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SOLD! Going to a Boat Auction

By SarahD - Published October 09, 2009 - Viewed 10362 times

Looking for a perfect gift for that nautically oriented special someone this Christmas? A boat auction may be an option to consider for a great boat at an even better price. But be careful..and be aware.

Good advice for somone (like me) attending their first boat auction. Over the 2009 Labor Day weekend, I headed to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, located on the Miles river in St. Michaels, on the eastern shore of Maryland. The museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to furthering an understanding of the culture and history of the Chesapeake Bay.

And for the past 12 years, Labor Day weekend has meant great deals on boats to boating aficionados and first-time boat buyers at this annual auction. More than 40 boats, ranging in size and performance from sailing dinghies to cabin cruisers, were available to the highest bidder, offering everything from wooden rowing skiffs to classic sailboats and modern power cruisers.

Buying a boat at auction does have its benefits as well as drawbacks,  though. As reported by BoatUS in the January 2005 issue of BoatUS Magazine, rock bottom prices can often be had for a variety of boats sold at auction. A runabout with only minor damage can be found "for a song", BoatUS's Caroline Ajootian wrote, but cautioned, "boats that are literally and figuratively washed up because of accidents, fires, sinkings and storm damage live to float again when they are sold at auction".  Ajootian advised that "Separating the good buys from the proverbial "holes in the water" takes a lot more than just luck. Potential buyers of auction vessels can improve their odds by using some common sense."

Boat auction common sense usually translates into spending money on a marine survey, according to Carroll Robertson, vice president of BoatUS Marine Insurance Claims. "Whether you're buying a boat at salvage, on the Internet or from an ad in the paper, always hire a marine surveyor to inspect it."

Here are some of the boats and other sights I saw, but, alas, did not take home with me:

Some of the boats up for bids:

These Lasers all sold...

As did this Grady White:

So did this Penn Yan:

More boats:

Some bidders inspected the boats inside & out:

Another old wood boat:

Some wood dinghies brought a lot of attention and a lot of bids, like this one with cedar ribs:

This dinghy came with a newer Honda 4-stroke 2hp outboard and sold for around $800:

And this canoe (A Penn Yan) may become someone's project this winter, as it sold ($10):

Bidding on boats:

The auctioneer, often on a ladder using a not so reliable microphone:

"I hope I get it!"

Signs from an auction:

This dock leading to auction boats in the water held too many people, so it was limited to bidders only...

Auction refreshments, always welcome:  

Yours truly (AKA #298):

Non bidding (and four legged) participants:

Dogs enjoying a dinghy ride on the Miles River:

More non-bidders:

St. Michaels lighthouse at the Maritime Museum:

The end of a hard bidding day at the auction calls for a little R & R:

Sarah Doelp
BoatUS Classified Ads Coordinator
888 282 2628 - toll free

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