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Owner's advice: Top tips for buying your first yacht

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Consider all your options

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Buying your first yacht isn’t something anyone should enter into lightly. Without knowledge or experience it is easy to find yourself led astray by the inspiring yacht concepts of boundary-pushing designers or talked into building a super-fast yacht with technical capabilities you’ll never use.

With this in mind, we’ve spoken to a number of experienced serial yacht owners who know a thing or two about the buying and building process. Here are their top top tips on what to look out for, what to avoid and how to make sure you get the yacht you really want.

Consider all your options

When Steve Sidwell, owner of 34 metre Ascente, began looking for his perfect yacht he had his dream vessel in mind - but couldn't find her anywhere. “I went to the Monaco Yacht Show and I came to the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show maybe three years in a row. I looked at all the different boats and none of them fit,” he says. “It’s a million-dollar-a-year operating budget. I don’t want to spend that. It means one or two engineers on board as well and I don’t want that. A big crew, I don’t want that. I want my kids and me to be able to operate the boat."

Having done the rounds of all the turnkey yachts on the market it was time to consider a different route to life on the waves. “I wasn’t intent on doing a refit, but I never really found anything that was a good fit for me in my price range, and then I found this boat and within 20 minutes I thought, ‘That’s it.’” A lot of, admittedly, hard work and determination later, Sidwell now has the family-friendly yacht he'd always wanted and the memories of round-the-world adventures to go with it.

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Aesthetics aren't everything

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When a fire on their yacht Camarina Royale put Jack and Mary McClurg in the market for a new superyacht there were some big aesthetic obstacles Mary had to get past when Jack suggested Marcato. “We’d been running around looking at boats all day and our broker said we could get on Copasetic (now Marcato) that afternoon, but Mary refused to go,” Jack explains. And, while he immediately fell in love, Mary couldn't stand her but, as she explains, “I knew he loved it. If the price was right, then so be it. I couldn’t be the reason he didn’t have it.”

Of course, an extensive refit followed with Mary taking tight control of all decisions, opening up the upper saloon into a lounge with beautiful views and an expansive aft deck. “We visited just about every stone yard in Florida,” she jokes before conceding that, just like Jack, she now loves Marcato proving that in boats, as with life, looks aren't everything.

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Don't be afraid of impulse buys

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For Elizabeth and Rory Brooks, owners of classic FeadshipHeavenly Daze, it was an impulse buy that led to their first yacht purchase. “We were in the South of France chartering a motor yacht, and it broke down,” says Elizabeth. “And so we were stuck in the marina at Port Cogolin. There was this boat moored next to us, which was a very pretty classic yacht, and my husband persuaded the captain to talk to their captain and we had a look around.” That yacht, of course, was Heavenly Daze and, as Elizabeth explains, "The first thing you fall in love with is very often the right thing.”

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