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Hi Buzzards,

I am looking for feedback about a used boat purchase that feels wrong from my perspective as the buyer. The seller seems to think he did nothing wrong. I will withhold names. Let me know what you think: is this an acceptable practice or selling snake oil?

Here is the deal: I spotted a reasonably-priced JPW Culebra for sale locally. I went to take a look and the seller seemed friendly. The boat is middle-aged with a few wear spots and the straps are suspiciously ripped / super beat-up but the boat is otherwise in decent shape. I look at the JPW serial number, and say, "it looks like a 2011, does that seem right?" He says that's about right. In other words, an 8 year old boat (this becomes important later). He says that other than the straps, the boat is in great shape. I say I will take the boat and will come back in a couple of days with the funds.

As I am driving over to pick up the boat, he sends a note that his girlfriend mentioned a slow leak in one of the thwarts. These thwarts are structurally integral to this type of frameless cat as they keep the outer tubes separate and stiff. Without stiff thwarts you are hosed. I am thinking, 'hmm, not good', but... as long as it's a slow leak I can probably fix it. I think, 'hey, it's still an 8 year old boat and has lots of life left'. I meet the seller, pay him (what I think is a reasonable price for an 8 year old cat), and leave with the boat.

I get home and inflate the boat. While inside and no weight on them, both thwarts go flat within 30 minutes and one of the tubes gets saggy. WTF?? I call up JPW to ask about the serial number and Errol says that it's not a 2011 boat, it's a 2004 boat. Say wut? I didn't even know they made Culebra's that long ago. So in other words, I bought a 16-year old boat that was sold to me as an 8-year old boat? Errol details what is a fair amount of work and effort to try and get this boat fixed up to reasonable shape. I contact the seller to tell him what's up - he agrees to pay for 1/3 of the repair and shipping costs (still increases the cost by $200 to me). I also end up replacing all the straps on the boat. The seller does not want to take the boat back - clearly he thinks he did nothing wrong.

So here's the deal: I am still ticked that I got misled by the seller. Clearly, it wasn't an 8 year old boat (and pricing was for an 8 year old boat), and it clearly had substantially more leaks than he was letting on. So my question is: Is this acceptable used raft-selling etiquette? Or should I put the pressure on the seller to take the boat back and refund the money (with the plus to him being all the redone strapping that I have put onto the boat).

Also, hypothetically, if price is the same for a repaired 16 year old Culebra and a brand new RMR Phat Cat, which would you choose? A friend of mine would like to know...

Thanks for your help setting things straight, Buzzards! As always!
 

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When buying used....its buyer beware. When I sell stuff... I'm usually pretty straightforward and honest with people and basically expect that its sold as-is.

If it feels like the seller knew it was a 2004 and didn't correct you...thats a bit crappy. However, its certainly possible that he didn't actually know when it was made or also had trouble deciphering the serial number. The second he started mentioning leaks and such, probably would have set off alarms for me and I would have explored further and maybe making that phone call to JPW before handing over the cash.

When buying used privately (i.e. one normal person selling to another) rather then buying used from a business... I would assume, unless you discuss it during negotiations, that once cash is handed over its yours in whatever condition you bought it. The fact that the guy is willing to chip in on some of the repairs seems like him being a nice guy and helping you out but its hard to say.

Sorry you feel like you got burned...but it feels like a "lesson learned" kinda situation to me. If it were me selling it...I probably would have been more upfront about its condition but like him would not have taken it back after you completed the deal.

For the "which boat" question... personally I would take the brand new RMR Phatcat. Well...in reality I got the Hyside Mini-Max raft for that kind of use and eventually a Hyside Thundercat with the Nexus frame since I mostly was using the Mini-Max as an oar rig by myself...but thats in a different class of boat. The Hyside paddle cat that is similar to those is pretty nice and the Hypalon rolls up tighter and easier and is generally lighter then PVC. Iits closer to the price of a new Culebra though. But yeah...between the two options you gave...Phatcat for sure. Brand new, has a 5 year warranty and a business that will backup their workmanship and they are both intended for the same use. Jacks does amazing work too...but its only gonna be a refresh and I doubt it will come with much more then a guarantee on the repairs they did and not the whole boat.

Might be worth exploring where the leaks are and repairing it yourself. Most of the time its not bad unless its around where some seams are.
 

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Sounds to me like you didn’t do your due diligence and let yourself get taken by a less than upstanding seller.

Always soap test a used raft before handing over cash. Always. If it’s a good boat, piece of mind. Good enough, a tool to negotiate price. Bad, a fine time to walk away with no regrets.

And after the owner of RMR showed up here on the buzz and came off like a dbag, I have a tough time steering people that way anymore though. Just my .02.

These days though, I’ve really given up on the used game and just recommend buying new. If you gotta save for awhile then that sucks but it’s such a good headache free, long term investment it’s worth it, imho.

Sorry you got a lemon, too. Been there after buying used online.
 

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It is possible to buy a used anything and get a decent deal
but
nothing is guaranteed, you take your chances and do a lot of checks

like Griz, I have had bad experiences on both selling gear (getting paid)
and buying (seller not giving all the facts)


Again, like Griz, I now just save till I got the money and buy new usually looking for year end clearance deals from the manufacturer.
 

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Sucks you got a bad deal. Buy a used raft without blowing it up and checking it out thoroughly, its hard to blame anyone else. That said, it does sound like the seller wasn't fully straightforward, which is why you have to cover you bases. People suck sometimes.

New phat cat with a 5 year warranty or old culebra (even if it held air) with busted out straps and noticeable wear for the same price? Seems like a no brainer unless you really wanted the ability to break it into pieces and fly or hike deep with it.
 

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If the seller didnt provide beer then he is not a boater. All boat sales need beer.
 

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He said '11 "sounds about right" and he told you it leaked before you gave him cash. I could see a little lee-way on the age...either one of you could have verified with JPW before finalizing the deal. And he may of not honestly known or doesn't think the age of a boat matters as much as it might. I have a Maravia pushing 18 years and I feel it's as good as a five year old boat. If I were to sell it which I won't, I would tell you it's an 18 year old boat though.

If someone told me a boat leaked before I handed over cash, I'd want to know how bad it leaked for myself as definitions of slow leaks can be different for different people.

If I were the seller, I would have taken the boat back and feel bad once I saw how bad it leaked and might be a little embarrassed to have sold it to you in that condition if my girlfriend said it leaked a little and leaked the way you are saying it does. Or, I would have asked how much the repair was going to be and then decide if I wanted to pay for some of all of the repair. If you wanted more than I was willing to pay, I would have then taken the boat back. Really, I wouldn't sell a boat to someone until they saw it inflated. And if my GF called and said it leaked a little, I'd want to see how much before letting you take it.

I think were mistakes made by both sides on this one.
 

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Seems like a good time to learn how to patch. Find the pinholes, fix them up - Good as new. maybe see if seller has matching patch material. If you have to buy material and glue, it will cost significantly less than 200.
 

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Harumph.

The whole thing sucks. or blows. Or deflates quickly. I have bought inflatables new and used, and I would have said I have far better luck with used AIRES, but even they can have pinholes in the pvc, or repairs that do not hold up as well. I have a JPW culebra that is one of the first bought new 12-14 years ago) and I have blown out a foot cup and that is it. Used gear is tricky. If the price is too good, and the story does not match the reason it is being sold, or if the item is too old (very different per boat) run. It sounds like the seller knew a bit more than disclosing, but the buyer should have been suspect about the straps too, on the culebra the straps live under the boat, away from the sun, so there really ought to be a good explaination for it. If the tubes can be patched and salvaged the culebra is a dynamite boat. It surfs great, gets up to speed fast, and can be thrown around really quick. It has been all of my kids introduction to whitewater because of the ease of R-1.5 it( and you can even override someone throwing strokes. )

I think the big lessons are

1) Get the serial number in advance, have the seller send a high def picture of it. Call the manufacturer and get a manufacture date, also sometimes they will disclose if it is at the end of life too. They can also give you a bit of beta on the boat too. I managed to find a lynx 2 that spent some time in Japan. Crazy stuff...

2) Inflate to full PSI, get out a lawn chair and wait. If it is going to be a day boat, 45 minutes will be telling, if it is multidays, you may want to bring a book and wait longer. Seeing how bad a leak is, and how hard it will be to top off on the water is important. We had a very old boat that we named bubbles for the huge number of leaks. Topping it off every 40 minutes. We got it used, with a frame, oars and other stuff, and sold that stuff to cover the cost of the boat. When we got rid of it we fully disclosed the issues, and someone wanted to try to repair it, I think we may have even given it away.

3) If the accessories are not in the same shape as the boat or claims about the boat, be dubious.

4) You need to have a clear story about the boat, why it was being sold and to trace its history to the best of your knowledge.

5) never pay ask for any small engine purchase that is warm when you show up. You always want to start with it cold.

6) you can re-coat pvc, but it is a miserable experience, you need a full respirator, and clean shaven face for a good seal, and get to use fun stuff like xylene and tolulene. I personally will not ever do that again.

Good luck with the boat, sorry for the rough purchase experience. Not all used boat gear sellers are problematic.
 
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