What to look out for when buying a sailboat (Part 2/3)

How do you buy a sailboat in the Netherlands? Tips and advice.

In this three-part series we dive into the different aspects we encountered during our search for and purchase of our perfect sailing boat. We share our experience with finding a sailboat, what we paid attention to during the viewings and how the purchasing process went. We benefit greatly from the experiences of other sailors, so we are happy to share our thoughts and tips!

This is part 2 of 3

Searching for Bolle and searching for Ori were two completely different experiences. We found Bolle in a week and Ori after a year of searching. During our search, we paid particular attention to a few things, and on all these points the two boats differ greatly. Not only was the budget much higher the second time, but the reason for purchasing and using the sailboat also differs greatly. Bolle became our test boat, with which I learned to sail. Ori will become our adventure boat, with which we will sail the seas. All these factors are important when choosing your next boat, as you can read here.


Money has a great influence on our choices, so let's start with budgets. Not only how much you can spend is a factor, but also how much you are willing to spend. Sailboats vary greatly in price depending on several factors such as the type, size and condition of the boat. One of the factors that helped us determine our budget was looking at the market values of sailboats in the size we are looking for. During our search, we had to increase our budget due to a significant price increase. That was a shame, but just like with houses, prices of sailboats depend on the market and this can happen. A second factor that shaped our budget is how we want to use the sailboat. We see it as a temporary home, where we will stay comfortably for a longer period of time, so that comfort may also cost a little more. Of course, our financial situation was a third factor in the development of the budget. Perhaps the most important factor, because a sailboat costs more than just purchasing it!


How you plan to use the sailboat in the coming years is the second big factor besides money. If you only want to spend a few weekends a year on the Markermeer (which is wonderful!), you will spend less than if you want to take long holidays to Norway. In our case we were looking for our new home. This means a different list of requirements and wishes than if we were looking for a sailing boat for day trips. Important requirements that we found, after many viewings, were the headroom (Freek is 1.90+), the number of sleeping places (4+) for friends and family, storage space for a minimum crossing of 3 weeks and, strangely enough, a swimming platform for sangrias in the sun. In addition, we both want to work from the sailboat, and it is important to have or be able to create one or two comfortable workplaces in the boat. So make sure that the sailboat is suitable for the purpose you have in mind.

Condition of the sailboat

It is essential to thoroughly check the condition of the sailboat before purchasing. While this may seem logical, it is worth it to do this during your initial viewing. You can easily spot many types of structural damage and problems just by looking, tapping and listening. During our search we viewed many different sailboats, and not every boat was in equally good condition. If, like us, you are viewing with limited experience, it is especially important to take notes of any apparent problems. Using a lot of photo and film material, we looked for damage and possible repairs at home after each viewing. This gives you a better picture of the sailboat.

You can take an experienced sailor with you during viewings. Hiring an expert to inspect the boat is also wise. We only did this later in the purchasing process due to the costs involved. During the viewings we collected as much material as possible and based on that we made an offer on the sailboat.


Not only the condition of the sailboat is important when buying a boat. The sailing equipment, navigation equipment and other inventory are just as important! It makes a big difference if the sails have to be replaced in a year's time. Always ask carefully what exactly you get with your purchase. Is the dinghy, currently hanging behind the boat, included in the purchase? How old is the equipment and do you want to replace it later? What is the age of the sails, what does the deck look like and is the engine in good condition? How much water, fuel and waste water capacity does the boat have and is this enough? We received an inventory list after our offer was accepted. This was very useful to have. The sailboat has a small solar panel that does not produce enough power to be self-sufficient, but is a good starting point for more solar panels. We can also carry more than 300 liters of water in the water tanks. Quite a lot, but because we are considering a water maker, we could remove one of the tanks, for example. All these points factor into the decision whether the boat is suitable for you!


When the budget and intended use have been determined, and you have a list of requirements for the future boat, it may happen that all conditions have been met and it still does not feel right. This happens. Perhaps you have different requirements than expected, or the interaction with the seller is not going well. The decision whether or not a boat suits you is not always just rational. Sometimes you walk away from a sailboat because it just doesn't feel right. Sometimes, a sailboat feels so right that there is no doubt. In our case, as two huge doubters, we needed two days to come to a decision. There's nothing wrong with that either, so take your time!

Some more tips:

  • A sailboat costs money. Not only the purchase, but also the mooring, annual maintenance and storage. I had slightly underestimated that in the beginning. You buy an experience, but be aware of the entire cost.

  • A sailboat needs love. Sometimes every weekend, sometimes less frequently. But love and attention are needed throughout the year. Getting ready for winter, getting ready for spring. The wooden deck that is so beautiful and must remain beautiful, the hygienic water tank, and don't forget the large amount of sealant on a sailboat.

  • Sailors and people with a passion for boats are happy to help you with questions and problems you have. It was with great surprise that I discovered that sailboat enthusiasts like to share their passion and are therefore a great asset to your social circle. It makes your life as a boat owner a lot easier if you can discuss it with others.

What to look out for when buying a sailboat (Part 2/3)

How do you buy a sailboat in the Netherlands? Tips and advice.


Melanie de Leeuw

2/16/20245 min read