Buying a boat: Tips on buying your first, or a new to you boat

Unfortunately this can be a costly procedure & apart from the initial cost of purchase, there are other costs to be aware of. The purchaser generally pays for lifting out & relaunch, pressure washing, storage ashore whilst survey take place, mast dropping if that is to be comprehensively inspected & of course the survey. Some co-operative owners may be persuaded to pay some costs if the boat is due to be stored ashore soon for instance, or cleaned off antifoul, but do not expect this from the majority of sellers. Don't forget the mooring. From swinging moorings to mud berths to marinas A few hundred to a few thousands of pounds

The Boat

beaulieuStart off with an open mind and don't discount anything until you have seen it. Set yourself a minimum and maximum length and most likely the keel type if it is a sailing boat. Sometimes being too rigid on wanting a particular class leaves vessels that could ultimately be far better than ever expected. Spend as much time as possible in boat yards and Marinas going aboard and looking at as many different boats as you are able to. Eventually you will find a boat that you really like and, the chances are it would be very different to the boat you thought you would like at the outset if it is your first boat

Look at least twice.

Visit the boat at least twice over two different occasions. The first visit becomes focused on the amount of room the vessel has, the type of accommodation, the design, etc. The second visit you'll find you become more focused on the condition and structure which, ultimately is the more important focus. You will see things that you haven't noticed before which will be important. If you e-mail me I will send you a survey template for the type of vessel you are looking at, this will give you a guided structure of what to look at and, ultimately will help you make sure you don't miss sections of the vessel
The usual problem when coming home from a visit to a boat that you are intending to buy is remembering that you did not look at a particular section of the vessel.
For a FREE survey template to help your own assessment of condition click here...
If she still feels right on the second visit then that is the time to make an offer. Most offers are made subject to survey. If a broker is involved they will require a 10% deposit before allowing survey to commence.




Pay a deposit

The reason for this is that some inexperienced or clumsy surveyors can cause damage to vessel when surveying it then, this deposit money is used to make good the damage that might have been caused if you don't buy. The offer will usually made upon the basis of the obvious things that the buyer may be aware of such as poor condition paintwork or gelcoat for instance or obvious damage.

Find a surveyor

Surveyors vary considerable in experience, areas of knowledge, location. cost & approachability. Always obtain a sample survey for a similar constructed vessel. Always talk to the surveyor before commissioning. You may find that saving a relatively small sum can cost an enormous sum in some cases so irrespective of cost, base your choice on how much you trust them & check their reputation.

Lift Out

If the boat is in the water, it will need to be lifted ashore for inspection. Unfortunately for the buyer, all of the costs from this time forwards are down to them, this is the lift out, storage ashore for survey and return to the water which, in some yards can be quite expensive. Now, if it is approaching the end of the season and the owner normally removes the boat from the water for winter lay-up then, perhaps a degree of careful negotiation can be useful here as, the owner would be taking the boat out anyway. This is an area where good communication with the broker/buyer/seller can save everyone a deal of money. If the boat is already ashore this makes things a lot easier all round as, there are no lifting costs involved however, a new buyer may be responsible for storage immediately upon completion of sale. Occasionally, the previous owner may well have paid for a complete off season ashore.

Be suspicious, it's your money

With grp boats be slightly wary of the boat that has been scrupulously prepared for sale including having been epoxy coated since the vessel had been lifted as, epoxy coatings can hide a multitude of sins and, unfortunately, the surveyor has no right to remove any of these coatings to investigate the underlying reasons for the coatings. New epoxy coatings can easily cover hairline cracks in hulls, blistering that has been flattened down and no end of other problems. It is only when the boat goes in the water for a season and the stresses of the season show up hidden faults and then is lifted out at the end of the season that any deliberate covering up can be identified. Another reason that if the buyer is not suspicious, the surveyor certainly would be. In this case, it is a very useful idea to ask other owners and yard staff tactfully about their knowledge of this particular vessel. Sometimes you will get surprising answers. Some owners may offer test sails if the boat is still afloat.

Time For Survey

Time for survey Now is the time to arrange a survey. Most vessels will usually be insured by a new owner and, in nearly all cases, insurance companies will require up to date surveys so, in one sense there is absolutely no point in buying a vessel without a survey only to be forced into having the survey for insurance once the vessel is yours. If a survey will be required after you have bought her then, sense dictates that you have the survey before you buy her.



Be there...if possible

If it is possible, it is usually a very good idea for the new owner to be present when the survey is being carried out as, it is surprising how useful this knowledge of what to look for and how to look for it will be in the future. Most surveyors should have no problem with the buyer being present. In many cases, understandably, the seller would like to be present as well. The seller wants to make sure that the surveyor does not cause any damage and also is there to try to answer any questions that may arise during the course of the inspection. The buyer will get a good sense of the condition of the boat from the surveyor on the day but, naturally, it is unwise to take any action until the survey is in hand as, there will be a considerable amount of information included that all goes to help draw an overall picture of the vessel.

Digest, ask questions & Negotiate

There will always be faults with any vessel surveyed, there is no such thing as the perfect survey however, it is a matter of getting things in perspective and it will be the surveyors job to not only isolate these areas of major concern but also to inform a new buyer as to all of the minor things that may have been seen, after all, there is no point in the surveyor having information that he feels his client does not need to know. The important thing is to put this information in a way that it is easy to understand that attach the correct degree of concern to. If the survey reveals important areas of concern that the buyer was not aware of when they made the offer then this is usually the time for renegotiation. It is generally not acceptable to renegotiate the items that the buyer was aware of when they made the initial offer. The surveyor will often give a guide to the cost or value of the major problems if and when found and, in the case that they are too complex then, the buyer might well want to get a quote from a boatyard or shipwright to put these items right.

Keep your eyes wide open & take heed of any advice

One thing a buyer should bear in mind is that, particularly in the case of wooden vessels, costs can and often will escalate when undertaking major repairs as, it is only when invasive stripping is commenced that other areas that could not be seen doing the survey become obvious. This is one reason why, when the surveyor notes a fault there will often be a possibility of the fault extending further than first anticipated. However, this only really applies to structural improvements. When it comes to gas installations and fire extinguishers etc. Those costs should really be quite reliable estimates.

The broker is paid to sell the boat and they need to work for both parties.

This is the time that a good broker can work for all parties. However, in my own experience, brokers can sometimes keep buyers and Sellers at such a distance from one another that these negotiations become extremely difficult. Once the offer has been renegotiated and accepted the balance has to be paid and, from that time forwards the boat is yours subject to the broker doing his job properly.

Need to know more?

If none of the above answers any question you may have then why don't you email or phone me with your question and, if I have an answer I will definitely share it with you.

Links to useful pages on this site
Yacht surveys
Yacht surveys timber & general info
Fishing vessel inspection for the MCA
Survey faults & photos
Shipwright info
More contact info
PDF Articles on all subjects
Links to useful sites.
Selling a boat tips
Repair Timber & GRP boats
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