Whether you are looking to buy a yacht which is brand new or a pre owned vessel on brokerage there is a lot to consider before committing to what most people consider as the second largest purchase after their house.
When buying a yacht in the UK there are no hard and fast rules and naturally everyone’s individual circumstances are slightly different. In our yacht buying guide we have highlighted some of the key areas you should consider when making your initial choices about which yacht is right for you.
Do your homework ….
Factors affecting any purchasing decision are wide and varied and inevitably some compromise is necessary. For the first time buyer it is sometimes hard to know what features are important but whether this is your first yacht or not it is really important to understand how you want the yacht to work for you, both in terms of sailing as well as how you live on board.
There are hundreds of makes and models of yachts to choose from and narrowing down your options can be quite a minefield. Differentiating between yacht designs is a challenge.
It is really important to never underestimate the real pleasure and emotion than can be created from owning a yacht.
For most there is a real sense of pride and excitement when you walk down the pontoon towards your yacht.
Recognising the early signs of this emotion during your research will give you a really good indication when you have found the right boat.
Interesting Fact ….
When questioned most purchasers cite the layout and living arrangements as the most important influencing factors in their decision making, over and above sailing performance.
Top Tip ….
When looking around at various yachts make sure you take all the decision makers with you. It will save you a lot of time if you can gauge the reaction of anyone else involved straight away. You will quickly find out the key features that are important to all of you.
Look around as many boats as possible ……
Attending a Boat Show is a great way to see a large range of the most popular boats all in one place. There are numerous Boat Shows throughout the year around the world. However not all the shows are supported in the same way and there are only a few key boat shows where you will be able to see a manufacturers full range of boats. Around Europe most consider Southampton Boat Show in September, Paris Boat Show in December and Dusseldorf Boat Show in January as being the key ones to attend.
So hop on a plane and take the opportunity to see all the boats you are considering in one place. The cost of the trip is a fraction of the purchase price and well worth the effort especially if you can combine it into a mini break.
As well as new Boat Shows there are plenty of local second hand boat shows around the country organised by individual brokers and marina’s.
Talk to a yacht broker, they are a great source of information and will happily show you the boats that they have for sale.
Top Tip ….
Tell the broker where you are at in the buying process. If you are just at the beginning of your search then make this clear at the outset. Don’t pretend that you are just about to make a purchase if you are on a two year plan. A good broker will happily help you regardless and will appreciate your honesty.
There are plenty of great boat reviews available to read and videos to watch on line.
Some are generated by the manufacturers themselves and others by yachting journalists.
Both will highlight the main features and benefits of any yacht and give you visual overview of layout and design.
Size of boat……
You will always appreciate the extra space so within reason buy a yacht that has capacity for you to grow into. You will soon get used to handling a larger boat and certainly in the long run you will be financially better off if you don’t have to buy and sell in a short period of time. Unless you are downsizing of course !!!
Choosing the size of yacht which is right for you is influenced by many things
– Number of people that you normally sail with and intend to sleep onboard. Most yachts between 34 and 60 feet have the same accommodation and can all sleep 8 people but clearly the living space offered differs dramatically.
– Consider how much time you plan to spend onboard. Is this a boat just for weekends or do you intend to carry out some longer distance cruising.
– Location, most accept that it is easier to manage a larger yacht in the Med than you might comfortably sail around The Solent. Not just because of the Marina’s and mooring options but also because of tide, weather and traffic density.
– Budget, in addition to the initial purchase price there is also the ongoing berthing and maintenance costs to consider
– Technology & equipment options. With options including bow thrusters, stern thrusters, electric winches, in mast reefing, self tacking jibs and advanced navigation technology all commonplace. A larger modern yacht today is far easier to manage than it was 10 years ago.
It is pointless buying a yacht that is intended for blue water sailing if you never leave The Solent or thinking that you will be more comfortable in a gale on a certain type of yacht when in reality you will be tied up in a marina or preferably a pub when that gale occurs!! Buy a boat that works for you 90% of the time and not 10% of the time.
There are only so many layout options you can create out of the space available but here are a few to consider.
– Number of cabins, normally two or three. Two cabins normally creates a much bigger cockpit locker and a more spacious heads compartment
– 1 or 2 heads. On any yacht above 38 – 40 feet 2 heads is feasible but on smaller boats it doesn’t really work
Galley. Either traditional L shaped galley at the bottom of the companionway or midships linear galley.
On larger yachts, 40 – 50 foot
– You may see midship galleys located forward of the saloon, just behind the forward cabin.
– 4 cabins become an option although typically for the charter market
On 50 foot plus yachts
– Ensuite heads become common
– Master cabins, generally at the forward end of the boat become more palatial with central bed accessible from both sides.
– Options for a pullman cabin, essentially a bunk bed which is ideal for children or additional guests. Often this takes the place of one of the heads.
There are an incredible amount equipment options to choose from, some of which are there to help short handed sailing become more manageable or that make a larger yacht easier to handle. Other options are there simply to reflect modern living and how we live at home.
Sailing / Boat Handling Options ….
– Electric winches, halyard and / or genoa
– Electric windlass
– Single line reefing
– Self tacking jibs
– Full battened mainsails with stack packs
– In mast furling mainsails
– Bow Thrusters
– Stern Thrusters
Onboard Living …..
– Fridges / Freezers
– Dishwashers / Washing Machines
– Air Conditioning
– LCD Televisions
– Bose music systems
– Full heating systems
Build Quality & Reputation
This is very subjective and inevitably you can ask a hundred people their and get a hundred different reactions.
Just like cars and many other products there is a perceived image or status associated with certain brands. It is important for you to decide what is important and whether you are prepared to pay a premium for one brand over another when in reality most will all do the same thing for you in their own way.
That said there is still a difference in build quality between yacht manufacturers that affects not only what you will pay for the boat initially, but also the resale value and importantly your own experience during ownership.
The key is to be as informed as you can possibly be. There is a boat for every budget and the old adage “you get what you pay for” holds in most cases. But it is often a case of compromise and it is important to choose the right boat that not only works for you but is also within your budget.
Budget / Price
As you narrow your search down you can expect to find manufacturers offering similar boats at seemingly quite different prices.
Just make sure you are comparing like for like in terms of spec and equipment levels
Remember special offers are designed to tempt you in a certain direction but don’t let the offer off a headline grabbing discount cause you to forget which yacht it is you really prefer. Long after any discount has been enjoyed you will still be owning that boat so first and foremost focus on which boat is right for you and then secure the best possible price.
There is always some room for negotiation on price but be wary of that “never to be repeated” offer, there is normally a reason behind it. Sometimes genuine, sometimes not.
Talk to your broker about letting them use your boat for a boat show or perhaps the odd test sail. In return you may be offered a better price in return.
So don’t necessarily expect to be offered a sea trial unless you are a long way down the buying process. Most yacht brokers will not agree to a sea trial unless there is some serious commitment to buy. Usually a deposit and a signed contract.
At the end of the day if you like the boat for every other reason then the chances are that she will perform well within your expectations. No main stream manufacturer will design a yacht that handles poorly, they have enough depth of experience to know what works. So whilst of course it is important to satisfy yourself that the boat performs as you imagine she will, there are many other aspects about the yacht that will influence your decision over and above how she sails.
So now you have found the right boat for you, it is time to talk contracts and everything else that involved in the next stage of the buying process.
In the next article we investigate
– Contracts & other legal considerations
– Payment Terms
– Title Documents
– Commissioning and handover