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From Life in a Caravan to Life on a Boat – Part 3

By Yifat Shamir from Sailing Trio
Published March 10, 2022|Last updated July 20, 2022

So we sold our caravan and flew to Greece to buy ourselves a yacht.

In terms of preparing for the flight, we researched the different broker websites: Yachtworld, Appoloduck, and more. These websites give information about thousands of second-hand yachts currently on the market worldwide. We found a few potential options which looked nice and seemed to fit the standards we had in mind, most of which were in Greece. There was one specific model we really liked - the Beneteau cc 36, which appeared to have a simple design (and as I said before, we like it simple). She was a little over our designated budget, but we decided that if she was in good shape, it’s worth it. By the way, if you were wondering, the budget was $40K. That’s all the money we had from selling our caravan, and then some we managed to save on the side.

We found two yachts that fit our budget around Preveza, and contacted one of the brokers, who to our surprise was very kind, answered many of our questions over the phone, and arranged a meeting with him to see the first Beneteau. We also looked at a Moody 34 feet and a Westerly 35 feet. We landed in Athens, rented a car (which FYI cost us only $80 for ten days, which for Greece in April is absurd! The things Covid did to the world..) and we headed towards Preveza.

Totally thrilled, we made it there in the middle of the night to a tiny apartment we rented in the center of the city, and the very next morning we went to see our first yacht. This was the Beneteau which we were most looking forward to see so the excitement was intense. We got there and met with our broker, Matt (works for the CREO broker company), and he took us to see the yacht. When we arrived we were shocked. She looked tiny! I’ll explain: In the case of aft-cockpit yachts, which are the majority on the market today, the shared space is rather big since they’re used mostly as charter boats, and since these were the ones we were used to seeing, this one suddenly looked small and strange. Not what we were expecting in terms of size. Still, a major upgrade from our tiny caravan we used to call “home”.

Tomer, the pro (slash nerd, but don’t tell him I said that), made a checklist of all the things we need to check when looking at a yacht, questions we need to ask (whether it was private ownership/charter, if the taxes had been paid, were there any accidents, etc.). We looked around for about 30 minutes ( maybe it was an hour), asked many questions and were treated very kindly with a great deal of patience (which is important since it is rather unusual in the world of brokers). Thrilled and excited, we came back to our studio apartment to let things sink for a minute.  We had a bunch of questions, and a general feeling of uncertainty. After all, we have almost no experience, even after seeing many yachts in Israel, and learning a lot about the subject, we still didn’t feel like we knew enough to say this yacht was the one for us.  The next day we also saw the other yachts, which were all outside the water, in an enormous shipyard with thousands of yachts of all kinds, models and sizes.

That day we saw three more yachts: We started off with the Westerly, which nearly suffocated me to death from the amount of mold she had inside. It was insane - mold everywhere! On the sofas and on the deck, absolutely disgusting. However, except for the atrocious smell, she had some potential. For general knowledge, this is one of the finest and oldest boats on the market. Obviously we passed, and moved onto the next one. Then came the Moody. She was cute, quite small but very nicely organized. She had even been renovated recently.

Then came the Moody. She was cute, quite small but very nicely organized. She had even been renovated recently. However, there were two major issues.

However, there were two major issues - one being the fact we couldn’t stand up straight in the kitchen (even though we’re small), and the second being that she seemed just tired. She was dated year ‘84 and her engine didn’t look in such good shape. We moved onto the second Beneteau on the list. She was beautiful. We had some comparisons to make, including the first Beneteau we saw the day before (they were even from the same year). She was very well preserved and clean, and everything looked almost new, as if untouched. You could say this was love at first sight.

We even got lucky since my tester just so happened to be with his yacht at the same time in the same shipyard (what are the odds??) so he came over to take a look as well and gave us his professional opinion. This really gave us the final seal of approval we needed.

In fact, it was at that moment we made up our minds, and all that was left was to ensure some technical details. There was a whole list of things to check, and we really didn’t understand most of them. Basically, we set up a mini command center in our little room and started digging. The details included:

  • VAT:  Has the VAT on the yacht been paid (which was even more complicated since it just so happened that our yacht was from England, which was in the midst of the Brexit).
  • Insurance:  Can a yacht like this have insurance (since the shrouds on her were original, and many insurance companies refuse to cover ships if the shrouds hadn’t been replaced in the last ten years).
  • Appraiser: This is the point where I spill the truth about these brokers. Unlike the first one we met, these were more like what we pictured when it comes to a broker. They were almost unreachable, and even when we finally got to them, they barely had time for us. When we asked to check out the yacht by ourselves, they gave us an hour and said that a more thorough check needs to be done by an Appraiser. We started searching for one to check our boat, but of course at the time it was a holiday and no one was available until the following month.
  • Contract: Once we settled on a price (40K GBP) we got a 7 page contract in British (no, not English, British) and suffered our way through reading and understanding every chapter and every section to make sure we weren’t missing a thing.

After all possible inquiries, we signed the contract, transferred the down payment (10% of the total value), and bought ourselves enough time to find an Appraiser we trust so we could get his opinion. Jolly and excited we came back to Israel to gather some more money and start packing.

When we were in Israel, the Appraiser did his checks. He convinced us to add some money and take the yacht for a test sail in the water. All in all, this treat costed us 1,000 Euros. We got a detailed report of all the faults and issues he found on our yacht. We were hoping these would help us lower the price by a bit, but the guy wouldn’t take down a single pound. We were a bit bummed, but still happy we got the opinion of a professional and an official approval that our boat wouldn’t sink the second we put her in the water (or so we thought…) We closed the deal from Israel, transferred the rest of the money, and bought ourselves a one-way ticket to Greece. 

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