It doesn’t matter if the venue is a yacht broker’s site, craigslist or one of the many boat buying and selling Facebook groups. A certain portion of boat sales ads are typically written from a position of what we’ll call unwarranted optimism. When you see the words and phrases below in an ad, it’s hard not to do a little mental translation:

Full of potential!

Translation: Full of work that needs to be done!

This boat’s hull has beautiful lines and a nasty case of dock rash. She will be a great liveaboard once someone replaces the head, fixes three soft spots in the deck and figures out why the transmission slips in reverse.

Motor ran when I put her in dry dock.

(Which was three years ago. Also, I think that a family of rats live on it now.)

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Chances are good that time has burnished the memory of this boat, and any issues it had when it was put away are now forgotten. Plus, if it’s sat without maintenance for any length of time, who knows what’s gone bad in the time in between.

Mostly finished project boat, needs just a few things.

Translation: I ran out of money.

With a boat, there are always “just a few more things.” Something always needs to be repaired or updated.

In a project boat that is sold mid-project, these things are probably all things that need to be done before she’s even insurable. And, every one of these things is either a) more expensive and time-consuming than the boat will ever be worth or b) completely impossible.

A great example of a mid-project sale

That should buff out.

It will not, in fact, buff out.

$10,000 worth of new parts!

Translation: this boat needed a lot when I bought her.

We’ve all seen the ads where the seller meticulously lists every replaced part and what it cost. These folks want desperately to recover their investment, but even they know that that money is spent.

120′ of extra chain…must be a great deal!!


Sure…your 1984 S2 was professionally maintained.
And those “lightly used” 2013 sails are obviously going to be extra fast!