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Checklist for buying a boat: The search for the right ship

Checklist for buying boat / yacht: sailboat / sailing yacht or motorboat / motor yacht
© Miroslav Svetec

The dream of owning a boat begins with a series of questions that future owners must ask themselves critically, our checklist helps. The planned use of the boat is just as important as the suitable berth and the running costs. SeaHelp has compiled ten points, with the help of which the search for the right ship can be concretized..

Checklist point 1:

On which district should the boat be used?

River, inland waterway, coastal or high seas? With or without current? If you know where you want to use your boat predominantly, you can already make an initial selection and, above all, narrow down the size and classification you are looking for a little. If you are looking for a motor boat, you should find out beforehand which navigation restrictions apply in the area and whether you first need to apply for a permit to drive a vessel with an internal combustion engine or even an electric drive.

Motorboat drivers must also define for themselves whether they are looking for something small and lively for a day trip on the water or whether they want to go on tour with their boat. For the after-work round on inland waters, a small glider made of GRP with a small cabin at most or an elegant small tender is suitable.

If the boat is also to be used as a towing vehicle for water skiing or wakeboarding, care must also be taken to ensure that it produces the perfect wake. If you want to go on tour, you need a spacious displacement boat that primarily offers living comfort instead of good speed potential.

Sailors have a wide choice of different classes and models, from maneuverable dinghies to small keelboats and large, seagoing yachts. In order to get an overview and to get to know the sailing characteristics of the individual ships, it is worthwhile to test sail as many ships as possible. Boat shows, where many shipyards present their yachts, also give a good overview of the various new models, their construction and equipment on and also below deck.


Checklist for buying boat / yacht: jet ski on board


Checklist item 2:

2. Does the ship need a water or land berth?

Often you first get hold of the coveted berth before you start looking for a vessel that fits exactly into this box. And even if the boat remains on a trailer or slip car after use, it’s good to know where you can park that permanently before you buy.

While berths were available in numerous marinas in recent years, the situation has changed dramatically during the Corona pandemic. Turning to recreational opportunities on their own doorstep, many water sports enthusiasts have opted for their own yacht, leading to a strong utilization of berth capacity.

Checklist item 3:

Should it be a motor or sailing yacht?

A fundamental decision, although in the meantime even inveterate sailors no longer look down on motorboat drivers with a slight sniff. Those who opt for a motorboat or motor yacht are not dependent on the wind, usually have a shallower draft, and can navigate inland waterways and rivers superbly – neither bridges nor currents impede progress. Those who prefer it sporty, quiet and close to nature and want to sail longer tours at sea, should rather look for a suitable sailing yacht.

Checklist point 4:

Who will use the ship in the future or who will come on board?

The family or partner must join in when it comes to purchasing such an important recreational object as a boat of one’s own. Not only because it is a very cost-intensive hobby, but also because it takes up a lot of time. Only those who know no better occupation in their free time than to be in or on the water will be truly passionate about the purchase of their own boat. Especially who decides for the first time for an own ship, should first charter or in an owner’s community into the world of “yachties” to find out whether you really want to fulfill the dream of your own ship.

Checklist point 5:

Should the vessel be used for day trips or tours?

If you only want to get out on the water during the day, you only need a small cabin and not a lot of equipment. But the longer the time on board, the more every extra foot of length pays off. More size means more storage space, comfort and berths. And with that, more options for recreation and vacations on the water.

Checklist Item 6:

How big should the boat be?

Every meter costs more, but also creates a plus in comfort and convenience. If you have a choice between a large and a small, very well-equipped yacht, you should choose the larger vessel if in doubt. The equipment and especially the electronics can be successively renewed and improved, but rarely is a yacht structurally modified to make it a few feet longer.

Checklist Item 7:

How expensive this may be investment?

In addition to the investment amount when buying the boat, it is essential to calculate the ongoing costs such as mooring, insurance, maintenance and travel expenses. Those who invest in a new yacht will quickly have a list of many items that they still urgently need to buy for their ship. And those who find a used yacht should expect to have many equipment items that, while available and functional, are no longer up to date or do not suit their personal taste. As a general rule, a vessel used purely as a leisure object should never become a financial burden in everyday life.

Checklist point 8:

How much care should be provided by yourself?

This is also a not inconsiderable cost factor: does the ship come into the shipyard for overhaul during the winter months, or does the owner want to do everything himself and invest a lot of work and time – assuming he has the technical know-how. To do this, new owners must ask themselves where the ship’s equipment will be stored during the winter months. Is there a garage for the sails and a dry cellar for the boat upholstery? If not, winter storage in a heated shed is recommended so that as much as possible can remain on board.

How much care a boat needs depends crucially on the material of the hull. Wooden boats devour a lot of time for sanding and painting, but are beautiful to look at. Modern yachts made of GRP require much less maintenance and can be restored to an extremely attractive condition with a thorough polish.

Ships made of steel or aluminum are particularly durable, although here too corrosion or electrolysis sets in after a few decades, worsening the stability of the hull.

Checklist item 9:

Used and shipyard new yacht?

Anyone interested in a used yacht will find a wide selection, but will need to be more specific about which search parameters are valid. In addition to the size of the yacht, the age and the use in the past play a decisive role. Subsequent installations or modifications are often possible, but above all cost-intensive. Onboard electronics, mast, stays and running gear should be critically examined when buying an aged yacht and renewed if necessary.

Who invests in a shipyard-new yacht, must bring up above all a little patience, most serial yacht manufacturers are booked up for the next months. But those who are willing to wait for their dream ship can have it very individually and tailor-made for their own needs. Here, the individual configuration goes far beyond the choice of upholstery and number of berths; the performance of the engine can be varied just as much as the length of the mast and the draft of the keel.

Checklist item 10:

May it be a ship with history?

They also exist, the floating pearls with a great past. Sometimes lovingly cared for as maritime gems, but sometimes in a pitiable condition, just waiting to be comprehensively restored and kissed awake. Those who choose a classic yacht, an enthusiast’s model or a “vintage” boat are buying a ship with character. A ship that others look at with admiration. A ship about which many questions are asked and which sometimes also has a strong community of owners who have a ship of the same shipyard or construction. The floating gems are more labor-intensive than a shipyard-new, comfortable 0815 boat off the shelf, but reward their owners with a special flair that can not be copied at will.

Conclusion: Who has answered these ten questions, knows at least what type of ship with what length is suitable for him and the preferred cruising area. Now the search begins. And the big type comparison in numerous portals and boat exchanges. It’s an exciting discovery phase that can be half-jokingly summed up with the everyday wisdom: There are two happy days in the life of a yacht owner. The day when the own ship is bought. And the day when it is successfully sold to another happy new owner.

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