There are several similarities of buying a large boat and buying a home. However, as opposed to the investment increasing in value over time as many properties do, the opposite is true on a boat. Boats live in the water and most large boats in salt water, which is very hard on them. Maintenance of the vessel is a huge factor in how well they hold up over time.
There are a lot of things to maintain especially on sailing vessels. Beyond the maintenance of the motors there are all the different systems onboard with electrical and plumbing connections, all the rigging (standing and running), plus the sails to replace and maintain. There’s also the dinghy and its motor. And typically the larger the vessel the more systems there are onboard to maintain (marine heads, air conditioning, generator, inverters, water makers, solar/wind systems, and a bunch of electronics).
After a ton of research we narrowed down our search to three makes of sailing catamarans and out of the three we have become increasingly fond of the Lagoon 410. It is a 41 foot long boat and 23 foot wide. We especially like the Lagoon because these boats are especially bright and very spacious. The Lagoon has a strong presence in the charter/rental world, because they are so comfortable, so they are a well known popular boat.
Typically vessels used in charter do really well having the maximum number of cabins and heads (bathrooms) available to pack as many people as possible onboard. There are typically several versions or layouts of the same vessel that were made. We prefer the owner version of the Lagoon 410 with two heads. The owner version has three cabins as opposed to four and in lieu of the extra cabin there is a much larger head forward in the owners suite in addition to a desk and additional storage. The owner version with two heads is more spacious and ideal for us. However, there are much fewer of them on the market and typically add about thirty grand on to the price of the charter version of the same vessel.
Another consideration is when the vessel has been in charter its generally thought of as not as well cared for, much like a rental property or rental car, and much less desired by buyers. The asking price of the vessel will reflect this concern making them considerably less expensive. A much newer vessel will be priced much more affordably and thus has opened us up to the idea of a previously chartered vessel. As is the case with purchasing a home there are always pros and cons to each one that you have to weigh.
The process for buying a large used vessel typically consists of the following steps:
• A TRUSTED BROKER
An experienced and trusted broker is very helpful, is the equivalent of a real-estate agent for boats, and is paid for by the seller. We were referred a broker by a trusted friend that is an experienced Captain with a brokers license. Captain Jaye Melanson recommended Greg Bracken of East West Yachts in Fort Pierce, FL. He is a really nice guy and has been very helpful to us.
• AN AGREEMENT
After you find the vessel you want you make an offer through a purchase agreement much like buying a home. If you and the seller come to terms on the purchase agreement you put down the deposit for the vessel (10% into an escrow account within 72hrs after contract is signed) and should move forward with scheduling a haul-out, survey, and sea trial. If you are financing the vessel these are mandatory and personally seems like a no-brainer but apparently some cash buyers forego this step.
It is typically stated in the contract that the purchase of the vessel is subject to survey, sea trial, financing (if applicable), and insurability of the vessel.
• SURVEY/ SEA TRIAL
The haul-out, survey, and sea trial is paid for by the buyer. The surveyor is therefore chosen and hired by the buyer. The seller is responsible for the captain (either by the owner or hired by the owner) and gas. It requires hauling the boat out of the water to be completely inspected and then taken into the ocean or a body of water where sails can be raised and motors revved for the sea trial.
The importance of a really good surveyor cannot be overstated, as a poor surveyor can be very costly for the buyer over the long haul and also dangerous if safety issues are not recognized. Based on the findings of the survey and sea trial you can potentially further negotiate the purchase agreement.
If the buyer and seller come to terms after the survey and sea trial the closing date is scheduled.