There is nothing quite like becoming the owner of a superyacht for achieving the ultimate in adventure, comfort, privacy and style. But purchasing a superyacht can be complex, as everything from purchase, ownership and operation present a myriad of rights and responsibilities to be considered. Along with detailing the appropriate design and equipment features of your ideal superyacht, there are also strict payment and registration rules which must be adhered to as well as important after-purchase considerations. For those thinking of joining the elite fleet of superyacht owners, allow this guide to help direct your path to securing your dream.
Owning a superyacht affords you perfect freedom to create the vessel of your dreams. There are literally thousands of different makes and models of superyacht on the market already, and your creation is only limited by imagination. You may have a ship builder you are interested in or perhaps you have your heart set on a few must-have features. Whether you prefer to build a complete custom design, choose a model from a semi-custom range or purchase an existing superyacht, you are guaranteed to enjoy yourself in incomparable luxury and style. The Superyacht.com yacht directory includes all yachts currently for sale, as well as those available semi-custom designs, and details of all ship builders to make researching and selecting your ideal superyacht an easier task. See the pages on Yacht Selection for more detailed information.
Choosing a Broker
Once you have identified the existing superyacht or the ship builder you would like to employ, the next step is contacting the suitable broker or company. Highly knowledgeable on both superyachts and the current market, they are a useful source of information. Each existing superyacht on the market will be under the direction of one or more brokers whose job it is to manage the sale. From the pages of Superyachts.com, the details of the appropriate broker of any superyacht you are interested in are readily available. Once contacted, these brokers can assist you in proceeding to the next level. If you prefer a new or semi-custom yacht, the contact details of those ship builders and designers whose concepts or previous designs you admire are also listed on the site.
Financing a superyacht
If required, several banks will finance the purchase of either new or existing superyachts. Terms vary, although usually a proportion of the loan and interest repayments can be delayed until the end of the loan term when it can be paid by refinancing or by using sale proceeds. If choosing this method of financing, lenders may also want a say in which country the superyacht is kept and registered and may also require direct payment of charter monies to the bank itself.
Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)
If you choose to buy an existing superyacht, typically a detailed agreement known as a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) is drawn up and signed by both parties after your selection is made and finalised. You should ensure the MOA describes the parties’ rights and duties when issues are raised, including rights to cancel all together. The MOA should also list all the equipment to be included in the sale, from navigation and safety equipment to all interior items, and cover other matters such as the documentation needed to enable a smooth transfer of legal title. Importantly, the MOA must state the superyacht will be transferred completely debt-free.
It is also recommended prospective buyers have any superyacht surveyed before making a purchase. This includes having the vessel checked out of the water by a qualified and insured surveyor. If satisfactory, a sea trial is also recommended.
The Build Contract
When arranging to have a superyacht custom or semi-custom built, the way in which the purchase is made varies from already completed superyachts. The key document here is the build contract, and shipyards usually hold a standard set of contractual terms they will offer you, although amendments can typically be made to incorporate personal requirements. In this instance, it’s not just the total cost of the project which must be agreed, but also the instalments in which it may be paid, as well as factoring in fluctuations in materials costs and exchange-rates. The contract will generally reflect the strict range of regulations that ship builders face in acute detail, outlining the superyacht’s specifications and including where the superyacht will be used, if it will be used for charter, and the flag which it will fly. A guarantee of materials and workmanship for a given warranty period should also be outlined.
If purchasing an existing yacht, 10% of the purchase price is typically paid up front while the balance is usually paid once the superyacht and all documentation has formally changed hands. In terms of custom and semi-custom superyachts, an overall amount for yacht construction will have been agreed upon in contract, and the most beneficial option is often to agree for payments to be made following the completion of individual stages to accommodate for delays in material delivery or unexpected interruptions.
Before this crucial and exciting step can take place, it is important that all legal documents relating to title are presented prior to the final payment being made. If this step is not completed, the superyacht cannot be registered and therefore can not legally sail. The tax implications relating to the place of delivery must also be agreed upon. This is also the time when the superyacht will be officially tested at sea by an expert representative you appoint to ensure its performance matches its specification.
It is a legal obligation that all superyachts be registered with one particular country and wear the appropriate maritime flag, known as an ensign. Typically, most superyachts tend to fly the red ensign as it indicates high safety standards, which adds to a superyacht’s prestige and resale value. The red ensign is a mark of those vessels registered in the UK or one of a few Commonwealth countries including Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man.
As in any major purchase, insuring against accidents is vital when purchasing your own superyacht. It is important to ensure you have the appropriate insurance to spread risk and bring certainty, which can be increased by disclosing any and all information to the underwriter in determining risk and premium. Always consider where the underwriter is based, as some countries are not rigorous in regulating their finances, meaning unforseen insolvencies can be possible.
Choosing where to moor
No matter where you base your superyacht around the world, prices for where you moor vary from port to port, although it always tends to be a major expense, particularly in the more exclusive of Mediterranean harbours. Often it can be most beneficial to purchase a mooring although it is recommended that before making any purchase, the exact nature of the sale is thoroughly evaluated to check which extra charges may still be levied by marina managers and what tax implications are attached.
This process varies depending on if you have chosen to purchase a new or existing superyacht. Often, when investing in an existing superyacht, it is practical to keep the current crew onboard as they will already be appropriately trained and familiar with the vessel’s facilities and cruising areas. It is often advisable to include the crew as a condition of purchase of your superyacht.