buying a second hand boat

A few weeks back we put our 2015 New Boat Guide, to help who decided their resolution would be looking for an all new personal watercraft. There was one paragraph in that post however that really should be it's own how-to guide, since so many people go about it the wrong way and end up disappointed: Buying second hand boats. As we mentioned before, there's lots of advantages for seeking a used yacht or sailboat, including better value for money, the inclusion of boating gear, and a more affordable insurance. But what are the major pitfalls if buying a second hand boat, and how do you avoid them?

Preparing You Questions

If you've discovered the ideal vessel online, in print or by word of mouth, then it's time to start getting your research together so you don't arrive at the appraisal unprepared. You're going to need a fully loaded set of questions in order to be completely sure your dream boat is definitely worth the buck. These can range from whether the seller's offer is subject to survey or sea trial, to finding out exactly when the boat will actually belong to you (therefore making you responsible for insurance, paying mooring fees etc). You ideally want a standard contract that's been approved by the British Marine Federation (BMF), and/or the Association of Brokers and Yacht Agents (ABYA).

Hard to believe, but a surprising amount of people never even go to check out their prospective boats, let alone try them out. This is why it's vital that you insist that the seller bring their title documentation to verify that the boat isn't stolen, and to get a general assessment of their business practices. If you're not very versed or confident in these types of sales meetings, visiting a boat broker through the Boat Retailers and Brokers Association (BRBA) is a good plan, as they can walk you through the whole boat buying process, whilst pointing you to local yacht services. You can even buy your boat through a broker, but you must ensure the client account used to hold you money is completely separate from the company's current account.

second hand boat guide

Surveying Your Potential Vessel

Whilst hardly required in new boats, surveying a second hand boat should never be skipped unless it's one that you've been a regular passenger of for some time. Assessing the true condition of the craft is something even experienced boat-drivers aren't too confident at, so be sure to bring a knowledgeable first-mate to help you in the appraisal - you can still have the boat professionally surveyed even if you do this.

Requiring a professional survey of the boat's engine and included equipment can often be a mandatory requirement of the contract. A survey can help you out in a variety of areas in the transaction process, including negotiating price, sorting out insurance and planning ahead for potential maintenance issues. Having a complete understanding of your desired boat's condition is a common sense approach to get peace of mind and your money's worth. If you're already prepared to throw down an extraordinary amount of money for a motorboat or coastal cruiser, then you don't want little things like hull fractures or water contaminated oil slipping past you.

Buying a Motorboat (New or Second-hand)
Be Your Own Boat Surveyor
Buying a Yacht (New or Second-Hand)

Getting Legal Advice and Help When Needed

Unfortunately, whilst the law does offer some limited protection to buyers of second-hand boats, the golden rule is 'caveat emptor - buyer beware'. This is why it's crucial to have some legal expertise you can turn to at every step. You can get a model 'Agreement for the Sale and Purchase of Second-hand Boats' from the The Royal Yacht Association (RYA). If you're a member of the RYA, you can also seek out further legal help including whether or not there is marine mortgage on the boat, to VAT considerations when buying in or out of the EU. Even if you're not a member, the RYA website has plenty of resources to arm with the right legal knowledge.

Once you've fully committed to buying a boat, in your head and in writing, it's going to be costly and perhaps impossible to get your money back if you are ripped off. Therefore, we encourage a great deal of caution and patience when buying a second hand boat. See at lest three vessels before making your decision, never impulse buy and try to always go for a sea trial.

To keep up to date with all our boating guides and news, float on over to the Seachest Facebook page, Twitter and Google+.


Post By Graham