A Giant Step

Executive summary: We bought a boat! It has headroom. We paid cash. It is a long way away from home. Using a buyer’s broker is a good thing.

Now here’s the story…

The original plan…

As I explained in a previous blog post, we were looking for a Looper boat in the sweet spot of budget (under $100K – $125K), headroom (6’5”+), and length (40’). We had narrowed our possibilities to a couple of models of boats: Bayliner 4087 and Mainship 40, although the Mainship pushed the upper level of budget. The “target” boat on our boat savings tracker was first a Mainship 40 and then a Bayliner 4087 (and then a Bayliner 4788…but that was just dreaming).

To get that headroom at that budget, the boats would necessarily be on the older side…like 20 years or so. The 1990’s rather than the 2000’s.

After we had our exploratory trip to Florida earlier this year, our horizons expanded regarding potential looper boats. Our boat broker, Michael Martin, introduced us to 42 and 44 foot Carvers and Cruiser’s Yachts and a 40’ Meridian.

These boats all had good headroom and the length was still in a good range. They felt great inside, nice and roomy. However, the budget for those boats was in the $160K – $215K range, depending on how new they were. Way over our budget.

But Michael also opened our minds to the possibility of financing. The idea of financing is quite stressful for a couple of Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover followers, but we were more open to it than we had been.

Technomadia approach

Way back in 2017, Cherie and Chris of Technomadia, wrote a post about how they set up their financing arrangement to make it feel like they didn’t have monthly payments. Basically, they set aside 5 years of payments into an account and just let the auto-payments take care of it. Technomadia showed the details of all the purchase costs and the five years of payments.

I took their format and made it forward looking. That is, I took their details and made a chart showing the bottom line of how much cash we would need if we bought and financed a boat at various price points…assuming a reserve of cash for 5 years of payments and a reserve of 20% purchase price for repairs.  

From this chart, I could get a handle on how much we could afford if we financed. It was helpful to have this data to not get carried away by ever expanding price points.

For instance, if we wanted to get a $180,000 boat, we’d want to have at least $136K in hand, $36K of which would be for unexpected costs.

The $100,000 Question

So, what did we end up doing? We sold a piece of property this year, and together with the money we had been saving over the past three years, we had enough to start seriously looking at boats. In fact, the money was burning a hole in our pockets!

We had a heart-to-heart talk with ourselves. Here’s the question: although the newer, bigger boats were very attractive, were they $100K more attractive? Were the extra 4 feet worth $100K to us?


We had followed the blog of a 2019 Looper couple on a 1999 Bayliner 4087 who ended their trip in Wisconsin, on Lake Superior. The last entry in their blog said the boat would soon be up for sale for another Looper to enjoy. In their pictures, the Captain seemed taller than others, so we wanted to know how he found the headroom.

We contacted them to see what the story was. He was indeed 6’4” and said the boat had worked out just fine for them.  They said there were some things they needed to do to the boat before they put it up for sale. He told us the amount he was going to ask for it. The price was on the upper end of what other 4087s were going for at the time, so it dampened our enthusiasm.

Mid-2020, the boat showed up in the AGLCA classified ads, still at the price they had mentioned earlier. We considered flying from the Pacific Northwest out to Wisconsin to take a look at it, but some family medical situations made us decide that it wasn’t the right time to buy a boat. Besides, we didn’t have enough saved for even the financing scenario described above.

In early 2021, the boat showed up on Yachtworld for a reduced asking price. It was right around the time our property sale went through.

It was then that Lance and I had had the heart-to-heart talk. The Bayliner 4087 is really a 35 ft boat with a 5’ cockpit added. The salon is not as spacious as the 40 ft boats that don’t have the cockpit. We really wanted a cockpit. Could we live with a smaller salon?

In the end we decided, yes, we could live with the smaller salon and no, the extra space wasn’t worth an additional $100K to us.

We contacted our broker and made an offer. Ultimately all the inspections, sea-trial and surveys went well enough and we progressed to closing. We got the call yesterday congratulating us on our new-to-us boat!

So, for all the Yachtworld surfing we did and despite looking at bigger and newer boats, in the end we ended up with exactly what we had in mind at the beginning: a boat with headroom, around 40′ long and under $100K.  Go figure!

More on the boat buying process and our plans in another post.

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