I think everyone has this dilemma when they have come to the point I must have a boat in my life. As we think about the pros and cons of our choices sometimes we have changed our position numerous times and become disappointed with the whole process! I hope to shed some light on the subject.
The joys of buying a new sailboat, sit back and dream and go sailing! Well a bit simplistic but that is what most owners think of. The first potential problem is what kind of boat do I want and a more important question, how much can I afford? Being that you are making a sizeable purchase that you will probably own for many years it is important to get a boat that will not only fit your future needs but your needs in the future. As you begin to think about options and features on your boat the price is usually increasing as well. Additionally, you get to the point of how in the world are you going to pay for this dreammaker this is not an issue if you win the Mega Millions jackpot for a half-billion dollars! If you are financing this boat as many will, you have a whole set of concerns which I will not address here for time constraints. Another consideration is this boat going to be bought directly from a dealer showroom or this going to be custom built? If this boat is going to be built; what kind of time table? What kind requirements or payment schedule am I subjected to?
The final consideration when buying a new boat is research the boat and dont buy impulse. This can be hard for many of us but many sailors have been researching various types of boats well before they consider to purchase. Check to see if it is possible to go on a demo sail prior to making a committment to buy.
Now if you look at a used boat because of finances or because of getting more boat for the dollar or because of the type, then there are another set of considerations. Research the company, boat model and what others have said about this model. Compare prices on various models that are being offered, this will give you a rough idea what is out there for price range. Next look at narrowing down the field and begin making calls or sending emails and start asking questions about condition, features, history and when can you see it (providing it meets your parameters). If you have not done a lot of varying maintenance on boats, you might want to take a friend with you to help and ask questions or help you with uncovering problems or strong points. This is a great time to ask the owner about the history of the boat and their opinions about it. If after doing all your diligence and you are happy with the boat, make an offer or if you need a second opinion then you should have researched and talked to several marine surveyors that deal with the type of vessels you are seeking. Finding a marine surveyor is another topic, but for the average owner buying a substantial purchase this expertise is well-worth the costs (and the cost vary greatly among persons and regions). In many cases depending on the financing a marine surveyor may be a requirement.
Final note on buying a used boat is you rarely find a boat that is in pristine condition for very little money; with that said someone will tell me how they landed a once in a lifetime deal and I’m glad you found it most of us not so much! Expect to invest into an older boat they require maintenance, sails, engines. hull repairs and paint. As we get older we need to have more medical tests to maintain our bodies, the same holds true for boats more maintenance is required to keep your boat in tip-top shape. When you buy an older used boat maintenance begins the day you buy it, be prepared!
Hopefully, you find a new or used boat that will fit your needs and your life goals. Going into the process with knowledge on the process should help you avoid some of the pitfalls and make your seasons more enjoyable.