Mark Cameron Yachts

Buying a Boat

The decision to buy a boat requires just as much contemplation whether it’s your first boat or your tenth, a small launch for day fishing or a serious cruising yacht for exploring the oceans of the world. It pays to spend time considering what your requirements are and looking at various boats you think may be suitable. Until you have actually been aboard a boat it’s very difficult to fully assess just what each design offers. A call to a knowledgeable broker to discuss your requirements can throw up a number of questions you hadn’t considered, never be scared to pick up the phone.

In any sale or purchase the role fulfilled by the broker is complex. Although the vendor of the vessel ultimately engages the broker to act their behalf there is a duty of care towards both the vendor and purchaser in every transaction. A good broker will make both parties feel comfortable.

With growing demands on people’s precious leisure time it’s becoming more common for buyers to work with their own broker. This type of arrangement sees the broker assist the buyer to identify a number of designs which meets their needs, locate suitable boats and arrange viewings before assisting with the purchasing process. Often this service can be complete at minimal or no cost to the buyer.

Based on our experience we have run through the purchase process below with some useful advice.

What will suit your needs and available time?

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the romantic idea of owning a boat. Many people would love to own a timber built classic. In reality though to maintain such a boat you will need lots of time to devote to the required ongoing maintenance and/or a significant financial commitment to keep abreast of the work for which professional services will be required.

When working with purchasers to identify possible boats for their needs we start off with some simple questions which are relevant to anyone:

  • What type of boating do you enjoy?
  • What’s your own level of experience/competency?
  • What time do you have available to use the boat?
  • What time do you have available to maintain the boat?
  • How many crew do you expect to sail with and what is their level of competence?
  • Are there any boats you have already identified as potentially suitable?

As brokers acting for purchasers we can work up a number of possible designs to start narrowing the search criteria based on more in depth preferences. With the search narrowed, using our technical expertise an in-depth evaluation of perhaps four to six models can be provided. We use acknowledge design metrics for the identified boats to provide a better understanding of how the designs will compare.

Do Your Homework

In this internet age it’s never been easier to research any chosen design. With magazine back issues available to search on line, numerous active forums with 1000’s of engaged users. No matter what type of boat you set your heart on you should be able to find plenty of information relating to how they perform and what problems occur with older examples long before you step aboard.

How do the finances stack up

This will no doubt have been considered in some detail by anybody contemplating a boat purchase long before the hunting for that perfect boat starts. However it is important to make sure that along with the costs associated with the purchase the ongoing costs of boat ownership have been fully appreciated. The list below is offered as a simple guide to get you thinking and is by no means comprehensive.

Purchase Costs

  • Agreed purchase price.
  • Survey Costs – Cost of survey, cost of hauling for underwater hull inspection
  • Transportation costs.

Ongoing Costs

  • Mooring / Winter Storage Fees
  • Maintenance Costs – Systems servicing. Sail Servicing. Safety Equipment Servicing, etc.
  • Upgrades & Replacements – Standing rigging, running rigging, sails, navigation electronics, etc.

Draw Up A Short List & Look at Some Boats

Never set your sights on a specific design without looking aboard at least one other possible contender.

When considering a viewing call the broker in advance and make an appointment. Formalising an appointment to view a boat ensures the boat is going to be available – vital if you’re travelling a considerable distance. It will also ensure the broker is available to spend time aboard the boat with you answering questions and demonstrating the systems.

Try to avoid viewing alone. Two set of eyes are better than one. Bring along a member of your crew as a sounding board. It is very easy to be overwhelmed when looking over a boat and miss those important points.

The Purchase Process

Before making any offer it is sensible to have a general understanding of the purchasing process. The above diagram provides a general overview of the whole process from start to finish. Below Mark has provided a little more detail on each step.

Following a viewing we always recommend an open discussion with the broker before making any offer. It is important to understand the boats current position particularly with regards to berthing or storage arrangements.

With an offer accepted the broker will provide a formal purchase agreement to accurately reflect the agreed offer. This forms a legally binding contract between the two parties. It is particular importance to take note of the clauses with a stipulated timeframe, normally relating to the time in which a survey and or sea trial must be completed.

Upon signing of the agreement a deposit is payable, this deposit is normally 10% of the agreed purchase price. The deposit is held by the broker in a client account for the duration of the purchase process.

Subject to Survey

Boats are complex structures and are increasingly found bristling with the latest on board systems. With the potential for any boat to have issues not visible to the layman it’s advisable to make any offer subject to a pre-purchase condition survey by a qualified marine surveyor. The purchaser is liable for all costs associated with the survey including hauling ashore for inspection of the underwater hull. To avoid a conflict of interest a broker should not recommend a specific surveyor, however they may supply a list of those operating locally. Alternatively you can find a list of surveyors on the Yacht Designers and Surveyors Association (YDSA) website (Link - . A sister association to ABYA members of the YDSA have to adhere to the associations code of conduct and are committed to a continual personal development program to retain membership. We would always advise prices are obtained from at least two surveyors.

A comprehensive survey report will be provided following survey. The reports are of a technical nature and not always the easiest read. Take time to digest the contents of the full report and if you have questions don’t hesitate to contact the surveyor for further guidance. Reports should be read in context, no surveyor ever lists all the good points about a boat, generally it’s only the defects which are worthy of note. In the case of major defects the buyer normally has the right to either reject the vessel outright, negotiate a reduction on the agreed purchase price to reflect the cost implications of the reported defect or request the vendor put right the defects before the completion of the sale. The broker should provide guidance on the best way to proceed acting in the interests of both parties.

Sea Trial

There is always an option to make any offer subject to sea trial as well as survey. With the complex systems aboard many modern vessels often a sea trial is the only method by which all the systems aboard can be fully tested. Having the surveyor accompany you on the trials is a sensible investment. They will be able to give advice on any issues which may become apparent while having a full understanding of the systems aboard, which may be unfamiliar to the buyer. Again sea trials are at the purchasers expense. Any sea trial will be dependent on the weather and a flexible approach should be taken to making arrangements in advance.

Completion & Hand Over

With the technicalities of the survey and sea trial concluded the sale of the vessel and legal transfer of title for the vessel should be completed promptly. The broker should be holding the monies for the purchase of the vessel in cleared funds as well as the ships papers ahead of the agreed transfer date. Completion of the sale is essentially a paperwork exercise however it is sensible to arrange to meet the broker aboard the vessel on the day of completion allowing for a final check of the vessels condition and inventory prior to the transfer of title.

The buyer should satisfy themselves that the ships papers are in order before the sale completes.  At the very least the buyer should be provided with the following

  • Bill of Sale in favour of the purchaser
  • Previous Bill of Sale in favour of the vendor
  • Builders Certificate for the vessel
  • RCD certificate of conformity (boats built post RCD only)
  • Evidence of VAT payment.

It’s the purchaser’s responsibility to insure the vessel from the date of completion.