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Advice to anyone viewing Leisure Yachts for sale

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Colin Shead
Posts: 1167
Joined: 22 Feb 2012, 19:44
Boat Name: Toodle Pip
Yacht Type: Other
Other Boat Type: Moody 28
Country: England

Advice to anyone viewing Leisure Yachts for sale

Post by Colin Shead »

Looking around for a Leisure Yacht ?

Here are few pointers what to look for when viewing a Leisure Yacht that is for sale.

Please bear in mind that the best way to check on a yachts condition is to have it professionally surveyed. However, given the cost of surveys which is typically around £300, many prospective owners prefer to check out boats for sale themselves.

All the Leisure yachts are now quite old, so the condition depends an awful lot on how much TLC has been applied by previous owners. In particular whether the equipment aboard (instruments etc.) are newish, and working correctly.

The boats are really solid in construction, and major faults are few and far between. Cosmetically they can always be restored with some TLC.

Structural Issues

The only thing really in the way of structural issues to watch out for is the condition of the skeg and rudder. Have a good look and check for any signs of splits down the leading and trailing edges of both, and for any signs of a bodged repair. This mainly affects the smaller yachts, Leisure 27 and 29 yachts seldom suffer from skeg and rudder problems. Check that the rudder stock, at the bottom of the rudder, where it protrudes through the lower rudder pintle is free from serious corrosion. Check also the lower stainless pintle (actually a shoe on the bottom of the skeg) is also free from serious corrosion. It is normal for the stock to be a loose fit in the pintle.

Check that the rudder is still solid with the stock, get someone to waggle the tiller firmly, whilst holding the rudder blade, and check there is no movement between the stock and the blade. Not disastrous, if you find problems, new rudders and stocks are available via the Association for around £400 each, so you would need to factor it in to the price.

Very occasionally you might find evidence of water ingress into the deck which is usually a balsa sandwich. Water ingress occurs from under poorly sealed deck fittings, and can cause swelling and a 'soft' feel to the deck.

Osmosis below the waterline is occasionally found in Leisure yachts, especially those which have been kept afloat year round, and/or in fresh water. Although unsightly no yacht ever sank due to osmosis! Generally it's very repairable; though can be a lengthy DIY job if it is widespread. Professional repairs are expensive.

Keel problems are almost non existent on Leisure yachts. Some surveyors recommend that sample keel studs are removed to check for corrosion. Generally this is entirely unnecessary, the only Leisure yacht, we are aware of, that lost a keel was a Leisure 17 that was overturned by a hurricane in the Caribbean!


Any outboard supplied with the boat, may be quite old, and obviously can be problematic if not been properly serviced. Best to see the outboard started and running if you can.

Many of the larger Leisure yachts are fitted with diesel engines, mostly Volvo Penta, and mostly saildrives. These older engines are incredibly rugged, and if they have been properly maintained are very reliable, if somewhat noisy. It is really difficult to check on the condition of these engines. If they start easily, and run with just a little blue smoke from the exhaust then that is a good sign. Note that regular yacht surveys do not cover the engine, you would need to hire a marine engineer.

Simple checks include checking the oil levels and colour in the engine and gearbox. If really dirty not a good sign. Look also at the state of the engine externally, if clean and tidy, then it is a sign of a careful owner. If the engine has been professionally maintained ask to see the maintenance log or the invoices.

Mast and Rigging

Ideally the standing rigging should be les than 20 years old, and in good all round condition with no fraying strands at the swaged terminals. Opinions vary widely, some rigging suppliers say to replace every 10/12 years, but given that Leisure yacht rigging is not highly stressed, 20 years seems to be reasonable, many boats are still carrying the original rigging ! The running rigging (halyards and sheets) can be easily inspected. If clearly very well worn or breaking up it will need to be replaced. If just dirty its easy to clean it up in a washing machine (25/30 degrees max, and no conditioner).


Check the sails; a replacement suit of sails will cost in the region of £600/800 (for the smaller yachts) and anything up to £2000/3000 for the largest in the Leisure fleet. The genoa is especially important on Leisure yachts, as it's the sail that does most of the work. Most yachts now have a genoa furling gear, check that it rotates easily.

Test Sails

Ideally, when you are at the point of committing to purchase, it's good to have a test sail. After all you may not like the way the boat sails etc. and it's a good opportunity to test out the engine. If the boat is afloat this does of course mean that you will not get access to the underside to check the rudder and skeg or osmosis, unless you are prepared to pay/arrange for a haul out.

Advice On-Line

There is lots of helpful guidance available, for example: ... oat-buying

Just Google for DIY Yacht Survey and there are lots of links.