Buying a Yacht: Tips




A guest post from the skipper of Yacht Temerity

Having worked onboard other peoples yachts in my role as a professional yacht skipper for the last 5 years, I decided to look for a yacht to live aboard, as well as to travel – literally wherever the wind took me, finding both adventures and work along the way.

Buying a yacht is not an everyday purchase, however, not having a regular enough income to consider getting a mortgage and buying a property, it seemed an obvious answer.

Where to start?

There are thousands of boats out there looking for a new owner; should I trawl the internet, buy lots of yachting magazines, look at the classifieds, go to boatyards? How does it work, is it like buying a car?

In essence, the answer is a combination of buying a car and house all in one. Looking on the internet, it showed many boats of all ages and conditions, some were clearly ‘man sheds’, some lovingly restored and cared for, others were clearly gin palaces or just old tubs! Many are moored in out of the way places to get to, but I’m sure that if you have time and are prepared to travel the length of the country to actually see the boat for sale, you would undoubtedly find one to suit your needs.

I didn’t want to travel to Scotland or Kent to look at a boat, and having travelled there find it really wasn’t as advertised.

Having written a list of what I did want from my boat, I decided I wanted at least a minimum of a 30 footer with a decent beam, so that when we cross Biscay or the Atlantic, we would have some decent stability; if I’m living on it, it has to also be a little spacious.

I wanted a wheel, definitely not a tiller, nothing too old that needed lots of work on it and within my budget, which was quite conservative given that I was only 24 at the time…

Where to go?

I used the internet and typed in the search bar ‘yachts for sale South & South West’. Hundreds of yachtbroker’s pages appeared. Having matched my ‘wants’ list against the boats they advertised, there were quite a few that didn’t make the grade, either for style or price.

Many of those closer to home, despite having photos, were really not as advertised (something that seemed to be a common failing); I visited one or two and made general enquiries about those on the sites, but those that were half decent already had offers on them. The ones I saw needed a lot spending on them. Whilst I am practical and could do most of it, I felt it worth considering stretching available funds to buy something that was at least ready to put to sea!

I found Temerity on the website for Waypoint Yacht Brokers who were based at East Cowes on the Isle of Wight, so only a couple of hours travel from home, and I rang them straight away. The photos were relatively well taken and there were plenty of them, with a concise description of the yacht. When I spoke to them, Temerity had literally been on their site for about 2 hours. I set a time/day to go and look her over, having put in a provisional offer, subject to my visit.

I caught the Isle of Wight ferry as a foot passenger with my mum and sister and we were collected by the Broker. Temerity had been sold through them twice previously, and appeared to have been well-looked after

The current owner was selling as he preferred motor vessels, but had spent a significant amount on top quality electronics (he worked for Simrad).

She was just slightly out of the price range I had in mind, but with a little ‘bank of mum’ assistance, I was pleased with her and I put in the offer, £1000 less than the asking price!

I went to the Broker and signed a provisional sale agreement!

What next?

A survey and/or sea trial was suggested (rather like buying a house), as she was lying moored in the river and who knew what was under the water line?! The brokers gave me a list of suggested agents and I contacted them to get an idea. The fee on average for the yacht survey was £15 – £18 per foot which included the sea trial. Also, to get her out of the water on the sling was another £16 a metre. The surveyor arranged this for me and we set a date where we could go and get this carried out on the same day.

The survey consisted of a very thorough check of everything inside and outside the boat, along with suggestions of work that he would recommend, but work that was not essential. He used a moisture sensor and scanned the hull to check for water ingress and any problems. The sea trial consisted of checking the engine and sails all worked and were ok. The mainsail was adequate but for fair weather sailing in and around the Solent. I replaced it when I got to Plymouth. Apart from one or two small items, all was well. He had also surveyed this yacht previously and could see it had been much improved. We put in a suggested reduction of the price for the sail and got another £500 off the asking price.

At least the reductions covered the surveys and the safety equipment I would need to purchase for the yacht. The owner agreed, the sale documents were prepared and I also got a quote for insurance, which the surveyor suggested was for almost £6k more than we paid for it; in his words we “got a real gem of a boat”.

We went back to sign the ownership paperwork and had the insurance start from midnight before we signed. The insurance was for UK Coastal, all the English Channel from Brittany right through to Kiel, excepting Southern Ireland, All very easy and £285 annually! Cheaper than my car…

The items we needed from the chandlers soon added up to another £1500; we wanted to make sure it was well kitted out and although many don’t consider safety equipment top priority, being a professional skipper, I wanted my boat to be safe & prepared if the worst happened.

Armed with fibre-glass canister life-raft, life jackets for 3 further people, foghorn, EPIRB, hand held VHF, powerful spotlight and one or two other essential items, we headed to the mooring. The life-raft was incredibly heavy to lift and so we felt it should be seated at the rear of the cockpit on an aluminium carrier. We bought a tender, which was brand new and on offer for £279, which considering the cost of most second-hand ones was a snip – suitable for 2/3 people comfortably 4 at a push or 2 and shopping…

Now where to live?

The pontoon was all paid for to the end of this year at the IOW, but with links to Plymouth, I was looking to move and berth as a live-aboard at Plymouth Yacht Haven. Not all the marinas offer this option, so you would have to shop around if you are looking to do this, however, I didn’t fancy being on a mooring buoy or at anchor and the use of marina facilities held a lot of practicality for living.

This was a guest post by my brother, Richard from Yacht Temerity.