My yacht broker pal Ed called the other day to vent. A friend of his had asked if he wouldn’t mind handling the paperwork for the sale of his yacht. He assured Ed that it was a done deal and that there’d be no problems. “It’s become a no-holds-barred wrestling match,” groused Ed. “Coyle, I’m in this for a steak dinner and a bottle of wine.What was I thinking?”
Ed explained that the buyer and seller were friends. They’d enjoyed cruises together with their wives aboard the boat and had agreed on a price. I wondered what had soured the deal? “Are they haggling over survey items or sea-trial issues?” “Nope. She passed with flying colors,” said Ed. “Closing date or delivery?” “No worries with either. The buyer is backing out over a game table,” grumbled Ed. “The owner insists it was not included in the boat’s price, and the buyer refuses to pay a nickel more.”
Nickel-and-diming a fellow enthusiast who’s willing to adopt a dependent made no sense. I’ve always considered tales of coming out ahead when selling a boat urban myth. It was always my hope, of course, but by the time I’d come face-to-face with a fellow dreamer armed with a checkbook, a piece of furniture would not have stood between us. “How much is the game table worth?” I asked. “Coyle, you’re missing the point. This has nothing to do with the table or the money,” said Ed.
To make his point, Ed shared the details of another deal he’d refereed. “The fight went to the seller,” said Ed. “In the last round, he took the buyer to the mat over confusion regarding the disposition of a cheap wicker chair set on the afterdeck. After winning the match and his prize (the chairs), he presented them to me in appreciation for remaining in the ring during the scuffle. Mind you, that’s just a match between a buyer and a seller. In a divorce sale, it’s tag-team!
“Coyle, it’s simple,” insisted Ed. “The guys that buy large yachts are typically smart, successful businessmen. They’re not schlubs like you and me, spinning about in the mooring field at peace with the world. They’re always noodling. They sweat the little things not because they’re cheap, it’s simply a natural instinct. You see, it’s a matter of principle. They don’t like to lose.
“While some sellers leave the sport in haste, not bothering to clean out the cabinets, most develop strange attachments to the oddest things,” said Ed. “A winded inflatable, a rusty set of tools, a ream of yellowed charts. In this case, a $100 folding table and a stack of plastic backgammon chips.” Ed is confident the deal can be rescued as now both buyer and seller are blaming him for their misunderstanding. “It’s the first step to recovery,” said Ed.
To avoid a prizefight, Ed suggests that sellers write detailed exclusion lists and that buyers read them carefully. Any confusion should be resolved prior to signing a purchase agreement. Oh, and don’t wait until “it’s a done deal” to contact a referee!