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What to do first - Contracts for Used Boat Purchase

In Holland it has long been normal to enter into a formal contract to purchase a vessel at the time the deposit is paid. Contracts are also more common in the UK now, especially where reputable brokers are involved, and are commonly used in other European countries. Standard forms of UK contracts are produced by the British Marine Federation for use by their marine trade members, by the Royal Yachting Association (freely available if you join) and by The Association of Brokers & Yacht Agents, but only if you are buying a boat through one of their broker members.  If you are at all concerned about the quality of the purchase contract you are offered you may wish to join the RYA and get a copy of their boat purchase pack, or I can let you have a copy of a draft contract that has been used in the past, or of course you could ask a suitably qualified marine solicitor.

In Holland (and often in France) contracts for Dutch barges will often also stipulate the nominal minimum shell thickness applicable, and usually the contract can only be terminated if the hull plating condition fails to meet this standard and the vendor declines to undertake repairs or make a suitable reduction in the price. The contract will sometimes also impose a limit on the value of shell plating repairs that the vendor will shoulder, usually as a percentage of agreed sale price, and you should look closely at the termination terms if this is the case since in some cases I have seen you could potentially be left with a boat that you didn't really want after all and a large bill for excess hull repairs.

Note that if a vessel passes survey in respect of hull condition but has significant other defects that render it unsuitable, unviable or not worth the agreed price, you may have no rights to terminate the contract without loss of deposit. In earlier years, when we were buying effectively bare commercial hulls for conversion, the hull survey and contract limitations covered most eventualities adequately. Now, with high value converted barges on the market, the standard Dutch type of contract is not really adequate for the buyer and there is good cause to consider a viability assessment and valuation before proceeding to contract if the vendor will permit this.

Marine Surveyors/Consultants

Principal Surveyor:
Balliol Fowden FYDSA.

+44 1788 541020

+44 7831 232823

+44 1788 543517


Burleigh House,
273, Hillmorton Road,
CV22 5BH