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13 Pitfalls To Avoid When Buying A Used Bluewater Cruising Yacht
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13 Pitfalls To Avoid When Buying A Used Bluewater Cruising Yacht

What to look out for if you are considering purchasing a second hand Sail Boat

Buying a second-hand cruising yacht can be an extremely complicated business because you have to make so many decisions as the options available are endless.

First of all you have to decide if it is a catamaran or a mono hull you are after.

Secondly, and this will largely depend on your budget, is to decide on what length you want your yacht to be.

Thirdly, what material must the boat be made of. This may also depend on the budget as you will get more ”boat” from one made of wood as opposed to one made of glass fibre or aluminium.

If you finally found a yacht that really interests you, then before making the final commitment to purchase make sure you avoid some of the following pitfalls.

1) Be realistic and do not buy the first boat you see. There are so many to choose from, so first check out as many as possible, then make a short list and go and have another look.

2) Take your time and try to imagine what it will be like to live permanently on board. Remember some ocean crossings can take + 30 days, so daydream a little and make sure the layout below will not irritate you.

3) If your wife, partner or children are going to accompany you on the cruise, then involve them with the decision making. It’s no good if they do not agree with your choice of yacht because then you will never leave the dock.

4) Is speed or comfort more important to you? If you are hoping to do a world cruise, a lot of time is spent at anchor and you do not want to be bouncing about on a light displacement boat. Arriving at your next destination a day later than the racers but with a stress free crew, is for most people far more important.

5) On most second-hand yachts, the navigation electronics will be out of date and your budget must allow for replacement.

6) You will probably find that the safety gear including the flares have all passed or are close to their expiry dates and will need to be replaced. Also, the life raft will have to be professionally serviced, which is quite expensive.

7) No matter what the owner tells you about the condition of the boat you must employ an independent recommended professional boat surveyor to do a thorough inspection of the hull, superstructure, diesel tanks, water tanks and propeller shaft etc. This will be for your account, which will also include haul out fees charged by the marina. Allow a day to do this.

8) Have a rigger go up the mast to look for any cracks or possible future failures. The cost of employing one is cheap compared to replacing your mast if a fitting had to fail.

9) The sail must be thoroughly inspected for wear and shape. If they need to be replaced, get a quote from a sail maker which you can then use to bargain to get the owner to reduce the price of the yacht.

10) The engine can also be a big expense if it is old and been neglected. Try to make sure the engine hours are true, it starts promptly, and there is not too much blue or black smoke coming from the exhaust. If you know nothing about marine engines, get someone you can trust to guide you.

11) Ask the owner to take you out sailing at least twice and not just in calm weather. Take the helm and see how she responds to different points of sail and if you feel comfortable in handling and sailing her on your own.

12) If the owner offers the yacht with an inventory of extra safety and other equipment, then inspect each of these items making sure that they are in reasonable working condition.

13) Make contact with a few recommended yacht brokers most of whom are experienced sailors themselves. They will be able to guide through some of the legal problems that can arise when purchasing a boat.

These are some of the important actions you must take and questions you must ask when buying a cruising yacht. This is an expensive item you are buying, and you and crew must have faith in its seaworthiness that will enable you to sail safe passages around the world.

One last word of warning

To refurbish or renovate a yacht has huge both hidden and visible cost implications that can financially ruin your dream. If you want to go sailing and you are not entirely satisfied with your choice, then search for one more suitable.

Street Talk

HI, it's difficult to answer. Generally if you know what you want then a new popular design boat is a good way to go because it will hold its value and comes with warrantees etc.. If not totally sure then buy a good second hand boat as you will then learn a lot about yacht maintenance and upkeep. This can be a great hands on learning curve.

  about 9 years ago

Great article. I'm happy you took the time to write this up. For someone new to the sport, do you think the better value lies in getting a 2nd hand boat for practice then upgrade if necessary, or getting something brand new right away to avoid some of the issues and extra expenses that go along with old boats?

  about 9 years ago
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