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YachtForums Yacht Sales - Community Based Yacht Brokerage

Discussion in 'The Mile-Out Club' started by YachtForums, Jan 29, 2015.

  1. YachtForums

    YachtForums Administrator

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    YachtForums Yacht Sales

    I've invited you to a private forum for your opinion.
    Please DO NOT share this link. This is for your eyes only.

    In 2015, I want to take YF in a bold, new direction. Only a couple of people know about this and I’m sharing it with you because I've come to respect your posts, opinions and expertise. Please see the attached logo below for YachtForums Yacht Sales, the first ever community based brokerage company where members can make a commission for their participation. I'm still working out the compensation plan, but I think we have a unique opportunity...


    1. We have the ability to put listings on top of Google. 95% of buyers come from the internet.

    2. New listings will be featured on the front page and mailed out to our member base of 33,000 monthly.

    3. Listings will be put into a feature format with a detailed photo-tour that other listing sites can't match.

    4. Buyers will have the collective knowledge of YF members, as opposed a single broker or brokerage firm.

    5. We are fast approaching one million unique IP's a month. YF's classified section would be very exclusive and offer unequaled exposure. We will also maintain listings on YachtWorld.

    6. We are formulating a member compensation plan for referrals, to be paid upon a sale.

    7. We are discussing a compensation program for members based on their specific knowledge and contribution to a sale.

    8. We are also considering a member compensation plan based on individual post count.



    We are still ironing out the compensation program, but I think it's important that everyone has an opportunity to benefit from their contribution to YF. Hopefully, members could become our best form of promotion, spreading the word down docks in a grass roots sort of way. We have about 10,000 captains on YF and over 10,000 yacht owners. We will be offering finder's fees for listings or for buyers. The compensation program would likely increase participation on the site too. Some folks might jump-ship from other forums to join YF, but post count cowboys will quickly be dismissed from the program.

    Forums have become the “go-to” place for buyers in every sector and as a result, they have also become a very popular place for sellers. Take the automotive sector for instance, national listing sites such as the AutoTrader and Cars.com don’t have an exclusive on the market any longer as automotive forums have become an equally, if not more popular place to sell cars, especially enthusiast cars. There are 100's of brand and model specific forums that are flush with car listings. The same is true with boating websites such as Offshore Only, Scream & Fly, The Hull Truth, etc. It's also happening with motorcycle, airplane and recreational vehicle forums.

    We may have a very unique opportunity to do something that has never been done before, but I fear I may be overlooking something. I'm not actually sure we're going to do this, but it's the direction I was taking YF in 2015.

    I'd like your opinion!

    Carl

    Attached Files:

  2. YES!

    YES! Senior Member

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    Hi Carl,
    I think you are on to something. One of the biggest problems with yacht sales are the abuses and misrepresentations by brokers. Putting the laundry out in the bright light of day serves the mutual interests of buyers and sellers alike.
    I'd be happy to assist and actually enjoy teaching people about why (and why not) to buy a yacht.
    All the best and good luck on the venture,
    Stan
  3. K1W1

    K1W1 Senior Member

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    I think its a reasonable way to proceed but have to advise caution on the blanket use of members posts as a recommendation to proceed or not as the poster may have an axe to grind or an interest in a completed sale other than the commission offered by YF.

    I realise this probably reads like a statement from the Prophet of Doom but I am saying it as I see it from my perspective with over 30 yrs in this business and nearly 10 of those included my participation here at YF.
  4. SeaEric

    SeaEric YF Historian

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    I think this could prove to be a very unique, very powerful tool in connecting buyers and sellers to each other in the marketplace. YF has a global reach and a huge base of knowledge.

    Potential downside is commentary from members who post their own review that they have derogatory info about a particular yacht from a friend of a friend who knows something. I see this type of sniping on other forums that have little or no moderation.

    Big picture - this could be - big.
  5. YES!

    YES! Senior Member

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    Based on Carl's intro, my assumption was that opinions and recommendations would be provided by a select panel of subject matter experts with no agendas or skin in the game.
    Opening this as a public forum would be a ego-driven disaster surpassing even some of the worst examples of lunacy in the current YForums, especially since there could be money involved.
    Just my opinion, I could be wrong......
    Stan
  6. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    Supervision and moderation to ensure positive flow could require a bit more time.
    Editing out a comment may need more investigating before altered.
    A negative comment on one ad(bad decks) from a seller with a similar good deck listing could be taken two ways, Sniping or a real warning of the other boats bad decks.

    That could be interesting. Think it would take up more management resources than supervising/moderation an open forum.

    Keep that Report key enabled. It may get a real work over.

    On the other hand; To Boldly Go.... Yep, Ya got to it.
    This could really be big..
    ,rc
  7. Kafue

    Kafue Senior Member

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    At long last!
    For years I have wondered why the sections on boats for sale was neglected when the most common thing a boat owner does is keep an eye on what their next boat might be, or what his current boat might be worth. We are all in the market, it's part of the make up of a keen boat owner. For example, I check Yacht World each week for my favourite brands and I am sure many other YF members have been doing the same.
    Logo: Seems fine.
    Member Compensation: Not sure about this. It would counter one of YF's greatest assets, the unbiased opinions of qualified/knowledgeable members. If we have seen some of the quarrels over the years amongst members, imagine what will happen when someone posts a negative comment or questions the impartiality of a member saying something about a listing, especially with money involved. Think it would be great to earn some money by referring or participating, but this could be a minefield.

    Good Luck Carl. If we can help you get more reward for all the pleasure and service we have had from your/our Forum then I am sure we are all in to help wherever we can.

    George
  8. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    I'm afraid that I'm not in favor of this unless it's completely seperate from YF forum, in which case you'd be going into comptetition with Yachtworld and BoatTrader. Maybe you'd be better off just buying one of those. I've helped many people locate boats and negotiate purchases, but refuse to take money for this service. I'm a captain, not a salesperson, and never want my motives questioned. Personally I'd have nothing to do with it, and certainly wouldn't accept fees or commissions. If I have a client looking to buy or sell, my advice would be to get on Yachtworld. If somone wants to expand their knowledge of boats and boating I always refer them to YF. Combining the two could lead people to question the motives of YF. I think this may diminish YF and its reputation. I should also mention that if I came to YF, and felt like they were trying to sell me in any way, I'd be visiting it much less often and have serious questions about anything I read here. Sorry.
  9. Ken Bracewell

    Ken Bracewell Senior Member

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    I'd be curious to know how this would merge with brokerage laws? I suspect you would cause an uproar if going around the brokers.
    I was recently speaking to a captain who's boss tried to sell his rather large yacht without a broker, and was snubbed by the brokerage community.
    He finally listed the boat, and eventually held out for a lower price.
  10. TeKeela

    TeKeela Member

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    First let me say I am honored to be considered for feedback on this topic. Having less than 100 posts compared to those with thousands, I am glad my posts to date are considered worthy.

    As I have only recently begun to post here, and in the company of a closed forum with only select others, I think it wise to disclose a bit of my background before giving my comments on a YF YS venture.

    1st note, I was Narwhal, a tribute to friend who passed and that was the name of his boat which I was quite fond of. A striker. Carl changed my profile name to match similar profiles I have at other forums.

    That said, I have been in/around the boating industry about 30 years. I have managed supply stores, a buyer of all lines of marine equipment from stem to stern, a #2 at one of the original Top 4, and at the time #2, marine retailers, heavy background thereafter in marine electronics and spent time in many production and custom manufacturing facilities, hands on main guy with a significant repower/rebuild of a vintage Hatteras (might look a lot like Kafue only a few years earlier and 3ft shorter) that also included all new wiring, plumbing, fuel systems, all engine room components, etc. etc etc and 55 gallons of resin for new structure, tabbing, and on and on. I have dealt with dealers, brokers, marinas, owners, captains. Spent lots of time in the canyons as well as sailfishing in the hotspots. I have little experience over 85ft and no experience over 100ft. While systems and situations are similar, I also recognize they are also different.

    In conclusion of my background details and I am quite certain you are happy to read that, I got burned out on an industry that I loved. I was on everyone else’s schedule and as the boats got larger, I had to see some of the dark sides of the industry and simply people who do dirty business and the further up I moved, the more I saw and the less I kept quiet. I began to make waves when I wouldn’t go along with things that I felt were unethical and more. That is when I realized what I loved was taken from me and I wanted to regain it. I got out. I do something different know but my knowledge remains and I do love the marine industry but prefer to actively participate on my own terms now through mediums such as this or my own boating rather than be physically present amidst the politics and other drama.

    So when I post I try to post with my personal experience and with Truth rather than bias, as the Truth has no agenda. It simply is.

    My experience tells me that when boats reach about the 48-50ft length, from there on, the stakes are considerably higher for manufacturers, brokers, etc etc and things get dirty. And I think that is a big can of worms to open with a few leeches in there too.

    4. Buyers will have the collective knowledge of YF members, as opposed a single broker or brokerage firm.

    The broker acts on behalf of the seller. I would think the forum members would take both sides on a posted boat. For example a guy wants to unload his mid-80s 55 Ocean. He doesn’t want people to say the hull is paper thin and the trim tabs are screwed not bolted into the bottom without a hinge. While this is good information for a potential buyer to learn, the seller would not be happy. I’m all for buyers knowing what is going on and history of boats, however from a business standpoint, unless you are always selling Moonen, Feadship, Tributes, American’s, Intrepid’s etc. How are you going to get the business of the lesser boats? The advantage a traditional broker has is he/she controls the information to the buyer and the seller is paying the broker. How will you get seller’s to put their boat up to the scrutiny of those who really know what is under the shine? Imagine taking on the listing for the old Sea Bowld/Oceanfast and the delivery captain chimes in and says I jumped ship mid-delivery, it was incredibly unstable at sea. (perhaps just a rumor?) I would not think you would get another listing. I don’t see how to overcome that.


    7. We are discussing a compensation program for members based on their specific knowledge and contribution to a sale.


    I would think you would need to vet each member in advance before allowing them to contribute on that particular forum. They would have to post in an unbiased manner yet still state the facts. Someone with a THTlike history of posting meaningless bs based on a rumor written on a toilet stall could lose the potential buyer looking at the thread never to return even with a deletion of said post within a few hours. If no one sells boats , you won’t get future listings.

    8. We are also considering a member compensation plan based on individual post count.

    There would have to be a process in place to stop the habitual posters. The ones that really say nothing other than to agree with someone else. while it can be used to reinforce another opinion, that can’t be considered at the same weight as someone that solved the issue.

    Summary

    While I like the idea, I see a big conflict. The seller would pay you, he/she scratch that he (“he”is a general term I’m not doing that pc bs anymore, we all know that women own boats. Mankind includes all sexes. No womankind bs) anyway he is expecting to have his boat sold not torn down by the flaws and slightly built up by the positives. My experience with customer service tells me far more people post complaints than compliments. Meaning people with a bad experience will tell many more people than people who have a good experience and at every opportunity. If a boat is only given all the weaknesses, as a buyer, I would like to know them, as a seller I want to talk around those issues. Mr. Review says "terrible sea boat", Mr Seller says, "yes but well priced as a boat to comfortably cruise the intracoastal." So a plan outlined as above seems to favor buyer, not a seller. How to leverage that..

    My first thoughts are a listing/brokerage will not withstand the vessel review process and not benefit the sellers however it will greatly benefit the buyers. The sellers won’t pay for a listing with other than stellar reviews. So how do you get the other side to give you money? Perhaps a twist is the buyer pays for a review of the vessel. A closed forum consisting of your preferred reviewers, listings of all the yachtworld boats and the buyer pays for the privilege of the knowledge of the members. You profit share from the buyers funds rather than the sellers. Buyer interested in “100’widget” buyer pays you, you post the boat and the review process takes place. You can select numerous listings and start a database of reviews to advertise the pre-xisting data. All closed except for your reviewers and your potential buyers who pay. The money would likely be much less unless you can get a piece of the sale somehow. I just keep trying to figure out how the sellers keep bringing in listings only to receive honest (yet likely some negative) press. Seller may feel like they are at Dick's Last Resort!

    Thanks for reading!!
  11. ychtcptn

    ychtcptn Senior Member

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    I personally would like to see YF stay they way it is. I can only see downsides to yacht listings that are open to feedback from the board. I really do not see traditional brokers signing on to this as well, and if I had a boat to sell I would not want it open to comments from the professional public at large. What would you provide other than the collective wisdom of YF that Yacht World or Boat Trader does not?
    I think the compensation plans being thought of could be wrought with troubles from the established yacht brokerage rules and regulations in the State of Florida.
    On THT they have a very active for sale section, I even bought a boat several years ago off it, and continue to check it out for my next one. One thing I notice is that some boats get slammed or discussed that takes away from the seller. Even though they try to police it, sometimes it is just too late.
    Personally I would not want to put my name on an opinion for a boat for sale the could be listed in the millions, I can only see lawyers in the future on this, especially if there was some kind of payment for my advice.
  12. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Many of the above are seeing problems in allowing responses and feedback to yacht listings. I was assuming the listings would be much like reviews today and no feedback would be allowed. So, the intent there might be something to clarify since we're assuming opposite. There was a third assumption by some that feedback would be allowed from only a selected group.

    I don't see the compensation program as really being necessary. I agree with someone above that it gets into a very gray area of paying for referrals. I also think, if it became known, it would bring the integrity of the posts into question. Last, I think for those truly wanting to contribute, they'd do it anyway. Compensation would seem to only add those contributing for the compensation. I look at the names in this thread and I don't see one person here who would be more likely to participate based on compensation. I believe everyone in this thread would contribute in discussion of boats on which they have knowledge with no incentive.

    If there is a compensation plan I do not think it should be tied to referrals that result in sales. Number and quality of posts, perhaps. Answering constructively the questions of potential buyers, yes. I would add one last comment on compensation. As an owner with crew, I would have serious problems with any of my crew (or any other employees I might have) receiving compensation for referrals or sales. I see such as a conflict of interest. I know many captains, engineers, and yacht managers here who are very involved in assisting owners in finding their next boat and to find out they were receiving a "kickback" would be a serious problem. And I intentionally used that very harsh word, because that is how some would perceive it.

    I also believe in transparency and if one was going to be compensated based in some way on referrals or sales, then they should be engaged and shown as agents/employees/sales people of the brokerage involved with the site.

    I would suggest a demo and development site first. I think there are many issues to be worked out and list in a non public place some fake ads and allow this group in and just see how the mechanism might work. I would be scared to just bring the new features live as I think some unforeseen issues could cause failure, but those issues might be avoided by some work in a demo environment.

    I'm equally unclear on how the new YF and the old YF fit together. Is it a replacement, an additional area, or a semi-separate site with YF as it's entry mechanism?

    I do like the idea of more information on the yachts posted for sale, much as in a review. One other thing I'd suggest is an increase in other reviews. While YF members have been led here many ways, most through search engines, I believe the reviews may well lead more potential buyers here than any other sections. Today, YF is a relatively small percentage yacht owners or buyers. It's a great collection of the best in all areas of the industry. Many of these others are involved in finding or recommending boats. However, reviews and then ads for specific boats are more likely to pull in the buyers needed.

    A large part of the advertising today is by boat builders. I would think that they are the ones paying the bills today. I think there needs to be consideration first to not diminishing the value to them, but second to ways to offer them added value as part of this. Perhaps a new build section that allows them, as advertisers, to list some of their offerings.

    I see the biggest challenge to insuring value added vs. Yachtworld. Yachtworld has quite detailed descriptions and many photos where the seller has chosen to include them. I see virtual tours as a possibility for added value. I do see very carefully moderated non-paid professional opinions and comments. One other possibility I see is offering potential buyers the ability to ask questions regarding the boat. However, this would have to be very carefully controlled and moderated. Registration is one way but there are many of us who like to view information but don't like having to register to participate when there's a risk that we get added to a mailing list. Otherwise it's each post in an ad thread has to be moderated before becoming active. Then, however, you do face the criticism of censorship.

    Which this brings me back to the demo site idea. Right now we're all commenting on a somewhat unknown target. Our comments might be far more on point if we were looking at a real prototype of what you have in mind. Then it's easy to discuss and say "I like this" and "I don't like this."

    One last suggestion. It might help you in getting the feedback you want if you broke each part of the concept into it's own question and solicited comments from us on one component at a time.
  13. T.K.

    T.K. Senior Member

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    Good evening Carl. I personally believe YF needs to remain an online magazine only for the yacht enthusiasts with no asscociation to yacht brokerage, payment of commisions and compensations. This is what makes YF very special, we all share a common interest and we are all happy to share our knowledge and information without seeking any sort of compensation. If YF turns commercial, this may deter members from posting their thoughts and opinions which could be misunderstood and criticised for assisting a sale or hindering a sale. Others may take advantage of your offer and contribute to the post simply for the sake of possibly being awarded with a compensation and not always convey the truth. You want your members to be sincere and to post and offer information on the forum because they want to help and share their knowledge and not because they are seeking compensation or a reward.

    Tarek
  14. YachtForums

    YachtForums Administrator

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    Great feedback. Thanks to all!

    Need to share some history... I disclosed YFYS to a handful of senior members several years ago. The concerns and reservations you've expressed are the exact reason I didn't move forward.

    The purpose of this virtual meeting is not just to get your opinion, but ultimately to get your approval. All of you guys were instrumental in building YF. If the majority say YES, then we move forward. If you say NO, then this all stops. I'll post a poll after our discussions are over.

    That said, your reservations are well founded. I will not champion, nor defend the concept. I'm only presenting it to you. Let's get down to business...

    1. ALL boat listings will be closed. It's not fair to a seller for a peanut gallery to pass comment! A separate thread in a brand-specific forum can always be opened for discussion. In that respect, nothing really changes because anyone can look at YachtWorld, then go to YF to ask questions. This is already a very common occurrence.

    2. We will be in full compliance with FYBA and I have asked Judy Waldman to become YFYS's Broker of Record. Essentially, we will be a yacht brokerage firm like any other, just different.

    3. The listings we accept will be VERY select. We will turn away listings that don't meet our criteria because we are offering something very valuable, something no other broker can match; exclusivity on YF and the first page of results in a Google search.

    4. There will be a minimum price and length range that we have not determined yet. We NEED to keep YFYS focused on the larger end of the spectrum, more in the way of custom built yachts because this is where our coding is most effective. We will not be accepting listings for center-consoles because they are "boats" and our coding is geared toward "yacht" related keywords. The same holds true for production yacht brands, such as Carver, Hatteras, Post, etc. These are boats built in volume, therefore the number of keyword competing websites has greater volume. There are many more dealer sites, many more magazine reviews, many more news articles on these brands, not to mention Hatteras is also a city, which means we're competing with every keyword related to Hatteras, NC. I hope you guys understand this stuff. Everything I do is an SEO juggling act! For high-volume brands, I can't put their listings on top of Google, but I can do it with most custom built yachts. This is where our focus must be and where it's always been. (much to the chagrin of Carver owners)

    5. We will not be doing reviews on the listings we take. We will be putting the listing into a feature-like format (like our reviews) and adding detail shots which should be much better than YW.

    I'm posting these 5 points for your consideration. In a separate post, I want to talk about the liability and potential backlash we could face. Again, thank you for your opinions. I'm glad everyone sees this so clearly and this is why I've turned to you for guidance.
  15. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Following up on Tarek's post and understanding that YF is a commercial enterprise.

    I couldn't think of the word I wanted earlier but "Portal". Might one possibility be to change nothing about YF as it is but make the "brokerage" site accessible from YF, using YF as a portal. Instead of YF now being a brokerage site, you then have YF as it is. Then to that sub site of YF Yacht sales you could have certain members selected and allowed to post as "Contributors".

    Now that still allows an ad to be posted front page on YF, but any further discussion of that boat on the YF Yacht Sales site.

    It would still use the pull of YF, still be within the YF domain, but as an adjunct rather than replacement.

    I would also say that the emailing of listings to members should be on an opt-in or opt-out basis.
  16. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    From the new list:

    4. A note. You are on page one on "Westport 130", on Moonen 100, and on Elling 49. Reviews consistently get you there. I know this is separate from the listings, but it's what pulls people to the site and ultimately to the listings. Generally I find reviews get first page regardless of the site reviewing. Now, obviously listings won't have the same pull. Search Google for "Hatteras 100" and the 5th listing is a review.
  17. YachtForums

    YachtForums Administrator

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    Before we proceed into a discussion of liability, or a community backlash, let me ask a question that might overcome a lot of reservation...

    If we remove the compensation program, would you guys be opposed to YF simply having its own brokerage division?
  18. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    No. I would not.
  19. ArcanisX

    ArcanisX Senior Member

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    I do not think the problem is in "compensation" per ce, it's just the part that rubs some the (quite understandably) wrong way the most.
    The problem is, Carl, you said you've heard most of this (quite understandably) obvious worries here several years ago. Yet, either I am at my zero comprehension level now right off the plane, or your suggestion lacks solutions or at least solution-hooks one would expect from "an idea held for several years, voiced again to meet the same worries".

    I personally love the spirit of what your want here (or what I recognize as such a spirit, anyways). "disrupting an obscure and obsolete business" with "social", hehehe. ^)) I know it sounds godawful, yet it worked for many guys on many markets.
    You need ways to address the most obvious problems tho, they wont just go away even if "we" all vote generic "yes" to YFYB.
    - system to keep abuse in check. Notice how I aint saying "eliminate it", that's the nature of all things communal - an element of maliciousness/bad faith popping up here and there. What is necessary is a system with positive self-correction, e.g. one which rejects and limits abuse, not "slowly looses ground to it till corrupted and captured in full"
    - from the other side of that coin, some motivation for competent yet wary people to join in, honestly. Without fear of "getting oneself into a mess", "into a conflict of interest, real or perceived" etc.
    (There are comments above stating exactly this)
    this may not be a plain cash hand-outs - as above, that creates it's own set of problems. However it is something that should be paid a better attention then "people will contribute anyways"

    I am sorry can't contribute more at the moment, especially in solutions department. For now, merely suggest we try to brainstorm ways to do it before just striking it off (as pretty much everyone here listed basically the same obvious problems).
    And Carl, please, give it a bit more structure in your ideas. As in, "for the issue of listings being closer tied to potentially adverse information a buyer naturally wants to play down, this is what we have: 1) seller not the buyer is paying 2) we close comments and make that tie almost as distant as if different sites 3) idk, whatever" - etc etc etc.
  20. captholli

    captholli Senior Member

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    Taking compensation off the table is a good starting point to move forward. It's not needed and certainly would muddy the waters of bias. If YF can raise revenue for it's principals through this endeavor and still have a side bar of spirited review and factual knowledge about a vessel offered for sale than more power to it. I do agree with a demo or development site to iron out the wrinkles and make sure that this is a viable
    Route to proceed . The fact that you / YF has the juice to first shot a listing on Google says volumes for the advantages of this program. I find it very interesting but would like to see the actual model .