Friday, 27 January 2012

Buying a Yacht.

So I had finally sold up enough to buy a yacht, now this one I put a lot more thought into, but still ended up buying on a kind of impulse, granted the impulse had taken a couple of years to get me.

Boat shopping becomes far more complicated, when you are going to take it to places far from help , where you have to be very self reliant, it also has to be a home as well, so has to have comfort and some space.

I had set my sights on 40-50 foot, for many reasons, space and safety being the two biggest factors, the bigger the boat the safer and more comfortable it will be (generalizing that is), you also normally get a bit of extra speed as well. Granted speed in yachts is a funny thing, I would never have though at any point in my life I could get excited about an extra mile per hour.

I would have liked a catamaran, yeah they are ugly, you cant get over this fact, but they don't heel much, mostly they are unsinkable, the have lots of space on deck and a nice upstairs saloon with a view, not coffin like as most monos, you have two engines/rudders, lots of redundancy. The downsides are they cost soo much more, even for smaller ones, you have so much more to clean , antifoul, two engines to maintain, cost far more to berth, they won't self right if knocked over. Overall they are probably a little safer than monos.

People argue a 40ft cat has the space of a 50ft mono, I'm not so sure on this, do the math, yes a 40 ft cat does have more room than a 40ft mono,but as much room as a 50ft mono? Maybe close!  When it comes to second hand prices you can pick up plenty of 50ft monos for far less than 40ft cats. If I was buying from new, then yes I think a catamaran will hold its money far better than a similar priced mono. Realistically, in the second hand market you can get far more boat per buck buying a second hand mono than a second hand cat. There are simply thousands of ex charter monos versus hundreds of ex charter chats, simply supply and demand, this may change in the future as more cats are built, diluting the demand.

In between times, I thought it prudent I should learn to sail, you know it would help a bit! I did know the basics from sailing in the past and had built up a bit of knowledge stomping around in the motor boats. the biggest barrier I found in learning to sail was learning the language, once you could understand the "sail language" sailing was actually very simple. Understanding something like "use the port winch to sheet in the main to stop it luffing", translated into normal - take the rope with the red spots into the winch on your left side turn it a few times so that the inner part of the big rear sail stops wobbling about. I went on a few RYA courses, with hit n mixed results, one skipper was such an A-HOLE I almost left the boat on the first day, within ten minutes of sitting on the boat , not even left the dock he told me I had failed.

I will try an explain the RYA system, you have theory and practical courses, the theory ones you don't have to do in order to do the practical ones (up to a certain level), this particular boat school was in it for the money in a big way, I had read up well on the theory and knew it to a good level, yeah I did make a couple  of silly mistakes, but only a couple. At the end of the course they told me they would pass me on the practical if I attended a theory course with them ie spend another 400 pounds and we will pass you. I should have wrote to the RYA and complained, but just went to another school instead who were fine and passed with them without doing the theory.

So back to boat shopping, there are so many dilemmas when buying a boat that is going to be your home as well. Money is a big subject, newer= less problems and maintenance but more depreciation, bigger = more costs. Small and old is the cheapest way, but do you really want to spend time in a very cramped space?

Keeping a boat simple save times and money, people can become slaves to luxuries, eg Aircon/generators etc I would have loved these and yes i have them, just not boat ones, A second hand honda eu20I generator (apparently legendary with cruisers) and a cheap portable aircon unit, under a thousand pounds, the boat equivalents would easily be teen times as much, if my 130 pounds aircon unit breaks, just buy another one, if you have a four thousand pound unit youll be a slave to fixing it or rich enough to pay someone else to do it.

The boat I ended up with is 43 foot, just a nice size, enough room not to be claustrophobic, big enough to handle rough seas, enough storage for an extended journey. All boats are compromises, unless you are a billionaire. My compromise was boat cost vs spending money, less boat more to spend, more boat less to spend. I would say get the smallest boat that you feel is safe and has enough room for your needs.

The boat I bought , I had to buy, it was just too good a deal to let pass by, it certainly was not what I expected myself to buy, it is no racer, but is not an old school slow and steady job, a kind of compromise somewhere in the middle. It had been in charter in the British Virgin Islands then in private ownership for a short period.

The good thing about this boat is me, I can fix anything and believe me, you need to be able to fix anything on a boat or have very deep pockets as the guys you pay to fix things don't come cheap. There is also the satisfaction of solving the problems or the frustration and wanting to smash things! Lastly you know the job is done right or know what botch you used ;) Paying someone, you don't know what sort of job they have done and your life may hang on their workmanship.

People  keep on saying when you find the right boat you know it is the one, I thought this was a bunch of nonsense, but they are right! A bit like girls, maybe not...........I reserve judgement on the girls part.

She is a Gib'Sea 43, they were made for mostly for the charter market, she is 10,400kg  heavy for a modern 43 footer, light by older standards. She has kevlar reinforcements in the places that matter, she has a no frills but pleasant interior and is actually thought out fairly well and she was at a price I could not say no to.

If your ever go through this process, Just think of your budget and needs, try not to have preconceptions, try not to set your heart on just one thing and have an open mind to anything that may suit, don't write off things listening to some old salt, remember skodas used to be terrible but now they are volkswagons.

You don't need a full length keel and skeg hung rudder, yes keels can fall off, but rarely if you do maintenance, rudders can get bent , but how often does it happen? and yes a skeg hung rudder can jam. Yes a full length keel boat will sail straighter , narrow beam boat may be better in a storm, but that full length keel and all that weight will slow you down that you may end up being caught in that storm that the fin keel boat has outran and wait till you try and berth that full length keel boat  ;)

The average cruiser spend 80 percent of their time at anchor, they can wait for weather windows and are rarely caught out in big storms, maybe why so many cruisers have catamarans, they are great at anchor!

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Thanks for your interest!

Nic n Steve.