Who wants to own a yacht

Tips for buying a used sailing yacht - Stand 2020

First and most important tip:

Second-hand boats are very difficult to sell today. This is especially true for larger yachts, where the price goes into the hundreds of thousands. This is because people who have so much money can usually find enough cash to buy a new boat, so they are not dependent on the used boat market. In addition, due to series production, the price for new, larger yachts has decreased relatively (!) In recent years. A 50-foot series yacht cost around half a million 10 years ago, so it was in the same price range as it is today. That doesn't make used sailing yachts appear very cheap in this price range.

In the case of smaller yachts, on the other hand, it is the mass on the market that drives the price down. In addition, almost every ship is for sale because numerous owners dream of a "slightly" larger ship and cannot realize this dream because the "old" yacht hangs on their legs like a log.

This also plays a role in the price development: a yacht, unlike a car, is not a commodity. Part of the fun of buying a boat is therefore usually bringing in your own ideas, even if only with the equipment. A yacht is now a wonderful toy for almost all of us.

The argument that with a used yacht you get the know-how of the previous owner, so to speak, free of charge ("better than new") was only valid much earlier, when many shipyards didn't really know how to build good ships. In the last 20 years, however, they have learned a lot, so that in general the yachts of the last two decades have been delivered to a fairly mature level.

Catamarans have achieved a certain special status in the last ten years. These yachts arouse so much desire, especially for long journeys, that they are also becoming more and more popular on the used boat market - and therefore also more expensive. The reason for this development can be seen in the fact that the fear of multihulls, which was so often observed in the past, has significantly decreased. Which is certainly also due to the fact that the development of the last few years has led to ever larger yachts, especially in the long-haul sector and, due to a lack of capacity, has not even led to a flood of the used boat market. In addition, catamarans can by no means be cobbled together by any shipyards that think they can quickly find a lucrative niche in the market. There is a big difference between building a monohull yacht and a multihull ship with all its additional static problems - just think of the torsional stiffness! Primarily for these reasons, many long-established shipyards do not have multihulls in their range. And that's why the catamarans are still a kind of "scarce commodity" in Europe, which is also reflected in the price for prospective buyers.

Otherwise, the market has been flooded with new buildings for many years. It is not for nothing that in yachting rounds one wonders again and again where all the yachts are going today, since they cannot end up in the junkyard, as is common with cars. So used yachts are difficult to sell unless they change hands below their value.


The buyer of a second-hand boat has all the trumps in hand. Especially when he pays with cash.

If you don't believe that, just look at the YACHT advertisement pages. The ratio of "yacht for sale" and "yacht wanted" is certainly 50 to one, probably even higher.

Requirements on the buyer side for a good purchase:

Factors on the seller side for a good deal:

  • Motif for sale

  • Purchase from brokers or private individuals

  • suitable location of the yacht

  • Condition of the yacht in factual terms (faultlessness, age, accessories)

  • Condition of the yacht from a legal point of view


The buyer's greatest asset is the cash in hand

Regardless of whether you can pay for a yacht out of postage or have to laboriously finance it, money has to flow somehow. Where the money comes from, perhaps from a bank loan, is none of the seller's business, nor does it interest him. He's only (!) Interested in getting the pen ounces. Therefore, nothing depresses the price as much as a wad of money in the hand of the prospective buyer.

When it comes to cash, and when it comes to yacht purchases, sums of money that you would spend on your own home often play a role, the authorities today are quick to prick up their ears. Gone are the days when you thoughtlessly talked about a cash account in Switzerland and perhaps also transfers to where you could safely put piles of cash on the table or where you easily explained to the buyer that he could of course also pay for the yacht in cash. The reason, you already guessed it, is the fear of money laundering and the difficulties that come with it. Some readers will think that this is none of their business anyway, since they have earned or inherited their money honestly (i.e. with work). But it is not that simple.

Attention: Money Laundering Act

In the meantime, authorities have also noticed that yachts are ideal hiding places for black money or, if you like, "Schmu-Geld". Where can you put, let's say, six-figure sums somewhere abroad, maybe even outside the EU, where very often the investment object, a yacht, does not even have to be entered in any register? In short: "True!"

Now one could say that one can be very indifferent - morality is ignored with such amounts - where the good purchase price comes from, or where the thousands go, but be careful! A lot has happened in recent years. We are talking about the GWG, the Money Laundering Act. One could take the point of view that it is none of your business, although this law already applies to amounts of money of 10 thousand euros. But that's not that easy either. Because only pure private individuals are left out (if they are not (!) Notaries or something similar). Anyone who, as a (nominal) owner of a charter business (popular but often transparent tax trick), accepts more than 10,000 euros in cash or even gold worth 2001 euros is already subject to a possibly unpleasant reporting obligation under the Money Laundering Act. But even a real private citizen can get caught up in the maelstrom of this law, at least "only" be exposed to curious, but quite annoying inquiries from authorities.

In any case, the fact is that, it seems paradoxical, the phrase "only for cash!" In the past it was a burden for the buyer, but today it can be a lure for some obscure types!

It is also no secret that, for tax reasons, many boat owners are not so interested in conclusive transactions through banks. The buyer can be indifferent to this as long as he does not know or need to know nothing about it. In such a case, the cash has an additional incentive for the seller, which in turn will depress the price.

Incidentally, anyone who dreams of a yacht and thinks he can have his bank loan it for financing is usually completely wrong. Banks hate yachts as security.

Back to serious contractual partners:

For someone who has internally separated from their previously loved yacht, this is just a burden. He wants to get rid of them as soon as possible. If the other person waves the bills, then he has his goal "within reach", close at hand. Sacrifices are also made for this.

Factors on the seller side for a good buy:

Motive of the sale

Real distress sales

Death, sudden financial difficulties or family changes (children, wife's ultimatum, divorce) are favorable prerequisites for a successful ship purchase. Yes, "the one misfortune ..." is an advantage in several ways. The heirs usually have nothing to do with the yacht, they just want to turn it into money quickly. Most of the time, the yachts are still in the condition the owner wanted them to be on such occasions.

Yachts are often cheapest to buy at foreclosure sales by a bailiff. Because - see above - the group of buyers is usually so small that one will not outbid one another. The market value determined by the expert is rarely achieved at the first auction. Such auctions differ significantly from private auctions organized by companies or ship brokers. There you usually don't get cheap prices because the shipbroker sets his minimum bid in such a way that he gets his money's worth.

The situation is completely different with distress sales as a last attempt to improve one's own desperate predicament. If yachtsmen have run out of money (for example, because the expected charter income has not been paid) - this is what we often experience on circumnavigations - then you should think twice about buying it. Because mostly the yacht is scruffy due to lack of money, which was only barely concealed. The purchase of necessary spare parts has long been avoided, and the maintenance of the yacht has been saved. In short, hands off such yachts, unless the extremely low price makes up for the disadvantages!

Sales of yachts that the owner no longer wants to know about.

"I find it difficult to part with my yacht, we have grown so fond of it!" One should never believe such sayings. In plain language this means: "We were completely satisfied with the yacht, but now we want a new toy and the old one has to go as quickly as possible and for as much money as possible!". Another lying saying: "Our loyal yacht should come into good hands! - see the success story" Bares for Rares ":

Any emotional drudgery is just in the way of clear thinking when buying a ship. Nobody gives anything away. Therefore:

The seller just wants (!) My money!


Purchase from private individuals or brokers

The broker is primarily concerned with making a sale and only secondarily with what conditions and at what price the sale takes place. Usually the brokerage fee is a certain percentage of the purchase price. It is practically only due when a sale is made, only then does the broker earn money from it. The broker is primarily interested in an agreement on the purchase price, even if he represents the seller and the seller gives in on the price.

On the other hand, the broker is never involved in the risk of a purchase. He will, that's human, talk the hell down, just so that both parties are satisfied for the moment and sign.

In the end, you can also buy cheaply through a broker, but you should be aware that the brokerage fee is always paid by the contractual partners, which increases the purchase price.

Brokerage firms and their offers are also well suited to get a certain overview of the market in the price structure (desired by the broker). Logically, you can also find out more about the world from your desk on the Internet. For example, several thousand yachts with prices (!) Are listed very clearly under ESYS-Bootsmarkt or Boot.de.

The location of the yacht

This can be a significant selling point. If you are looking for a ship for the Mediterranean and the "dream yacht" is somewhere in the Baltic Sea, then the purchase of the ship may fail because the transport has a negative impact both financially and on the quality of the yacht. On the other hand, if you dream of palm trees in the South Pacific, then a yacht based in Whangarei (New Zealand) is very cheap because it is already at the gateway to the South Pacific. However, it should be noted that non-European yachts may no longer be able to sail under the German flag in European waters due to the lack of a CE mark, which can have an extremely negative effect on the resale price.

Often the normal case: a newer yacht of longing is in EU territory. In this case, you should pay particular attention to whether the mandatory VAT has been paid in the country of residence (not in Germany, this is important!). If not, then you can expect that later as the buyer of the yacht you will be asked to pay for VAT in the order of 20% of the current value, in the worst case you will have to answer for tax evasion. Incidentally: The "current value" is usually not determined by the ship owner, but by the tax authorities - for more information on the VAT problem - see here on this website!


Condition of the yacht in factual terms

- Flawlessness, age, accessories -

The general value of a yacht

The larger the yacht, the less it will be possible to assume a general market value. A yacht that cost a quarter of a million 10 years ago can now change hands for € 150,000 or just € 60,000. It is a completely different situation than with a car. "Exotic" yachts in particular, such as private extensions for a circumnavigation or even self-made ones, have a very low sales value, unless there is a (simple-minded) enthusiast for such a yacht.

The same applies to an "inventor's yacht", where the previous owner has built in all of his epoch-making ideas, such as a junk rig or similar.

The highest resale value is achieved by series builds from recognized, good, still existing quality shipyards. Here you can roughly orientate yourself on the prices for today's models.

Past of a yacht

Buying a used yacht is easier than buying a new yacht in many ways. Because it is entirely permissible to draw conclusions about the quality and suitability of a second-hand yacht from the past. A yacht with several Atlantic crossings under its belt has just proven its Atlantic capability. In any case, it cannot be assumed that a yacht has suffered in its substance as a result of modern metal or plastic yachts.

The same applies to charter yachts, which have been discarded for reasons of age, and can be very good used boats. Yes, I would even have special confidence in them, because there can hardly be any harsher operating conditions for a yacht than the charter operation with a large charter company. The average used boat buyer can say with good reason: if the yacht has withstood hundreds of carefree charter customers, then it will be able to offer me a comparatively peaceful existence for many years to come. Such purchases can even be particularly cheap because these yachts have been continuously serviced (by reputable charter companies) and may only be taken out of service because they are no longer so attractive for holiday sailors because of their age. And otherwise have already been written off.

The condition of a yacht

Secondly, the value of a yacht depends on the technical condition of the yacht. In order to assess this, you do not necessarily need an expert. If you have a long sailing experience or if you have a friend with you on the tour, then you can get a very good picture of the yacht for yourself.

Viewing the yacht

It goes without saying that viewing a yacht that you seriously want to buy must take place in three stages, namely:

  • at the jetty in the water

  • when test sailing

  • dry in the country


Phase 1 - inspection of the jetty

The first inspection will always take place at the jetty.

The following is to be brought to the inspection (suggestion):

  • a knowledgeable sailing enthusiast
  • as sightseeing tools: a powerful flashlight, a magnet, a magnifying glass, an electronic remote thermometer, a "Swiss Army Knife"
  • a video camera or a smartphone.

The attendant can not only give advice on the spot for the inspection, but also serve as an uninvolved witness in the event of a legal dispute (which should be avoided if possible).

The flashlight makes you largely independent of the stationary lighting conditions. The bilge, for example, will certainly not be brightly lit by the owner and yet has so much expressiveness.

With the magnet, every metal can be checked to see whether it is chrome steel or just chrome-plated iron. Cheap screws in the wood can be easily exposed.

The "Swiss Army Knife" replaces a screwdriver if you want to look behind a cover or is used to (secretly) scratch off paint.

The "electronic remote thermometer is used to quickly measure the temperature remotely from operating temperatures (e.g. machine, interior, refrigerator, etc.) - see here on this website!

A "voltmeter" to measure the battery or board voltage at critical points (how high is the voltage drop?)

The video camera is used to document the tour.With the permission of the owner, his statements about the condition of the ship can be recorded, but an impressive inventory of the ship with accessories can also be made. This proves to be helpful if accessories are missing after the later takeover that actually belonged to the ship after the memory. At home, when rethinking the whole thing, you don't have to rely on your - incomplete - memories.

The first impression

The first thing I would always do is look at the yacht's calling card, namely the bilge. Even if it has been painstakingly cleaned immediately beforehand, the traces of its original condition remain.

If you find that it is practically unused, perhaps still contains the dust of the shipyard, then buy this yacht immediately! Of course, this condition will be found extremely rarely and then almost only on metal yachts.

The opposite is a bilge in which there is a stinky dark broth - with large grease eyes on it. You almost always hear the comment: "There's water in a sailing ship." In this case there is only escape from such a rotten ship.

If there is also fat or oil in the bilge, the origin must be determined. A few drops from the stuffing box would be forgivable.

If the broth in the bilge foams when it is stirred, the bilge was cleaned of fat or oil shortly before the visit. Here one has to ask suspiciously.

The next look is at the engine compartment: How easily is it accessible? If the owner manages to present the engine with a handle, it can be assumed that this is an everyday, frequent exercise for him. You can see it positively or negatively. The external condition of the machine is not as telling as the oil pan under the machine. The same applies here as for the bilge. Salt water indicates a leaking stuffing box (1 drop / 10 seconds is normal), but also a leaking sea water circuit. If the salt water comes out of the exhaust collector, trouble is inevitable for the near future.

The total running time of the machine is revealing. If it is less than three thousand hours, it should be good for twice as much without any problems.

The engine compartment itself must not be black, sooty. If so, this indicates (frequent) and very annoying exhaust problems. More than that: there can be a risk of poisoning.

The owner should be able to answer the question about the last oil change, oil filter change and the oil used.

Is the machine warm? Yes why? As a precaution, did the owner let the engine run before the ship's buyers visit, so that the batteries still give something and the engine starts more readily?

This is followed by the start of the machine - on the pier. Every decent diesel engine starts immediately, possibly after preheating. If the starter only pulls through slowly, then the battery is to be thrown away, which throws a crooked light on the previous owner. The same applies if the machine clearly smokes blue, black or even white. The cause must (!) Be clarified before buying.

If after starting the battery the needle for the battery charge goes back to zero after a few minutes, then the batteries are suspect - either they have only just been fully charged (but then they have to show over 13 volts in the idle state) or, mostly, disposable, too if, according to the owner, they are "only" four years old.

If the machine does not run smoothly, you now say goodbye to the ship so as not to waste your time. At least the filters, tanks and fuel lines are probably muddy the whole yacht. Because of the threat of diesel plague today, the seller should provide detailed information on how old the diesel is in the tanks. Attention: If a yacht was sailed almost exclusively, i.e. the machine was only used for port maneuvers, it can be assumed that the dreaded "fuel plague" threatens due to the long storage time of the diesel fuel - aptly called "Black Death" in Australia .

It is difficult to check the quality of a yacht simply by looking based on the external condition of a yacht. Especially with a metal yacht. The greatest caution is required when a metal yacht presents itself in a dazzling outfit, then ask immediately when it was last repainted. Recently? Then the greatest caution is required. Two years ago or earlier? Then everything seems ok Traces of rust near a teak deck on a steel yacht make such a ship unsaleable (for me) - unless I have enough money (and nerves) to completely renew the teak deck - with costs in the five-figure range.

Otherwise, let the spare parts for the machine that are on board be shown to you. If you find units there that have already been installed (starters, pumps, injectors), you don't have to wait for the test drive either, unless you are looking forward to life in the engine room. If the reserve load instead contains original packaged seal sets, if the operating manual for the machine is not (!) Smeared with oil or if the owner can even present a technical log book to the machine, then one can confidently proceed to phase 2 of the ship inspection


Phase 2 - the test drive

It goes without saying that you have agreed a fair price for the test drive with the owner, which you will pay if it does not come to a purchase.

Before casting off, the water level in the bilge is checked.

After putting it down, shift the transmission a few times. Does it always respond without delay? Well!

Can the sails be set quickly? If not why If it is the winches that are so stiff, then the new owner will face considerable costs.

The color of the sails also says a lot about spending as a new ship owner. Are the sails gray, but not patched yet? You can accept that, because it means that the sails have been used, but that they are not particularly sensitive to UV. With a lot of patches in the cloth, however, it won't live long.

If the wind is favorable, the rudder pressure should be checked. Ideal: easy windwardness! Greedy? Then the owner has not been able to get the yacht sailing properly in all these years. A test drive in the afternoon will say little about the speed potential of the yacht. A look at the logbook provides much more information: What were the best Etmales, what does the yacht with the genoa do on a backday breeze? All of this should be in the logbook. No logbook available? Please take your course back to the jetty and bye!

For many yachts and skippers, the time of truth comes when they are supposed to anchor. Must be insisted on. You can then see for yourself how seaworthy the yacht is! Efflorescence on the aluminum casing of the capstan is a bad sign. If there is an electric capstan, it can be operated without a machine running along with it. How long the batteries can withstand this tells - in addition to the charge current display - a lot about their age.

If the wind is good during the test drive, then you shouldn't be too cowardly with the sail area. And when the yacht is on your ear, a visit below deck is enlightening. The noise and the groan say a lot.

The cross is a good opportunity to check the shrouds for damage. If they are loose on the leeward side, kinks would show up well. Such shrouds and stays must be replaced. The mast and boom may show minimal efflorescence of the aluminum in the vicinity of screws and fittings. However, great care is required with such pictures at the base of the mast. Nobody can see the aluminum in the base of the mast!

Of course, you checked the oar wheel during the test drive. Is the king's spoke wandering? How big is the play of the hydraulics? How often does hydraulic fluid have to be topped up? Only the answer "never" is satisfactory.

Now is the time when the accessories can be tried out. The most important thing is the radar, which should not run between masts on the jetty.

The other electronic accessories are Pippifax anyway and won't be worth anything after a few years. The nautical chart plotter is surely out of date, current charts are no longer available. In general, don't be dazzled by the abundance of accessories. During the inventory you also check the condition of the lockers inside.

How old are the life-saving appliances? Test stamps on the life jackets prove the care of the seller in important questions. Likewise: Has the life raft been serviced regularly?

At the end of the test drive, the bilge must be checked again. Where does the water come from?


Phase 3 - the yacht up and dry

If the new lover has passed all the tests so far, she must (!) Be examined on the underwater hull - and that can only be done properly on land. Here, too, the costs are borne by the "buyer" if there is no purchase.

In a metal ship, you will look for dents and weld seams that have no place there. If the protective anodes are evenly pitted, this indicates that it is functioning properly. If they have no such traces, then they have just been renewed. Because of the ship inspection? Why?

In the case of a plastic ship, you will also look for hard-to-find repair areas and ask about the cause. Multiple bubbles in the water pass area is almost always the dreaded osmosis! Not a misfortune in and of itself, because it can be repaired. However, with high costs (in the five-digit range) when it is well advanced. In this case, a plastics specialist (not a "normal" ship expert) should be called in to provide an expert opinion on the extent and repair costs.

It is normal that the - hopefully existing - zinc anodes on a plastic ship are only slightly eroded.

The screw must not have any cracks, dents or bends. The edges of the propeller must not be torn with your fingers when you run over them.

In dry weather, the underwater hull should be dry after a day and (!) Stay dry! Otherwise: Where do the damp spots come from?

A lot less than a car can one speak of a "reasonable" price for a yacht. This is mainly due to the fact that most yachts have only been built so that they have not achieved any particular weight in the numerically confusing yacht market. The prices quoted in the classifieds of the sailing newspapers are the. These prices are only paid in very rare cases. But they are good for a very rough guide to the order of magnitude.

Finally, a very important piece of advice: