‘Buying a boat taught me a hell of a lot'

Yachting Monthly|Summer 2020

‘Buying a boat taught me a hell of a lot'
From car-crash viewings to wasted journeys of hundreds of miles, Wayne Palmer shares the steep learning curve of buying his first boat
Wayne Palmer

I have just taken the plunge and purchased a boat. Everyone said ‘Don’t do it’ but I'm six months in and loving every minute, despite the coronavirus restrictions scuppering any sailing plans. The purchasing process has taught me a hell of a lot about the industry and the sailing community.

After three years of a boat club membership scheme I got fed up of fat, slow cruisers and at peak weekends they were unavailable anyway. I’d still recommend such a scheme for day sailing and the odd overnight but I’d got to the stage where I wanted more.

I’m a racer at heart: inshore, a couple of Fastnets, the Round Britain and Ireland Race (RBI), with some easy long-distance cruising with my partner in between. All my racing was as crew so I wanted to try being the skipper and to learn more.

The first thing I discovered was that there isn’t a boat in existence that ticks every box – at least within my £60,000 budget. I spent weeks looking for something that could do everything and the first reality check was the need to compromise. I looked at 40ft boats around £100,000 thinking I could get a deal at the end of the season. It didn’t work.

It took me a while to understand. Someone selling a boat is not like somebody selling a car or a house; the motivation is not the same. Some owners are happy to leave the boat on the hard at a high price and wait it out because they are not desperate to sell. They don’t need to haggle.

Other sellers simply overvalue their boat. They know what they spent on it over the years and heaven forbid if you hit the owner with a big snag list. I viewed one boat in Hamble I liked but it needed work doing. I put a list together, got some idea of costs to do it and emailed the owner. He told me how offended he was in very few words!

I started talking to brokers. Not all brokers are the same. I viewed an eightyear-old boat on the hard with one broker, we walked through their office directly out onto the boat as they had a balcony set up, so no ladders to climb.

The boat had all the lighting on, it was cleaned within an inch of its life, all sails had been cleaned and were packed within one cabin, all the documents were to hand, they had all the history of the owner including the log book of the trips taken. We talked, they knew everything and even understood what the boat would really sell for (it sold a week later). Other brokers struggled to find where the boat was in the yard! Some knew nothing about sailing boats, only motor.

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Summer 2020