Peter Gregson, who started Wooden Ships Yacht Brokers nearly 40 years ago, will be writing a series of blogs entitled “So you want to buy a boat?” about the process of buying a yacht, what to look out for and how to make the whole process as smooth as possible. Part 1 of this series starts below.
Sometimes the most obvious things are right in front of us and we don’t see them. I was recently asked “How do I buy a boat”? A simple question but for the beginner it can be more complicated than just handing over the money.
The basic procedure is straight-forward enough but there are pitfalls, easily avoided if you know in advance.
Finding a boat is a discussion for another time so for the moment let us assume that you have found a boat you like, you have been aboard and perhaps even been for a sail but first let’s go back one stage – the boat is either for sale privately or for sale through a broker.
It is rare that you have to buy a boat but it does happen that a seller has to sell but let’s start with a willing buyer and a willing seller. Inevitably buyers think that they will get a better deal buying privately and these days the internet gives sellers ample opportunity to get their boats out there. However it is often not as simple as that. The boat you want is never on your doorstep so travelling to see it will cost time and money. Before you invest you will want to know a lot about the boat – hull, rig, machinery, equipment – and you will want to know as much as you can about her history – where and how she has been sailed, past maintenance and any significant issues past or present. Of course most of this will – or should – come to light in an in-depth purchase survey but you could spend a lot of money on a survey only to be told something obvious if only you had thought to ask or be told.
Alternatively you can buy through a yacht broker. Sure, there will be fees to pay somewhere down the line directly or indirectly for his services but not many people provide services pro bono in any field of work. The trick is to make sure you get something for your money, be you buyer or seller.
The broker route has several advantages. You will find a selection of boats under one roof, you will be able to speak to someone who is not the seller, who has seen the boat, who can provide an accurate description with lots of recent photos with an inventory of what is being sold and who should be able to give you a reasonably independent picture of what to expect if you decide to visit. But remember, the broker is not the surveyor so don’t expect a survey report.