If you’re looking to enter the world of hobby sailing, chances are you’ve been daydreaming of sailing around the Whitsundays and island hopping in Thailand. Before you get to getaway, however, there’s a lot that needs to be considered when looking to foray into the world of modern sailing.
Here’s all you’ll need to know before you start earning your captain’s stripes.
1. Brand new or second hand?
The first question that you’ll be met with is whether you should buy brand new or second hand. If you already prescribe to boating magazines and news, some of the new models like the Iliad 50 power catamaran may be screaming out to you, and that’s perfectly fine! The Iliad range is rapidly becoming a favourite amongst hobby sailors at all levels, but the best models on the market are also deserving of expert captains and skippers. Yes, there is generally less of a learning curve with catamarans over traditional sailboats, but buying second hand may be the better option for you if you’re looking to learn the ropes first.
2. Financing your vessel
Regardless of whether or not you’re buying second hand, your purchase will still most likely need to be financed, so you should absolutely speak to a trusted loan officer or agency before putting an initial down payment on any vessel. Financing a catamaran or similar modern vessels can often be a question of choosing between taking out a loan or signing up for a lease deal. In some cases, the lease may be a better fit, though it’s best not to make any assumptions and seek out a professional opinion.
3. Navigating boat inspections
If you are looking to buy second hand, you’re likely to be attending some boat inspections every now and then. It’s vital that you develop a solid understanding of exactly what to look for during these inspections, ranging from the vessel’s engine hours to checking for rust and any other potential exterior or interior faults. Be sure to follow this handy boat inspection checklist to ensure you’re covering all your bases, and consult a marine surveyor if you have doubts about any vessel you’ve inspected prior to purchasing.
4. Keeping servicing and other maintenance records
Upon purchasing your first boat, you’ll be bequeathed with a stack of paper documents that outline that vessel’s history. You should absolutely receive service and other maintenance records that span all the boat’s previous owners so that all its past uses and potential damages have been accounted for. If you notice any gaps at all in the documentation that you’ve received, be sure to consult the previous owners and your lawyer to ensure that you aren’t liable for any damage to the vessel that may occur due to this gap in the vessel’s servicing and maintenance records.
Be sure to make your own copies of these records and keep them in a dedicated and orderly fashion. Once the vessel becomes your property, you have a responsibility as the owner to ensure that services and other regular safety checks are organised when needed.
5. Attaining insurance
Boat insurance works more or less the same way that car insurance does, just with a greater focus on environmental factors. Even so, if you damage your boat or somebody is injured on your boat, you’ll have to file a claim with your insurer, and if you’re covered, your insurance agency will cover all of the relevant damages surrounding that claim. Be sure to compare all of the insurance policies that are available to you to make absolutely certain you’re getting the best plan for yourself and your vessel.
6. Boat storage and other ownerships costs
Of course, one of the most pressing concerns you’ll face upon immediately buying your boat is organising storage for your new vessel. You may already have a marina in mind, but it’s worthwhile comparing costs to ensure you’re getting the best deal at the best location. You will also need to consider all the upfront costs that come with initially buying your boat like transfer of ownership fees as well as your registration fees.
7. Licensing and adhering to regulations
The last piece of the puzzle before you really get to go out on the open ocean is simply to attain your boating licence and take the necessary steps to ensure that your boat always follows safety regulations as enforced by your state’s department of maritime or transport safety. If you’re in Victoria, Australia for instance, the Recreational Boating Safety Handbook should become your new bible. Study it thoroughly.
Yes, owning a boat is a great responsibility, but the liberation of being out on the water in your very own vessel cannot be matched by a lot else in this world. Enjoy the journey you’re on, and prepare for what lies ahead!