Boat buying tips

YachtFocus helps with boat buying tips!

Buying a boat consists of 5 phases, both for beginners and experienced water sports enthusiasts:

1. What do I want, where do I want to sail?
2. Orientation: what is for sale suitable for my wishes?
3. View boats
4. Buy
5. Sail

Phase 1: What do I want, where do I want to sail?

The financial side of buying a boat is similar to buying a car or a house: you don’t do it every day and it’s a lot of money. So it is important to think ahead and act carefully. Incomparable with cars, which can drive on any road, is that you have to think about what kind of water you will be sailing on. The ideal boat for lakes and canals is unsuitable at sea, and vice versa. A tall boat is unsuitable for the canals of your city. With a deep boat you get stuck on inland lakes and small canals. If you are not sure about your case, discuss it with others, visit a boat show and rent a boat first. You can read more information about the preparatory thinking here.

A boat is a pleasure object. You have to be a very fanatical water sportsman to set everything aside for it (although there are plenty of them because it is a highly addictive hobby). So: how often do you plan to sail, with whom and what is your financial limit? Are you prepared to take out an additional loan by means of a personal boat loan or ship mortgage? Is that possible in your situation? Find out in advance and feel free to contact a financial specialist in the field of water sports. Advertisements from specialised boat insurers and financiers can be found in YachtFocus Magazine and as banners on this website.

Also include the annual costs of berthing costs, repairs and maintenance. Consider both the berth during the summer boating season and the winter berth ashore, possibly indoor. Berths can be found here and if you click on the website address of the marinas you can get an impression of their rates. Repairs and maintenance can be done by yourself (but that takes time) or outsourced. The conditions on the water are heavy, good stuff that can take a beating is not cheap, while the average boat is full of it. Good service companies can be found here.

Phase 2: Orientation: what is for sale to suit my wishes?

There are hundreds of brands of boats, various model ranges, various versions from bare to packed with options, and different maintenance conditions. The last part is due to the fact that boats last a long time and people often work on them. As a novice water sportsman, you can hardly see were to begin. Even experienced sailors, if they have a good orientation, often make surprising choices. Take the time to look and compare. If it concerns a used-boat purchase, call the importer of the brand and ask him for his advice on, for example, well-known points of attention on the specific boat model.

Boat magazines

Orientation on boats starts best with the monthly YachtFocus Magazine. There you will find thousands of boats with pictures arranged by category and length, page after page. At a glance you can see what’s possible, ideal for comparing boats. For more information about our magazine, click here.

Boat exhibitions

At a boat exhibition you will find a wide range of boats in a row, ready to be viewed and compared by you, just like in a boat magazine but ‘in real life’. There are boat exhibitions for new boats, for example Boot Holland in February in Leeuwarden and there are boat exhibitions especially for used boats, such as the Boats and Camper exhibition Gorinchem in September.


On the Internet, boats are generally described in much more detail than is possible in a magazine. So if you have determined your first preferences in a magazine or at a boat exhibition, you will find in-depth information about boats on your ‘shortlist’ on the internet. Comparison can also be done directly on the internet: on this boat site you can create your personal account, save boats and compare them with each other.

If you already know a little bit about what you want and what is possible within your budget, then our boat site is the right next step to buy a boat. On you can select boats according to your wishes and of each boat there is a wealth of data available, with unlimited photos, movies and for example the original boatyard brochure. For dozens of companies, they are the first to place new boat offers on our site In addition, we link press releases and articles about the brand or the yacht broker to its boats, for even more information. These articles come from YachtFocus Magazine or from the well-known water sports news site Boot Aan Boot.

The orientation phase ends with a list of preferred boats to view in real life. It is useful to add another round on, in which you can take another look at all the boats of the same brand and model on your list. Emotion plays a role – certainly with private sellers – in determining the alleged value and therefore asking price. The most expensive in the range does not have to be the best and vice-versa, the cheapest does not have to be the worst. Feel free to call a seller and ask why his or her boat is so different from the rest in terms of price.

Phase 3: looking at boats

It used to be customary to go to a yacht broker and make a choice from his entire offer in the sales harbour. In this internet age, orientation and pre-selection are done online, and then focus on the one or a few selected boats on your ‘shortlist’. You are then well informed in advance and it saves time and travel costs.

Before you go for a visit, call the advertiser to ask if the boat is still for sale and if it can be viewed. This will save you a possibly futile trip. A growing group of yacht brokers does not have a sales harbour, so there is no point in travelling to the place of business to view the boat anyway. In the case of a private seller, a suitable viewing time must be agreed for both parties. Yacht brokers certainly do not always go on board during a first viewing. If you identify yourself in advance, you will sometimes be given the key and can look around at your own pace.

For a first viewing, a quick tour on board is sufficient to determine whether you are indeed interested. However, you have a duty of enquiry as a buyer, so if you like the boat and before you start bidding you have to look beyond. For the second tour the following applies: really look at everything on board, without loosening things or leaving any traces, of course. Lift floor panels. Open cabinets. Crawl over the deck. Can doors, windows and hatches open smoothly? Are the sofas and chairs comfortable? Are the beds long enough (tip: bring a measuring tape with you). Check the engine and use the lamp in your smart phone for all corners. Check the sails, if there are any. Take your time and make notes or photos. Are you satisfied and are you seriously interested, then it is time to take a third step in the viewing process; for example, starting the engine and various equipment, and rolling out the sails. The owner or his yacht broker will want to be there in person.

Multiple viewings in advance are recommended. Try to view boats on rainy days; then leaks are immediately noticeable. Make sure you look in daylight, because you will see less at dusk.

Trial runs in the viewing phase are highly unusual. Usually there will have to be price agreement first. Furthermore, it is difficult to draw conclusions from a trial run about sailing behaviour in other circumstances. Reading a boat test sometimes makes you wiser, so try to find it on the internet or ask the original shipyard or importer. Ask him for his advice on, for example, known points of attention on the specific boat model. You can also consult marine experts who, in some cases, have a database with information at their disposal.

Phase 4: buying a boat

Then it is time for a bid. This works just like with houses: boats have been priced down quite a bit in recent years and are often sold for the asking price in 2015, especially if it concerns a current model of a recent year of construction. If you would like the boat and you have done comparative research on the internet, then the asking price may not be too much to ask. If you offer far too low, you run the risk of disappointing the seller and the relationship will be disrupted. Whatever the case: a sale is legally concluded as soon as your bid has been accepted, also verbally, so you know what you are doing and mention resolutive conditions about, for example, the possibility of financing, free delivery in the state of inspection (day and location) and what to do if problems arise during a purchase inspection still to be carried out by a marine expert.

You will then be asked to sign a sales contract and make a down payment, usually 10% of the purchase price. Sometimes a bank guarantee will suffice instead of a down payment. If you do not want to simply transfer the money to ‘a stranger’, arrange the purchase via a notary who will only pass on the money once everything has been found to be in order by all parties. Or pay to the third party account of the company, if this is available, although the last does not offer 100% security.

Arrange financing in advance

In fact, you should not bid on a boat if you are not sure in advance about your financial situation and therefore do not know whether and to what amount you can finance it. Financing possibilities for boats can be disappointing: the duration is shorter than for a house and the percentage of the value is lower. Financing boats is a specialist job. You will find specialised companies on the right hand side of every page with boat details on our site.

Purchase inspection

Never buy a boat without a purchase inspection. Don’t let a purchase inspection be carried out by a random friend who is able to sail.They will see what you can see for yourself, but an expert has studied for it and finds out about problems that remain hidden from the buyer. It is customary for a boat to have problems, even if everything looks good. This raises the question of whether you can live with detected defects, or whether repairs have to be made for normal use. And how expensive are those repairs expected to be? On the basis of the expert’s report, you may want to request quotations for work. As a rule (but not always) it is agreed as a resolutive condition in the purchase agreement that repair of defects may not cost more than 10% of the purchase price. If this is the case, the purchase will be cancelled. In that case, you can still decide to purchase, but only after a round of negotiations in which the sales price is reduced by the expected amount for repairs. If it is less than 10%, it is customary for the expected repair or replacement amount to be deducted from the purchase price. In that case, the seller actually pays.

The choice of a good expert is important. Feel free to rely on the advice of yacht brokers when choosing an expert. Various professional codes mean that experts will be sufficiently independent. You can also look for an expert yourself: in YachtFocus Magazine or on the right side of every detail page about a boat on this website they advertise a lot.

Phase 5: sailing

Everything is settled, the transaction is completed. The rest of the money has to be transferred. Do this as quickly as possible at the time of the actual transfer of the boat. It is nice if you have built up such a pleasant relationship with the original owner in the meantime, that he is willing to explain everything to you and give you some tips, or perhaps guide you on your first trip. That pleads in favour of maintaining good contact throughout the entire purchase process, you are now enjoying the benefits of this.

Now you still need a berth. Luckily, there is plenty of room in most marinas these days, although the cheaper ones (associations and municipal harbours) may still be sold out, especially when the season is more advanced. You will find the best marinas here.

It is good if you realise that boats are extremely complicated devices. There is a good chance that you will find out after the purchase that things are not quite right after all. In that case it does not always make sense to seek redress from the old owner, unless the proper functioning of the electronics, for example, was explicitly guaranteed at the time of purchase. Assume that during the first use or during the first year of ownership you will end up with a list of points for improvement to pick up during the winter rest.

YachtFocus wishes you a nice purchase through our site and a lot of sailing fun!