Buying a new boat & surveying it

New boat surveyBuying a boat is often a significant financial commitment. This guide helps to ensure you make the right choice:

  1. Choice – Decide what you want your boat for before you start looking. Cruising/racing? Do you have a young family? Crossing the Solent or crossing the Atlantic? Charter?
  2. Budget – Review your budget and don’t forget mooring and marina fees, fuel, slipping and winter storage fees, life jackets. If you are thinking of chartering, the cost of setting up a company and having the boat ‘coded’ to the MCA requirements.
  3. Gather information – Talk to several brokers and gather information before viewing. Take your time. Talk to friends, people at the sailing club, etc about the types of boats you are considering. Read reviews from the magazines – a number of magazines have libraries of reviews.
  4. Scan the internet, look at what boats are advertised for and then arrange a viewing.
  5. When you find a boat you like, talk it through with the broker or seller and then make an offer based on what you have seen and understand and state clearly that your offer is subject to survey. The broker will provide a Sale & Purchase Agreement that both parties sign. Any amendments must be agreed by both parties. This is a binding contract so be sure before you sign. (NB: A broker, as opposed to a dealer, is not a party to the contract – he is acting as the vendor’s agent.)
  6. The Deposit – You will need to place a deposit (usually 10%), which the broker must put in his Client Account (not his usual business trading account). This is your money held by the broker as stakeholder.
  7. The Survey – You should get the vessel surveyed by a professional boat surveyor before completing the purchase. The broker may not recommend a surveyor but may have a list of local surveyors. Yacht Designers and Surveyors Association (YDSA) is the sister association to ABYA and all YDSA surveyors are assessed rigorously before being elected into membership. Matt West, Marine Surveys UK is an accredited Member of the YDSA. Ask to attend the survey so you can discuss the findings.
  8. Read the survey report through carefully and discuss any queries with the surveyor. Advise the broker of any important defects. If they are substantial (“material”) you may consider withdrawing under the terms of the contract, revising the price to complete the sale, or requiring the vendor to provide a repair or piece of equipment. The contract will have a time frame for actions to be taken – be clear what these are. You will be responsible for lifting fees and the surveyor’s fees.
  9. Finance – If you require finance ensure you contact a finance house in good time, as the money needs to be available when you reach completion.
  10. Sea Trial – If you want a trial sail, advise the broker early so he can set this up, and allow for changes due to weather, for instance. You will be responsible for any slipping or skipper’s fees.
  11. Final checks – Decision made, check the inventory and that the title documentation is lodged with the broker to save any problems later, including the VAT documentation as appropriate.
  12. Electronic Transfer set up the electronic transfer to the Broker’s Client Account in good time. Once the funds have cleared, completion can take place. The broker will give you the documentation, including the Bill of Sale transferring title from the vendor to you, and the keys to the boat.
  13. Insure it! Don’t forget to insure the boat before you take possession. You will almost certainly need a survey for this, so don’t be tempted to skip the pre-purchase survey, which can be used for this purpose too.
  14. Training – if you haven’t sailed or driven a powerboat before do get some training before heading off. It is essential you know the ‘Rules of the Road’ and have adequate safety equipment. The RYA has a wide range of courses to assist you.
  15. Sail away!

With thanks to the Association of Brokers and Yacht Agents.

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