Old yacht or new

There are some who like nothing better to be seen on the newest yacht around.  There are others who have specifically asked not to be put on a new boat because “everything falls off when they’re new”!

Most yacht suppliers aren’t shy about telling you the build date of the yacht, with the exception of the odd Flotilla operator who may be embarrased by the age of his vessels. Many suppliers even classify their yachts by age, grouping them as Premium, Top Line, Classic, Economy, Budget and similar terms. And of course you pay more for the newer boats.

So what do you get on a newer yacht that you won’t get with an older one:

  • Fewer knocks and dings in the gel coat, and a brighter finish as the hull has had less time to fade.
  • Possibly newer sails.  A set of charter sails will usually last around 3-5 years.  But then of course you could get a six year old yacht that has just had a brand new set fitted.
  • Higher equipment levels. Equipment such as a chart plotter, autohelm, and ipod input are increasingly becoming standard on new yachts.  There is less chance of finding these on older yachts though some suppliers do update their older boats.
  • Less risk of failure – possibly.  Brand new yachts straight out of the factory can be prone to teething troubles but otherwise up to about 3 years old, they shouldn’t need too much maintenance.  Provided a boat is well maintained beyond that, it should remain reliable, but if you’ve booked with someone that cuts corners on maintenance, it will be more noticeable on an older boat.

So to put the last point another way, going for a newer yacht can be a bit of insurance against poor quality maintenance.  But if you could find a good supplier you could get a similar boat, just as serviceable but older, and therefore cheaper. It’s a quality issue.

So is it worth paying extra for a newer yacht?  It depends on your priorities and the depth of your pockets. The only yachts I’d be a little wary of (unless the budget was everything), are any that the suppliers are about to drop.  Most suppliers only keep yachts for so many years and if a boat is in it’s last season, even the most diligent supplier may not put quite the same effort in to preventative maintenance.

The problem of course is that you don’t know which yachts will be leaving the fleet.  Generally the oldest go first, but owners can withdraw their yachts at other times for a variety of reasons.  But if I had any doubts about a supplier’s maintenance regime, I would certainly avoid their oldest boats, unless budget was everything.