Let’s say you wanted to buy a sports car. What do you (or I), of all people, know about sports cars? If you’re honest with yourself, the answer is probably somewhere between nothing and less than what you think. This thought came to me as I walked past a Ferrari idling at a stoplight, after I had learned that Marlin would do a story on how to go about buying a boat.
The car was beautiful. It looked and sounded really cool, but if I went crazy and decided I wanted to buy a car like it, I would not know nearly enough to make a decent decision about what car to buy — just like the majority of people who think they want to buy a boat.
Anybody, and everybody, contemplating buying a new boat needs a good yacht broker and one or more good marine surveyors. This is true for any vessel, from a 30-footer all the way up to the largest megayacht.
First, lets talk about yacht brokers. Even though my favorite yacht-broker joke is the one about the winter where it was so cold in Florida that the yacht brokers had their hands in their own pockets, there are some excellent yacht brokers who are knowledgeable and honest. Personally, I know a few good ones, as well as several sleazy semicrooks.
It is up to you to find a good broker who specializes in the type of boat that you think you want. A great outboard engine mechanic is not qualified to work on big common-rail diesel engines, and a sailboat expert, with a few exceptions, probably doesn’t know much about fishing. Good yacht brokers also specialize.
Ask any broker you are considering to give you a list of boats he has sold recently and ask if you may contact a few of the new owners. Obviously, he will not steer you toward someone who hates him after being talked into buying an unsuitable boat. However, if he (or she) has made a career out of hooking people up with boats that suit their needs perfectly, he should have some pleased customers who will be glad to tell you how they benefited from using his services. Get more than one reference.
Since I am a serious big-game sport-fishing captain, I need a boat with features that most boaters and casual anglers do not require. The features I insist on are found in only a very small percentage of the boats I see at any given boat show. I’m far too fussy to be a good broker.
Also, I do not need or want many features that you find standard on almost all newer boats. Since I want to fish more and clean, repair, and polish less, I adhere to what we call the KISS factor, which is an acronym for Keep It Simple Stupid. Complicated systems tend to be more expensive to maintain, especially over time.
A good broker will get you to sit down with him to discuss what you think you want and why. He may disagree with you. He should explain why, including what problems you may be making for yourself, but he will eventually try to find you a boat that fits your wish list, even if he may not want for it for himself. It may fit into your price range, or you may need to modify your expectations.
He can show you other boats, from other designers or builders — maybe older boats that appear to be well maintained that suit you better than your first request. He may even know the previous owner and his captain and be pretty certain that the boat is in excellent condition.
However, if he is any good, he will always insist that you have the boat surveyed by a licensed surveyor who is an expert in that style of boat and the type of manufacturing and materials used in its construction. He may well suggest several experts, including electronics, machinery, propulsion, refrigeration, air conditioning and more, to take a look at certain things. Take his advice!
A good broker will know and recommend capable and experienced surveyors who will save you money in both the short and the long term!