How to Buy or Sell a Sailboat

Sailboat

Sailboat

Buying A Sailboat

Many people imagine themselves sailing off into the sunset past a beautiful palm fringed shore, glass of wine in one hand, the wind gently ruffling through their hair. Yep, sailing certainly invokes some pretty images that’s for sure. So why is that the majority of people who buy their first sailboat get their fingers burned. Buying a sailboat is not something which should be rushed. You’ve gotta’ think about much more than the size of the sailboat, the price of the sailboat and the condition of the sailboat. Here’s a quick list of stuff to think about before you buy a sailboat;

Choosing The Right Type of Sailboat – for you, your family and friends (who are sure to want to come along).

  • Learn about the different types of sailboat, sloop / ketch / catamaran / engine or no engine at all . . .
  • Think about where you’ll be sailing your sailboat – shallow water or is a deep keel needed . . . will you need to take your sailboat on a trailer or launch from a boatyard
  • Will you stick to day sailing or fancy sailing away into the sunset for a whole weekend or even longer.
  • Might you want to even race your sailboat one day.

Choosing The Right Size of Sailboat – is size really everything? Consider this;

  • The costs of berths, sails, winter storage, maintenance. A larger sailboat will have much higher maintenance and running costs than a smaller sailboat.
  • Consider how much work it will entail to actually sail the sailboat – will you be solo sailing or need a sailing crew.
  • If you do plan to cruise in your sailboat, how many crew will be on board.
Sailboat

Sailboat

The Costs of A Sailboat

  • There are usually loads of sailboats for sale, particularly when the economy isn’t doing too well. Sailboat owners often invest far more money in improvements for their sailboats than they can ever expect to return, so you can often buy a used boat including lots of gear for a much cheaper price than buying everything individually.
  • Choose your sailboat carefully, particularly if you do decide to buy a pre-owned sailboat. Many sailboats are actually neglected and buying a sailboat which needs lots of repairs or upgrades can end up costing you a lot of extra dosh.
  • Remember all of the hidden extra costs which you might not have realized will be incurred when you buy a sailboat – insurance (get estimates in advance), berths (remember, the bigger the sailboat the more you pay for the berth), winter storage if necessary.

Buying Your Sailboat

  • Take your time. Don’t buy the first boat you see and fall in love with, you just might live to regret it.
  • Analyze all of the above costs etc., decide on the best size and type of boat for your needs and stick to your plan.
  • Search websites to see what you can expect to get for your money.
  • Get a boat survey (unless it’s a small daysailer and you can check the condition of the sails and fiberglass yourself).
  • Use an accredited marine surveyor, one who specializes in sailboats and is a member of ACMS, NAMS or  SAMS.
  • Inspect the boat yourself, very carefully. It could be that you’re going to be doing much of the maintenance work yourself, so the sooner you start learning about your new sailboat the better.
  • Take a trial sail – how can you really build up an opinion about a sailboat until you’ve had a sail in her? You might find that the sailboat isn’t quite as responsible as you’d hoped, it might take a lot more effort to control the helm and raise the sails than you’ve got!
  • Watch the present owner sail the boat, watch them carefully and listen out for any excuses they make if things don’t work out properly.
  • Listen to your sixth sense – if something just doesn’t seem right then walk away.
  • Do your homework about the asking price of similar sailboats for a ballpark figure, then don’t be afraid to negotiate. The majority of sailboats have very flexible prices.
  • Pay particular attention to the time of year you buy your sailboat, if it’s getting towards the winter time then the previous owner will want to save money on storage for the sailboat, particularly if it’s pretty big.  If it’s the beginning of the season then the sailboat owner might be less inclined to accept a low bid in the hopes that he’ll find another buyer soon.

Selling a Sailboat

Selling a sailboat is much like selling a car or other vehicle really, but whilst lots of people have actually sold a car, van or motorcycle, it’s not everybody that has experience of selling sailboats. It’s the same when you’re selling anything, the hardest part is to find a buyer!  Here’s what you need to think about when it’s time to sell your sailboat, either to up-size, down-size or put an end to your sail boating adventures.

J/22 sailboat on trailer

J/22 sailboat on trailer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Decide whether you’d rather sell your sailboat independently, or use a sailboat dealer. If you decide to sell the sailboat yourself you will save some commission, but on the other hand a sailboat dealer will probably be in a better position to find a buyer for your sailboat and sort out the financial and legal transactions.
  • If you decide to sell your own sailboat, then the Internet is a very good place to start. You can do a free listing of your sailboat on sites like Craigslist . . . there are plenty more to choose from
  • Don’t forget about paid websites too . . . check out all websites which have sailboats for sale to get some idea of the prices advertised, and create a listing for your own sailboat. Don’t forget to give plenty of details and include tons of photos of your sailboat. 
  • If you get anyone interested in your sailboat – or even idle enquiries then answer them immediately. This might take up a lot of your time and many enquiries will be from interested onlookers who really don’t have the intention or the means to buy your sailboat, but persevere, then when the right person does get into contact with you a prompt response will go a long way towards making a sale.
  • When you do sell your sailboat it’s important to make sure that you do everything legal – this is one area where brokers and sailboat dealers really are worth paying for. You’ve got to notarize the bill of sale and deal with the financial transfer – it goes without saying that you should never accept a check from a stranger without it being verified.
  • Read the tips at the top of the page about buying a sailboat, and put yourself into the potential buyers shoes. Make sure that your sailboat is in good condition and well organized . . . make sure that everything is “ship shape” :)


 

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