How to Make a Good Living Buying and Selling Boats

If you are in love with sailing and are looking for a challenge in life, you could make a good living buying vessels, refurbishing them, then selling them on for a profit. This might sound like a pipe dream, yet, with some essential knowledge and a few good contacts, there’s every reason to think you will be successful. While it isn’t going to be a cakewalk, it is perfectly doable if you have adequate knowledge about boats and sailing, plus the capital to launch the venture.

Crunching the Numbers

Start with a single project; select a boat like a catamaran, for example, and start looking at second hand prices to get an idea of the current market value. Once you have this figure, you can then start your quest for such a vessel, one that is in need of some work, and when you find one, calculate what it would cost to restore the boat to its former glory and that includes your labour, of course. If it is feasible to acquire the vessel and carry out the work and there’s something left over, then you have a project.

Pre-source the Buyer

Simply put, you don’t want to take any chances, and by finding a person who is looking for a boat like yours, propose that you will provide the perfect vessel, draw up an agreement and take a deposit. Now you have your buyer and you have located the right boat and you can set about restoring it, making sure you meet your deadline.

Yacht Brokers

When looking to acquire a boat, the organisation that has yachts for sale is the yacht broker, who has extensive contacts in the yachting world and when you give them your specs, they will try to find a suitable vessel. There will be times when luck is on your side and the broker has the ideal yacht that does not require any work, which gives you a nice slice of commission for being the middle man. The yacht broker would also offer repairs, maintenance and remedial work and if their rates are good, you could use them for your restoration.

Why Use a Yacht Broker?

Reputation is everything in this industry and when an owner wishes to sell for any reason, they would approach their yacht broker. Another good reason to incorporate the broker is any vessel you buy from them would be in first-class condition, as they have a good reputation to uphold and would never sell an inferior boat. Indeed, the broker is a key link in your business, who has mooring and dry dock facilities and if you ever need a crew, they can oblige.


Undoubtedly your biggest challenge, the luxury yacht sector is very close-knit, while you might be wise to stick top 30-45ft vessels with a relatively low price tag. Wealthy people tend to be very rigid in their dealings with luxury assets like yachts and supercars, so you might want to aim for the successful small businessperson who is ready for their first boat purchase. Ideally, you would have considerable sailing experience, or you could look for an endorsement from a respected skipper or two. It’s tough to get your foot in the door; start with a small project and direct all of your energy to that, and when you have one very happy client, it is a good start. Click here some tips on branding, which is certainly worth the read. Building a reputation takes time and from tiny acorns do big oak trees grow, and in a few years, you will already have a network.

Boat Yard

Ideally, you would have a business premises and your own yard would be perfect. The less outsourcing you do, the more profit there is and if you are set up for 30-40ft vessels, you have everything you need to get one project off the ground. Of course, you are going to need an extensive selection of tools and machinery – old boat yards sell off tools and equipment – in order to carry out your work.

All About Connections

The yachting world is all about who you know and you need to mix in the right circles; attend the major boat shows, talk to brokers and boat builders, leave your literature and this will be a slow process and the more you put yourself about, the wider your network. Make associations with sailing clubs and schools, which is where you meet new sailors and they are primarily your target group of clients. Click here for RYA information from this yachting governing body.

If you have a passion for sailing, why not harness that and set up a small exclusive business and restore old yachts? If you bear all of the above in mind and are always client focused, the sky is the limit.