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How do I buy a boat?


So you want to take the risk and become a boat owner. Congratulations! If you have made your selection criteria and have decided on certain types of boats, it’s now about the individual steps of the purchase process, which we want to explain to you with this guide. While the seemingly endless selection of different boat types, brands and models may seem a bit overwhelming at times, buying a boat is in many ways similar to buying other consumer goods that you don’t buy every day. It is important to do your homework and maintain a certain amount of skepticism towards marketing and sales brochures.

And here is the first good news: boat enthusiasts are a tight-knit community and are usually helpful when it comes to introducing newcomers to the secrets of their favorite hobby. So don’t be afraid to approach experienced boat owners and ask for their opinion, especially if they have no commercial interest in which boat they will ultimately buy. For example, read our guide Which sailboat is ideal for me? Have a listen in the marinas, in the boat or sailing clubs or simply check out the owner forums on the Internet to get an idea of ​​why your type of boat appeals to people, how they use their ships but also what problems there are and how these are solved.

But there are also other aspects that are unique when buying a boat. For example, newbies can find it difficult to judge which details make the difference between a happy and carefree time by the water and a sea of ​​difficulties and frustrations. Experience pays off especially when buying a used boat, because all boats have a kind of personality that suits you – or not. Of course, none of this can be generalized, so our advice: Get in touch with experienced and helpful owners or experts who will answer your questions honestly and without further ado.

Search, compare, select

Are you ready? Then it can go. The best way is online on portals where you can browse the boat market to your heart’s content using a detailed search, in order to compare models, prices and equipment in peace. There you can tailor your search criteria, e.g. B. by shipyard, model, year of construction, length, price range, or by country. Also use YouTube channels where new models are presented in short videos, giving an overview of key features and intended use.

But be careful! Too much clicking can also tire you and in the end you are disappointed when reality does not match your dreams. That’s why we’re giving you a few tips on how to separate the wheat from the chaff:

  • Check the photos: bad photos are usually a warning. If a seller does not take the effort to present his boot as best as possible in pictures, there is usually a reason. Either the boat is a burden or the condition is far from ideal.
  • Look carefully: compare what can and cannot be seen on the various displays of boats of the same model.
  • Read the equipment list: Compare what the individual sellers list as highlights. What pays for the standard equipment, what is subject to a surcharge, or what was subsequently installed by the owner. This results in sometimes considerable differences and possibly the realization that the cheapest offer is not necessarily the cheapest.
  • If the boat was advertised by a dealer, go to their website and see the other boats that are advertised for sale there. In this way you can get a general impression of the business conduct.
  • Be skeptical: Especially with older boats that have been screwed a lot over the years, you should keep a critical eye, especially when it comes to electronics, because developments in this sector are advancing rapidly. Even if they are still technically functional, outdated devices can be worthless, for example if they are not forward compatible with new operating systems, card formats, etc. That means you can be left with a pile of electronic waste on board that you have paid for but should be replaced very soon.

As soon as you have condensed your selection to a few candidates, you have to set off to personally examine the individual boats. That can take you to a nearby marina, to the booth of a dealer or manufacturer or to the garden where a private seller has his ship on the trailer. If you are demanding or have something big on your shopping list, it can also mean a flight to distant countries. In this order of magnitude, potential buyers often send representatives to negotiate the purchase on their behalf. In any case, the goal is to make sure that the reality on the water (or on land) looks as good as the images on the computer screen.

Trust is good, control is better

How finicky should a buyer be at the on-site inspection and not just look at what the seller wants to show? That depends on whether you are buying new or used, the size and complexity of the yacht and whether you know the seller or have been recommended as reputable. And especially about whether a deal seems too good to be true, because then caution and closer investigation are required.
Start with a tour where you first get a general impression of the quality of what is on offer. The following applies: The first impression one gains of the external condition also reveals a lot about the inner values. If the deck fittings are solid and have been properly installed, that’s a good sign. After that you should know whether you should ask further questions or remove boot from the list of candidates.
The next step is the test drive, which provides information on how the boat behaves when it is in motion, what it is like in rough seas or at high speed and whether you feel comfortable on board. Warning: a test drive is not a drive. Create a checklist to make the most of the limited time on board. Otherwise you will quickly create the reputation of a dubious buyer or time waster.
If you are seriously interested in a boat of your choice, but have only seen it in the water until now, you should make an appointment with the seller to examine the important underwater area including the propeller, shaft, rudder, keel or the transducers for echo sounder and Inspect log. No serious appraiser would judge a yacht without having taken a close look at the underwater hull.

And that brings us to an important topic that is particularly interesting for buyers of used boats: the preparation of a purchase report by a sworn expert. On the one hand, this is required by insurance companies, and on the other hand, it gives prospective owners the opportunity to learn as much as possible about the new ship.

Which accessories are included?

It’s an almost incidental question, but answering it can make a big difference in price, depending on which type of boat you buy and whether you buy new or used goods. The seller, regardless of whether it is a dealer or a private individual, should present a detailed list of equipment that shows you exactly what is included in the purchase price. Buyers of brand new boats are often lured in with an attractive price tag, but often have to find that they still have to butter properly for accessories that are subject to a surcharge before they can take over the ship of their dreams.

Closing the deal

This closes the circle of the sales process, which at the end corresponds to the general guidelines for purchasing large consumer goods: the more in love you are, the higher the price you are willing to pay. Vife salespeople know the stealth and will try to direct the deal as emotionally as possible. Your best antidote is to take a short break until your mind has calmed down and you can negotiate the price. That doesn’t mean you have to be idle in the meantime. For example, you can make sure there is no risk of online fraud and take care of the paperwork that comes with government and insurance. When making private purchases, it is important to ensure that the seller is actually the registered owner. And one more thing: If the boat is in a marina or in a warehouse, ask in the office whether there are overdue berth fees or whether there is a risk of seizure.

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