5 Tips for Buying a Motor Yacht or Sailboat

1. Find the Right Broker

The right broker will guide your every step from helping you decide size, price, brands, age, and so much more.  The experience a broker adds is undeniable.  Our brokers combined have helped thousands of buyers by boats.  We know boats, the process, and all of the details from before making a purchase to long after you are a boater.  The right broker will keep you from buying the wrong boat or from chasing the wrong deal.  Any broker can help you make a purchase yet the broker with your best interest in mind will know when to walk away from the deal.  Remember that a broker is only as good as their reputation and history.  Word travels fast and loud across the waterfront.  Asking a marina manager or dockmaster for a trustworthy broker referral may save you some time and heartache.

  • Helps you determine what will work best for you
  • Manages your expectations
  • Will keep you from buying the wrong boat
  • Manages sea trials, inspections, surveys
  • Will keep all agreements and closing documents in order
  • Secures moorage
  • Provides vendors and service providers
  • Continues as a consultant after the sale

2. Substance or Show?

Trying to sort out which brands and models best fit your needs is challenging.  Many brokers use auto brands as comparison to boat brands to simplify the search for buyers, yet those analogies fall short as boats are much more complex than a car.  If you can limit your search to one brand and model it will make your purchase easier, albeit it may take months or years as the production numbers of boats is miniscule compared to the auto industry.  The past few years many brands have focused on selling the bling.  Manufacturers are now loading their boats with smart home type features to control lighting, audio/visual components, systems monitoring, and security.  Additionally, wireless controls, joystick maneuvering systems, motion activated entry doors, and many other features are becoming commonplace.  It’s easy to get caught up in the bells and whistles yet options don’t make the boat.  They may add to your enjoyment, or possibly your frustration, based on your personal experience.  Nonetheless, focusing on the quality of boat with the appropriate propulsion for your particular use is far more important than the options.

3. Buy under Budget

Better yet, just don’t budget!  Regardless if you are purchasing a new or used boat the tendency is to spend more than the purchase price.  You may be buying a dinghy, new electronics, canvas, or teak decking.  Maybe a watermaker, stabilizing system, or satellite TV antenna are on your list of additional upgrades.  I often tell people not to count what they spend on their kids or their yacht – either could drive you nuts.  Boats eat money, so plan accordingly – but seriously if you try to track every last dollar it may send you to a therapist.

  • Plan for updates / upgrades
  • Quality servicing costs
  • Sales tax and property taxes will be due

4. Be Realistic

It sounds obvious but knowing yourself is key to making sound decisions when purchasing.  Buying a cruising yacht or an ocean passage maker with the romantic idea of sailing off to faraway islands might be premature for someone who hasn’t spent anytime cruising offshore.  There is nothing wrong with buying a boat to fulfill your eventual retirement dreams yet something faster and easier to handle may be a better choice for a purchase right now.  Looking at your boating lifestyle beyond 4 or 5 years is very difficult and that is proven by the amount of time most people hold onto a boat.  There isn’t one boat that does it all well, of any size, or any pocketbook.  If you are unsure how big of boat or how much to spend we would always recommend newer and smaller versus older and bigger.

5. Enjoy Life!

Do it now.  Time is of the essence when recreating or relaxing.  When nearing the end of their personal runway nobody has ever wished they had worked more.  Money is a tool to be used and leaving it for your kids often times rob their motivation and we all know someone where this happened.  So either give it away to charity or spend it before you can’t!

Looking to buy? Contact Us!

Let’s find the right boat to fit your needs!

    I had an excellent experience working with Jim Chamberlain to sell my boat.  Jim was patient and dedicated as he walked us through the whole process including marketing, negotiating the sales price, sea trail and survey.  I give my highest recommendation!  If I were to buy or sell another boat I would definitely work with Jim again.

    K. Frazer

    Just wanted to let you know how pleased I am with  CA Yacht Sales and Jim Chamberlain. After many years Jim listened patiently and spent many hours to find the right boat for me.  He never gave up. She is beautiful and perfect. Looking forward to this boating season and the years to come!!! Thanks

    C. Roberts

    I Just wanted to let you know how pleased I am with CA Yacht Sales Int’l and Jim Chamberlain. After many years Jim listened patiently and spent many hours to find the right boat for me. He never gave up.  She is beautiful and perfect and I am looking forward to this boating season and the years to come!!! Thanks


    Brendan and the guys at CA Yacht Sales Int’l were very attentive and spent about 2 years answering “ALL” my questions before I bought my first boat … The question and answer sessions haven’t stopped in the four years I’ve owned that boat … I’m sure he’ll be my first call when I “get serious” about the next one. Thank you,


    Given the purchase price of our boat, the distance, the time away from his family and the valuable time away from his office & team, I found this to be extraordinary.  We learned a lot of very valuable information from Tom as well along the way.

    J. Thomas

    Just wrapped up the sale of my 1978 Baba 30 working with Jim Chamberlain!  Another great experience! This is the second boat I have both bought and sold with Jim – so 4 total deals.  With the knowledge and professionalism of both Jim and Dona Jenkin’s office the process is always easy, enjoyable, and I know things were done right. I am looking forward to my next boat and working with Jim and CA Yacht Sales to find It.

    Brian Johnson


     I wanted to say thank you for the exemplary service you provided me in purchasing my beneteau 523.  With your assistance I was able to get the vessel at the right price point Through numerous negotiations. Your recommendations for surveyor, vessel documentation, and insurer were spot on. I would highly recommend you to anyone that requests Another brokerage service. Again thank you for all you’ve done


    I bought and sold my first boat with Tom. Tom sold it in less than a month and I had money in the bank that was almost my asking price. Based on my experience, I had Tom represent me on the purchase of my second boat and it was a complex international purchase. Tom is honest, professional, and beyond knowledgeable with all things boat related. I would not hesitate to use his services again.

    D. Smallwood

    Tom has provided invaluable information to me in helping me make a purchase decision. He has also assisted me for the past few years in other boat transactions with mutual friends and has always done it with the highest professionalism in customer service.


    The well-seasoned team at CA Yacht Sales is NOT just another brokerage…  I hope you too, can experience what it really means to get superior service from an industry not always known for it.  Simply put, I would never buy another boat without his assistance; it’s just not worth it!


    Whether you are spending a couple hundred, or a couple million on a boat or it is your first, second, or third boat,  you’ll want someone who truly understands what it is you are looking for. I am now putting my trust in his more than 30yrs of yacht dealing to work for the third time. Brendan Dooney of CAYacht sales is the guy I choose. Call him for his expertise and solid representation of your interests in any deal.


    C. De Went

    I have known Tom Nuxoll for over 15 years and have purchased two boats through him.   Tom is my trusted advisor on not only the best boats to consider, but has a higher level of the market knowledge regarding trends and pricing.   Tom’s loyalty  and passion for the business is evident by him sticking with me through my recent two year search and negotiating the best terms on my behalf.   I think this is rare in yacht brokerage and I could not be happier.

    J. Lapointe

    In all the business relationships we have had over the years, Ann and I wanted you to know that the experience with you and your organization has been one of the best. 

    Jim & Anna

    Just wanted to say that Jim Chamberlain was a fantastic broker, professional, extremely knowledgeable, and always prompt in returning calls and keeping us informed through the entire buying process. This was our first boat purchase, and our dream of sailing around the world is now possible.

    Steve and Lorian Sanders