Budget Boat Buying Tips

Sailing boat

If it’s your first boat buy the smallest boat that gives you the space you need, not the biggest you can afford. Smaller boats are easier to handle and maintain. You can always trade up, but if your first boat is too big it can knock your confidence and put you off.

Buy a boat they made plenty of. If a boat was made in decent numbers there will be an active owners’ associations to provide invaluable support, knowledge and advice. Over the years they’ve found solutions for the faults, foibles and quirks, and some even re-manufacture spare parts and fittings.

A good starting point is to scour ads for boats for sale and start clambering over them. Re-prints of used boat tests, available from Practical Boat Owner magazine, will help you decide if a boat’s right for you and draw attention to any known issues.

Join the owners association before you buy. Many have boats for sale on their web-sites; they may very well know the particular boat you’re looking at and advise on important inspection points; a member may even come and inspect the boat with you; you may also get the chance to sail in a similar example to see if it suits you.

Try before you buy,” is the key, according to Richard Roberts, CEO at theyachtmarket.com. “You have the option to try different shapes and sizes, different shipyards, and different features from helipads, to beach clubs, and different cabin layouts.” It’s a tack that Matt Pinckney, sales broker for Burgess, agrees with. “Charter definitely gives experiences that will help educate you with regards to what different yachts and their crews are capable of.” So, while you may not own the boat you’re aboard, chartering a selection of yachts is the best way to get a taste of what’s available and figure out what you like. Depending on what fits your lifestyle, this might add anything from a beach club to a helipad to your list of dream yacht must-haves.

Inspection: owners’ associations can help, but if you don’t have the knowledge to make a judgement yourself, or a mate with know-how, consider a survey. It’s human nature that many people buying budget boats baulk at the cost of a survey, which may be more than the value of the boat. This can be a false economy. If a survey advises you to walk away it will save you money; if it highlights minor faults, you can balance rectification costs against the asking price and see if the seller is prepared to move on price.

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