Buying a boat in Greece
After getting my skippers license in Croatia I started looking into buying a boat. My end goal was to spend 2-6 months a year on board so chartering was out of the question. I had around 24,000EUR (in GBP) saved up from contracting and after a lot of research I knew that a 32-36ft monohull would be in the range of 25,000EUR - 35,000EUR depending on the age and location. I wanted the boat to be based in the Ionian and I wanted something that I could sail straight away.
January 2019 we went to look at a Sun Odyssey 32i based in Crete. The owner graciously let us spend a couple of nights onboard and we got to take it out for a test sail in some medium-heavy weather. She sailed well and had up to date electronics throughout. It was a beautiful boat and we started discussing arranging a survey and how we would proceed. The owner wanted to avoid the survey and for us to pay for the boat in cash, this was a big red flag. After further discussion, he dropped the price from 27,000EUR to 22,500EUR to offset any unforeseen survey costs but he still wanted the payment in cash. We were aware that Greeks prefer cash to avoid tax but that wasn't how we wanted to proceed and we walked away.
December 2019 we found a Bavaria 35 Holiday based in Kefalonia listed for 24,000EUR. The owner was a British guy in his 80s and the boat looked beautiful in the pictures he sent us. We arranged for the boat to have a survey which cost us 800EUR. Shockingly the survey came back stating that the boat had a de-laminated hull about 3m x 1m down one side. I questioned the owner about this and he explained it had been beaten up against a concrete quay during bad weather but he paid for it to be repaired by a local yard. He said he was shocked it hadn't been repaired properly and I took him at his word. I was frustrated he didn't disclose this before I'd paid for the survey but he agreed to drop the price down to 18,000EUR to cover the cost of the repair. I spoke to a couple of surveyors and boatyards for advice who advised me that the price drop was reasonable but it would be a lengthy process. Ultimately I didn't want a project boat so we walked away from this one too.
At this point I was frustrated with spending over a year trying to buy a boat, and to make matters worse covid was just becoming public knowledge. At some point in March 2021 I received an email from Sunsail stating they had added more boats for sale on their brokerage website. Every year they sell off some of their 10-year-old boats from their ownership program and I'd signed up to their mailing list when I'd started looking. They were all out of my price range, but knowing that covid was affecting businesses all over the world I thought I'd ask if they'd be willing to reduce the price of one of their Sun Odyssey 33i's that was listed at 48,000EUR inc VAT. After a few emails back and forth they came down to 37,000EUR inc VAT, a reduction of 11k, this was more like it. I looked into my finances and worked out it would be a big stretch but doable. This was a 2011 boat that I never thought I'd be able to afford and I started getting excited once again. Although very dubious from the previous experiences, I paid for a surveyor to inspect the boat and crossed all my fingers and toes. Thankfully the report came back with very few issues and Sunsail agreed to fix them all before the sale. Finally, things were starting to come together and we were going to own a beautiful 33i. We paid up the balance in May and booked flights to go out and use the boat in August as we were told it would take 8 weeks to finalise the paperwork. This was a mistake, Greek bureaucracy is a very real thing and the paperwork didn't end up finalised until October, so we ended up sitting in Lefkas Marina for 2 weeks before chartering a boat for the final week. Cruising the area for the first time felt great and we couldn't wait for 2021.