Tips for Buying a Used Yacht

Let's be real, buying a used yacht is not a very easy process.  Much like buying a used car, the vessel is going to have a history.  Don't you wish there was a "Carfax" report for used boats too?  Unfortunately there isn't a Carfax for boats.  But hopefully there might be one sometime in the near future.  

Nonetheless, here are some great tips for buying used from - 

Tip 1: Remember the 30:70 rule: The builder makes 30 percent of the boat and purchases the remaining 70 percent from other suppliers, almost all of which has to be periodically replaced at ever-higher prices. The 30:70 rule helps explain high rates of depreciation — typically 50 percent after the first decade and 75 percent after the second.

Tip 2: Focus on the total acquisition costs: the purchase price plus the inevitable refit. A good rule of thumb is to use only half the boat budget to buy the boat, then employ the other half for the requisite upgrades. A common boat-buying mistake is not reserving enough money for the overhaul. Also, prepare a realistic annual maintenance budget before the purchase. A boat stuck on the dock provides no joy.

Tip 3: Avoid being beguiled by a long list of equipment and cosmetic touch-ups. Fact: Most equipment will probably require replacement. Also, brokers and sellers know that cosmetics help sell boats, but they don’t make them sail any better. Similarly, view claims of a “recent refit” with skepticism. Does new anchor chain or new sails make the boat worth more when chain and sails are part of a boat’s normal complement of gear? (And that actually may be a “yes” when it comes to sails, but rarely will you find a used boat with a new inventory.)

Tip 4: The major refit costs will likely involve the rig and engine. After 15 to 20 years, it’s long past time to pull the mast, upgrade the standing rigging and terminals, take apart the spar and inspect for crevice corrosion and cracks, replace blocks, inspect the sheaves and mast step, and beef up gear as necessary. For extended offshore use, the general rule is to replace everything with heavier rigging and equipment. Losing a mast offshore makes for a very bad day. Paint makes masts look better but often hides corrosion.

Tip 5: Likewise, after two decades, it’s time to pay the “engine piper” — or pay him later. There are basically two options: rebuild what’s already installed (saving half the cost) or repower with a new engine. Typically, the in-and-out labor costs are equal to the cost of a rebuilt or new engine. Changing engine brands can significantly add to the price. Remember, many experienced cruisers cover as many as half their miles under power (especially those running up and down the Intracoastal Waterway). So a reliable engine is essential. No one ever complains when it starts up every time! Also, budget for ample spare parts; obtaining them in distant ports can be a real headache.

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