Buyer beware, there’s some insider jargon that needs deciphering.
Making plans for that new boat? Oddball listings reveal the internet’s dark underbelly knows no boundaries.
Have you ever perused YachtWorld? Of course you have! You probably own a perfectly nice boat. Or three. Maybe a dozen. But that isn’t enough for you, is it? Who among us can resist the temptation to make plans for The Next Boat? So we look. As a yacht designer I tend to look at new and old boats as much or even more than the next guy, but with a decidedly jaded eye. I’m also an average-Joe owner of a Tiara convertible who can’t help but pay close attention to the options available for My Next Boat. Maybe something 45 to 55 feet, a little newer, a little faster … I’ll be right back.
Alright, I just saw a Viking 53 for sale with a rip saw displayed on the salon bulkhead! Look, I manage to wrap a dock line around a prop shaft about once every 20 years, but in this limited experience I’ve found that a Benchmade pocketknife does the trick in that instance. So what’s the deal with the rip saw? Does this seller really need to cut his lines free so often that he keeps a blade on two hooks in the salon, or is he thirdgeneration Acme Saw money? I hope it’s the latter.
Pictures tell much of the story on an internet boat listing, but savvy brokers know they can subvert our accepted boat-speak to subtly convey details the seller might not want broadcast. I learned this lesson in a particularly bitter fashion one hot day in Florida when I drove from Sarasota to Ft. Lauderdale to see a 40-footer which looked pretty good in photos. It took me all of 30 seconds before I turned my back on the boat and broker, got in my car and drove home. During the long slog west on Alligator Alley I began cultivating my own list of the true meanings behind much of the brokerage-boat jargon with which we are all accustomed. I humbly offer this work in progress to you, dear reader, for your benefit as you peruse the online listings tonight with your beverage of choice.
SMOH: We all accept this as meaning “Since Major Overhaul,” as in 200 hours since a major engine overhaul. But as often as not, SMOH means “Since Major Operation Happened.” The owner’s health is on its way out the exhaust, so the boat is for sale.
BRISTOL CONDITION: This is assumed to refer to the English city of Bristol, which historically had a reputation for excellence in shipbuilding and repair, as a means to imply the boat has been maintained with an open checkbook by the most erudite yachtsman who only used the boat one Sunday a year. In fact, it often more accurately refers to Bristol, West Virginia, whose only post office closed in 2005, or Bristol, Nevada, a ghost town. OWNER MOTIVATED: Wife found out about the girlfriend. AVAILABLE FOR WHITE GLOVE INSPECTION: Uhhh, wear gloves, and let the broker lead the way. Rubber boots might be a good idea. Don’t go alone. Ever seen that Netflix series Bloodline? Beware. BOAT IS TURNKEY: This is simply a typo. The boat is a turkey. NEW CARPET NOV. 2018: Hurricane damage October 2018. BRING ALL OFFERS!: This boat is worth less than zero and a new owner should be paid to take possession, as the costs of ownership will exceed the initial purchase price by fivefold in the first season. LESSER BOATS SCURRY FROM HER PATH LIKE COMMONERS MAKING WAY FOR ROYALTY: Look, I saw this on a listing for a 21-year-old production boat. I probably could have made this up, but trust me, I didn’t. It goes on: “Billfish seem to be attracted like fencers honoring a formidable opponent.” (I have nothing to add here.)
Of course, there’s a way to avoid all these scenarios. Buy a new boat! Come on, you know you want one. And besides, one more won’t hurt. Just try to sell yours 200 hours BMOH.