How to Buy Your First Yacht
Taking a first step into the world of yachting is exciting. It can also be a monumental error if you choose to buy without doing some homework first. To make an informed decision it’s helpful to review the process others have gone through in purchasing a yacht.
These sizable oceangoing vessels are far from simple, and there are a great many types of yachts from which to choose. Depending on the ownership experience you’re looking for, making an informed decision could be the difference between being a happy longtime owner and putting a “for sale” sign on your new baby a few months after buying it.
Spend Some Time on a Yacht or Two
The world of ocean-going yachts is exclusive, that’s just a reality. Unlike purchasing a car, there are people in the market for a yacht—or people who think they are—who have never been on a yacht.
If you believe that you want to be a yacht owner, you should test that idea out by spending some time on board someone else’s boat. Traveling by boat is a wonderful pastime that many people enjoy. It also has certain realities that might be a challenge for you. For example, if you prefer to go for long runs in the park every day, you might be disappointed by the space that a yacht affords.
In cases like this, you can compromise. Install a gym, for example. But certain things like the chill in the air when sailing through specific parts of the globe are just realities and if you’ve made a big investment, you’ll need to be comfortable with them.
Have a Budget and Understand Cost of Ownership
Hearing that buying a yacht is a little like buying a Ferrari might not come as a surprise. But consider what is meant by “cost of ownership” when you think about making this purchase. Similarly to buying a home, a yacht is a large enough purchase that in many scenarios, the money you actually part with is not the sticker price. The trick is to have a budget and understand how different methods of buying let you leverage your money best.
Used boats will regularly come in at significantly lower prices than their brand-new cousins. Naturally, newer boats will be equipped with more recent technology and will typically be in better states of repair when you buy them. It’s a good rule to assume that a new yacht needs little more than fuel, basic engine maintenance and a few washes in its first three years of existence. After that three-year honeymoon period, however, all bets are off.
Does that mean you’ll be parting with your firstborn child if you choose to buy an older boat? Not necessarily, but you need to closely analyze what the boat needs and how the investment will pay out for you.
A good question to ask is how long you plan to own the yacht. If you’re not planning to own it past two years and can afford a down payment on a newer boat, it’s possible that you can get into something more recent and recoup the initial investment by selling it quickly. Conversely, if you want to own your yacht for a long time there might be a good argument to be made for buying something a little older and amortizing repair costs over the years.
Know How you Want to Yacht
If you’re planning to live aboard your yacht for six months at a time and spend most of your days on the open ocean, you’ll want a very different craft than if you are planning to go for weekend jaunts and fish for sailfish in the Gulf of Mexico. The experience you’ll have aboard a sailing yacht will be much more involved (unless you have a crew to run it for you, which might be a good call), but for some people, that’s a plus. Other’s would be much happier with a powered yacht that nearly drives itself.
These are just a few of the types of yachts that are available. Within the different classes, there are different lengths of boat, and levels of finish. Attending a yacht show with your broker—you should find one you trust early—is a good way to get some exposure to what’s out there if you don’t have an idea.
Think About Where to Park it
One of the biggest challenges you’ll face as a boat owner is parking. Space in the world’s harbors is limited, so finding a boat that comes with a slip is a major advantage. Typically a listing will say if the boat does or doesn’t include a spot. If it does not, you’ll need to pay some real mind to how much money it will cost to store your boat in a place where you can make use of it.
Some owners have the means to store a yacht away from a harbor but that can be a tremendous additional cost and then you have to deal with the challenge of moving the boat back to the water. That’s no small chore. Do you still want to be a yacht owner after reading this? There’s no reason to shy away from making a purchase but it’s important to think ahead so that you’ll be satisfied when you do. Going into yacht ownership with your eyes open is the only way to do it responsibly. Noone likes a nasty surprise. You wouldn’t want to buy a home only to discover that it’s going to cost twice what you planned for, would you? So good luck with your purchase, we hope this advice serves you well!