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The DoneDeal guide to buying boats
Before you buy
- Buying a boat is like buying a car, a full inspection of the mechanics is advisable.
- Arrange to see the boat and, if possible, view it out of the water.
- Try to find out the vessel’s history prior to purchase.
- Go to the manufacturer’s website or ‘class’ clubs to examine the specifications of the vessel.
- Get a full inventory before you view.
Things to ask for
- Ask the seller for the last recognised survey of the vessel. You will need a survey to insure your boat.
- Ask if it has a certificate of construction. This may have been provided by the boat makers when they constructed the hull.
- Check if this has been approved by a classification society like Germanischer Lloyd (GL); Lloyd’s Register (LR); Bureau Veritas (BV) or similar.
- If it has, this is a good indication that the boat is of reputable design.
- Look for identification marks like a hull number. This is like the VIN number on a car and should be somewhere on the permanent structure.
- If there have been repairs to the vessel, ask if they have been documented.
- If the boat has been imported you will need an importation certificate.
- This will indicate if VAT has been paid.
- If it hasn’t, your boat could be seized if there are outstanding monies owed.
- Unless the boat is of Irish manufacture, proof of VAT being paid in the EU is necessary.
- Some boats will be VAT exempt because of age.
- Check the last survey carefully.
- If the survey is more than a year old you should get your own survey carried out.
- Arrange to have an out of water survey.
- Use a recognised, reputable surveyor.
- Surveyors usually advertise in boating magazines and periodicals.
- Ask the seller if they will bear the cost of a new survey.
What a surveyor does
- A surveyor will check the construction of the boat.
- They will look for damage and check for osmosis (signs of taking on water).
- They will also look at all standing rigging, masts and associate stays.
- They should also check the condition of the running rigging.
- If the boat is newly painted, a surveyor should be able to assess if damage has been covered up with a fresh coat of paint.
- Ask what type and make of engine it is.
- Find out when it was serviced last.
- Ask if the vessel has a VHF radio.
- Does it work?
- When buying a RIB check if it comes complete with an outboard motor.
- Check the inventory.
- See if all extras are included.
- Ask if pyrotechnics are part of the inventory.
- Are they in date?
- With life jackets you get what you pay for.
- The minimum requirements for life jackets are that they are CE approved and, if gas inflated, have a minimum 150n lift.
- The starting standard for life jackets is CE EN396 or ISO 12402. These must be serviced every three years.
- SOLAS life jackets with an EC MED ‘wheelmark’ should be serviced annually.
- If bringing children on board ensure that the boat is equipped with children’s life jackets.
Talk to people
- There are a lot of ‘class’ club websites where owners of different types of boats discuss their vessels.
- These are good places to find out common problems with different boat types.
- Talk to people on the marina where they boat is moored. They will know if the boat has had a troubled past.
Things to bear in mind
- Before buying consider where you are going to berth the boat. Where will you keep it?
- When out of water, where will it stay?
- Remember that winter insurance on boats that are kept on swinging moorings is not very common or very expensive.
- Buy a boat that is suitable for what you want.
- Does it meet your needs and experience?
- Factor into your costs personal training if you are not familiar with the vessel you purchase.
- Sailing associations run courses which give recognised qualifications which will enhance your enjoyment and safety on the water.