5 tips for buying a used yacht

The cynics amongst us can regularly be heard at the bar recounting some old wisdom. Namely that the best two days of owning a boat are the day you buy her and the day you sell her. Dependent upon your own experience in the matter, you may or may not agree, but either way, it makes sense to take a few precautions before you make what is a not insignificant financial commitment.

Yachts are rarely bought on a complete whim. The final decision might be spur of the moment but most of us have spent a few years thinking about it. When the day finally comes and you write that cheque, it’s likely that you have ideas of entertaining friends and family every weekend, gliding from picturesque port to secluded anchorage and perhaps even venturing further afield to foreign lands.

Before you get too carried away, it’s worth thinking about a few basics. Before you buy a boat we suggest you consider at least 5 things. They are;

Where will you keep her?

If you are to buy a boat you surely want to make good use of her, so best decide where you want to keep her and make sure it’s feasible. Mooring fees in some ‘hotspots’ are eye-watering and in some cases the marinas either don’t have availability or they are too shallow for your vessel’s draft. There is also the practicalities of the weekend commute, parking and low tide river entries to consider.

With whom will you sail?

Your friends of course. They’re all salivating at the idea of free time on the water aren’t they? Perhaps so, but it is regularly a surprise to the new boat owner that when the concrete invitations finally go out, committed crew are suddenly less plentiful than you might have expected. Visits to the mother-in-law, kids teacher’s meetings… The list is endless.  Consider how easy your new purchase is to sail shorthanded. You might not be ‘Billy-no-Mates’ but can your pals sail? Don’t buy a boat that’s too labour-intensive for your proposed use and crew profile.

Bluewater and teak decks or a plastic fantastic?

Many people will have a very definite view on this with two main camps. The varnished toe rail brigade on the one hand and the icemaker and electric bowsprit on the other. In your heart of hearts, you know which one you are. Are you a tinkerer or a sundowner? If it’s the latter, don’t be tempted by the undoubted beauty and deep shimmer of a well varnished toe rail. Yes’ it is beautiful, but are you prepared to spend your spare time (or money) keeping it that way? There is a reason plastic boats are popular. Buy what you’ll use and don’t purchase a burden you’ll end up resenting.

How much will she cost?

And we don’t mean the purchase price either. In fact, when it comes to boat ownership you can be sure that in most cases the purchase price is the least of it. The average marine mortgage on a 36ft Bavaria a few years old might be £500 pcm. Affordable perhaps? But add another £750 pcm for mooring and yacht insurance costs (if keeping her in the more expensive marinas in the Solent) and £400 a time to haul her out to get her bottom scrubbed and all of a sudden that affordable luxury becomes an expensive burden. A new sail wardrobe can be very expensive, especially if you don’t use a roller furling headsail or you plan on racing.

Always get a survey.

Hopefully, this doesn’t need to be said, but clearly it’s worth commissioning a yacht survey of your proposed purchase before you hand over the cheque. As with houses, a surveyor’s report can make frightening reading, so make sure you consider it with a cool head. Remember, he is looking for faults. You’d expect him to find them. We’re talking about boats here after all! Just bear this in mind when you read the report and, of course, don’t be scared to walk away if the news is too dark.

The old adage about the best two days of boat ownership may well have a good deal of truth in it, but if you keep your head and try to keep it in charge of your heart at the beginning of the process, you might find you end up with a fair few enjoyable days between purchase and final sale.

If you own a boat in Gibraltar or the Western Mediterranean, contact JP Marine Services to find out more about yacht management, charter and gardiennage services based in Gibraltar. Mooring costs are considerably cheaper than the UK and we get 300 days of sunshine every year!

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