I have been living in Greece for the last 15 years of my life. Recently I decided to explore my passion for sea and marched forward on purchasing my private sailing boat. Until that time I had some idea of dinghy sailing and have been sailing with quite a few charter companies based in Greece.
TO BUY OR NOT TO BUY??
It was my friend Vasilis who owns a property in the beautiful island of Sifnos, located in the Cyclades in a way. Vasilis was trying to convince me purchasing a sailing yacht through these management programs offered by charter companies as an investment. He said that I would pay the 50% of the yacht, I would leave it to the company to charter, I could use it in the summer and after a period of combined usage the yacht would stay with me.. Not a bad idea for someone like me that I am retired, like sailing and prefer to have my money in a yacht rather than the bank. But it was not so simple as I figured. Here is the story my end.
In Greece I found some companies offering such kind of programs:
Vernicos Yachts: www.vernicos.gr These guys are the Beneteau authorized dealers in Greece (authorized means nothing at the end as I will explain later meaning that you can buy a boat from any company as such, but as it turned out they are the official Beneteau Dealers). I spoke with Mr. Eugene Theodoridis (mid 30s) a young but still quite knowledgeable and experience person in the yachting business. Eugene gave me a lot of information to work with. Their package would be 55% downpayment, 4 weeks of sailing usage each year and 6 seasons of program, which meant that I would receive a boat in full after 6 seasons.
I left Vernicos office and headed to Dream Yacht Charters Greece. Dream Yachts is a part of the global company with bases around the world. I spoke with the General manager Efthimis Bibis who is a charter oriented, nice person around his 50’s. They seemed to offer a more attractive package since I could still pay the 55% but with 35% as a down payment and 20% after the 6 seasons. In the case of DYC sailing I could use any of the boats of their global bases. Meaning I could even go and use a boat in Seychelles or Mauritius. Not bad as an idea.. The boat I was interested in, was a 48 footer Beneteau in 2012. I was not so determined for the specific boat however it seemed that the available models were Jeanneau 50 DS, Bavaria 50 and the Oceanis 48.
Prices I had been given at that time were 285.000 Euros from Vernicos x 55% and 305.000 from DYC.
My next stop was Kyriakoulis: www.kiriacoulis.com This is one of the most powerful companies in Greece and they are more of a Global company since they have offices in the US, Italy, France (I believe those are the ones). I met their salesman Mr. Panagiotis Foukas. He is an easy going guy around his mid 40’s. I could not trace him very easily since he was traveling however we managed to speak about management contracts and offers on Bavaria, Jeanneau and Beneteau yachts. Their prices were rather cheap and a possibility for me to sail in different bases each time. He provided a higher discount for buying a direct sale and not in program however there was something I could not follow with all suggestions. Not only Kyriacoulis but all of the companies. I will leave my assumption however when I describe all of my visits.
I then headed to Athenian Yachts http://www.athenian-yachts.gr/en/ .They are the official Jeanneau dealers in Greece. I spoke with Mrs. Dionyssia who was very friendly and kind. They seem to know the job quite well and seemed willing to hear what I was saying. In any case they did not offer a management program under which they would finance the percentage of my boat. They were mainly interested to sell a boat on a cash basis. What I found nice was that most of the yachts were available for me to see, Alimos marina pier 2 where they keep their base. The man in charge there was Tolis, who is very helpful and cheerful most of the times (except Saturdays.. in Summer I guess). I believe that although the explanation they gave me for selling a boat only in cash but with a higher discount was the most honest out of the other competitors (except maybe Dream Yachts) that has the management programs as the major sales asset.
Now let’s see the facts from a closer distance and in bullet questions and answers:
Who owns the boat? Ok, I agree to pay a 55% (to any of the companies) which means I was about to pay between 155 to 170K Euros. Will I own the boat? The answer is NO the boat will be owned by the company (that most of the times has taken a loan for the boat therefore the boat actually is held by a mortgage to the bank until the 6 years of management season comes to an end.
Can’t I own the boat and the company places a mortgage under their name in the registry? This is not possible for 2 reasons: a) most of the times they have been financed to buy the boat so they cannot sell it under my ownership until the bank is paid, b) Can my ownership be eligible not to pay Vat and have a chart business as my profession? Even if I could this would create a conflict to the companies since the boat is actually their’ s for 6 years.
TRICKY QUESTION: Ok and what happens If the company does not pay the loan of the boat and after 6 years I found out that I cannot transfer the ownership since there is still a mortgage? Well, the only think you can do is try to have everything with official signatures, force the company to sign a document that will pay the lease amount to the bank, find out what this lease plan is in terms of dates and payments and keep close to check if everything is paid as agreed. After all this is the key issue in this business. You can post a question if you wish, I believe I have become wiser after my 5 month extensive sailing research.
After 6 seasons what will be the value of my sailing boat?? Well nobody can answer that. My guess is around 60% of the todays value..
If this is the case why should I put my money in such investment? Well I cannot answer this question. There are reasons to do so though. You will sail freely in any destination you wish each time, you will have your money placed in an asset, after some time you will own a boat etc. Each of us has to see the real question behind yacht management programs and decide if it suits his needs. For example My dear friend John, bought a Sun Odyssey 409 from Dreamyachtarters, has sailed all over the world and is super happy with his investment. On the other hand I did not..
Conclusion: I finally decided that the money for me to invest in such a case was not worth the asset for my personal perspective. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying it is not worth it. I am just saying what I did at the end. I was not convinced that for a person like myself that I have been living in Greece for the last 15 years, 4 or 6 weeks of sailing would be enough to cover my investment.
HOW CAN YOU SAIL IN GREECE IF YOU DO NOT OWN THE BOAT?
Have you ever heard the expression ‘the best boat is the one owned by my friend…’.
This can be the case if you are lucky enough to have a friend that owns a yacht. If not, then you can still do that with yacht chartering. There are hundreds of companies in Greece that offer sailing yachts for charter. From very cheap to the latest models. The competition is so enormous that you can get a very good deal for your wallet. Imagine that after I gave up the yacht management program I inquired to see how much should I pay for a Jeanneau 509 chartering for a week. I contacted many charter companies including Dream Yacht Charter in Greece under firstname.lastname@example.org spoke with Aghis the man in charge, Fyly yachting under email@example.com spoke with Helen who was the head of bareboat chartering, and lastly Athenian Yachts who are the Jeanneau dealers in Greece.
Prices were: 5013 Euros for DYC for a week of June
5400 Euros for the same week in Athenian yachts
5200 Euros for the Fyly team.
I understand that there are plenty of owners and other charter agencies that I can book directly however there are several issues I had in mind which I will be happy to expand in detail in my other section.