While it might seem a touch redundant, chartering a yacht while you’re looking to buy one may best the decision a prospective buyer can make. “A strategic charter is one of the smartest things you can do ahead of a purchase,” says Kathy Kennedy, a luxury yacht advisor and COO of AvYachts. “When you look at many of the most successful yacht programs, the owner typically chartered before making his or her final purchasing decision. Every charter presents an opportunity to learn first-hand what you like and what you don’t—whether that is the cruising destination, the number of staterooms, or what types of onboard amenities you find utterly essential.”
Approaching a charter not just as another vacation, but as a learning opportunity, allows prospective owners their best chance to get real experience onboard the type of boat they may be looking to purchase. “Buying the wrong yacht is an expensive first step toward yacht ownership,” Kennedy continues. “The most common decision that is affected by a strategic charter are the size of the yacht a prospective buyer is considering—whether their dream yacht is too big or too small comes into focus after a charter. The second is the amount of crew. Determining how many people you need to support not only the boat but also life onboard is hard to do without charter experience.”
So, where to begin? “The best place to start if you are thinking about purchasing a yacht is to try a charter on a yacht that is a similar size to the one you are considering purchasing. If the client is not sure of the size, I recommend 100- to 150-feet, with a crew of four or five, as a good place to start,” Kennedy says. “Often, this is the perfect option—you can fit a lot of fun on a Westport 112, for example, with eight guests sleeping comfortably in four staterooms and five crew onboard. Sometimes, one charter is the final push a client needs to make their decision. Other times, a charter is a learning experience. For instance, we had one client start with a Westport 112, and realize halfway through their charter that they needed more crew—some of their family wanted to fish, some wanted to stay onboard, and some wanted to run into town. It was only due to that charter that they quickly realized five crew was never going to be enough for their family and that they needed to look at larger yachts.”
If you’re looking to join the world of yacht ownership, contact the team at AvYachts first, and let our experts help you get the firsthand experience you need to your guide and inform your buying decision.