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Boat Buying

1: Initial decisions

Before buying a boat it’s important to develop a clear idea as to the kind of sailing you want to do. Do you want friendly racing at a small family-oriented club? Is mixing with the hot shots on the open meeting circuit more your thing? Or do you simply want to potter with only an occasional perhaps informal race thrown in?

Who you will be sailing with is also an important factor — crew weight is a crucial element, for instance, in the choice of most dinghy and keelboat classes. Once you can answer these questions, it’s possible to assess the key features you need from a boat.

Trying out as many different boats as possible before making a purchase will be valuable experience and help give a clear idea of what will suit you best. With this experience under your belt, you’ll then be able to choose your first boat from a knowledgeable position.

Many clubs and boat builders have open days and class associations can provide opportunities to get afloat in their boats. You may even decide that buying a boat is not yet the right move for you, especially if you’re relatively new to sailing — there are many ways in which to enjoy sailing and racing at all levels without splashing out on buying your own vessel.

Dinghy and keelboat sailors will probably have a good idea of where they will keep their new craft even before searching for the boat. A key reason for this is that the choice of vessel is driven by the selection of classes sailed at your local club. Alternatively, the club maybe chosen because that’s where the class you want to sail is raced. Either way, all that you need to do is check that there’s space in the dinghy park and that there’s no waiting list for membership if you’re joining a club as a new member.

It’s becoming increasingly hard to find a spot to keep a yacht of any appreciable size, especially in the more popular parts of the UK, unless you have very deep pockets. Locating a mooring — or dry sailing facility — should therefore be a priority before you commit to buying your boat.

Some lucky boat buyers have the decision of what type of boat to buy narrowed down to a short list by factors such as the classes sailed at their local club, or by the wish to engage in onedesign racing. If this is the case, prospective owners are likely to have sailed their desired class before buying and will be familiar with many of its virtues and pitfalls.

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Most boat owners underestimate the total costs involved, some by a considerable margin

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