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New Boat Search - small 28'-32' full-keel solo cruiser - Are all mono-hulls in Asia ghost boats?


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I see lots of posts where people say "Rather than sail to SE-ASIA, I think I should just go there and buy a boat", well if that's your plan, then read on.

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I had a new flicka-20 that I sailed PNW for +20 years solo, and then moved to Thailand +10 years ago, I miss not having a boat;

Been looking now over +1 year for a small sailboat here in Thailand/Malaysia.

Some +90% of all the boats for sale in region that are sail, are big-cat's; Very few mono-hull, and hardly no full-keel cruisers of pocket range. ( 28'-32' )

 

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To date 4 of 4 boats that I have made offers, it turned out that 3 of 4 were broker, and the 4th was private party, funny thing is none of the boats had 'clear title' ( transferable legal ); So the problem here is 1 finding the boat, and 2 finding a boat with a legal-title. Most of the scams are divorce/death, where probate kicks in or 'settlement' and puts the title into dispute 2-3 years, but clock doesn't start ticking until death/divorce is publicly declared, and of course because everybody remains mute, then clock never starts ticking, under COVID where some boats have now sat for +3 years on the 'stand', lots of these boats can be confiscated if they re-enter the water, it doesn't matter if you 'paid' for the boat, because the boat itself had become government property.

In all cases I asked 'seller' does the boat have a clear title "Of Course" is/was always the answer, funny thing I have discovered is the only people who can 'lose their license' for transacting a fraud are lawyers, given that 90% of the brokers and surveyors are 'un-licensed'  and un-bonded they essentially have 'nothing to lose'.

The private party scam I have found here is people just copy&paste 'for sale boats' and then try to get you to wire 100% funds to their account; In many cases the boats advertised are by a friend of the real owner, but the ad's just stay up, and never go down; The real-owners don't even seem to care, they just say "My boat is not for sale".

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Normally I would just find a suitable boat anywhere, stuff it into a container and ship to Thailand and reassemble, I have done it before it was a nightmare, and now containers and even thinking about global-shipping is super hard. Last time I bought a new container it was $1500 USD ten years ago, I'm hearing they're $10k now. If you don't own the container the scam is they charge you 'rent' forever at outrageous fee's, super easy to sell or re-purpose containers at this end. ( These days your container could sit forever, and all the while your paying 'rent' )

Anybody have an opinion let me know, if you bother to read the below, buying a 28'-32' boat and shoving into a 40' container, may be the best and only way to get a good pocket-cruiser into se-asia in my lifetime.

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When I lived in USA, I always bought new boats, and I always sold my boats through INTL-Registry offices where they would handle transfer, taxes and escrow. I had over the signed-title, and the buyer pays and and gets the keys. I get wired the settlement same day. So I guess I'm spoiled.

 

Buying a 'used boat' is like buying a used-car from the worst scammer to be found; I would certainly think that a normal person would have a boat for sale. I'm discovering that normal people who do bring their 'boats' to SE-ASIA and sell them only do so because they run out of money and/or time.

 

What I find in general here in ASIA, that all boats 'for sale' are the situation where the cruising couple abandons ship here in Malay/Thailand either by divorce and/or death; Then the boats sits for years, under COVID even longer. Because of the fact that all these country's only allow temporary import for six months, and no change in 'title' it means that all these boats essentially become 'government property'; Also  there are now tons of boats just sinking, not unlike the $1 USD boats in Canada, where people just walk away. So the Gov's here now require insurance. The marina fee's here are very expensive, in Phuket average mooring cost is $50 USD per foot, so your 40' normal sailboat would be $2,000 USD/MON, and that's the same whether on the stand or in the water. Ouch, I mean my last boat my flicka-20, I never paid more than $100/mon no matter where I went ever.

This why I want a small-boat, to keep it under 30', I know of place where the moorage is $5/ft/mon, so I would pay $150 that would be fair.

 

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Like I already mentioned, most of the boats here are BIG-CATS, essentially lease-back deals where $500K Cats are rented out $1k/day, and then flushed when 2-3 years old, so that's why the only boats on the market are big-cats; The only full-keel sailboats coming in are these couple-dream boats, but under COVID that has stopped, so it may take years to bring in a new inventory.

 

Then of course there are the dozens of these 'ghost boats' that have TITLES in LIMBO, where no attempt is being made to do good on the situation, brokers are just waiting for lockdown to end, so all the boats can be flushed through 'lax langkawi', but those days have ended, as Malaysia is planning on re-purposing Langkawi from a tax/duty free booze port to a eco-topia island, and making it much harder for ghost boats to be  dumped in the region. Meaning that even if you did buy a boat in Thailand, and were told it would be flushed through Malay and made good, the reality might be quite different if&when Malay ever opens back up.

When you think that moorage is $2k/month USD, and boat is left in ASIA 2-4 years, your talking a moorage debt of $100K USD, often the moorage cost is more than these boats are worth, of course the yard doesn't hold the title, so they can't be sold, and courts seem to take 2-3 years to settle all title disputes, given most titles are say from 'germany' there are the issues of even getting those country's to cooperate.

Most of  the cases I'm seeing is just a simple divorce of the younger couples, and one party refusing to sign off the title; The older couples generally see a death, where the probate must be declared publicly and recorded, and then it takes 2-3 years for the asia governments to make a decision. This is quite common here when somebody dies, its not unusual to see 100's of old girlfriends to come forward and make a claim on an estate.

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Which all goes back to the scams, collect non-refundable deposits on boats that can be re-sold forever, collect survey fee's upfront ( cash in advance ) on boats that will never be surveyed; I'm seeing these ghost-boats to be an permanent source of cash flow, for people who can 'work from home' any where in the world.

Perhaps I should be looking in Nigeria for a sailboat?

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1 hour ago, bilbobeer said:

Anybody have an opinion let me know, if you bother to read the below, buying a 28'-32' boat and shoving into a 40' container, may be the best and only way to get a good pocket-cruiser into se-asia in my lifetime.

Any specific objection to buying a boat in Australia and have someone sail it up to Thailand for you? Surely that's much easier than container shipping it anyway?

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  • 2 weeks later...

If you sail in Japan and catch a pot line, you can be heavily fined, like $250,000 about 10 years ago at least. So Take Tenaka searched the world to find the boat that would accomplish his needs and had an Ensign Classic built and shipped around the world. He also came to America and sailed a National regatta with my brother and had his picture taken with Gary Jobson. 
 

Go figure. There’s a (somewhat normal) response to every query on this site, Maui!
 

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14 minutes ago, Sail4beer said:

If you sail in Japan and catch a pot line, you can be heavily fined, like $250,000 about 10 years ago at least. So Take Tenaka searched the world to find the boat that would accomplish his needs and had an Ensign Classic built and shipped around the world. He also came to America and sailed a National regatta with my brother and had his picture taken with Gary Jobson. 
 

Go figure. There’s a (somewhat normal) response to every query on this site, Maui!
 

Maybe the Westsail 32 owner wants to sail over there from the Great Lakes and sell the boat, if he can get it off the dock. Win/win.

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