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Do you like sailing at sea, on lakes, rivers, rivers or canals? The best solution to take advantage of this passion is to buy a boat. Whether it is a second-hand boat, a motor or sailing boat, a small or large boat, buying a boat cannot be improvised. It is a life project whose realization obeys stages that should not be skipped. You will first need to take some time to think about your needs and the budget you can allocate. Then, you will have to determine and refine your search criteria to consult the boat announcements. Once you have made your selection, you can visit the targeted model, try it out and then negotiate before finalizing the purchase and becoming the owner of the boat. Follow this guide which will help you make this project a reality and acquire a boat that meets your expectations.

Before buying a boat, it is essential to know approximately the size you are interested in. Photo: Prestige-yachts.Com
Define your budget

Before you even start looking for a boat model for river navigation or sea trips, you must establish the budget you have. It is not just about setting a purchase price for a new or used boat. Other costs must be taken into account. These costs will depend on the type of boat, its use, your skills in terms of maintenance. Insurance, mooring, equipment, fuel, wintering, technical control of the boat, but also extras and contingencies must be included in your budget for the purchase of a new boat or a used boat.

It is obvious that a new boat will be more expensive to buy but will require less maintenance costs. However, the cost of mooring, wintering and fuel will be the same as a second-hand motorboat.

This preparation of the budget is essential whether it is to buy a motor boat or a sailing boat, to buy a yacht from a professional or a second-hand boat from an individual.

Once you have assessed your budget and the price, you can target the model of boat that will suit you best.

Find out more: How to choose the right sailboat?
Know your selection criteria

The next question concerns the type of boat that makes you dream: is it a motor boat or a sailing boat? In both cases, before buying a boat, it is essential to know roughly the size as well as the different characteristics of the future boat.
The size of the boat

The semi-rigid boat is both practical and fast. Measuring up to six meters long, it can be navigated without a license and towed easily. It is a versatile boat that can be equipped with many options. If you buy a semi-rigid it will be suitable for fishing, water sports, coastal navigation…

An Open Bow Boat has a fairly large cockpit protected by a windshield, an awning and convertible seats for sunbathing. A day on board is particularly pleasant, but it is impossible to spend the night there. It is perfect for those who like speed, sun and comfort.

If you want more versatility and comfort, buying a center console boat will come in handy. The boat remains easy to steer and usually has a cabin with toilets, berths and storage space.

To make your choice, there is also the criterion of speed or comfort. Small sport boats with a cabin in the bow differ from family boats where accommodation is essential. For the purchase of a first boat, a boat of less than 10 meters allows you to take advantage of maneuverability, power and pleasant comfort.

A sport fishing boat, of the walkaround or fishing-ride type, allows the practice of water sports and navigation over several days.

It should be remembered that the larger the boat, the more difficult it will be to maneuver.

If you love sailing, buying a small boat makes coastal navigation easier. Between five and eight meters, it allows you to discover coves, coastlines, lakes… If coastal navigation for long periods of time appeals to you, opt for a six to ten meter sailboat instead. From eleven meters in length, all comfort and navigation options are permitted.

Also think about the capacity, the security aspect and the travel time. A boat that is too big will consume more, be more expensive to moor and maintain.

Sailing comfort is more important and the boat is more stable than a monohull, but it does not allow you to go upwind as easily. Photo:
The different characteristics of a boat

When buying a boat, one should not neglect the choice of material for the hull. The majority of boats have a steel or polyester (plastic) hull.
If the weight and strength are practically the same, it is easier to customize and repair a steel hull. Steel fears rust, but plastic is subject to micro-cracks and osmosis. If you want to sail at sea, plastic remains more suitable. If you want an “ecological” boat, know that steel is recyclable while polyester is not.

Another essential question if you opt for a sailboat: should you choose a keelboat or a dinghy? The keel allows the boat to “surf” on the water. If it is not weighted, it is a centreboard. The latter allows greater versatility because it can be raised out of the water to have a flat hull and land on the sand. The performance of a centerboarder is generally worse than that of a fixed or lifting keelboat. The choice of a weighted dinghy can be a good compromise between the keelboat and the integral dinghy.

You can choose between a catamaran, a trimaran or a monohull. The monohull allows you to sail far and go upwind better. It is a boat that goes everywhere and takes up less space when mooring.

The catamaran is ideal if you are looking for a large living space, especially if the boat is over 12 meters. Sailing comfort is more important and the boat is more stable than a monohull, but it does not allow you to go upwind as easily. The cost of maintenance and the lack of places in marinas for this type of boat must be taken into consideration.

The trimaran is ideal for speed but its living space remains limited. Security is optimal but space is needed to moor it.
Launch your boat purchase search

Now that you have identified your needs and the type of boat you are looking for, you must consult the specialized portals. They will allow you to access many ads of boats for sale, whether new boats or second-hand boats, speedboats or even habitable motor boats. Many sites include ads from professionals and individuals, such as Annonces du Bateau, which is among the most popular. The advertisements are generally very complete which allows you to check if the characteristics you are looking for are present. Examine the photos carefully but do not limit yourself to the aesthetic aspect. It is now necessary to establish a list of boats that meet your criteria. But do not hesitate to let yourself be tempted by a model that does not have all the expected characteristics. The price can be attractive enough to customize your future boat.

There are other websites where you can find a wide range of boats for sale in the main European markets. YachtWord, CosasDeBarcos in Spain, Boats And Outboards in England, Botentekoop in Holland and Boot24 in Germany.

Things to check before buying a boat

A boat in particular caught your attention? This is to make the last essential checks. After a telephone contact, it is essential to go and see the boat. It is strongly advised to consult the service or maintenance logbook of the boat. This allows you to verify that the boat has been properly maintained and to see what repairs have been made. This notebook must contain all the identification elements of the boat, specify the dates of the interventions, the name of the companies having carried out the work, the references of the elements replaced…

If you are planning to buy a motor boat, this element is essential. The boat engine will condition a large part of your pleasure on board. It must have been maintained on a very regular basis and must not show any malfunction. If you are not sure enough of your knowledge, it is strongly advised to have the engine checked by a qualified technician. As with a car engine, you will need to check for leaks, check the levels when cold, the condition of the hoses, belts, etc.

The electrical equipment must be free of whitish deposits, the lights must all operate normally…

The plumbing circuits are to be checked whether they are fresh water, sea water or draining circuits. The water groups or pumps must be started.

If possible, the hull should be inspected with a boat hauled out. You can ask for the dry, but it is a maneuver that can be expensive. It is always possible to take this into account when negotiating the sale price. The entire surface of the hull must be checked, but also the equipment of the hull, the propellers, or the water intakes. Any traces of rust or cracks must be reported.
The interior and electronic equipment are essential for comfort and safety. Cabin and cockpit must be inspected. All equipment must work.

A sea trial of the boat is important. It is recommended to carry out a test with the engine cold (check for noise, smoke, vibrations, etc.) then to carry out the same checks when the engine is warm. Check for any leaks after you return.

Also, don’t forget everything concerning the sealing of the portholes, the fixings of the hinges, the signs of corrosion…

Also check the presence of the mandatory safety equipment depending on the size of the boat and the navigation space.

It is important to remain objective and to proceed methodically. Write down everything you think needs to be reviewed or improved in order to adjust your budget or negotiate the price.

Don’t forget to insure your boat and all you have to do is get on board. Photo:
The documents to be provided before and after the purchase of the boat

You made your choice and the negotiations were successful. We must move on to the final “administrative” phase. From the moment the deed of sale is signed, you have one month to complete the various administrative formalities.

In all cases, the seller must provide you with:

 A registration document;
 A certificate of airworthiness;
 A certificate of conformity;
 A navigation authorization;
 A certificate of aptitude for the installation of radio equipment;
 Invoices for equipment, modifications, etc.;
 A copy of his identity card;
 The trailer circulation permit if necessary.

It is recommended to make a complete list of the condition of the boat and equipment and attach it to the contract.

In France, the owner of a boat must pay the annual francization and navigation fee (DAFN). This francization and registration tax concerns boats of more than seven meters whatever their power as well as boats of less than seven meters with an engine of more than 22 HP.

If you buy a second-hand boat in France, it is up to the seller to send the complete file to the customs office in the home port. You also need:

 Photocopy of your identity document;
 The pleasure sheet that you will have completed;
 The original and the copy of the purchase invoice of the boat;
 The act of francization of the pleasure boat and the title of navigation.

The original of the sales contract must be stamped and you must present a copy to the harbor master’s office which will manage the change of owner.

Don’t forget to insure your boat. All you have to do is get on board…

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