Andy Hazell shares his experience of buying and selling a family boat

How to sell your boat: one owner’s experience

When our son was born and my daughter was three we wanted to buy a Moody 346.

We knew it was a well-built and solid design with an aft cabin and centre cockpit, providing security for the children.

Moody yachts have a fabulous pedigree and the most amazing owners’ association.

When I look back, the Moody Owners Association was so valuable.

There’s an active community of people who know these boats inside out and have even itemised every single part.

A family on a boat

The Hazell family having fun on their Moody 346. Credit: Andy Hazell

This makes it really easy to replace a worn-out part. It also had a bilge keel so we’d be able to keep it in Christchurch Harbour, Dorset.

We scoured the whole of the UK trying to find a Moody 346 and ended up buying one locally which was on a mud berth in Wareham.

The boat was advertised at £40,000 but we negotiated down to £30,000 on the basis that we had to spend £10,000 on making it seaworthy.

We rebedded the keel, shotblasted the boat’s hull and spent a small fortune doing it up. But we knew what we were getting ourselves into.

It was 30 years old and getting a boat seaworthy costs money.

A floor of a boat

How to sell your boat: Sparkling sole boards show a boat that has been loved. Credit: Andy Hazell

We eventually sold it 10 years later and in that time spent around £20,000 on general maintenance – minor repairs and replacing things that broke.

I really believe in preventative maintenance. For example, I had a tiny leak in the rudder and replaced the rudder stuffing.

Spend money every year on your boat and it will look after you, if you neglect it, things will go wrong.

While an old boat will hold its value, you trade depreciation for higher maintenance costs.

With a new boat, it’s the other way around – higher depreciation and lower maintenance.

a Moody 346 yacht with a fresh coat of antifouling,

How to sell your boat: Andy’s Moody 346 with a fresh coat of antifouling, prior to sale. Credit: Andy Hazell

On top of maintenance, we had mooring costs – around £1,000 a year for a trot river mooring and then around £1,500 for winter storage at a local boat yard.

My engine service cost around £300 a year and I paid another £400-£500 annually for someone to do the antifouling and polish, as I didn’t have the time.

Generally, I’d say you don’t make money on selling a boat. I think the only time I’ve seen this happen was during the COVID-19 era when boat prices were vastly inflated.

If you’re looking to buy a boat as an investment, forget it!

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The worst thing you can do is divide the cost of ownership by the number of sailing days. It’s about the memories you make.

Like playing golf or having a caravan, it’s about the fun you have sailing together as a family. Our kids hate being away from the boat.

We sold the Moody 346 for a number of reasons.

We had a small tidal window to get in and out of Christchurch Harbour, a large amount of time motoring (light winds in Christchurch Bay), high ongoing maintenance costs, and, as the kids got older, we wanted a boat we could race with the family and enter into the Round the Island Race.

We chose a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 33i with a lifting keel. This was better for getting in and out of the harbour, and for sailing upwind.

A boat sailing at sea

The Hazell family sold their Moody 346 to buy a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 33i with a lifting keel. Credit: Andy Hazell

I sold the Moody 346 privately. When you’re a member of a yacht club, word gets around quickly.

I put a number together, showed people the boat, and when I found a buyer (fabulous local couple) they put down a deposit.

After a quick sea trial, they went ahead with the survey and bought the boat.

The thing I’d say here is to ask for 5% or 10% of the asking price as a deposit and put some dates around it.

A couple sailing a boat

Andy and his wife sailing their Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 33i . Credit: Andy Hazell

Tell the buyer you want them to have completed the survey within ‘x’ number of weeks, and agree that the offer is subject to survey.

If a major defect is found then you give them their deposit back. Although I didn’t need a broker, the good thing about using one is that it depersonalises the process.

If you do sell your boat yourself, you need to be confident in advertising the boat and not taking things personally.

Having a bulletproof set of paperwork is important too. I had the original paperwork for the Moody going right back to the original sale and could prove that VAT had been paid.

A boat being lifted up by a crane and put on a truck

The Hazell’s Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 33i on the move. Credit: Andy Hazell

Keep the boat clean. Prospective buyers will open cupboards and look under floorboards. Make sure your bilges and engine bay are spotless.

Whenever I look at buying a new boat, or give advice to friends buying one, I always ask them: ‘Has the boat been loved?’.

If the answer is no, walk away and stop wasting your time – or be prepared to negotiate hard and be realistic on how much it will cost to bring the boat up to spec. This is where a yacht survey becomes invaluable!

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