4 Best Ways to Find Sailboats for Sale

4 Best Ways to Find Sailboats for Sale | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

With so many different sailboats for sale out there, you may be wondering how to find the right one for you? Where do you even start? Well, if you love riding the waves in comfort, then getting the right sailboat for sale should be a priority. You need to know how much you can spend, your boating needs, know the resale value of the boat when it's time to sell it, and many other tips to safeguard your interests when looking for the right sailboat for you.

Imagine calling that shiny new boat sitting at the dock yours! Imagine climbing aboard on a perfect sunny day with your friends and loved ones ready to soak in the sun and have a good time! Most of us, whether experienced sailors or just new to the sailing world, always dream of owning a perfect sailboat. But where do you even start on this tremendous journey? Whether you're in the early planning stages or haven't had time yet to attend one of those big yacht shows, the most important thing is to keep your enthusiasm in check, think straight, and use the best tactics to find the right sailboat for sale.

Buying a sailboat, used or new, is no small feat. It's not like going down to the grocery store and picking some tomatoes or a loaf of bread. Of course, not all sailboats will do for you. You have to consider your budget. Can you readily afford it including the refit and/or outfitting needs? Does it meet your sailing needs in terms of crew and intended sailing objectives? Is it sellable when you want to upgrade? These are some of the most important things to keep in mind.

So unless you're a sailboat expert, you need to know the best ways and tactics to find the right sailboat for sale. In this comprehensive guide, we'll share with you the best tactics to help you find sailboats for sale and things to consider before buying a sailboat. Of course, you'll have to do thorough research before making the final decision and this is just part of the research. If anything, you certainly do not want to buy a sailboat that you don't like.


Table of contents

Know Your Goals

Before you even start searching on the internet for a sailboat, it's crucial to know your goals and have a vision for the type of sailboat that you want. To make it a lot easier for you, we'll break this down into various parts.

How Do You Plan to Use the Sailboat?

There's no denying that sailors have big dreams. The idea of casting off all your on-land worries and sailing away to an exotic place is not only alluring but also relieving. But as a sailor, it's always a good idea, to be honest with yourself and acknowledge how you're planning to use the sailboat.

Are you planning to sail on the nearby inland lake or are you planning to live aboard while sailing to faraway places? Are you planning for occasional weekend trips overnight? These are just some of the few things that you must consider. If you're planning for ocean crossings, you may need a bluewater cruiser that's perfectly capable of enduring everything that Mother Nature brings your way.

Another thing that you must consider is where you will be sailing. You have to keep in mind that sailing on the Atlantic Ocean is a very different beast from sailing in your nearby hometown lake. As such, the boat you go for must be suitable for the environment where you'll be doing much of your sailing.

How Big of a Boat Do You Need?

The size of the boat that you choose is of great importance. As a sailor, you should go for a boat that's large enough to meet all your sailing needs. Are you planning to cruise by yourself, with your family, or friends? Do you have plans of entertaining guests aboard your sailboat? Are you planning to sail overnight and thereby need sleeping accommodations? Do you want a crew to join you on your sailing adventure? These are some of the factors that will influence the size of the boat that you go for.

You have to keep in mind that nothing will enhance your comfort aboard a sailboat more than size. Everything on the boat can be changed except size, so you have to be very careful. But then again, large-sized boats come with higher maintenance costs.

What's Your Budget?

Having a budget for buying your sailboat is essential in creating the right timeline. Maybe you want to make ocean passages but your current budget doesn't allow for it. Under such circumstances, you may have to go for a cheaper or smaller boat. Alternatively, you continue chartering or borrowing a friend's boat until you save enough money to buy the boat of your dreams.

What Type of Boat Best Suits Your Needs?

It wouldn't make much sense to start looking for a boat if you do not know the type of boat that you want and what you're planning to use it for. So if you're still new to the sailing game and do not have much experience with sailboats, you should take some time and get to know different types of sailboats and how they're used as well as their construction material.

The most important thing is to have a clear idea of how you intend to use the vessel and make a decision based on what suits your needs.

Get Expert Advice

Knowing exactly what your goals are as far as buying a sailboat is concerned will make your work a lot easier. But even if you know exactly what you want, talking to an expert, say an experienced yacht broker or a previous owner will make you more informed in whatever decisions that you make.

Even though this can be a bit challenging, it's crucial that you know the questions to ask. Get them to explain to you some of the things that you do not understand. You shouldn't be ashamed to admit that you don't understand something and there's nothing wrong with asking. Again, do not fall for pretty interiors or flashy boat names if that particular boat doesn't serve your needs or is beyond your budget.

By getting expert advice, you'll save much of your precious time by talking with someone with the know-how and this might even make it a lot easier to find the boat of your dreams if he/she is well-connected. In most cases, an expert spends most of his/her day in the boating industry and is better placed to have more information.

Where to Find Sailboats for Sale

Looking at different sailboats with the main intention of finding the one that fits your needs and budget can be challenging but it shouldn't. If anything, this should be the most enjoyable part but only if you know what to do. These days, the internet makes it a lot easier to do your research from the comfort of your home before even thinking about working with a broker yet. This is because there are a number of superb websites that will give you incisive information and education that can help you find the right boat for you.

Let's take a look at some of these sites. Remember, they have several sailboats for sale from fairly priced vessels to luxury boats.


This site is known to list both used and new sailboats from its member yacht brokers. It is perfectly designed to let you filter whatever you want to know about the boat. The filter allows you to narrow down your search based on new or used, manufacturer, year of manufacture, price, length or size, sail or powerboat, and many more. It also offers additional info relating to marine insurance, advice on how to work with a yacht broker, and even lenders. In essence, this is an all-under-one-roof type of website.


As the name suggests, this is a perfect site if you're looking for something that's more luxurious. This, however, doesn't mean that you can't find an affordable sailboat on the site. Most of the vessels listed on this site are below $5 million, so you can find a vessel that's within your budget.

The best thing about this site is that it always strives to be a full-service nautical website. In addition to boat listings, this is a great platform to find luxury lifestyle posts, sailing videos, destination guides, and yacht business directory.


This is a great platform for anyone looking for high-end yachts. In other words, do not expect to find a lot of vessels worth below $1 million. If anything, most of them are priced from $10 million and above but you'll be guaranteed of getting some very nice vessels.

Apart from listing, this site offers other sailing services such as chartering, repairs, new yacht building, finding a crew, and many other things that you may need if you have a few extra millions to spend sailing around the world.

Yacht Harbour

Sometimes you have to check worldwide if you're looking for a sailboat of your dreams and there's no better place to do so than on Yacht Harbour. This is a Monaco-based site that will help you get the boat of your dreams even if you live in the United States.

This is also a great site if you want to get updated on the current happenings in the sailing world. It will connect you with fellow sailors, chartering companies, best sailing destinations, and any other thing that you might need to make your sailing adventure more enjoyable. As far as finding sailboats for sale is concerned, this can be a perfect site is a few million dollars is a reasonable price for you.

Are You Planning to Purchase a New or Used Sailboat?

When it comes to finding the right sailboat for you, one of the key factors should be your ability to buy new or used and this generally depends on your personal finances. One of the main advantages of purchasing a new sailboat is that it will be ready for your sailing adventures the moment it becomes yours.

On the contrary, you may have to spend some time and even more money on repairs and upgrades if you buy a used sailboat. As such, you should consider whether you have the time to shop around for the required gear and whether you'll work on the boat yourself or hire someone else to do the job. In other words, these are some of the things that you must take into consideration when calculating the total budget for buying a used sailboat.

One of the main advantages of buying a new sailboat is the warranty that comes with it. This is a promise by the manufacturer that it guarantees that the vessel will serve you without any glitches for a given number of years and they'll provide service and repairs during that time.

Determine the Condition and Value of the Sailboat by Getting the Right Surveyor

By now, you've probably identified a few boats that fit within your budget and objectives. However, you certainly do not want to buy a boat in bad condition or overpay for it. This is why you should get the right surveyor to help you determine the real condition of the boat beyond its shiny exterior and to determine whether it's worth going for.

Going for an experienced boat surveyor is, without a doubt, one of the most crucial parts if you want to find the best sailboat for you and your needs. A surveyor can give you the accurate value of the boat not just in terms of the visual condition but also on its overall condition. An independent surveyor will give you an in-depth condition of the boat and a snapshot of its value.

Simply put, you're going to spend thousands of dollars if not millions on the sailboat so you need to hire a qualified marine surveyor to give you the exact condition of the boat and help you determine whether or not it's worth buying. In essence, the best way to avoid buying a boat with significant issues is by hiring a professional marine surveyor. He/she should conduct a thorough condition and valuation survey, as well as a sea trial, and help you in determining whether the boat has any major issue.

You can also hire a professional technician separately to inspect the boat's engine, electrical work, deck and hull integrity, safety equipment, and many more.

Avoid Common Buyer Mistakes

Like any other industry out there, the boating industry is full of scammers who may use a lot of tricks and scams to dupe you of your hard-earned money all in the name of selling your sailboat. It's, therefore, upon you to be extra careful with whomever you're dealing with and proceed with extra caution if anything seems unusual or when the deal is too good.

Here are some of the common mistakes that you should avoid.

Do NOT Buy On the Internet

As much as we've listed some sites that we believe can be of great help when looking to find sailboats for sale, we wouldn't advise you to buy the boat of your dreams from the comfort of your couch. You always have to keep in mind that everything looks great on the internet and you'll not have the actual feeling until you board the boat and see it for yourself. In other words, those excellent boat pictures on the internet can be extremely misleading, so however busy you're, you should create time and get to see the boat in real life. If possible, you should even take it for a sea trial before committing.

And even if you've been spending most of your free time on the internet in search of the boat of your dreams, you should not just rely on the information that you get. Instead, create time and go and see the boat in person. It may not be of much interest when you see it in person but you'll still learn a thing or two and this may be of much help later.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that everyone always has an opinion. As such, you should always avoid taking advice from sailors who do a very different kind of sailing to the one you're planning to do. This, however, doesn't mean that you can't follow friendly advice. Do your research, write everything down, remain open-minded to suggestions, and check everything including the resale value of the boat. If you have reservations for the boat, just remember that there's always a much better boat out there.

Avoid Escrow Scam and PayPal Variation

In most cases, a boat seller will suggest using an escrow service and may recommend something that sounds legit. Well, just don't fall prey to some cheap scam by transferring your money to anyone. You might find yourself on the wrong end of a scam and you'll probably never hear from the said seller ever again. The best thing is to tread carefully and use legitimate avenues if you want to seal the deal.

Take a Look at the Resale Value

One of the common mistakes that you may want to avoid, especially if you're a first-time buyer is that you'll use the boat forever. There comes a time when you'll want to upgrade. You'll want to find a better or even bigger boat or hang up your sailing boots and this may mean that you may have to sell the boat.

As such, it is of great importance to look at the resale value of the boat. While this isn't written on sand, you should go for a vessel that may fetch you some money in the future should you want to get rid of it.

Learn How to Spot a Bargain

Although this can be quite difficult if you're not a boat expert, you should learn how to spot a bargain or a vessel worth owning. From the asking price to the extra costs that are required to ensure that the boat is safe and functional, see how these figures compare to other similar boats in the marketplace. If it's lower then you're in a good deal but if it's significantly higher, then you may have to talk with the seller to reduce his/her asking price. You'll also have to consider boat maintenance costs and do not underestimate the costs of fixing little things.

Have a Proper Sales Contract

It doesn't matter whether you're buying a brand new sailboat from a dealer or a used sailboat directly from its current owner, the best way to avoid getting scammed and protecting your interest is by outlining the terms of the sales in a sales contract and in writing. With a written agreement, you will minimize or eliminate altogether problems that could later come back to haunt you when a sweet deal at the marine turns into a sour and heart-wrenching case in court.

It is advisable to get a qualified lawyer to write the contract and ensure that both parties sign the contract. Everything including names, addresses, description of the boat and engine, purchase price, the condition of the boat at the time of delivery, and buyer's contingencies among other things must be in the sales contract.

You shouldn't forget about the "after the sale details". Of course, you've done your research and found the boat of your dreams. The price is probably right and you've reached an agreement with the seller. You've now paid the seller and the boat is now free to be yours. But wait a minute, there is still a caveat: the boat will only be yours when the seller signs over the title and provides other legal proof of ownership.

These documents may include boat registration cards and insurance policies. You have to make sure that the boat's Hull Identification Number is the same as the one listed on the records. You should also confirm whether there are any liens recorded on the boat by calling the U.S. Coast Guard documentation division.

Avoid Being on the Wrong End of Insurance Blues

Even though most states do not require you to have boat insurance, this doesn't mean that you do not need it. Having boat insurance is of great importance and will help you in the event that something bad happens to your boat.

To this end, buying the sailboat of your dream is, without a doubt, an exciting purchase. However, you should never take it lightly as it can leave you with a very bad and regrettable decision staring at you at the dock. As such, you should arm yourself with mountains of information and the best tactics to find sailboats for sale. With this, you stand the chance of finding the boat of your dreams and the opportunity to enjoy delightful sailing adventures with minimal hassle.

Do not be in a hurry and do the right due diligence. At the end of the day, it's all about having fun and achieving your sailing objectives with no worries in the world. Happy sailing!

4 Best Ways to Find Sailboats for Sale
Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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