5 Tips for Selling a Motor Yacht or Sailboat

1. We Buy with Our Eyes!

While it may sound obvious it is important to make your boat look as good as possible.  You already know that we only get one chance at a first impression so you should d everything reasonable to have it “standing tall” before you go to market.

  • Remove personal effects, extra boating gear and spare parts unless you can organize and stow properly below deck with tidy and labeled boxes
  • Declutter closets, hanging lockers, drawers.  Storage looks bigger when it is not filled
  • Empty the lazarette, engine room, under seat stowage areas

After removing all the gear and personal items, the next step is proper detailing.  If you want to get top dollar bring the exterior gelcoat and painted surfaces up to par.  For some this may already look appropriate.  For most it will at minimum require a polish and other a 2,3, or 4-step process.  Like most things in life, you will get what you pay for.  Ask your broker and your neighbors for recommendations and when in doubt, pay more!  Often times when detailing people get too hung up on what they are paying instead of what the are getting.  More people wash their boats more than they service it so if a boat doesn’t look great you can assume it doesn’t run great either.  Spend more and get more.

  • Detail, detail and detail. Hire the best detailers for thorough deep-cleaning
  • Polish all brightwork, remove all window spots or streaking(wax if needed)
  • Clean or replace shore cords, dock lines, fenders
  • Eliminate any odors / source
  • Descale engine room and clean bilges
  • Shampoo carpets, oil cabinets

2. Service and Repair

Good quality service centers or technicians are hard to find.  Asking your broker or neighbors is imperative to get the right company for the job.  This is a referral based industry and finding people that do the proper work and stand behind the job is critical.  It will also save you a lot of frustration if the job gets done right the first time.  While having every last item working is not imperative to selling your boat it sure helps!  The problems will be found out during inspections anyway so taking care of the issues in advance just speeds up the closing process.

  • Engine(s) must operate at proper RPM and temperature, hoses, belts, zincs, active leaks
  • Gauges and electronics must all operate properly
  • All safety related items must be addressed such as thru-hull sea cocks and fire extinguishing equipment, bilge pumps, navigation lights

An oil service may be considered inappropriate.  If you are due for an oil change and are going to continue using the boat then by all means service it.  Fresh oil doesn’t allow for an oil analysis though

and may disrupt a sale if a buyer or broker considers that an issue is being hidden.  Additionally, a seller should be cautious about painting in the engine room.   Properly done rust abatement is just maintenance but if painting is done prior to sale it could be masking a problem or leaks.

Sometimes it isn’t practical to repair or replace or remove broken equipment prior to sale.  If that is the case you should disclose up front with your broker, or any potential buyers, at least before you agree on a selling price.

3. Location, Location, Location!

We’ve all heard that location is the single most important thing to look for when purchasing a home.  Have you thought that it may be an important element when selling a boat?

Today all prominent dealerships and brokerages have offices in the same complex / marina much like the auto malls where buyers have the advantage of being able to shop a number of options within close proximity.  It makes sense to make it as easy for a buyer.  For a seller your boat will get much more attention if it is on a known “sales dock” rather than just sitting in a slip like everyone else’s boat.  Additionally, your boat will more get shown more often if it is on a sales dock as the brokers of the marina typically work together.

Having your boat represented at a boat show should also be a consideration.  Any boat show can produce a buyer that may not have been considering a boat such as yours but simply got aboard because of the ease of seeing it.  They may not have called or walked in to a broker’s office to see your boat yet getting aboard was all it took to fall in love!

4. Experience Counts

Of course, great photography, detailed listings, good web presence, and professional videos are all important and can’t be over looked.  They are all expected in marketing and will be done to some degree by all brokers.

Most brokers will keep a working database of owners and prospective buyers to introduce your boat to as well.   And since this a referral dependent business the best asset your broker can have is experience.  Top broker’s clients appreciate them and are the brokers best source of business.  Having a broker who is familiar with the overall market, your specific boat, and your boats’ competition is crucial.  Likewise, the relationship your broker has with other brokers is imperative.  Having a solid broker, who has done hundreds, if not thousands of deals, will make your sale go smoother.  A broker who has worked with hundreds, if not thousands of other brokers will help your boat sell faster.  Do you want one broker working for your boat sale or an army?

5. Price it Right

Is it smarter to justify a higher than average asking price or make excuses for a tired boat?  I’m not suggesting over-pricing your boat, yet I would reason that the vast majority of buyers would rather pay much more for a nice boat than a boat in need of servicing and detailing.  Trying to bring a boat back to its former glory is time consuming and expensive.  Providing that your boat is “standing tall” you can justify put a proud price on it.  If it isn’t as nice as the competition it will cost much more than the money it will take to “bring it around”.  Nice boats bring market appropriate numbers and rougher boats are hard to sell and the sale number will reflect that.

Need to sell? Contact Us!

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    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

    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

    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!


    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,


    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

    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.


    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


    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

    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

    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


     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

    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

    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