopard 46 for $400k, or a private never chartered Leopard 46 for $600K I think I know which direction I would go…

    Glad to hear the guys in Tortola are treating you all right!

    Kind regards,
    Wiley Sharp
    Denison Yacht Sales
    561 613 8985
    Wiley@DenisonYachtSales.com

  11. I will be interested in a review one (1) year into the process to see what (if any) large maintenance issues arise…..I like to always throw the warranty card at the dealer on a new boat…..When buying a new or used, it is more important to buy from the right broker or dealer who see’s the larger picture……I am sure your blog can slightly influence their diligence too….No dealer or broker wants negative factual based problems out there……

    • While a warrantee is nice in certain situations, especially on a large ticket item, taking advantage of that requires you to be in a spot where they have service people. The warrantees on many smaller items purchased in the US are next to worthless to us as repairs require shipping the item back to the US.

  12. We owned a boat in The Moorings fleet in BVI from March 2000 until phased out and sold in July 2005. The guy we sold it to did his purchaser’s sea trials with us as we did The Moorings phase-out sea trials. Moorings immediately fixed the few items he wanted addressed and our sale was closed the same day. That guy is still sailing that boat in the Caribbean and remains totally pleased with the boat. He did have one issue arise a few weeks after he purchased the boat from us — and Moorings resolved that issue to his satisfaction. Ex-charter boats might be a can or worms but if that boat has been in The Moorings fleet (most especially in the BVI fleet) then it most likely has been well-maintained.

  13. Our experience with the phase out of our 463 Beneteau was perfect at Moorings Tortola

    We sold it the day phase out was completed. The new owner returned to the Moorings a few weeks later with an issue. It was taken care of. It can’t get any better. Moorings GM, Clarence Malone is the best Charter Boat Base Manager I have ever met.

  14. I’m sure that the fact that the boat is the subject of a high profile blog also helped create a bit of focus on the outstanding issues! 🙂

  15. I have also heard that if you are to buy an X-Charter boat the only place you should go to is Moorings.

    One thing I did hear was that the engine hours on a multi are much higher than engine hours on a mono after a five year charter service. Is that another “heard it on the Internet” rumor that I can scratch off my list?

    How many hours did your boat have?

    Thanks as always!

    -craig

  16. […] Read about the purchase from skipper Michael Sweeney’s perspective on his terrific blog, Zero … […]

  17. Thank You for Writing this, we just purchased a moorings boat today, the survey will be dome next week, we were told by one of our friends at the Marina they saw the staff strippimg down our boat to put the god items on another one that sold a few weeks ago
    We are hoping that our boat gets all New items.
    As we will ne getting a deficiency list for sure.

  18. We picked up a Moorings Oceanis 40 from a family that bought it from Moorings and spent a year sailing. All of the very detailed survey items were handled in phase out, down to changing rusted hose clamps in the head sinks. A year later our survey only found two items that had to be repaired, worn spreader roots and non-waterproof bilge pump float switch. I’d buy another boat from Moorings, with a thorough survey of course.

    Cheers, RickG

  19. I bought a boat from Moorings a few months ago and I can assure you that they did not do many of the things they promised and when I had system failures that they were supposed to have completed they basically said tough luck. My broker, who used to work for Moorings also promised to help and then folded and did nothing. I guess he was more worried about future dealings with Moorings than his clients.

    The Moorings failure ended up costing me several thousand dollars and I got nothing from them even though the marina where I had to have it hauled clearly stated they had not replaced the parts they claimed to have replaced.

    • Hi Dave,

      Sorry to hear that. Curious, where was your boat purchased? When you say they ‘promised” to do something, was it written into the CAOV (Conditional Acceptance of Vessel) or just something you were verbally told and if so, told by who?

  20. You Guys sure make it sound wonderful. Charter boats sit in sun covered in salt and driven like tugboats by lazy charterers that forget they are on a sailing vacation. Also a place like the British Virgin Islands is a very small marine industry community. The brokers, boatyards and surveyors are all joined at the hip. I remember a friend buying a phased out charter boat which was surveyed,; the surveyor (like so many) never went aloft to inspect masthead or rigging. My friend bought into some heavy reapairs and a crooked keel. The crooked keel was never mentioned in the survey conducted by a Tortola surveyor. Oh my, guess the surveyor never eyeballed the keel from astern, or if he did he gave his brokerage friend “a pass”.

  21. I too purchased a mooring 39i out of the Abacos and had a wonderful experience with them. They even loaned me a dingy for 10 days at no charge after we closed on our boat while we cruised the Abacos! we decided to purchase an ex-charter boat after a long and extensive evaluation between what we wanted, needed, and could afford. Bottom line is we couldn’t touch the price for a similarly sized, year, condition non-charter boat as what we wound up purchasing from the Moorings. That being said it left some room in our budget to upgrade several items to exactly what we wanted and still be way ahead on $$. I have been though the boat from top to bottom and there were several thing (mostly repairs during the boat being in charter) that were not up to snuff, but nothing major. If you understand that you will have to spend some $$ on your ex-charter boat to get it into tip top shape, you will find you are still going to be money way ahead in the end. If you are not familiar with boat and boat systems, it would definitely pay to hire a qualified surveyor for piece of mind and pocket, but don’t use one of the locals!

    • We contracted to buy a monohull from the Moorings in Abaco in June and it has been a real headache. After a survey and repair list was agreed on, three months later very few of the repairs have been completed, they lied to us that they were and we unfortunately wired the full purchased amount, although have not signed off completely. The surveyor was unable to get to Marsh Harbor because of the impending hurricane Erika, which did not manifest, and when he arrived he found the major repairs were not done. The Base Manager is no where to be seen, spending the next weeks in Florida. We have requested a full refund and are hoping to purchase a boat in BVI. We bought a boat from Moorings St Martin and were very happy with it. Glad to hear BVI has a good rep, unfortunately we can’t say the same about Abaco, we were hoping to base a boat a little closer to home. We are hoping that Moorings will act in good faith and uphold their decent reputation. Will update when this is resolved.

      • That is unfortunate. Hopefully you’ll have a better experience in the BVI.

        I will add this, I wouldn’t trust work to be done ANYWHERE, by any company, on any island, without being around to oversee it.

  22. Thinking of buying a ex-charter power cat from moorings BVI. Was interested in how long it took them to fix the 76 problems.

    Thanks, jon

    • I don’t recall exactly. We took possession around the end of July 2013. If you check the posts following that date you’ll see where I detail what went on. We had the unfortunate situation where our phase out overlapped the BVI carnival. NOTHING happens during carnival in the islands!

  23. I am currently considering a purchase with the moorings on Tortola. Can you tell me who you used for your survey?

    Thanks. Joe

  24. If you are looking to purchase a yacht coming out of charter, AVOID Moorings/Sunsail…anything owned by TUI. Recent experience…my client arranged to purchase a large catamaran in the middle of 2015 (and me to assist returning to US and with acceptance checks). After survey there were a number of issues that the Moorings was to have addressed. In October they assured my client that they couldn’t get the work done in a timely manner in St. Martin, so they were moving the vessel to Tortola to get work done. In December they assured my client that all work was done and he could come down and close the purchase (this on a Friday phone call). When we arrived Sunday afternoon NOT ONE OF THE ITEMS HAD BEEN ADDRESSED!!! After another week of excuses from the Moorings we flew back to the US. Six weeks later we flew back, having been assured by the Moorings that all work had been completed. Same horrible experience…very little had been done and the quality of work that had been done was pathetic (e.g. rewiring of some components…we opened access panels and found wires wrapped together…no butt connectors, no electrical tape…just raw wires wrapped together!!!!). They said they would clean the boat before we got there…they did; used a (high) pressure washer…you can imagine what that did to the seals on windows and ports. Did they offer to address these issues – no.

    I have NEVER seen a corporation take such a callous attitude towards a customer. After he finally took delivery of the vessel (still with additional promises to complete work) it was moved over to another marina there in Tortola. No surprise when we met two other couples who had recently purchased vessels from the Moorings/Sunsail – they had the same pitiful experience. This is not a one-time experience.

    So, if you are planning to purchase from a TUI owned organization:
    1) Have a through survey
    2) Do not close on the purchase until all work has been accomplished and inspected
    3) Plan on holding back at least 20% of purchase price until all work has been completed to your satisfaction. Consider asking for a project plan for work to be done and adding a penalty clause associated with work being completed on time and meeting a quality standard.

    Better yet…buy from someone else.

    • That sucks, Rick. I could definitely see it though. I was there to “herd the cats,” and even then it took some work to get everything done.

      As for your comment about buying from someone else, I’d be surprised if any charter company is better.

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