How to find a really inexpensive boat deal on auction on EBAY

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Yacht Auctions

It’s 2017 and the world wide web has evolved quite a bit but eBay has been around for over 30 years and it became famous precisely for auctions. Auctions are particularly suitable for boats because unlike cars boats are much harder to price and at times there is a significant difference between a boat theoretical value and the price that a cash-strained owner is ready to accept to part with his/her boat and get rid of the costs that come with owning a vessel.

I know a lot of yachting industry professionals will raise more than a few eyebrows for what we are about to write but here it is:

How to find very good deals for small and medium size boats on eBay and what should you look out for.

First and foremost decide what your actual goal is. If you are not a professional and you think you can buy low and sell high, please make sure you have experience in budgeting and refitting boats because, rest assured, even the most seasoned professionals (and I am not going to mention any major shipyard here to avoid a lawsuit) happens to go wildly out of budget during a new built or a major refit. If you are planning to buy a vessel that you can charter, we have available a Yacht Charter Business plan template you can download

Mostly you will be able to find day cruisers, cuddy cabin cruisers, sky boats and walk around boats, sports fishing boats a few RIBs and quite a few sailboats too.

On Ebay uk you will actually find very interesting boats if you are into classic lines and wooden sailboats with the occasional pearl such as this Sparkman and Stephens we just noticed 

Sparkman & Stephens for sale

In our little guide on how to find a good deal for a boat on Ebay, we would like to help if letting you know what to look at so here is a list of things you want to consider:

Before we get into to technical stuff, think about the location:

The Location

It’s a very important element because it can determine both your travel cost and time it will take to actually go and see the boat but also it can have a major impact on the cost of mooring in the water before you can actually sail the boat to your chosen home port. Furthermore, if you need to do some work before the vessel is seaworthy the current location of the vessel could have a major impact on those costs. Parts for the engine or rigging might be coming from far away and add quite a bit to your budget, as well as you might not have good enough facilities to carry out some specific works to your desired standard of quality or safety.  Budget very carefully if you are purchasing a vessel that can’t really be put on a trailer because moving a yacht on land can be a major expense and might end up costing more than the boat itself.

The Design and the Designer Name 

If you are buying very cheap you might not be able to be to fuzzy about it, however if you are buying a Sparkman & Stephens for example you can rest assured the vessel will retain a certain value among those who appreciate classic yachts or you might even get lucky and find some VIP owners in the history of the boat which might influence the buyer’s decision later on, whenever you’ll decide to sell the vessel.

The Model and the Shipyard

If you are buying a vessel from a very well known shipyard and a very common model you might be able to find forums or small group of owners that might point you in the right direction on common faults or problems that particular model has or that other owners of similar units have experienced, a bit like classic cars. The shipyard instead might have a reputation for solid boats that are good for sailing around the world – some examples; Hallberg-Rassy or Oyster.

Spirit Yacht Wood Boat

Spirit Yacht

The Construction Material/s 

Some construction materials we would just simply reccomend  to stay away from, for instance, Ferro-Cement. I am not going to bore you and explain why in this article. Some mixed constructions are tricky for example steel and aluminium are particularly complicated to join when welding so we would recommend you do your research in terms of what shipyard did it and how those stress points (joints) have put up with time and physical stress.  Let’s also bust a bit of a myth, fiberglass is a safer purchase then wood – we respectfully disagree with those who believe so. Wood is much easier to inspect without the help of a professional surveyor whereas a fibreglass hull with minor signs or initial osmosis can be much harder to detect than a rotten spot of wood. Also, if you plan to go sailing to the west coast of Africa it’s much more likely to find somebody who can repair wood and the supply of such material rather than fibreglass in general.  Carbon and Kevlar are very expensive and tricky to repair  but if you are looking at those you probably already know this. Steel is a great material but it can be subject to a lot more corrosion than you would expect in certain climates, so it’s often a good idea to call in a professional to measure the thickness in several spots of the vessel.  With aluminium you have similar issues as with steel however alluminium requires professionals that are generally harder to find to be fixed properly if need be. One trick is to consider that if you are looking at a fibreglass hull built in 1970 back in those years builders were just starting with fibreglass so your hull could be much more robust than you may think of course this ‘advantage’ would come with a bit more weight so you might need a little more HP on the engine to make up for it, compared to a modern vessel in the same size range and ‘style’.

More technical stuff vs value:

Inboard Engine

Inboard Engine on Sailing Vessel

The Engine/s

Low hours on the engine is generally a good measure of how new the engine is of course but a boat that was lived and sailed very recently maybe sold by a proper around-the-world type of sailor that has decided to stop just recently might have an engine in much better shape than the one that has not seen a sailor for 5 years and has been sitting moored at a marina with no love and care. Engines might have also been replaced recently or ‘regenerated’ if so make sure there is a good record. The engine brand is better to be a well known one or you’ll have a very hard time to find parts for it.

Now the digital side of things

For those of you that don’t know it, Ebay and Paypal have the same ownership and that is the reason why there is such a deep integration between the two. This piece of information is important to understand because both platforms actually provide a very strong buyer protection and enforce their policies quite firmly. If you are bidding on a vessel without inspecting first, read the feedback of the seller and also look into the objects he has sold, if there is another boat or other marine items it’s a good sign if he/she has a solid set of feedbacks. A lot of sellers might not have feedback to inspect so do it the old way, send a message to him/her and try to speak with the person to have an understanding of his/her knowledge of the vessel that will tell you a lot about how the vessel has been maintained and the sort of problems it has or might have.  Note that a lot of times the location of the eBay seller and that of the item (especially in the case of boats) might not be the same so if the location of the boat is not specified in the description ask your seller where the boat is located exactly so you can also budget eventual transport a visit or even a survey from a professional surveyor.

If a object has a reserve the Seller has the right not to sell it however, boats are not easy objects to sell and ship therefore, some sellers will try to settle a sale with the highest bidder even below their reserve price. If the auction does not have a reserve or allows you to make an open offer (button Make an Offer will be visible) take advantage but try not to make an offer that is too silly unless you are contacted the buyer first and your instinct tells you he/she will consider it anyway to get rid of the mooring costs that might be a financial burden monthly.

Note: It crucial to ask if there are any debt with the marina or shipyard where the boat is and if there is an agreement of sort as oftentimes some bills that have not been paid can entitle the marina or shipyard to take part ownership or full ownership of the vessel. 


Yachts On Ebay

Sort your page by Ending the Soonest

Oftentimes, boats are re-listed because the highest bidder was not serious, did not complete the transaction, or simply because the owners did not receive an offer that met their reserve price. This is usually a good opportunity because if the owners are motivated to sell than they will get realistic with their pricing and accept lower offers or even a part exchange if you have an extra car or classic motorcycle they can use/enjoy or store without much cost associated to it (compared to the vessel they own).

We wish that you can now browse Ebay with a more knowledgeable eye and find a vessel that suits your budget and taste.

If you are planning to purchase a boat for charter you might also find useful to read this article about the profitability of yacht charters.

If you would like us to find you a good vessel to buy that meets your budget and desires feel free to contact us