Before You buy a Yacht 1

Choosing a Yacht to buy.

The choice of yachts in a yard
So Many Keel Shape And Hull Shapes

This is a big subject. I have been in the industry for almost 30 years. I have acquired lots of knowledge that I am happy to pass on to you. You will make your own decision about what yacht to buy. I hope the information helps you make the right decision. This is the first of many posts on the subject.

Having sailed in many parts of the world, I consider myself to be a very experienced sailor. I have never crossed an ocean under sail and have absolutely no wish to do so.

Before You Buy A Yacht

modern yacht keels
Modern Hull And Keel Shapes

Ask yourself this question. What sort of sailing am I going to do? You could reply, how long is a piece of string or I haven’t decided yet.

If you are at that point in an adventure to get into boating, this is an excellent place for me to make my first statement.  Let’s start with one of my golden rules.

Never buy a boat that you cannot sell easily (unless doing so is part of a master plan). See my post, “yachts that sell fast”.

For a lucky few, who do not need to count the cost of buying a yacht, they may buy a classic yacht, spending thousands, even millions restoring it. Perhaps reconstructing a classic yacht using ultra-modern techniques.  I totally understand that mindset. Sorry, this blog is not composed for you, but I can chat with you about such a project.

For the rest of us, a balance of hard-earned cash and a desire to buy the biggest yacht within a budget is likely to be a primary consideration when buying a yacht. In the following posts, I will try to explain the advantages of different yachts in simple terms. I aim to help you avoid buying the wrong Yacht.

Hull shapes

Long keel 

Fjord III German Frers
Classic Yacht Long Keel

Ask a schoolboy to draw the shape of a yacht out of the water. He will probably produce a drawing of a Classic Long Keel Yacht. They have a beautiful shape, solid and very strong but expensive to produce.

A  properly proportioned long keel yacht is a dream to sail in a straight line. She will be a wet ride as she cuts through the waves. Occasionally, in short sea, she will take a wave the length of her deck. Set the sails correctly, though, and you are very unlikely ever to feel worried about the power of the wind and sea. A long keel yacht is designed to go in a straight line for hundreds of miles, and she will do this very well. Practically a go-anywhere any time yacht. If you are considering a liveaboard, this type of yacht shape should be on your radar.

Disadvantages of a long keel

Not the best keel shape to have if you are thinking of sailing in confined waters. In light winds, you might need to back the jib to speed up a tack. This is great fun at first but becomes very tiresome as an everyday routine. If you miss the tack in confined waters and are in a rocky place or on a falling tide, then you might get into trouble. As a comparison, a modern fin keel yacht will tack effortlessly with virtually no wind provided she is moving in the water.

Long keel a lovely shape
Safe in a Long Keel Yacht

I remember my many attempts to tackle the Menai Strait in North Wales on our first proper yacht (my first boating love). She was a long keel ketch called Kuan Yin. I could easily write a book based on the pleasure she gave my family and me. We had many adventures in the Irish Sea for several years. Only our inexperience occasionally put us in danger. Kuan Yin never let us down.  I would love to know how she is now, almost twenty-five years after I sold her (I still feel the pain).

Long Keel Summary,

If you buy a long keel yacht, You will have a tricky boat to sail. A long keel hull shape will appeal to an individual who wants to live aboard or sail in all weathers. She will provide you with a strong and stable platform. Unfortunately, a long keel yacht is slow compared to a modern fin and skeg or fin and spade hull shape yacht. Certainly, a long keel yacht is not easy to sail single-handed. Perhaps not the best-suited yacht for a small marina where you might need to reverse into a berth. A long keel yacht will not go backwards in a straight line.

Fin and Rudder Skeg

Spade rudder with skeg
Spade with Skeg supporting the rudder

A superb balance between a lightweight fin and a long keel. An encapsulated fin keel combines the strength of a long keel, offering rudder protection if combined with a skeg. Generally, if a rudder skeg design includes an encapsulated fin keel, this yacht is most likely considered a globetrotter. Not quite the wet ride you get with a long keel yacht as she will not be as heavy. She will not be designed to sit on the surface; therefore is unlikely to slam when in short seas.

 

 

Disadvantages of a fin and skeg

Expensive to build and generally not as fast as a fin and spade rudder hull shape through the water.

Fin and Skeg Summary (encapsulated fin-keel).

Some of the best globetrotting yachts ever built are designed around the Fin and Skeg profile. Amel being only one of the fantastic yacht manufacturers that springs to mind when one thinks about superb sailing yachts. Quite simply, if asked, this type of yacht will circumnavigate the globe many times without stopping for a breath!

Fin Keel Yacht with Spade Rudder

Thousands of Fin and Spade Rudder Yachts came off a boat production line in the last twenty years. With no sign of slowing production, this configuration, when compared to other conventional modern yacht keelshull shapes, makes a very fast yacht. Most fin and spade rudder yachts have a bolted-on keel. A bolt-on configuration is comparatively cheap to produce, and it’s fair to say this has revolutionised yachting over the last twenty-five years.

The computer-aided design of hulls also helps to acquire a greater downwind speed. Hull shapes have further evolved in recent years, resulting in much wider cockpits. The simple yet brilliant idea of installing a twin helm has further enabled the shape of a modern yacht to change over the years. A widening of a hull stern makes a yacht much more buoyant, making an even faster boat. Conventional racing yachts generally go for a fin and spade keel set up.

Disadvantages of a bolted-on keel

Serious damage to a hull can happen if an underwater collision between a bolted-on keel and a solid object occurs. You might get away with no damage if you get caught on a gradually sloping sandbank, but if you hit a rock at some speed, you run the risk of sinking the yacht. Fin keel yachts cross the oceans without problems, but accidents have happened where objects have been struck far out to sea, causing serious problems. An underwater collision can seriously damage any yacht.