Friday, October 8, 2010

How to Get a Boat

There are almost as many ways of acquiring a boat as there are different kinds of boats. The main ways are building, buying, bartering, and rescuing. There are also many nefarious ways to get a boat (piracy, gambling, etc.) but I’ll leave those to your imagination.

Building has several subcategories. The self-built or D-I-Y (Do It Yourself) method involves designing the boat yourself and then building it. The advantage of this method is that you control every detail of design and construction. The only limiting factors are your skills, time, and materials. For a skilled jack-of-all-trades or someone willing to take the time to learn the skills this method is an excellent way to go. The downside is that the time required can run into thousands of hours. A variation of this method is to do part of the work yourself but hire skilled craftsmen for the rest. Buying plans or kits is another popular way to eliminate some of the more technical and difficult parts of the process.

Commissioning a naval architect or yacht designer to design a custom boat and then taking that design to a builder is probably the best way to get exactly what you want quickly. Unfortunately it is also likely to be the most expensive.

Buying a boat is the best way for most people to get a boat. Some of the common ways to locate boats for sale are boat shows, yacht brokers, online listings, local classified ads, and marina lien sales. Going to boat shows is an ideal way to see a lot of different boats and talk with many brokers about them. Even if you are not planning on purchasing a boat that day it can be a good investment to go and see what is available.

A reputable broker can take a lot of the headache out of finding and buying a boat. The broker will have a working knowledge of the current market conditions as well as what boats are available. In addition, they act as go-between with the seller. One added benefit of using a broker is not having to worry as much about scams and fraud. Online listings, such as Yachtworld, are an excellent place to look for boats listed by brokers. The CPYB (Certified Professional Yacht Broker) website has lists of certified brokers and broker organizations.

Online listings such as craigslist are a good place to find boats that are for sale by their owners. As with any private party transaction, the chances of getting a really good deal are higher for knowledgeable buyers, but so are the odds of getting ripped off if you are not careful. “Buyer beware” should be your motto in situations like this. However, many boats are listed online because the owner needs to make a quick sale, and as a result can be an excellent value.

Local classifieds are another good place to look for a boat in your area, though you should take the same precautions as when using online listings.

Many marinas allow For Sale signs to be posted, so it is possible, though more time consuming, to search through local marinas for boats. When a boat is abandoned at a marina it will often be sold to pay for the back slip fees. These Lien Sales can either be auctions or simple sales.
Bartering is becoming more common, especially using the internet to connect with people willing to trade. Often you can trade up or down from the boat you have with someone wanting the opposite. The difficulty with barter is finding someone who has what you want, and wants what you have instead. Also, bartering comes with tax issues that can be a hassle. The best way to successfully barter your way to the boat you want is to advertise what you have to trade, and what you want for it.

Rescuing a boat can be a great way to get on the water…eventually. More common with older, wooden-hulled boats, rescue involves taking a boat that no one else wants (usually it has been abandoned, or has been sitting on the market and the owner no longer wants to pay the storage costs) and restoring it. Free boats are seldom actually free but can be a great deal as long as you know what you are getting in for. For more on free boats please see the post on that subject: Free Boats.

All of these methods can be combined in different ways to meet different requirements. For example, you can buy a boat, then customize it to be what you want, or combine goods or services with cash to trade for a boat.

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