The aim of this series is to educate new owners who want to buy a boat and get started in the charter yacht business without breaking the bank. From purchasing a pre-owned boat to the necessary measures needed to turn it into a beautiful vacation-worthy yacht for charter – we will take you through all of the steps. You’ll see what we look for when choosing pre-owned or new catamarans, the upgrades we suggest to make the yacht charter worthy, and you will see the before and after transformation to the finished product ready for success in the charter yacht vacation market.
Part 1: What to Look for When Buying a Pre-Owned Catamaran
To avoid ending up in the negatives financially, you need to be equipped with the knowledge of what to look for on a pre-owned yacht to know if it is one you should invest in. From the generator to the layout there are many features you want to look for, and cosmetic damage you will want to look past.
The Outside: Looking for Functional Wear
The outside quality of a pre-owned catamaran comes down to wear and tear on vital functions and protections of the boat. We knew the pre-owned yacht we were considering for charter – a Leopard 46′ – was running up to par because of the outside coating, the engine, and the upholstery.
The Gel Coating and Windlass
On most catamarans, the exterior of the yacht is protected by a gel coating which helps give the boat that shiny, luxury look. A dull, cracked surface means the catamaran has been used quite a bit and the coating has worn down. The Leopard 46’ catamaran we are considering – Mr. Tom – has a really nice gel coat – a great example of a glossy coating with no real cracks in it. Even the anchor chain is rust-free with a clean windlass. These clean, bright parts tell the story of a previous owner who realized the importance of good exterior care.
We look at two things when we consider the boat’s generator: the hours (meaning how many hours the generator has run) and the location of the generator within the boat.
Taking into consideration the generator’s hours means, we look for anything under 8-10,000 hours. If the hours are between 15-18,000 hours the generator is on the older side and will likely need to be replaced. Optimal hours on the diesel engines, however, are much lower; during bareboat use the engines typically gets much more use, but on crewed charters they usually only run for an hour or two a day, meaning that we are ideally looking for a boat with 2-3,000 hours on the engine.
More often, the location of the generator is overlooked as a feature for chartering. This generator on the Leopard 46’ is in an area that permits extremely easy access for use and maintenance. As well, it is not under a bed, which can be an issue for guests or crew who might have to sleep above it. Overall, this means the boat will be much quieter at night and during the day.
The Upholstery and Seating
The Leopard 46′ we are considering has great seating available on each side of the bow that guests can thoroughly enjoy while underway or at anchor. Seating like this is one of the outside features that receives the least attention but the most wear.
For coming out of bareboating, the upholstery on Mr. Tom is in excellent shape – no tears at all! The condition of the cockpit is also great: no burns or stains on the cockpit table and the cushions are still in good condition. This is good news since the first thing we usually do is recover all of the upholstery which is a pretty significant expense. So, look for upholstery that has minimal damage, tears, and no stains, or expect to put a hefty amount into redoing the seating.
The Inside: Looking for Potential Rather Than Superficial Damage
The potential with the layout of the interior of a yacht outweighs any minor cosmetic damage. So, if the design is already ideal for chartering, we look at where we can make easy to no adjustments.
The simplest changes are going to be with the dishware, the cabinetry, and the cushions. We prefer to get more use out of the cushion and cabinetry when possible, but we are always prepared to replace or repair this as necessary.
Usually, when a boat comes from bare boating, all the cutlery and dishware is very plain and boring—mostly white. An easy fix—that we do with almost every yacht—is to go ahead and order all new dishes, glasses, cookware, cutlery. We choose to purchase most of these items on Amazon.
Extensive use can wear down cabinetry and kitchen appliances or chip the wood and, if severe enough, the cabinetry may need to be replaced, so that it isn’t an eyesore. Inside the galley, the cabinetry for Mr. Tom is still in great shape, and the oven and other appliances are functional and gleaming. Again, this allows us to get the yacht ready for charter more quickly.
The interior cushions on Mr. Tom are in excellent shape. In our eyes, this is a big score because usually guests from bareboating wear the cushions through. Often, we need to replace them before chartering. On Mr. Tom, the cushions can sustain at least a year or two of chartering before having to be replaced. The entire interior remodeling and refitting, including upholstery, usually runs around 8-$10,000. The quality of the cushions will give us time to earn some money chartering the yacht before shelling out money for refurbishment.
Always Watch Out for Roaches
You should ensure that the cabinets, kitchen, and bilges are clean and free of infestations. Checking for a presence of bugs is a big deal because boats often house cockroaches which can be a pain to eradicate. Finding evidence of a bug infestation should always be a top priority and should be a concern when purchasing a boat. When looking down into the bilges of the yacht—everything should look clean.
A Catamaran Designed for Luxury Charters
The biggest aspect of a luxury charter—that we can’t easily change—is the design. We need to keep in mind the expectations that guests will have when staying aboard a yacht charter
On a crewed charter, nobody ever eats inside—meaning the interior table in the main salon is all but useless. We will be able to remove that table without restructuring the yacht, and, by doing so, create a more open feel to the interior of the boat. An open floor plan inspires a comfortable, relaxing setting for guests, who would often feel trapped in a tiny space if the table were there. It also encourages guests to spend more time outside in the cockpit area where they can be surrounded by the beauty of the Caribbean.
Interior cabins and their layout are vital to the luxury experience of a yacht charter. Small, noisy, and cramped rooms are a design element not easily changed. The Leopard 46’ that we are considering has four cabins: three for guests and one for the crew. The layout of the suites is great and allows for easy access to each room— no crazy turns to get in or out, very fluid movement. The fact that this boat has four cabins with regular height beds (so there are no steps to climb to get in and out of bed each time) in addition to a very spacious layout is hugely beneficial.
Each suite has a private bathroom (or “head”), electric toilet, and full shower! The luxury of having your own head with separate toilet and shower is invaluable aboard a catamaran. Each guest has privacy and access to both toilet and shower, which means guests won’t need to sit on the head while they shower or try to use a spigot from the faucet.
On Mr. Tom, even the cosmetics of the heads and bedrooms are amazing. The bareboats that we usually consider for chartering tend to have a lot of black mildew in the grout and the interior wood trim is nicked and destroyed. There is minimal damage done to the wood Mr. Tom —no significant marks from being banged up by luggage. This boat’s interior is in fantastic shape—meaning it was either very carefully maintained, very lucky, or very lightly used—exactly what we want in a pre-owned catamaran!
Aftermarket add-ons will add luxurious style to your yacht. On the Leopard 46’ catamaran, there are many additional attributes that were already installed. These indoor and outdoor features offer convenience and will make a Caribbean vacation more enjoyable.
On Mr. Tom, we were pleased to find a wine rack on board. If it were not there, we would install it. It provides a better way to organize wine bottles and hold the wine glasses, securely. A bar with wine glasses enhances guests’ cruising experience and adds appeal to the boat.
The fridge and the freezer are also already present, on Mr. Tom, but an additional ice-maker or fridge in the cockpit are important add-ons. Yeti coolers help keep ice cold longer and are great for holding cases of cold drinks for guests. Having an additional source for cocktail ice will greatly enhance the charter experience for guests.
The fridge/freezer on board is smaller than ideal size on this catamaran, so an additional freezer or fridge might need to be acquired for the cockpit – enough to store food and provisions for more than six guests during a 7-night charter.
Roll down shades can be very useful to avoid the sun while on board. They also help keep the rain off during the occasional squalls.
Repairs to Consider
Repairs on the interior and exterior parts of the boat are unavoidable. Some are not a big deal to see and fix. Despite Mr. Tom’s excellent shape, we still have to look for the repairs that will be necessary before we can send it out on charter with paying guests.
Rust is common in pre-owned boats. It looks as if the Leopard 46 we are considering has minimal rust. When it appears, cleaning it immediately is a good idea to prevent it from causing more rust on other surfaces.
The cushions outdoors have mild signs of use. Use is evident in the few stains and mold, but with a thorough cleaning, it can be easily reversed or fixed.
Ripping off the torn cushions and replacing all of the fabric is costly, that’s why it’s better that we are able to just do a quick fix by cleaning thoroughly.
The propane lines on this yacht are not installed properly. Because iYachtClub wouldn’t want to take any shortcuts or install propane lines the wrong way and cause potential problems later, we will make sure we get these properly installed.
Minor damage to the interior of a bare boat is inevitable. You must be patient in locating them and be resourceful enough in finding ways to fix them from time to time.
There are small damages on the walls of Mr. Tom which are not that critical. However, they need to be fixed to maintain the overall aesthetic appeal of the boat. One remedy for this is to cover them with a picture or an appliance. You may opt to fix the damages completely. However, doing so may require a significant expense.
The interior cabinetry wood on board also has minor damages. If you are knowledgeable about woodwork, you can fix them easily using tools that are available in your local hardware store.
Check the caulking for mold and mildew. Again, a thorough cleaning is a solution to this problem if you find it.
Take a look in the heads and check that the stainless faucets are well-maintained and do not need replacement. Also, check the switches. Repairing switches cost around $20 for the material and rewiring.
Why Did We Purchase this Leopard 4600?
When you choose a pre-owned catamaran to become a luxurious yacht charter, it is important to consider several factors to ensure that it is worth your money. At iYachtClub, we don’t want to waste time and money on large-scale repair projects before we can start to market a charter yacht.
Below are the reasons why we bought the Leopard 46’ catamaran:
The Aftermarket Add-ons are Awesome
Aftermarket add-ons are additions to the boat that are not included when purchasing it. These include the water maker, outdoor fridge, freezer, wine rack, roll down shades, and a sound system.
Another important thing to look for in a potential charter boat is the amount and condition of storage spaces. This boat has ample space in the many compartments and lockers. The storage lockers are clean and well organized.
The crew quarters are single berths called “coffins” in the bow. On this Leopard 46, one of the coffins was converted into a place for the water maker. which is one of the most aftermarket add-ons that we are looking for in a bareboat.
With a water maker, the crew and guests will have a safe water supply on board. It can also save money because it eliminates the need to buy potable water in ports during charter.
The Overall Cleanliness and Good Exterior Care of the Leopard 46’ Impressed Us
The yacht has minimal rust, and the wear and tear are negligible. The gel coating is not worn down, and there are no cracks on any of the boat’s surfaces. Below deck, the areas are clean with no signs of bugs. This eliminates the hassle and expense of extermination.
We Love the Design and Condition of the Upholstery, Bedrooms, and Bathrooms.
Most guests look for a catamaran with an open, spacious feeling inside. Aboard the Leopard 46′, the main salon has a comfortable U-Shaped couch seating area that flows into the outside aft cockpit table area. The flow between exterior and interior is a big selling factor for charters.
Although pre-owned, this boat’s upholstery does not need replacement because it is still in excellent shape. Additionally, there’s a lot of room for seating up on the bow. The trampoline is also very roomy so guests can enjoy that spot for sunbathing or relaxing during a sail.
Another advantage of choosing the Leopard 46’ for yacht charters is that each suite has its own head with electric flush toilets and separate showers. There is also easy access to each of the four rooms – no climbing up and down ladders, and the beds are semi-walk around.
The Minor Problems or Downsides of this Leopard 46’ Catamaran
Although the previous owner maintained this particular boat model very well and there are impressive features, there are still minor issues that need attention.
For one, the dinghy is too small, allowing only a few people to get to shore at a time. The boat also lacks kayaks, paddleboards, and water toys, which are easy to add. These items are important in enhancing the enjoyment of the guests during their vacation week.
The boat must look like a luxury hotel on the water to be able to charge the rate of a luxury yacht charter. Most of the repair work noted on the Leopard 46′ we are considering is minor. However, the dings on the wood would need to be fixed to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the boat.
If we were to give Mr. Tom an overall grade it would be A- to B+.
New Owners with Pre-Owned Catamarans Can be Ready for Charter Businesses by Working with iYachtClub
iYachtClub has extensive experience in selecting and working with various yachts to put together one of the best fleets in the charter yacht industry to match a wide range of guests and their vacation budgets.
If you need help buying a yacht specifically for the yacht charter market, contact us via this website or call +1-855-924-8252. iYachtClub can offer the hands-on, expert advice that can help you avoid the pitfalls and pave your way to a successful charter business.
Check out Part 2: Yacht Extreme Makeover- How to Refurbish a Boat Interior and Exterior!