23 Apr A Luxury Yacht Buyer’s Guide
Buying a yacht should be just as much fun as owning one. That is Executive Yacht’s founding principle. We know that our clients are intelligent, successful people, who generally like to come into their first meeting with us knowing the facts (and which questions to ask). As a yacht buyer, you should feel completely in control, and you should understand the process clearly from start to finish. Because when you consider buying a yacht for sale there may well be a range of terms that are unfamiliar to you, and some very big decisions to make.
Which is why we’ve created this guide as a starting point: so that you know enough about the process to always remain in the driver’s seat, but can relax and enjoy the experience by handing the details (and the paperwork drudgery) over to the experts.
Step 1: Choosing your yacht
There’s a tremendous amount to know when buying a yacht, from which yacht builds hold their resale value to which of the larger yacht models perform well on the charter market. Remember, your broker is here to guide you through every step of this decision-making process and lend their industry knowledge, ensuring that the yacht you buy truly is the yacht of your dreams. So, here are a few of the big questions to consider before taking the leap into yacht ownership.
New or pre-owned? Custom, semi-custom, or series?
Buying a brand new yacht is the heady pinnacle of yacht ownership. Your yacht is delivered to you straight from the shipyard, without inheriting any of the design choices or ‘wear and tear’ of previous owners. Your yacht comes with no baggage, no damage, and is a blank canvas to put your stamp on and start creating fabulous memories with family and friends.
A custom yacht or semi-custom yacht is considered the most prestigious option for these new-build projects, as the yacht is heavily personalized to your yachting dreams and you have enormous control over the design throughout construction. New-build yachts often take 2-3 years to complete, although there is often the option of buying an existing hull to shorten the process.
Series yachts, meanwhile, are enviable for their reduced cost and time of build, meaning you get a brand new yacht faster, for less money. Most series yachts also allow for a measure of customization so you can still make the yacht your own, and many of these yachts are already in stock, so you can even take possession of your brand new yacht straightaway.
There are, of course, advantages to pre-owned yachts. Most of the extraordinary superyachts sold at the Monaco Yacht Show, for example, are pre-owned, and are considered some of the most sought-after yachts on the planet. Pre-owned yachts are ready to purchase immediately and save you the cost and potential challenges of building your own boat. These yachts also come complete with experienced crews and practiced yacht operations, while buyers planning to run their yacht commercially can benefit from a yacht’s existing charter reputation.
However, there’s no question that for some of our elite clientele, only a brand new boat will do.
Hull Type: Displacement, Semi-Displacement, or Planing?
The hull design affects both speed and stability. On luxury yachts, there are three main hull types, with an exciting fourth option which is fairly new to the market.
- Displacement yachts sit low and heavy in the water, offering a slower cruising speed (10-12knots) but maximum stability.
- Semi-displacement yachts use more power to lift the nose of the yacht in exchange for higher speeds (16-25 knots), and lose a little stability in the trade-off. Stabilizers can temper this loss in stability.
- Planing hulls, found on sports yachts, use a lot of power to lift the bow completely out of the water to achieve blistering speeds (30-50+ knots), but are the least stable. Again, stabilizers can make the ride more comfortable.
- New to the market but attractive to buyers is the fast displacement hull, whereby the traditional displacement yacht hull has been radically redesigned to offer higher speeds but with the stability of a full displacement hull, as well as greater fuel efficiency.
Shallow (shoal) draft or deep draft?
Have a discussion with your broker about where you intend to cruise with the yacht before deciding if you want a shallow (shoal) or deep draft yacht. There are some real advantages to both types – hence why the yachting forums are alive with heated debates on this very topic!
In North and Central America there are an abundance of shallow cruising grounds and waterways along the East Coast where a shoal draft would be advantageous, from Chesapeake Bay and the Intracoastal Waterway, right down to the Bahamas, Cuba, and Mexico. There’s also the fact that a shallow draft yacht can get in closer to gorgeous beaches, sneak in to crowded anchorages where deep draft yachts can’t fit, and find anchorage in more marinas. Also of note is that a shallow draft yacht can hide further up in mangroves and inlets if a hurricane threatens.
However, in general, deep draft yachts offer more stability and seaworthiness in open ocean conditions, which is what you may want if you’re cruising the Pacific Coast of the Americas, or crossing to the Mediterranean. Most large luxury yachts have a deep draft.
Flybridge or open cruiser (hard top)?
A flybridge vessel offers extra living space on top of the yacht for relaxing and entertaining, as well as spectacular views while cruising. However, because of their height, they generally offer less stability on the water than hard top vessels (particularly at the smaller end of the size range). Clear advantages of the open cruisers include better stability, more streamlined looks, and increased space for watertoy storage.
Fin or Gyro Stabilizers?
Stabilizers are integral to comfort on the water, and there are different options to consider. When it comes to stabilization when the boat is underway, the main decision is between fin stabilizers (either fixed or retractable) or gyro stabilizers (most commonly found on sports yachts). Gyro stabilizers have the advantage of being housed inside the hull with no protrusions, thereby eliminating drag and allowing higher speeds, but downsides include the time lag it takes for them to warm up (in contrast to fin stabilizers which work instantly) and also that gyro stabilizers cannot correct a listing or heel movement.
Gyro stabilizers do have the advantage of also reducing roll while at anchor, while other yachts will need to have ‘zero-speed stabilizers’, which require larger fins. Yachts with existing fin stabilizers can buy add-on systems to enable at-anchor stabilization.
Where do you want to cruise and/or base your yacht?
It’s important to consider the existing yachting infrastructure in your cruising region when deciding on the brand and model of yacht. Are there sufficient marinas and mooring facilities in the area that accept your desired size of yacht? Are there regional shipyards, suppliers, and technicians who are able to repair and maintain your vessel? For new yachts and those still under warranty, can the warranty work be carried out by a yard in your area? If you’re planning to do a lot of long-distance cruising, does your yacht have transatlantic range, and does it have the ‘autonomy’ (self-sufficiency) required for long voyages? Your broker will be able to expertly advise you on the yachting infrastructure and how it will affect your cruising and yacht maintenance plans.
Executive Yacht can help you buy any yacht, anywhere in the world. However, it’s important to think about whether the yacht you’ve got your heart set on will really deliver the right experience in your cruising region.
Step 2: Yacht Viewings
Now you’ve decided what kind of yacht you’re after, it’s time to view as many as you can. (This is the really fun bit!) Your broker will create a premium shortlist of yachts to look at online and also organize VIP viewings of suitable yachts in your region. They will be able to arrange ‘sea trials’ of some models, giving you the experience of being on the water and feeling how the yacht handles.
An excellent option is to accompany your broker to a yacht show, where you can board a wide range of new and pre-owned yachts, meeting the crews and examining the yachts in detail. Your broker will offer a VIP experience of the show that immerses you in the thrill and glamour of luxury yacht ownership.
As you narrow down your selection, we also recommend that you charter a similar yacht before purchasing. Yacht charter has always been the gateway to ownership, and it’s a savvy approach to try out the merchandise before making one of the biggest financial decisions of your life. In the case of pre-owned yachts for sale, there is in some cases the possibility of chartering that very yacht before purchase.
Step 3: Contract through to Delivery
If you thought your broker was a useful sounding board and guide during the decision-making process, they really come into their own come contract time. If you’re purchasing a pre-owned yacht, your broker will be fighting in your corner as they drive negotiations, advising you of the correct market value of the yacht and providing counter-offers if the yacht’s pre-sale survey unearths any mechanical or aesthetic issues with the yacht. They will draw up contracts, run surveys, and expertly advise you of any tax or regulatory compliance obligations. All of the paperwork and legal burden is lifted off your shoulders, and you can completely relax, knowing you’re in safe hands.
If you’re in the market for a new-build, your broker will be by your side for the long-haul, from organizing shipyard insurance to helping you design your dream yacht in collaboration with the shipyard team and overseeing the build. From the day you decide to buy a yacht to the day it is delivered to you, your broker is there at your beck and call.
Step 4: A Lifetime of Service
Whether you purchase a new build yacht or buy a pre-owned motor yacht for sale, Executive Yacht is there to provide support right through your yachting lifetime, whether that’s just keeping in touch or helping you insure your yacht. If you ever want to upgrade, sell, or decide to charter out your yacht commercially, our team are always here to advise you on the next step on the exciting journey that is luxury yacht ownership.
With the right broker at your side, buying a yacht is the first step of a marvellous adventure. It should be fun. It should feel special. And if you’re not being treated like royalty from the first minute you pick up the phone right through to the day you take delivery of your yacht, you haven’t engaged the right yacht broker. It really is as simple as that.
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