MultiHulls World, the essentials for catamarans and trimarans
MultiHulls World, the essentials for catamarans and trimarans
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All potential cruisers ask the same question: which catamaran should I buy, so as not to lose money when I resell? An essential question…

In the majority of cases, the cruiser’s budget at the start takes into account the resale of the boat. Those who buy their boat for cash and keep it after their sabbatical year are rare. By putting down a more or less significant sum and with the help of a loan (or leasing), you can buy a catamaran which is bigger or more recent. But whether it is new or second-hand, this catamaran will have to be resold quickly and for a good price. How to buy a boat which will resell well is often the crucial question!  

If you are a person with foresight, and above all one who is well-organised, you will know a long time in advance when you are going to leave. In this case, you can envisage buying a new catamaran. Builders’ waiting times are often long, and even though you may be lucky enough to come across a cancellation and thus have a boat quickly, you should nevertheless not count on it. According to the builders and the model you want, you will have to wait between one and two years to be able to sail aboard your beautiful catamaran. So, if you want to leave in three months’ time aboard a new catamaran: forget it straight away!  
Analysis of the classified advertisements in Multihulls World shows the reality of the second-hand market: certain boats sell very quickly; others remain in the adverts for several months (or longer). If you want to resell your catamaran quickly, it is better to buy a boat from a well-known big builder. This is the safest attitude, and in case of problems, the builder’s after-sales service will be able to help just about anywhere in the world… The disadvantage, apart from the wait, is that you will have to equip this boat, with equipment which is expensive and will only (very) slightly influence the negotiation of the price when you resell.  
So, to have a chance of selling your boat quickly and for a good price, you must choose a well-known catamaran. That is to say, a boat whose qualities are recognised and which comes from a builder with a good reputation. This is the simplest way…
But this is not enough: your boat’s maintenance will count at least as much. You must therefore choose it according to your technical skills, both under sail and concerning DIY. The simpler and easier to handle and maintain the boat is, the less you will spoil your life during your sabbatical year and the more presentable it will be when you resell: QED!  
But BE CAREFUL, this is above all valid for a sabbatical year programme. If you intend leaving for longer, the choice of your boat will change. You will have a programme which is certainly more ambitious both in terms of cruising and comfort aboard. Buying a boat intended for your programme, with suitable equipment then becomes the most sensible choice. Even more so, because when you resell, it will then be the ideal boat for a family with the same type of programme as you… It will perhaps just take you a little longer to find a buyer…  

The boat that everyone is looking for: a recent second-hand boat, whose qualities are recognised, which is well equipped, superbly maintained and at a bargain price… This type of boat exists, but is nevertheless quite rare. However, with the increase in the number of sabbatical year cruisers, more and more boats can be found for sale ‘ready to leave’. If in addition it is tax-free, (and eligible in France for a leasing dossier which in addition removes it from wealth tax), you can buy ‘more boat’. If the seller is parting with it because he is changing projects (and not because he is dissatisfied), or has completed his programme, and if he was an experienced cruiser associated with a serious builder, it could be an exceptional opportunity. A splendid 3-year-old Outremer 55 Light was sold for 420,000 euros ex VAT in 2006. This owner’s version which had been upgraded all round, offered special accommodation, and was one of the builder’s most beautiful creations, as well as a good deal… But these opportunities are rare and must be grabbed immediately, even if you only envisage leaving in a year’s time.
The other solution is to buy a boat which is at least five years old, in good condition, and with the strict minimum preparation. In the end, this type of boat will lose very little value in an additional year cruising in the West Indies. But you will not escape the price of a suit of sails before you leave or when you resell, and a full engine service before you leave.  
Finally, you can also look for ‘the good deal’, the one that allows you to find a catamaran (or trimaran) which is not in great demand on the second-hand market, because if you buy at a bargain price, you can resell quite quickly without losing much. Here again, you should not count on making money on your boat. There are many examples of owners wanting to sell their catamaran for more than they paid; either because they have invested a lot of time or money, or because they have over-equipped it, they think they can make several thousand euros when they resell. In general, these boats stay on the second-hand market until, for the sake of peace and quiet, the too-greedy owner offers it at the right price…
Some examples: in 2006, an A Capella in good condition (American trimaran from 1979) sold for 70,000 euros, a Kronos 45', 205,000 euros, after a full refit (in 2003), including carbon mast and boom, textile rigging, suit of Hydranet sails from Incidences, engines, electricity, generator, watermaker…
As for the more esoteric boats: a Pahi 65' sold for 140,000 euros, a 5-year-old Tiki 38': 50,000 euros! Good deals, that you can resell without losing too much money…
Finally, the golden rule is never to buy a boat without having seen it out of the water and having had a survey. This is the only solution if you want to know what you are really buying.

Although the most logical solution consists of choosing a mass-produced catamaran, there are many ‘small’ builders who can build you your dream catamaran, to your exact specifications. If you are careful and avoid the very small percentage of ‘cowboys’ in the profession, this will be an enriching experience which will allow you to participate in the ‘co-creation’ of ‘your’ multihull. Don’t overestimate yourself, don’t get lost in the details; a boat is first of all a chassis and a rig! The exchanges with the architect and the builder will be fruitful if there is good communication: be exacting concerning quality, but don’t harass the professionals, have confidence in them! Draw up a clear contract and fix a delivery date which is reasonable for both parties. Plan visits on fixed dates, agreed in advance. If you are not available or don’t want to commit yourself to following up the construction, delegate this function to a competent representative. Choosing a good architect and a competent builder will allow you to have the boat of your dreams, but also to be able to resell your boat quite easily.

This is the big question asked by many of our readers: are the boats coming from the charter fleets good deals? There are many examples of families buying a ‘charter cat’, and after servicing and preparing it, setting off for a sabbatical year. In general, these boats are carefully maintained, as they are working boats, so they are therefore often in good condition. We tested a Léopard 45 which has just left the Moorings fleet after seven seasons of charter. Its condition is impressive: the interior is very clean, the engines are in perfect condition, and everything aboard works perfectly. All that remains is to equip it for ocean cruising, change the standing rigging for safety’s sake, and, with a new suit of sails, you would be ready to go. Its price: 220,000 euros ex. VAT… Buying a boat at the end of its charter career can prove to be a good deal…

Now that you have chosen the solution of buying then reselling, you will have to prepare your boat’s resale with great care. The ideal is to start advertising six months before the end of your trip, so you will have time to get in touch with buyers, for whom it will be difficult to come and see your boat, sailing between the West Indian islands…
Note that between a well-known mass-produced catamaran, whose value is well-defined and for which there is great demand, and an amateur-built boat to an unknown design, there will be a difference in the way the resale takes place. Certain boats remain for sale for well over a year. In fact, certain owners think they got a superb deal when they bought their catamaran, and want to resell it for much more… But you will realise with experience that a boat at the right price will sell very quickly, and a boat which is over-priced will remain in the adverts for many months. Finally, remember that a boat which is more than five years old will lose hardly any of its value in a year, if the maintenance has been carried out correctly, and that often the fact that it is over-equipped, whilst perhaps being a selling point, will not allow you to increase the price significantly. Finally, before allowing people to visit your boat, don’t forget to scrub it down and do all the small repairs you put off until later. Here again, having allowed a small repair budget with a view to the resale is not a bad idea!
Further reading
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