Boat Buying 101: Questions to Ask Your Yacht Broker

Boat Buying 101

Buying a boat is likely to be an unfamiliar experience for the great majority of us, but with a growing number of novice sailors taking the plunge after many months of lockdown and finally finding their own dream vessel, there has truly never been a better time than now to contact your local trusted yacht brokerage

While buying a new boat isn’t dissimilar to buying a new car, buying a pre-owned boat is a far more complicated process than buying a used car. Assessing any pre-owned boat that’s on the market can feel like an infinitely daunting task, from inspecting the boat’s outer hull for signs of superficial or potentially deeper damage to getting a solid preliminary inspection of the vessel’s engines. It can be tricky to feel confident in your purchase if you’re not aware of what to look for, but even more so if you’re not certain of what information you may actually be able to glean by simply chatting with your yacht broker. 

As a potential buyer, you have a right to seek any and all answers that may help you feel more secure in your buying decision. We’ve provided an outline of some of the most common questions that your yacht broker is likely to have been asked over the course of their careers. Read on if you’re looking to prepare yourself for your next pre-purchase boat inspection.

Why is this boat being sold?

There are countless reasons why a boat owner puts their pre-loved vessel on the market, but there’s no denying that some motivations can be a bit more telling than others. If the boat’s previous owner is preparing to upgrade to a larger yacht, for instance, then you can surmise that this former owner possesses the knowledge and experience required to keep this particular vessel in good condition out of courtesy for its future skippers. 

If the vessel you’re looking at is on the market due to a lack of use, however, or because the current owner lacks the time required to properly maintain the vessel, then there may be some hidden issues like rust, outdated equipment, or a weak motor, that may demand your attention immediately upon finalizing your purchase. Boats that are kept in storage on a long-term basis will almost always have a few minor to medium maintenance issues, so understanding the previous owner’s motivations to sell may provide valuable insights into the unique maintenance requirements of this particular pre-owned vessel from the get-go.

Do you have records for the full history of this boat?

If your yacht broker is uncertain of the actual motivation behind the sale, then have no fear! This next question is designed to provide virtually all the practical answers that you’ll need in order to make a well-informed purchase decision. 

All pre-owned boats should be accompanied by ownership history and thorough maintenance records that span the entirety of that vessel’s useful life thus far. Ideally, every maintenance appointment that the vessel has been scheduled for should be accounted for at the time of your purchase. In fact, you have the right as the potential buyer to request a copy of the boat’s maintenance logs from its current owner prior to purchase, as these logs will provide a level of insight into the responsibilities that accompany ownership of the vessel.

Generally speaking, a pre-owned boat with gaps in its maintenance history or extended periods of time between maintenance appointments is considered to be a risky investment, as those gaps may very well be hiding maintenance concerns that could end up being large liabilities if they’ve gone unnoticed and have been left unchecked.

Where has the boat been located?

There are some key differences between wet and dry storage, as well as covered and uncovered storage, and stacked or unstacked storage. The type of boat storage that the vessel’s previous owner utilized will be able to provide you with a bit of context to any of the more glaring maintenance concerns that are presented in the vessel’s provided maintenance logs. For instance, a boat that’s been kept uncovered and at berth for months if not years may require a fair amount of maintenance to ensure that its long-submerged hull is restored to a healthy condition.

Alongside providing even further insights into potential maintenance needs, understanding what kind of storage has been utilized by the current owner may also help you ascertain how you’d like to go about storing your own vessel post-purchase. Dry stacking can be a highly cost-effective method of boat storage, and may also provide new owners with an opportunity to easily inspect their fresh purchases and apply antifoul to the hull prior to their first voyage. The downside to dry stacking, however, is that removing the boat from storage can take some time when compared to mooring, which ensures that your boat is in the water and ready to set sail with even a moment’s notice.

What maintenance will be required post-purchase?

Finally, alongside assessing the vessel’s maintenance logs and asking your yacht broker if the vessel has ever required any notably major repairs, the final question that you should feel comfortable asking is ‘what’s next on this boat’s maintenance to-do list?’. Experienced yacht brokers know that all boats are perpetual works in progress, and as such, potential buyers should be alerted to exactly what kind of maintenance or servicing appointments they should be looking into following their purchase decision.

More often than not, many yacht brokers may state engine or motor checkups as the most pressing matter you’ll need to address post-purchase. There may just be some answers to this question that you won’t expect, however, whether these are major concerns or even just minor or other superficial issues that your broker may have forgotten to mention prior to your asking. In this sense, there’s really no harm in ensuring that you ask this question prior to concluding your preliminary pre-purchase boat inspection.


Buying a boat is no easy feat, that much is certainly true. But that doesn’t have to mean that it can’t be enjoyable. Whether or not you find your dream vessel straight away, there’s a lot that can be learned during any given pre-purchase boat inspection, so you should feel comfortable taking your time and savoring this process while you’re in it. After all, you’ll still have plenty of time to live out your dreams of being a master skipper once all the purchase papers have been signed and filed away!

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