The picture looks great on the website, the ad in the magazine may be glowing but how can you really know it’s a sound investment? Along with the obvious considerations such as type of boat and budget, you should also consider ongoing running costs. This includes insurance, maintenance, bills and mooring fees, which can be a considerable amount of money each year.
If you’re buying new, any ‘extras’ may increase the cost well above the list price. If you buy second hand either though a broker or privately, we strongly recommend getting the boat surveyed after viewing it and having your offer accepted. The report may identify problems that justify renegotiation of the price.
There are certain considerations when buying a boat second hand, one of which is establishing the ownership of the vessel.
There’s currently no legal requirement to register boat ownership, meaning many are unregistered. Because of this, proving the person selling the boat has the right to do so can be difficult. People needing a marine mortgage need to register under Part One of the UK Ships Register and include supporting evidence. Registry under Part Three - the Small Ships Registry does not give legal proof of ownership.
If you’re buying and selling a boat privately, members can use the RYA’s ‘Agreement for Sale and Purchase of Second Hand Boat” and template for the Bill of Sale.
If you’re buying a boat through a broker, they should provide their own sale and purchase agreement.
It’s also important to establish the VAT status of the boat either in this country or abroad. This is complicated but we have produced detailed guidance to help.
Once you’re satisfied with the documentation, you can arrange a sea trial to test the waters with your potential new boat. Always review the Sale and Purchase Agreement carefully to ensure that you can withdraw from the sale. This can save you time and money if the boat does not match your expectations during the sea trial or after the survey.
It’s important to ensure the boat is compliant with the Recreational Craft Regulations (RCR) if the boat is the UK, or the Recreational Craft Directive (RCD) if in the EU. The requirements have changed and it’s likely that if you buy a boat in one territory and export it to another, it will need to undergo a post construction assessment.
Information on this is in our RYA RCR and RCD Guide for Boats.
The RYA legal team offers expert advice for RYA members in relation to buying and selling a boat privately or through a broker.
Not a member? Find out how an RYA membership could benefit you in buying or selling a boat.