It’s hard to believe boat show season is almost here again. Last year we got to see all the new radical changes many of the boat designers had set into play to whet our appetites.

I am sure they have gone a step further for this year’s unveiling too. With so many new and innovative changes, how does a buyer pick out the best boat for their individual use? My best advice is to look around for a seasoned yacht broker first. The Internet is great place to start your search, so are references from friends who have purchased boats in the past. I would also look for a broker with a strong brokerage firm behind him or her. The more support a broker has, the better the experience will be for you.

A good broker will sit down with you and your family so he/she can understand the real needs and amenities you are looking for, and what your budget is. There is a myriad of new technology these days and it is staggering the level you can outfit your boat with. I would want my broker to have in-depth knowledge about different electronic packages, be it a new or used boat. Understanding transferable warranties, does the equipment have all the latest updates, back-up power supplies; and, if not, what are those extra costs going to be? Also, a broker that can direct you how to register your boat or has the ability to handle the reams of paperwork for you.

It’s easy to fall in love with a sexy new boat or a well taken care of used boat. You walk on board and are immediately wrapped up with extravagant and innovative features.

This is the time to look at areas that will certainly become an issue someday, and it’s usually sooner than later. In South Florida we need our air conditioners to not only be efficient and user-friendly, but also accessible for maintenance or repairs. Check to see if the a/c system is rated for the square footage you need it to cool. I like checking that the condensate lines are accessible and easy to clean; nothing like a flood while you are away. The same goes for galley appliances in relation to the generator output power supplying the boat. It’s never fun to have to shut 3 things off just so you can run the oven.

I realize no one builder is going to get everything right, and that is what differentiates production boats from semi-custom to ultra-custom boats. Production companies pump boats out at an amazing pace and generally practice the same exact assembly process each and every build. Almost every semi-custom and ultra-custom builder goes the extra mile and care to produce boats that require getting in line to buy because their R&D is so meticulous, and the market demand is high.

The major mechanical components onboard are tremendously important to understand, and having a broker who is up-to-date on technology will be a big help. For example, because fuel will be an ongoing expense, what is the fuel burn per hour at certain speeds, and how much fuel will the boat you are looking at carry? Bow thrusters can be an essential extra and you need to see it operate and how well it will assist you in tight-quarter handling situations. Obviously, main engines should be a focus including warranty information and the ability to obtain service while in warranty. I recently witnessed a new boat owner losing his full engine warranty because he used the wrong synthetic oil. If you are at the point where you have a couple of decisions regarding a purchase, it’s time to go one step further and find a seasoned surveyor.

There are some excellent surveyors out there just as you searched for a broker, so do the same homework looking for a surveyor.

These guys have to stay up-to-date with technology and are trained to look at a boat’s systems with a much finer detail to attention than you or your broker, or even a good mechanic. Understanding how certain brands of equipment work better or worse with other equipment is exactly what your surveyor will tell you. I want to hear from a surveyor that “this goes well with that” or “you’ll have issues with this someday” because they know! The best part about working with a surveyor is getting a fair market value of the boat and that goes a long way in negotiating the final price you will be shelling out for your new toy.

If you are getting a boat through a boat show, there are some great perks. Often the sellers don’t want to take them back and will offer extended warranties and other incentives for you to sign that day. The extended warranty is a no-brainer, but you can often push for a little more. Ask for a few complimentary oil changes or a full set of fenders and lines, and some driving instruction from their corporate Captain. Your broker will often arrange for a christening and send you a beautiful care package, and some will make the extra call to find you dockage; if they don’t, call me!

If a new boat is in your future, enjoy the process with your broker and surveyor; they will always be in your corner when you need help.




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