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Second hand boats: how to get a ready to sail yacht

A good ready to sail yacht can be hard to find in the current market. Thinking outside the box about where to look can help you get on the water faster. We take a look at options to find a boat in turnkey condition

It’s no secret that if you want a new yacht the wait is now likely to be two years or more. But what if you don’t want to take on a refit and want to get on the water quickly? There is no simple answer, but casting the net wider, and working closely with brokers that know what you are looking for, are both crucial if you want to find a ready to sail yacht.

Like most brokerage businesses, Ancasta had an unusual 2021. Roger Bailey heads up their Sotogrande office. “We sold boats like never before, which was great, but it is now harder than ever to match clients with what they want. Under the £200,000 mark there’s not much that’s of good quality and ready to go.”

In highest demand are yachts suited to living aboard and bluewater cruising and, despite the relatively high entry price, multihull demand is particularly strong.

“Clients now land here in Spain on a mission to do a deal, rather than speculate about something they might want to buy. The market remains very active, but faster moving transactions tend to be much less protracted. It is worth outlining to us what your position is and what you are looking for early, even if you don’t see a listing that’s suitable,” explains Bailey.

A rare species

Yachts returning to the market after less than a year of use might draw suspicion. However, more than often it is simply due to an owner’s change of circumstances and happens quite a lot, particularly with yachts of a higher value.

Modern cruising catamarans, such as this Nautitech have become hard to find on the used market. Photo: Ancasta

At the time of going to press Roger Bailey’s office has a Nautitech 46 Fly listed. Less than a year old, used by one owner and in turnkey condition: it’s a rare multihull prospect in today’s rapidly moving market. “With new build Nautitech waiting lists well over two years, possibly three, this is a unique opportunity for someone that wants to buy a catamaran already positioned in the Mediterranean. In fact, the starboard cabins on this 46 have never been used! It is also the owners hull version, making it ideal for living aboard comfortably without compromise,” he says.

“At present it is set up for Mediterranean cruising, but a long-term cruiser could easily add a watermaker and possibly air conditioning if they wanted.”

The 46 Fly is likely to sell for close to the new price and comes with many of the benefits of a new yacht, including the factory warranty from Nautitech.

Closer to home

Rupert Knox-Johnston, senior broker at Oyster, has seen how demand for yachts based on lifestyle changes has driven sales at a high price point, with many first-time buyers coming to the market even in this sector.

“Due to how most Oysters are used for bluewater sailing, maintenance standards are generally kept very high, many [yachts] we list on behalf of owners are ready to go on another big adventure straight away.

“Though there is a significant gap between new build Oyster prices and used, we have seen buyers at every size of yacht in the used market recently. We sold one Oyster 82 sight unseen recently, something I have not seen before with such a large yacht. Where a good yacht isn’t selling, it tends to be because it is hard to view or to survey, generally due to travel restrictions. However, yachts we sell do sometimes end up back in the UK for listing.”

Rupert currently has a rare 2015 Oyster 545 listed located on the east coast of the UK for £849,000 (ex VAT). Lightly used by bluewater standards and capable of fast passagemaking, it too has a price reflecting market demand, but has recently been reduced.

“The 545 is based on the successful 54 hull, but with an updated look and more modern systems. She’s an ideal yacht for a couple to double-hand or a family, with electric reefing systems. Her current owners undertook two Atlantic crossings and cruised the US east coast and Caribbean. She’s ready to go again and has been beautifully maintained,” explains Rupert.

A global perspective

For some models of yachts that are built in limited numbers, their scarcity can quickly turn the search global. While Australia and New Zealand remain particularly cautious about admitting visitors, they are also locations where yachts often end up at the end of a tradewind adventure. With the passage back to Europe adding serious wear and tear, or the alternative being the additional cost of shipping, many owners choose instead to fly home, listing their yachts for sale in Sydney or Auckland.

Sydney is a major port, making shipping to Europe relatively easy. Photo: Matt Cumming/Nautor’s Swan

This means that buyers in Europe can broaden their search to the other side of the world but will have to bear the cost of shipping back to Europe – something that could still be worth it to get the right yacht.

With some yacht builders bringing new designs out quite regularly, demonstrator yachts are often not needed for very long and are kept in perfect order. Usually heavily specified on the options list, and with neutral design choices, they can make a great shortcut to a new yacht that hasn’t been heavily altered for a specific owner.

UK Nautor’s Swan dealer and service centre, Vortec Marine, currently has a new 2020 Swan 48 demonstrator with factory warranty available for £1,063,710 (ex VAT). The only catch? It’s located in Australia.

“The new model Swan 48 has been hugely popular since launch and this is one that’s basically unused. You could go sailing in the southern hemisphere straight away or, alternatively, have her shipped back to Europe. Either way it is likely to be the quickest way to get hold of a 48 in the current market,” explains Vortec’s managing director, Ross Collingwood.

Shipping companies like Australia-based Taurus Logistics estimate shipping from New Zealand and Australia to Europe take around 50 days, though it’s worth noting that shipping delivery dates are rarely guaranteed and can take much longer.

Roger Bailey of Ancasta points out that the brokerage market is now much more set up for ‘remote’ viewings: “Brokers are now used to showing boats virtually, providing a lot more images and generally making it easier to view from another country. With travel restrictions changing all the time it is well worth arranging virtual viewings of a yacht you are serious about before flying out yourself.

Joroen Slot and his family previously owned a Lagoon 450 in Hong Kong, they are now cruising the Mediterranean full-time. Photo: Joroen Slot

We bought our yacht unseen

Joroen Slot purchased a Forgus 52 pilothouse in Sweden while still living in Hong Kong. Formerly a pilot for Dragonair, he decided to sell up and sail away with his young family when he was made redundant as the pandemic took hold. “We had lived on our Lagoon 450 in Hong Kong for over a year at one point, but that boat was on finance while I was working.

“To cruise long term, we were looking for something strong and safe that was also good value. I was heavily influenced in my criteria by reading John Kretschmer. The Lagoon was £400,000, this was £150,000, the difference is that we are now sailing full time and I feel very safe in the Forgus offshore. The Lagoon we only used when we had spare time at weekends.”

The Forgus 52 was found in Sweden. Photo: Joroen Slot

Slot engaged a surveyor in Sweden that was recommended by the brokerage to undertake a survey.

“Perhaps there is an obvious conflict of interest there, but we still did it. The survey found some of the things wrong with the boat, but not all of them, some I was surprised he didn’t pick up. The main thing he found was moisture in the front of the hull, so we knew about that from the beginning.

“One of the things that I think made this boat available was that it’s a quirky pilothouse design, only three of them were built, but the Swedish build quality is excellent.
“With hindsight I would have liked to have viewed the boat before buying, but ultimately, we’re now sailing full-time and that was what we aimed to do.”


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