Skipper Buds – A Great Sailboat Purchase Experience

Skipper Buds LogoWe purchased our recent project boat, a Catalina 30 from Skipper Buds in Bay City Michigan. In the past, working with dealerships has been hit or miss for us – some have been terrible to deal with, but Skipper Buds was great. Possibly because they are a large chain of dealerships, they have great service, clear processes and were a pleasure to deal with.

First, we initially inquired about a Hunter 33, which actually sold before we even had a chance to think about it. The sales rep asked about what we were looking for, and called back a few weeks later with another boat that we might be interested in.

Since we were looking for a project boat, we were definitely on the low-end price-point wise of what they sell, so we weren’t necessarily expecting great service. What we received was tremendous service. The boat that we purchased was about 6 hours from where we live, so we only had the opportunity to look at it once before making the purchase.

A few of the things that Skipper Bud’s did that really went above and beyond include:

  • Provide us with recommendations for other services we needed, like shipping.
  • Take photos of specific parts of the boat that we forgot to take pictures of when we first viewed it.
  • Test the electrical systems (and they even sent us a video to verify that they worked).
  • We took possession of the boat in the middle of the winter in Michigan; they hooked the boat up to shore power for us so that we could work on the boat and use space heaters.
  • The sales rep, John, was extremely knowledgeable and friendly and very communicative. He got back to us quickly and we were never having to chase him for answers.

Everybody from the sales staff, to the receptionist to the guy handling the paperwork were all very knowledgeable and friendly.

As a large dealership, they really seemed to be well organized, helpful and they all really went out of their way to find us the boat we wanted and make it happen. If you are in the market for a boat, definitely consider dealerships like Skipper Buds. Working with the sales rep saved us a lot of time – since he knew what we were looking for, he was able to keep us up-to-date on their inventory.

 Where have you purchased from? What was your experience like?

5 Things EVERYONE Onboard a Sailboat Should Be Able to Locate

5 Things Every Boat Passenger Should Know How to FindOne of the joys of sailing (especially on larger vessels) is sharing the experience with family and friends.

When brining guests onboard, it is helpful to give them a quick orientation so that they can locate key safety equipment quickly in the event of an emergency. Similar to how airlines have those annoying safety videos before takeoff, it is helpful to make sure that your passengers know where your safety equipment is incase they need it.

Often when there is an issue onboard, the captain is at the helm (or perhaps the captain has fallen overboard).

Make sure that all of your guests know the location of key equipment including….

1) Lifejackets

2) VHF

3) Throwable

4) Fire Extinguisher

5) First-Aid Kit

The fact is, you never know what will happen on a boat… better safe than sorry.


10 Things to Consider When Choosing a Marina for Your Sailboat

Sailboat marinaChoosing a marina is one of the most important decisions that any sailboat owner will make, and should not be taken lightly. Many marinas try to lure sailors with their amenities and beautiful photos, but there is a lot more to consider. When choosing a marina, look beyond the obvious, and be sure that you are selecting somewhere that you will really be comfortable.

Here are 10 things to consider when choosing a marina:

1) Depth

The depth of the marina and any surrounding channels is very important, especially if you have a deep draft. You’ll want to consider seasonal changes in water levels for lakes or rivers, or tides if you are on the ocean. In our marina, the water level drops towards the end of the season and in storms (as much as 3 -4 feet). Boats in shallower slips sometimes find their season cut-short or that they’ve become grounded when water levels decline. Be sure to ask about current water levels, as well as variations.

2) Quiet Hours

Whether you are a night-owl or you prefer to retire early, finding a marina with quiet hours that matches your preferences is key. While most marinas claim to have some sort of quiet hours, the enforcement of these hours varies dramatically. Make the effort to check out the marina on a busy weekend evening, to observe the noise level on a typical night.

3) Amenities

Consider the amenities that are important to you, and avoid being drawn in by things that you won’t really use. Look for amenities including:

  • Pool
  • Fire-pit
  • Cooking areas (grill)
  • Common rooms
  • Bathhouses
  • Yacht club
  • Beaches/swimming areas
  • Shop or general store
  • Boat store
  • Availability of ice
  • Restaurants
  • Wifi (and how reliable it is)

4) Cleanliness of Bathhouses

If you plan to spend a lot of time at the marina, a well-maintained bathhouse is a must. Check out the bathhouses, and ask about the cleaning schedule. Nothing can make your stay more uncomfortable than dirty showers, or restrooms that smell badly.

5) What are the People Like?

One of the best things about having a sailboat in a marina is meeting other sailors and making new friends. Finding a marina with people that you like is important. Spend some time at the marina, and try to talk to a few people to get a feel for who your boat neighbors might be.

6) Distance from Vehicle to Boat

While it might not seem like a big deal, every time you are on your boat you’ll be bringing things with you, and a long walk can be a huge pain. Look at the layout of the marina and ask about slips available closest to the parking. We had a slip in a marina that was almost a half a mile from the parking lot – it was quite the hike!

7) Distance from Islands or other Attractions

Let’s face it. Sailboats move slowly. This means that distance to the things you want to sail to is key. Be sure to look at how far the marina is from key attractions – islands, beaches, fishing, etc. Also, ask about the depth of the waterways that bring you to the attractions from your marina.

8) Diesel and Pump-out

Any reasonably sized marina should have diesel and pump-out…. double check that yours does, or ask about how far away they are.

9) On-Site Service and Storage

On-site service makes getting repairs and maintenance for your boat easy and convenient. Ask about on-site service and storage, and don’t hesitate to look online for reviews.

10) Cost

Finally, cost will always be a factor in choosing a marina. Carefully weigh the factors above and compare them to the cost. When looking at costs ask about:

  • Cost for a slip based on the size of your boat
  • Additional fees or add-ons
  • Service fees if additional (electric, water, cable)
  • Launch and haul-out fees
  • Memberships required