Superyacht Shopping 101

A guide to buying your first superyacht 

Like all purchases, you need to be equipped with the correct information before buying. Browsing the shelves of the yachting industry can be daunting, especially without accurate guidance.

Whether you buy a pre-owned yacht or brand new, here are some questions to consider before you take the plunge:

So, what are your needs?

I know this sounds obvious but knowing your needs and desires is necessary to narrow down choices. While they all float, yachts are all completely different. There are many yacht types, from motor yachts, sailing yachts, catamarans, classics, semi-displacement, sports fishing, sports cruisers, explorer through to hybrid. The categories are ever-growing, and decisions are increasing for what is out there to own. Yacht shows are the perfect way to get a feel for the variety of yachts on offer, as there are a lot of potentials docked in the same place at the same time.

Once you have decided on a category, you will need to figure out the design, size, capabilities, number of crew onboard, which berth in the marina you can get, and of course, how much you want to spend. There is certainly not a one size fits all approach, and that’s why knowing what you want from your purchase is essential.

What will you be doing?

While you don’t need to have your year’s itinerary and activities penned in, you need to have an idea of what you will be doing when onboard. Of course, you can choose several uses for a yacht. A yacht can be used for many different purposes, adventure, passion, luxury, comfort, escape, business, exploration, etc. If you want to take long expeditions to remote locations and when you get there go heli-skiing, you will need a different yacht than if you want to Greek island hop enjoying the slower pace of life with your family. Do you want to go far? hence you need to consider yachts with long range, fuel capacity, storage etc.. vs if you want a fast boat.

Making these choices will help aid when choosing the design of the yacht, and remember, it isn’t all about the look of the yacht; you will need to consider the functionality and technical specifications for what you do with it. For example, you may want larger, more comfortable lounging spaces if you are using the yacht to relax with groups of family and friends, or perhaps space isn’t as crucial if you choose a sailing yacht in which you want to race regattas, or have longer range or alternative propulsion systems where you wil have to compromise the luxury space to have bigger engine rooms and technical areas.

Where will you go?

Location, location, location! You need to ask yourself whether you are looking for a boat to be casually used at the weekend doing short hops or a round-the-world cruising adventure. Although yachts are designed to travel, it is worth having an idea of locations for the functions, range and capabilities of the yacht you choose.

Who will help you?

If you are swaying towards a new build, you will need someone to design and build your ideal vision, the uses, and what’s most important to you when owning a yacht. You must ensure you are completely happy with the designer and builders you choose and that you are all on the same page, as this can really hinder progress.

Building brand new isn’t your only option; there are many advantages to buying pre-owned yachts. They are available for use quicker and cheaper than a brand-new version of something similar. The existing yachts already have a proven track record and the opportunity and potential to refit if you want to add any of your touches to the design. When buying pre-owned yachts, you will need a knowledgeable superyacht consulstant to guide you.

Understanding the crew setup is also important; if you are buying a pre-owned, it can be a good idea to take some of the existing crew with the experience of your new yacht. Choosing a good crew is important as they are there to look after your new asset; the number of crew you have on your yacht will depend on your expectation and service level. Working with a yacht manager will help you create a ‘happy crew, happy owner.’

How much do you want to spend?

Buying a yacht is more challenging than regular purchases, it isn’t just a one-time purchase; you must factor in a lot. There are some widely varied price brackets. Firstly, speak to a broker to understand what you can likely expect to get for your budget; it is vital to get good advice on this. Once you have decided on a purchase budget, you will need to consider the annual budget to run the yacht. It is important to consider some of the higher category costs within your budgetary requirements, such as crew salaries and marina berths. Before buying, it is essential to think about the crew onboard and how many you will need and want. The same goes for marinas; where do you want to base your yacht? do they have a berth available? whats the nearest airport, etc..

The operational costs will need to be factored in, for example, registration, insurance, and other legal admin costs, the ongoing upkeep and maintenance, and any additional costs you want to factor in, such as refitting.

The variation in pricing comes down to many things, but one huge one is asset depreciation due to age. Of course, you will be able to get an older yacht for a proportion of its original cost, brand new. If you are buying a pre-owned yacht, get a good history of it in terms of its overall history, any issues as well as maintenance records – but, most importantly, get a thorough survey carried out.

Although you may be excited to buy, it is a good idea to bear in mind the resale value, the build of the yacht is important here as these factors can impact how well it will hold its value and therefore future opportunities to sell or charter.

The bigger your budget, the more options, and flexibility you will have when choosing. For a first yacht, it is worth considering buying pre-owned as not only will you be able to use it quicker, you will get it cheaper.

How do you know if it’s THE one? 

A classic mistake is jumping into yacht ownership before getting a taste of the lifestyle. Try before you buy and charter, be sure to charter yachts of a similar specification you are looking for, which will help you finalize the smaller details. Do you want that spacious toy garage, or would you rather have a bigger master suite? Although the yacht you charter may not be your style on the inside, you can get a clearer picture of how you want to use it and its functionalities. Allow chartering to get your creative juices and inspiration flowing when making the decisions for your purchase.


The admin 

Existing yachts can hold all sorts of hidden issues that you may not be able to see when looking around to purchase, as I said previously it is important to get all the correct surveys carried out onboard by a certified professional. The survey will cover the maintenance history and therefore be able to detect any outstanding issues or potential issues that may arise. The same goes for new builds, it is a good idea to have a project manager and Captain onboard the whole time that is overseeing the build as well as surveys and sea trials carried out before the launch.

In terms of documentation, you will need to either check the existing registration status dependent on your purchasing contract or if a new build, ensure you register it with your chosen flag state. The varying flag states have different rules and regulations to be aware of.

Choosing your first yacht is challenging, but it is exciting! Be sure to go into the process with this knowledge and your eyes wide open. My last piece of advice is to have patience and enjoy the ride!

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About Marcela

Author of The Superyacht Industry Book, and program director of the Yachting Masterclass, with over 15 years of experience in the industry, Marcela has extensive insights and knowledge in the yachting industry, to help you avoid mistakes and save you time. As a superyacht consultant, she inspires people on her social media and helps yacht lovers in their yachting journey either to buy or to charter superyachts!

She is not a broker but a consultant, hence not biased and not competing with any brokers, usually working for family, friends, and selected qualified clients only.