Boat for a Boat

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Blake writes in-

I used to be to be a storm chaser. More importantly, an opportunity chaser.

When a storm hits an area, there will no doubt be money flowing. I was chasing that flow, wherever it lead me.

In 1989, the Virgin Islands were hit with hurricane Hugo. It was a massive category 5 storm, which means it has sustained winds of greater than 136 knots or 157 mph. That particular storm had winds clocked at over 220 mph in gusts, and 180 mph sustained.

Normally, 1-2 months after a storm hits is a good time to go into a storm ravaged area, as some of the cleanup has been done, and the FEMA and insurance checks are starting to get distributed. Salvage companies flock to these areas to make a years worth of wages in a few months. Disasters have to be cleaned up quickly so life can go on.

During this mayhem, I acquired a 42 foot Jeaneau sailboat, that needed a lot of work. No mast, damaged interior (but not much), fiberglass and paint work. I bought it at auction for 15K, which was 10% of it’s fixed up value.

Unfortunately, I didn’t know anything about fixing boats, so I was in over my head big time. Everything I needed done, had to be bartered, traded or hired out to do. I was running out of cash, but I had a ton of salvaged gear I bought from the salvage companies, which have absolutely no use for any of it. Gear that was valuable.

After a year of struggling to get the boat fixed, I had acquired a mast and done a lot of fixing, but I ended up bartering with someone handier than myself. The project was just too big for my limited skills.

He had a nice, fixed up 31 foot sailboat, ready to go sailing. He offered to trade outright for my 42 foot fixer upper. After a couple of months of pondering, I accepted his boat, and $2000. His boat was probably worth about $18,000, so I figured I’d have $20k in value for my fixer upper boat.

I didn’t make a fortune, but I avoided potentially losing everything. Lesson learned. Don’t get in over your head.

You have permission to reprint if this will help someone avoid my mistake.