Dave Hebert, photo by Alex Kwanten

Ask The Experts: Buying

Norris Comer Ask the Expert Features

Hebert YachtsAh, to relive the first cruise on Puget Sound. For many Pacific Northwest boat owners, the initial trip aboard a friend’s yacht or with a charter company was the bait on the hook for their first boat purchases. How many of us have heard a deep sigh from our landlubber friends, followed by, “I’ve always wanted to have a boat”? Those dream-like sentiments will no doubt intensify this summer as the days get longer and boats full of guests motor off to the San Juans.

Any number of reasons can get in the way of a potential boat owner, one of which is the daunting boat-buying process. For an excited newbie, or even yacht veterans with several boats under their belts, the emotional roller coaster, budgetary commitment, and potential time-drain can seem like a deal breaker right out of the gate.

However, the boat buying process doesn’t have to be a headache or heartache and can be, dare we say, fun. Buying that first boat or new boat of your dreams can be the most empowering moment of your life and set you on a course for decades, or a lifetime, of enjoyment. For this edition of Ask the Experts, we turn to Dave Hebert of Hebert Yachts in Seattle to help guide the potential boat buyers among us off the dock and behind the helm.

Q: So I want to get into the boating game. What are the first steps?

I always ask buyers a number of questions so we can figure out what exactly the buyer wants. A lot of buyers know exactly what they’re looking for, down to the make and model, and we can help find that boat for a sophisticated buyer and we can be of benefit from that standpoint.

From the standpoint of a newbie who was out cruising with some friends and wants to get started, there are so many more questions you have to ask. You have to ask them about what they want to use a boat for. Do they have kids? Do they need two or three staterooms? Will they spend a lot of time cruising or will it be a weekend condo for them? There are unlimited ways to use a boat, so you have to sit down with the buyer and go through many different questions.

There is the PowerBoat Guide (by Ed McNew) that is sort of the bible in the industry that shows every production-built boat ever made. It’s a great resource for buyers and even just people who just want to know what’s out there. A lot of people don’t really know what they want, they just have this concept that, “Geez, we just want to go boating.” I encourage people who are new to go check out boat shows and physically look at all styles of boats. Eventually, they’ll come across a boat that will fit their needs. It’s really important that the buyer spends a lot of time sitting and thinking about designs.

Q: So it sounds like the potential buyer should do a lot of legwork before approaching the yacht broker?

In some cases, people come in and they don’t know anything about boats or how to get started. I’ll often refer them to a charter company. Timeshares are phenomenal ways to get started, and they have wonderful teaching programs on how to run a boat and get started. It’s a lot less expensive than to buy a boat, and sometimes you can lease a boat for the amount it takes to moor one for a month to go cruising 30 days out of the year.

Q: Is there a minimum budget to get into boating?

Not really, no. There’s a boat for every seat out there in the world, from a rowboat to a small skiff with a kicker, to a 100-footer [or bigger], to everything in between. It depends on your budget and what you want to do. There’s any number of ways to get out on the water in the Pacific Northwest.

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Norris Comer

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Norris Comer is the managing editor of Northwest Yachting. He was raised in Portland, Oregon and got his BS in Marine Science at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL where he lived aboard a 1973 Catalina 27 before moving to Washington. He has worked as a commercial fisherman, wandered aimlessly around the world, studied oil spills, and was a contestant on the Norwegian reality TV show, Alt for Norge. He loves living in a state where he can explore the ocean and mountains in the same day.

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