First we began working out our budget - it's not as simple as just buying a boat and leaving, far from it as we were to find out. We needed to seriously think about what we would be using the boat for and the things we would need on it. We knew we wanted to travel the world and we didn't want to limit the time we could spend offshore, so a water maker was number 1. Next was power - obviously we would need electric whilst we were going, so we decided on solar panels or a wind generator. Using these things as a guide we started our search. We didn't find anything much at all based in the UK (probably because blue water sailing seems less common here) but we did decide to go and view a couple of boats here that we found online anyway. We would really recommend doing this because it highlighted to us some basic things that we then added to our list of essentials. One being a freezer. We hadn't realised that some boats didn't come with one and seeing as we could well be offshore for 4 weeks at time, having a freezer would mean we wouldn't end up living off tins of beans! We also looked at the different types of layouts on each boat and decided we wanted to have a big bedroom for us, as well as at least one spare. This was another thing we added to our criteria.
During our search we went to a couple of yacht brokers to see what they could find us. I am sure there are lots of amazing brokers out there, but the two we visited and gave our details to were pretty useless! We had a few boats sent through, none of which matched much of our criteria and some were so far out of our price range we thought someone must have been taking the p***! Ryan is 31 and I am 28 so maybe they didn't think we were serious and considered us 'time wasters' - they lost out on that commission though didn't they, more fool them!
We widened the search and found lots of boats that were within our budget and that ticked all of our criteria boxes. Most of these were based around the med - one thing to watch out for when looking outside of the UK are the broker fees, which quite often the buyer has to pay for and are usually between 5 and 10%. We contacted the owners and found out more info on all of the boats before making a short list. Some of the questions we asked that determined whether we moved forward with the boats were...
Does the boat have a tender and outboard motor included? (This can easily set you back £2500)
How old is the boat?
Is the rigging original? (We were told that boats over 10 years old with original rigging are hard to insure and the rigging would probably need replacing quite quickly - we had no problem insuring Chelsea but she does have ******* rigging which is very high quality and tends to last longer).
What are the broker fees, if any?
How many hours does she have on the engine?
When was the engine last serviced?
Does the boat have a freezer?
When would the owner be ready to sell? (Sometimes boats need moving to different areas or the owner has a future sail planned).
What material is the hull made from - epoxy is best as it doesn't get osmosis. (Osmosis is when water gets under the hull coat and causes blistering which can be expensive to repair).
Is the VAT paid? (If not you will need to pay it when you bring the boat back to the UK but you also risk being forced to pay it whilst travelling to other countries. 20% on a £150,000 boat is a HUGE expense if you're not expecting and haven't budgeted for it!)
When organising to fly out and visit some of these boats, we started to look at the negatives of buying a boat abroad. Firstly, the initial cost of the flights. I'm a school teacher so we were limited to weekends or school holidays, meaning most of these flights were not cheap! Then it was travel, food and accommodation whilst we were there. We were planning on going to see some boats that were slightly outside of our budget range so we decided that we would ask about lowering the price before we viewed the boat - what was the point in going to see one if we couldn't afford it in the first place! We felt quite cheeky doing this, but you would be surprised at the results you get. Other cultures don't seem to be so worried about it and in our experience the brokers/owners were happy to barter. The other expense would be, if we found a boat we liked, we would then need to go back for a second viewing, a survey and then of course there's the problem of sailing it back. Neither of us had the time to take off work and so we looked into having it transported back - from Spain we were quoted £4,500!
We were organising to fly out to visit some of these boats when Ryan found Chelsea in Cardiff!