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TODAY’S BOAT BUYER: Cape Horn 31 Offshore

When Tim Martin's 35-foot Viking convertible burned to the waterline after an engine room fire, he waited two years before finding the perfect replacement.

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Last April, he found it - a 2008 Cape Horn 31 Offshore with twin 250-hp Yamaha 4-strokes. He bought the new center console from Lockwood Marine in his hometown of Jacksonville, Fla.

"I wanted something completely different," says Martin, 45. "I wanted something that was fast, I could fish on, and was fuel-efficient."

Martin, who says he has owned 15 boats since 1986, did what many boat buyers do in the digital age: He turned to the Internet. With a stable job in medical sales, Martin determined a comfortable price range for himself before any face-to-face negotiations.

"I didn't want to walk in and talk to a salesperson and try to figure out what I want," says Martin. "I called the dealership and I told them what I wanted and asked them to work out a good price for me."

After sea-trialing the boat, Martin bought it for about $100,000, which includes a six-year extended warranty with unlimited hours for the outboards.

Martin says he likes the boat because it's simple, straightforward and durable. "I've always had inboards with cabins, so this was a real change," he says. "But the more things you have on a boat, the more things go wrong."

He considered financing the Cape Horn, but when banks made the credit approval process difficult he decided to pay for it in full.

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"I consider myself conservative. ... I didn't like the idea of putting out all that money, even though I had it," says Martin. "But my credit score is over 800, and I've never missed a bill in my entire life, and they still gave me a hard time. It's very offensive."

Martin says his only debt is his house, which he has lived in for 10 years and will pay off in the next six years. However, the bank told him that because he has two credit cards with a combined limit of $86,000, they were concerned about the debt he could incur.

"It's all a game," says Martin. "I figured 'Just pay it and be done with it.' "

And he couldn't be happier. He has run the boat for 13 months and says there have been no major problems and no warranty issues.

Meanwhile, Martin is anxious to fish.

"I got a blue marlin about two weeks ago," he says. "This is my only vice. I'm going to have a boat."

— Elizabeth Ellis

l.ellis@soundingspub.com

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