SSR Part 3 Registering a yacht under 24m (79ft)

Yacht Brokers Designers & Surveyers Association Ltd      

Royal Yachting Association

Yacht surveyor Andrew Simpson offers some thoughts for those wondering whether to take the plunge into yacht ownership

There is a lot to be said for not rushing into boat ownership. Although this might be your goal, it’s helpful to gain some insight into the various implications before you take the plunge.
Boating magazines are a rich source of information. Regular fare in most of them are boat tests, in which a particular vessel is put through its paces, almost invariably by a professional yachting journalist. Perhaps even more insightful are the cruising accounts submitted by outside contributors, amateur yachties whose pleasures and problems arose from actual experiences. Then, of course, there are the yarns spun by sailors you might meet, perhaps in a yacht club. Few are lost for words when it comes to salty tales and much can be learned by listening to what they have to say – taken with a pinch of that salt, of course.

An important consideration is the type of sailing you have in mind. Whereas someone whose plans lie far offshore might favour a deep-keeled yacht, such a boat would be unsuitable for exploring shallow inshore waters. Similarly, a large family might be looking for a boat with lots of berths in separate compartments, while a sailing couple would prefer more storage space and an airier open plan layout.
Correctly defining your priorities is immensely helpful in focusing your choices. There is no such thing as the all-purpose boat – just one that most closely suits your needs. Prices vary with the type, size, age and condition of each boat and can range from a few hundred pounds for a pocket cruiser to several million for a superyacht. There is no direct relationship between what you spend and the enjoyment it buys: a modest boat can be every bit as much fun as an expensive one – perhaps more!

Buying a used boat
You usually get much more for your money by buying second-hand. Provided they are kept in serviceable condition, second-hand sailing boats aren’t subject to the same sort of depreciation you would expect from, say, a car. There are many yachts around that were built decades ago and will continue to give excellent service for many years to come. These modern ‘classics’ tend to hold their value and may even appreciate in line with inflation.
An indication of current market costs can be gained by trawling through yacht brokers’ advertisements and websites. But, remember, these are the asking prices and almost every boat will, in reality, change hands for less. The least expensive boats rarely feature on brokers’ lists, since minimum commission rates would overwhelm the transaction. Such boats are often sold through classified advertisements, either in boating magazines or local newspapers.
Of course, there are boats on the market which are decrepit enough to be unsafe or have the sort of problems that would later prove costly to repair. The first line of defence against getting caught out is to be very objective in your own inspection. To put a seductive shine on the hull or to wipe down the interior are relatively easy tasks but don’t let superficial titivation distract you from searching for hidden signs of poor maintenance. Open lockers and the engine compartment. All nice and clean? Encouraging. Filthy or dripping in oil and grime? Beware!

Do you need a surveyor?
If the value of the boat is significant, the short answer is a resounding ‘yes’, because potentially expensive problems may not be spotted by the untrained eye, and you might have missed the opportunity to either withdraw from the deal or renegotiate the price. It is important to retain an accredited marine surveyor – meaning a member of one of the recognised organisations governing their qualifications and Codes of Practice. Since anyone can call themselves a surveyor, no matter how inexperienced, it pays to enquire before you hire.
Also, if the boat is more than 10 years old, you should check with your prospective insurance company, who may want to see a survey report before they give you cover. Many harbour authorities and all marinas require at least Third Party cover – a minimum for of protection that may not call for a condition survey.



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