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Insights On Buying A Catamaran Out Of A Charter Fleet

Charter Boat OwnershipWe interviewed Michel Benarosh from Sailonline.com and asked him to give us his insights on purchasing a catamaran out of a charter fleet.

Questions And Answers

Q: What is the first thing a prospective buyer should look for when buying a catamaran out of a charter fleet?

A: First look for a boat just phased out of a fleet by either:

  • a large charter company (Dream Yacht and Moorings do excellent phase-outs)
  • OR by a smaller reputable charter company (I like CYOA, BVI Yacht Charters).

Next, make sure the boat has no accident history. ESPECIALLY if the accident has triggered an insurance claim, not that such boats would necessarily be poorly repaired. But more simply, there are enough boats on the market, so buyers should eliminate the doubtful ones. Look preferably for boats that are sold by their owners, not by the charter companies. The latter are usually boats that have been taken in trade against a new boat; therefore, they have not necessarily been through the end of charter program yacht phase-out process. The charter company might have taken the boat in trade and simply put her up for sale with no inspections or repairs.

Q: While charter catamarans are typically used more on average than a privately owned vessel, do you find they are still well maintained?

A: Yes, I do, and more now than in the past. The industry has changed in the sense that mostly every company gives boats reasonably good maintenance. A boat that is not well-maintained costs the charter company a lot of money every time a charterer has a problem. So they try to do regular ongoing maintenance.

Q: What is the average time spent in charter for a catamaran before it is sold?

A: The vast majority spends 5 years in charter – from new. However, it is relatively common to find boats that come out of their fleet early simply because the owner faces some life circumstances that force an early sale.

Q: Are the maintenance records of a charter catamaran available to a prospective buyer?

A: If the boat was in a guaranteed income program where the owner does not get billed for the maintenance, records are usually not available. If they are, the records are often incomplete or inaccurate. If the boat was in a program where the owner was billed for maintenance, then the records are ofen available. But this assumes the owner was organized and kept the records well sorted out.

Q: What do you find to be the most popular makes/models of boats that are sold out of a charter fleet?

A: Leopard/Robertson and Caine from Moorings and Sunsail are the most popular because there are so many of them manufactured and available. They are very good value on the second hand market, because the market gets flooded with all the phased-out Moorings and Sunsail inventory every year. Lagoons are very sought after, but there are few of them available so they hold their value fairly well. Voyage catamarans are also popular and again, not very many available.

Q: What do you find to be the major areas in need of repair on an ex-charter catamaran?

A: Cosmetics, small and large. You may have to replace cushion covers, do varnishing, replace bathroom fittings, etc. depending on your taste for a fresh look and the need to prevent future problems. Engines are sometimes an issue, but not as much as one would think. In effect, even after 5 years of charter work, the engines still have a reasonable life expectancy. And the engines on charter boats are specifically selected for their reliability and longevity (like Yanmar). Besides, as you may know, in the past, while on charter, engines were driving the boats AND were run at least 2 hours a day at anchor to charge the refrigeration systems and the batteries. Much less now, however. Nowadays, most new charter cats over 40ft are equipped with a generator and solar panels, which considerably alleviates the engine's workload. In the phase-out process a lot of issues are usually sorted out except for fair wear and tear.

Q: How has the market for catamaran bought out of charter been recently? Are more than before being sold or fewer or does it seem about average?

A: I would say it is about average now. The market for pre-owned boats are greatly affected by the price of new boats. Right now the Euro is very weak which means that new boats are very affordable.

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