Buying a Boat: Some RYA pointers 

For any boater, there can be few greater pleasures in life than stepping aboard your own boat for the first time. There is something deeply satisfying about that feeling of ownership.

However, buying a boat can be stressful. After all, a decent sized boat can be the biggest single investment many of us make in our life, so it's important we follow the right procedure and avoid the pitfalls.

This is where the RYA can help you out, and in particular the RYA's Legal Advisor Mandy Peters. Mandy has helped hundreds of RYA members to make a purchase over the years and has even worked on two RYA books on buying new and second hand yachts.

She explains: "Despite the potential expense that buying a yacht can represent, the legal side can often be as simple as buying a box of matches.

"If you so desired, you could take over the ownership of a vessel worth hundreds of thousands of pounds through a simple verbal agreement.

"Obviously, no-one at the RYA would recommend that approach, and these few pointers should help you avoid some of the most obvious pitfalls."

For more detailed information, pick up a copy of the RYA's Buying a New yacht.

Top ten tips

1. Is the broker/dealer a member of an association which operates a Code of Practice/Conduct that its members must adhere to, such as: 

  • The Boat Retailers and Brokers Association (BRBA) – (a group association within the BMF)
  • The Association of Brokers and Yacht Agents (ABYA)      

2. If you are buying a secondhand boat, does your broker operate a properly administered designated client account, and will your purchase monies be kept in this account during the brokerage transaction?  

3. If you are buying a new boat either through a dealer or from stock, what are the payment arrangements, what stage payments, if any, are required and when does title in the boat pass to you?

4. Is there marine finance on the boat and if so what are the detailed arrangements for payment and discharge of it prior to completion?

5.What original copy title documentation will the seller provide for the boat? For example;  

  • Part I Registration, Builder’s Certificate
  • Previous Bills of Sale
  • Evidence of RCD or ESTRIN compliance
  • Evidence of VAT status  

Ensure that you see a copy of and are satisfied with the seller’s title documents before you enter into a binding agreement.  

6. Will your broker/dealer use an approved contract such as the standard BMF/ABYA contracts?

7. Is the contract subject to a sea-trial and survey or is it unconditional? It is strongly advised that an independent survey is obtained when buying a second-hand boat.

8. Will the contract contain a specification/inventory?

9. At what stage does the boat become yours and when do you become responsible for insuring the boat, paying mooring fees etc?

10. What are the arrangements for completion? For example, payment of monies, handover of keys and title documentation?  

Stick to these tips and you can feel more confident about stepping aboard your pride and joy. In the meantime, happy shopping!


Article Published: November 18, 2009 9:18


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