Trafalgar Sailing Blog

Can I afford to buy a yacht?

If you are asking yourself this question, probably not. But maybe if you are realistic and practical about what you buy and where you keep it, your dream could be possible.  But first you need to ask yourself some questions:

  • Are you going to live on the boat and go cruising or just have it for holidays?

If you want to see the world at your own pace and have the time and money, a yacht is a good investment. You can often stop at anchorages so don’t have to pay marina fees every night. You save on rent, and if you own your own house you can rent that out and live on the rent money your house earns while you go cruising. Maybe you are a digital Nomad and can work from anywhere.

Sailing digital nomad
  • How many days a year will you use the boat?

If you only have limited time from work and family to use the boat, the return on investment may not be worth it. Lets say for example you have 6 weeks holiday a year: 1 week you probably have weddings/funerals/family functions etc to attend, 1 week will be over the Christmas holidays when weather is not favourable unless you have the boat in the Caribbean or in the Med which leaves just 4 weeks to enjoy your yacht + weekends if you live close to a marina. This is all presuming you have a family who also want a sailing holiday every time they go away, instead of skiing or visiting relatives.

  • Would it be cheaper to charter?

Let’s say you want a 38 foot yacht and you don’t have time or manual skills/tools to fix up a boat so you want something that’s not too old, a Bavaria or similar boat you could get for around £100,000 / 120,000 euros.  Then the mooring can be anything between £4000 and £8000 a year depending on where you live. Then you have to budget for insurance say £600 a year, annual haul out and antifouling £1400 if you do the work yourself or 2 to £3000 if you pay a company to do it for you. General maintenance £2000 a year plus for sail repairs and rigging etc, life raft and life jacket servicing and flares, things that go out of date and bits and bobs generally . Then in time you will need new sails etc, the list goes on and on, but you get the picture. So let’s estimate £10,000 a year in expenses and an investment of £100,000 to buy the boat a couple of years old but still in good condition. Over time the boat will depreciate about 10% a year but then will get to an age when the depreciation slows down and then will keep her value.

Bearing all this in mind,  if you only have approx. 4 weeks spare holiday a year, you could charter a nice yacht for £2600 a week. So for about £10,000 a year you could have four 1 week sailing holidays on a charter yacht, you wouldn’t have to invest £100,000 and you don’t have all the stress and work of owning a yacht.  If something does not work you just call the charter company and it is their problem not yours. Whilst on your own boat you could find most of your holiday time fixing things. That’s if you know how to fix it yourself, otherwise you will be paying someone else to fix it and this is another additional cost.  Suddenly you find your dream turning into a nightmare. The other advantage of chartering is you can choose a different destination each time you go and explore new locations.

  • I could share the yacht with a friend?

Ok, sounds like a good idea, but I would not recommend sharing a yacht with a friend. I have seen many old friendships ruined by a shared yacht!  One common problem is one friend may not have as much experience as the other and damages the boat. He/she/they may rip a sail, for example because they didn’t  reef early enough, or ding the hull when mooring up in a marina. Sometimes it’s  a grey area when something breaks, was it the Skippers fault or was it just worn out and old? The other situation is when one friend wants to sell and the other doesn’t, or they can’t agree on the price to sell her for. Or one wants to spend more money on the yacht for upgrades and repairs and the other one doesn’t. The problems can strain even the strongest friendships.

If you really want to have your own boat, it’s been a lifelong dream and you don’t want to charter  as you want to feel like “she is yours”, then rather than sharing with a friend and risk falling out, maybe a yacht charter management contract with a company like Sunsail or Moorings would be a better option . There are various schemes but basically you buy into a yacht, you choose the weeks you want to use it, they manage it the weeks you don’t, and after about 5 years you get to keep the yacht. Just be aware that a charter yacht will be worked hard over the years, so will have more wear and tear and need some TLC.

  • I have the time and money how do I go about finding a good deal?

I can recommend Boatshed Gibraltar as a yacht agent, they have been in the boat business a long time and have many satisfied customers, including us. I would also recommend getting an independent surveyor to inspect the yacht , for peace of mind.  Also ask if the VAT has been paid.

BE CAREFUL: If buying a British flagged yacht in Europe, when you bring the yacht back to the U.K. after June 2022 you may have to pay import tax even if the VAT has been paid already,  as the U.K. is not in Europe anymore.

For more info on this read next week’s blog: Effects of Brexit and yachting.

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