Buy quality from a good maker but don’t go large – and don’t overthink it... Eddie Jordan offers up sage advice on buying the perfect superyacht...
It’s boat show season and that means it’s also boat-buying season. I’ve learned a thing or two in my years of buying boats so I thought it might be helpful to pass on some of my hard-earned wisdom.
The golden piece of advice I offer all people is this: for heaven’s sake, don’t think about it too much, just go out and buy it. But be sure that you’re buying something you can someday sell – so a high-quality boat from a company with a good reputation that’s still going to be around in 10 years’ time, and that will take care of you long after you’ve made the purchase. I remember Sunseeker flying spare parts out to me in the middle of nowhere on tiny turboprop planes. That’s how good these companies need to be.
The boat also needs to be correctly specced, and it helps if it’s been designed by someone with real pedigree. I was on the 43 metre Feadship Eclipse at the Classic Grand Prix in Monaco last year, the interior of which was designed by Terry Disdale, and you would never have known it was 25 years old. When I was growing up and we had no money, my mum would say to me, “It’s better to have one nice piece of clothing that will look good in 10 years than 20 pieces of crap.” I think the same applies to boats.
In most of my superyacht transactions I’ve had Alex Lees-Buckley by my side. He’s not just my broker, he’s a friend. He sold my old Sunseeker The Snapper (now Al Faisal), my Oyster Lush and the bigger Sunseeker Blush (now Arados). He also helped me buy the Perini. People are often critical of brokers – they think they’re just there for the commission, but when you’ve got a really outstanding broker they can take so much of the stress and hassle out of buying or selling a boat. They know the game, how to negotiate, they have all the information to hand and know the history of the boat. So here’s a big tip: find a good broker.
For first-time buyers, there are two things I would say: don’t buy bigger than you need and don’t be too desperate to charter the boat. If you’re buying a superyacht for the first time, make sure you’re buying it for pleasure, for your family and guests. Don’t be in a rush to buy a massive boat that you can charter for 10 weeks of the year. When you’re running a commercial vessel you enter a world of regulations that can potentially suck all the fun out of it. The crew, the paperwork, the safety regulations, all of it can be a drag. Of course, after a few seasons you might decide to offset some running costs and that’s fine, you can then think about chartering – but not before you’ve experienced the pure enjoyment of having a boat all to yourself.
When buying, I don’t like long, protracted negotiations. I’ll say, “Look, I’m not going to mess you about. This is the figure I’ve got and if it’s of any interest to you, come back to me.” I allow myself a little wiggle room but I’m very disciplined and will walk away if I can’t get what I want at the price I want it. When it comes to selling, I’ve always been lucky. Most brokers will tell you it takes at least 18 months to sell a boat, but I’ve almost always sold a boat before I’ve even really wanted to sell it. It’s been the same throughout my life. I sold one of my very first Sunseekers to Ralf Schumacher, who was driving for me at the time. And I sold the biggest Sunseeker ever – Blush – to a guy who was chartering her, who decided one day that he wanted to buy her.
I must say that my luck with boats has never translated to planes. l’ve taken a few baths on private jets, but I can’t complain too much. Not many people have been as lucky as I have.
Eddie Jordan’s fee for this column has been donated to charity.