Pros and Contracts

A sales contract is legally binding, but it’s the agreement itself that really counts.

September 1, 2010

Pros & Contracts

Monaco Yacht Show

Any boat owner can tell you—boat ownership will change your life for the better: The sense of self-reliance, the quality time with family and friends, the change in perspective it provides.

The trick is getting there. Buying a boat can be an exciting, daunting, and emotional experience.

Any anxiety probably stems from the fear of spending too much, of not getting a good value. Here’s the bad news: The best, most ironclad sales contract in the world can’t help you there, once you agree on the price. What can help? Your understanding of the market and where you prospective boat falls in it, your gut feeling, and, most of all, your relationship with your broker.


“I think the whole thing gets down to trust,” says Clute Ely, president of Boatworks Yacht Sales in Rowayton, Connecticut. “If you have someone you’ve decided you can trust, that’s a huge, huge step in the process, because then you know ultimately that this person is going to be your advocate, whether they’re dealing directly with the seller or they’re representing you in the brokerage community at large.”

The contract Ely uses is from the Yacht Brokers Association of America, and he’s been using it pretty much his entire 20-plus-year career. The four-page contact is updated occasionally, to stay current with the day’s business practices.

“Ultimately, at some point in the boat-buying process, you need to jump in with both feet,” says Ely. “That’s the scary moment I think for a lot of people because they might be very good at what they do in their family life of their job but this…is not something they’re comfortable with, and so a good, well-laid-out contract helps gain their confidence and helps them move ahead with some level of confidence that they’re not going to put themselves in a bad position.”


That trust doesn’t preclude the need for a signed document.

“Always have the contract to protect you, regardless of the situation, “ says Ely. “Even once you sign the contract, you’re still having to make that leap of faith. And if you’re making that leap of faith of signing the contract with someone you feel strongly that you can trust and have your interests at heart I think you’ll always feel more confident throughout the process.”


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