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How to Choose the Right Yacht

With hundreds if not thousands of styles and brands of yachts for sale, what’s a sure way to buy the one that will suit you best?

Whether you’re new to yachting or have already owned a dozen boats over the years, the challenge of choosing your next one can be one of the most exciting and sometimes perplexing that you will ever face. In this article, we offer you direction that will help you narrow your choices. The final selection, of course, will be yours.

For anyone who loves boats, or the idea of them, it’s very difficult not to browse through YachtWorld.com and have a sleek design catch your eye. It’s OK to do that, and if you’re reading this article, you’ve probably already done it. But before buying a boat, we encourage you to do some homework first.

Shore of Sydney Harbour, with moorings and private jetties.

Residential development along the shore of Sydney Harbour, with moorings and private jetties.

First, consider your location. If you’re mobile and can keep your boat some distance away from where you live, you may have more options and will need to research each of them. But don’t get carried away. If you can’t quickly reach the place you plan to moor your boat, you are unlikely to use it often enough. Make it easy to climb aboard and get out on the water on short notice.

Once you’ve selected the body of water, look around and see what style of boats are common in that area. In Scandinavia, for example, most boats can be closed up to keep the rain on the outside of cabin. In the Mediterranean, boats usually have a much more open plan, suiting the dry and warmer climate. You can choose a boat that’s different, of course, but do your research and be sure of your reasons before you choose to be a contrarian.

How big is the lake? Or is it an ocean. Geography—and your yacht’s exposure to wind and waves—is another key factor in choosing a yacht that is safe and can be used in each area’s normal conditions. Some boats are designed to power or sail safely through large waves without difficulty; others are at their best in sheltered bays and inland waters.

Aerial view of Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island, Australia

Bordered by the Great Barrier Reef and 74 tropical islands in the calm waters of the Coral Sea, the Whitsunday Islands are midway along Australia's Queensland coast.

Keep your skills in mind when choosing a location—and a type of boat for that location. If you are new to the challenges of being the captain of your own boat, you may feel differently about sailing through a narrow tide-swept passage into the rough Indian Ocean for a day on the water. With a little experience, this may be no obstacle to your enjoyment of yachting at all. In time, with some study and practice, you can overcome most challenges, but when you buy your boat, I recommend that you pick one that you can handle in most conditions wherever you hope to use it.

After settling on a location, be sure you have a clear sense of how you want to use your new yacht before you get serious about shopping. Do you want to fish, sail, cruise, or simply get from Melbourne to Sydney. Maybe wakeboarding and waterskiing are in your plans? Or entertaining friends and colleagues is most important? In all likelihood, you’ll want a yacht that can do more than one thing, but it’s worth taking the time to figure that out beforehand.

I won’t try to describe every class of boat or yacht in this article. You can go to the boats for sale advanced search page of YachtWorld.com and browse through all of them if you have time. But a more efficient way to look for your next yacht would be to decide on the activity—let’s say you know you want to fish—and then begin to look at the different types of boat that suit that activity. If you want to get a long way offshore, a sportfisherman might be the way to go. If the water’s not too rough, a center console fishing design might be better and provide some versatility for other uses. If you don’t have far to go and usually fish with a friend or two, a much smaller boat might be right. And then there’s the matter of where you moor the boat. In a marina? On a mooring? On a trailer? Each factor will influence your final decision.

Power boat or sailing yacht?

Power boat or sailing yacht?

Many people start their search for a boat by looking at prices, and there’s good logic to doing that. But you don’t have to start there. If you wait until you have decided where you’ll use your boat and what type of boat might be most suitable for you, then you can search for a boat within your price range in a much narrower field of boats. You will also have an idea of what sort of taxes, storage and other annual maintenance costs might be involved, so you can refine your budget further.

Don’t forget that you are not alone in your search. Yacht brokers and dealers are ready to help you, each with the ability to answer many of your questions. Some know more about design, others about boat engines and systems. Nobody knows all the answers, but professionals in the business of buying and selling yachts have many resources at their fingertips. And particularly for larger yachts, they can be indispensable in assisting you with the process of choosing and successfully purchasing that yacht.

What comes next is the fun part of choosing a yacht. Look for a boat that has the right blend of safety, speed, and style. Now’s the time to browse and let a yacht catch your eye so you can fall in love—and be ready to act on the impulse.