Tips for Purchasing a Used Yacht

Tips for Purchasing a Used Yacht

Tips for Purchasing a Used Yacht

While many NOLSC sailors are enjoying cruising in the warmer weather of the southerly climes, we spent March Break on boats in New Jersey, Lake Champlain and Wisconsin. A perfect way to enjoy storm Stella-Boat Shopping!

By Cathy Andres

So here we are about to purchase our 4th boat and we realize searching for a boat to buy is not something we’ve ever done. Boat 1: Sprinta Sport 24-we traded a car for it. Boat 2: SR 21 built by C&C and part of my pay. Boat 3: C&C 30, I loved it from the beginning. I told the dealer, who found out he was taking it as stock the day it was delivered, (in the hey day era when sailboat companies could do that) and then refused to sell it once he sailed it, that if he ever chose to sell it, I wanted it. Fifteen years later, I got the call and the boat was ours. It was the perfect boat for us: fun to race, beautiful lines and possible to cruise. We weren’t ready to say good-bye. No wonder it’s taking us so long to find a boat. We can’t even get past the first step of deciding what kind of boat we want. Nonetheless, we’ve made a decision to look for a performance cruiser with the potential to go offshore. We’re still not 100% sure.

From the blog “Messing About In Sailboats” came these questions to help would-be buyers with the process.

    1. 1. Where are you going to doing most of your sailing? Um that depends… Lake Ontario? Live the offshore dream?
    1. 2. How much are you going to sail? As much as possible…. when I’m not working to pay for it…
    1. 3. Racer, cruiser, racer/cruiser, blue-water? Yes. Yes, yes and yes. This was definitely the hardest part of boat buying for us
    1. 4. Who’s going to be sailing with you? Cathy, if she lets me come along.
        1. 5. How long will you own her? Until the rig comes down!

    1. 6. Will you be able to sell her later? That I can do.
    1. 7. How much work will you do on the boat yourself? All of it – as usual.
    1. 8. How much boat can you afford? Is any boat affordable?

So far, not much help and as it turns out, we weren’t very successful with the suggested boat viewing checklist either.

It seems viewing a winterized boat on the hard, in a storm, is somewhat prohibitive if you want to complete the checklist!!!

Cruising World’s tips. While you’re supposed to buy with your head not your heart, Tip #15 rang true for us.

“Tip 15: When in doubt, walk away. Unless the boat inspires real passion, it’s the wrong boat. Find the most competent and highly regarded surveyor available. Ask him or her about the required refit and likely costs involved. I’ve never regretted walking away from, or spending the money on, a “problem” survey. Make sure you have a serious sea trial — and not just a short run with the engine, and a quick raising and lowering of sails — in a good breeze. Even very experienced sailors can fail to note the obvious on sea trials, especially rushed ones.”

With our Niagara-on-the-Lake Sailing Club surveyors, we weren’t worried about the condition, but the boat should inspire passion. We realized the first boat we checked out was the wrong one when we saw the second one. The second one, felt right. It inspired passion. Unfortunately, it was a former charter boat and really was ridden hard and put away wet. The third boat met all our criteria but Cruising World’s tip #6 was a problem for of us.

“Tip 6: Nothing improves comfort more than size. Within limits, everything on the boat can be changed except size. But size is a double-edged sword, as costs and maintenance even in slightly larger boats are disproportionately higher. As size increases, so does volume. A 40-footer will have twice the volume of a 30-footer. When discussing size, focus on the waterline length. Length matters because size yields more storage space and more accommodations, and longer boats tend to sail faster, with a smoother motion. Bigger boats also provide the ability to take on additional crew for longer passages.”

The boat was just too big! We didn’t see ourselves on it, or in it, yet the price was right, so ignoring Tip #15 we put in an offer and have our fingers crossed that it’s not a mistake. If it goes through perhaps it was meant to be and if it doesn’t we’ll search for another boat number 2 that’s in better condition.

Wish us luck!

Your boatless commodore,