Make a boat buy plain sailing

Cayman is surrounded by the most beautiful waters in the world and sooner or later most of us are going to want to get in it – or on it. 

There’s nothing better on a sunny Sunday than to head out on a boat with friends; with every moment at sail, another trouble seems to flee and the stress dissipates. Perhaps you’re a keen fisherman – either way, there’s much out on the azure to attract attention. 

For many people this becomes irresistible and before you know it you’re wanting to join the ranks of the boat owner. 

As you can imagine there are numerous options to choose from; luckily, Cayman is blessed with high-level professionals in the field whose knowledge of the process is as deep as the trenches outside the reef. 

One of those is Rafe Wunsch of Avalon Marine, who says that there are some key points to consider when thinking about a purchase. 

“Firstly, sit down and spend some serious time evaluating how you are going to use your boat because that is going to dictate what kind of boat you get. 

“Secondly, seek input from professionals who are neutral, and thirdly, used boats offer the opportunity to get more for your money. Buy used, but buy smart: always have a used vessel properly inspected by disinterested, qualified third party. We inspect boats all the time, but not ones we are selling.” 

Everyone’s budget is different; there are boats and configurations to suit your wants and needs dependent on what you are prepared to spend, he says. 

“At the inexpensive end, it either means small or old. People can sometimes get a lot of boat for a little money but you are buying a lot of problems and hassles. So seek competent advice. You may spend a lot of dollars down the line; a dollar spent up front on purchase is several dollars saved in unforeseen maintenance. But if you are mechanically-inclined that can be a benefit because you get a boat to use and something to tinker with. Small means you’ll have a basically open boat with limited extras and equipment and limited facilities, if any.  

“At the high end, the sky is the limit; you can get boats with cabins, bathrooms, bars, kitchens, sleeping space, multi-purpose space – it all comes into play and you can get a multitude of configurations. And mid-range is everything in between those two. The question is, what’s mid-range for you might not be mid-range for another customer,” notes Wunsch. 

Tim Bradley, Managing Director Professional Yacht Management, Ltd. has a number of criteria that he advises people to go by when looking for a boat. He suggest first of all look at who the manufacturer is, “Look for a well built boat that uses quality materials that will with stand the elements, has good design engineering, has ample access space for maintenance and has reliable on island after sale support.” 

If the boat is second hand, “Look at its service history, has the boat been regularly serviced and what is the repair history? Also check that the previous owner has maintained the boat regularly and kept it in good condition,” says Bradley. An other thing you should note is whether a boat is being used regularly or sits dock-side for long periods. “A boat that is not used regularly tends to have more problems,”observes Bradley. 

Wunsch says you need to focus in on your realistic usage of the vessel rather than a wish list. 

“I have had people come to me with a set of criteria, one of which was to be able to take the boat to Little Cayman. Suddenly that puts them in a whole different range of vessels. So I said to them, ‘Gee, you’re new to boating, you might go to Little Cayman but you might never go. What you should buy a boat for is what your regular intended use is going to be, not for the once-in-a-lifetime sort of thing.’” 

Bradley echoes this sentiment, “Impulse buyers can end up purchasing a boat that does not suit their needs or fit their lifestyle which ends up becoming a deterrent for using the boat and can lead to a negative experience. Buyers should be realistic about what options or features they will utilize regularly and how easy it is to take their boat out.” Bradley points out also that when people are considering buying a boat they should also factor in costs such as increases in fuel, annual maintenance costs, allocation for larger repairs and of course insurance. Both Bradley and Wunsch stress the importance of getting local advice and thinking about long-term maintenance and access to parts and mechanical support locally for the boat you choose, that way it is more likely to end up being a joy in your life rather than the bane of your life. 

Spend some serious time evaluating how you are going to use your boat. 

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