Ultimate guide to buying a boat in Hong Kong

ultimate boat buying guide HK  

Baggy Sartape, Boating in Hong Kong.
Article By Baggy Sartape. 24 years of experience selling boats in Hong Kong. 

This article explains Different Types of Boats & their purposes / Type of Hull shapes / Type of Engines & Drive systems / Countries that make boats.

This article aims to explore the various types of boats available and offers essential insights for prospective buyers thinking to purchase of a luxury yacht. This guide can be really long but I have tried to make it as short as I can so people get a general idea about buying a boat. 

Firstly in Hong Kong, all we have is saltwater, So iam going to talk about boats that can handle the seas, Also Iam not going to talk about sailing yachts because my expertise lie in selling motor yachts mainly. 
Firstly Hong Kong is sorrounded by sea, so let’s focus on boats that can handle those waves. And just a heads up, I’ll be talking about only motor yachts, since that’s my expertise and not sailing yachts. 

Here in Hong Kong, fiberglass boats are a better choice. While metal boats made of aluminum and steel are an option, we don’t really recommend them for smaller vessels. Typically, when it comes to crafting large custom boats, like those over 100 feet, and the factories don’t have the molds for fiberglass, they’ll turn to metal. Carbon fiber is also making waves as a new material, but there’s still some uncertainty about its long-term effects and its unreasonably expensive. Sure, there are smaller boats made of aluminum and metal alloys, but my advise is to generally steer clear of any metal touching saltwater.

So lets dive into. 

Different Types of Boats and Their Purposes

bow rider hong kong
Day Cruisers:
For a leisurely day out on the water, consider a 25-foot speedboat withoutboard engine, commonly known as bow riders. These boats are great for small families and can accommodate up to 8 people. They’re ideal for short trips, but if you’re planning longer journeys, like island hopping or cruising along the coast, opting for a larger boat is advisable. Outboard engines are preferred for their ease of maintenance and value retention. If you use even small boats in HK, its better to have high gunwale (sidewall), because Hong Kong seas are generally rough and lot of water can get in the boat. 

water sports boat
Water Sports:
If you’re into water sports like wakeboarding and skiing, wakeboard boats with inboard petrol engines or jet drives are your best bet. These boats are designed for speed and agility, making them perfect for adrenaline-filled adventures on the water. However, it’s important to store them in a dry dock to prevent damage from saltwater exposure. Only downside could be that the inboard engines require you to ensure you always maintain the boat. Inboard engines can be expensive to repair. 

small cruiser
Weekenders or small cruisers:
For weekend getaways or day trips, consider a speed boat with a bow cabin and toilet. Boats around 26 feet in length can typically accommodate a small marine toilet, providing added convenience during longer journeys. As you scale up in size to 30 to 35-footers, you’ll enjoy more spacious accommodations, including a proper bathroom and a small kitchenette. These boats upto 30 something footers still can have twin outboard engines which are easier to maintain. After a certain size around 40 ft, then outboard engines become more inefficient and the cost of running is higher than having diesel engines. 

sports fisher
Long-Range/Sports Fishers:
For those who enjoy deep-sea fishing or exploring remote areas, larger boats over 40 or 45 feet are recommended. These boats are equipped with big fuel tanks and powerful diesel engines to handle rough waters and long distances. Brands like Riviera, Bertram, and Viking Yachts offer top-of-the-line options for fishing enthusiasts. These boats are big and therefore require vigilance and maintenance. You have to always check for things that can go wrong and fix it before any problems become serious. 

trawler boat hong kong
Trawlers are designed for leisurely cruising and long-range travel at slower speeds. They typically feature displacement hulls and efficient engines, making them ideal for extended journeys on the water. While smaller trawlers may have single engines, opting for twin engines is advisable for added safety during long voyages. These are normally smaller engines with lower fuel consumption. Trawlers can handle open waters and also provide spacious interiors. Usually more experienced boaters who like to handle things themselves opt for trawlers. 

houseboat hong kong
Houseboats offer a unique living experience on the water, with spacious interiors and all the comforts of home. However, they’re not designed for travel and are more suited for stationary living. Many houseboats in Hong Kong have small engines and are primarily used as floating homes rather than for long-distance travel. Sometimes to take them to a shipyard for maintenance also requires a tow boat. 

High end luxury yacht
High-End luxury motor yachts:
These are high end, expensive ultimate luxury yachts, famous luxury brands are Princess, Sunseekers, Fairline and Azimut yachts. They offer a range of options. These yachts boast lavish interiors, flybridges, and top-of-the-line amenities, catering to discerning buyers looking for luxury and comfort on the open seas. One positive thing about having a famous brand is that the resale value is more stable. A well known brand is somewhat easier to resell compared to others. 

The Type of Hull shapes on boats? 

There are few types of hull shapes.

planning hull boat
Planning hull : Planning hull boats are made for higher speeds, so when the engine is running high the boat will rise up in the front and it will glide through the water faster. As you can see in the picture.

Displacement hull
Displacement hull or semi displacement hulls : The bottom of the hull of these boats have a roundish design, this displaces the water, as the boat moves forward the bow area pushes the water back and the shape on the back creates kind of a lift as the water moves upwards to push the boat from behind, this creates efficiency in slow speeds. So displacement hull boats move in slower speed and use less fuel and they are normally great for long range travel.

multihull catamaran
Multi hull (eg Catamarans, trimarans) : As you can see in the picture, the multihull design is for boats with more than one hull. So when the boat is cruising through the water, it reduces the over all surface area and thinner hulls move across the water creating less drag. The interior space inside the boats is therefore is reduced. 

What are different types of Marine engines and what are Drive systems?  

Boats generally come with two types of engines: outboard and inboard. Let’s dive into the details and explore the various drive systems associated with inboard engines.

Outboard Engine: Outboard engines are a breeze to maintain and repair, making them popular for smaller boats under 40 feet. They can be tilted and their propellers lifted out of the water, reducing the risk of corrosion. While they run on petrol, which can be pricier, their lightweight design and ease of maintenance make them cost-effective.

Inboard Engine: Inboard engines, typically running on diesel, are better suited for longer-range boats. Similar to trucks running on diesel, they offer efficiency for extended journeys. However, they’re heavier and more expensive to buy and to maintain. They have components submerged in saltwater, increasing the risk of corrosion. Despite their drawbacks, they’re essential for larger motor and super yachts.

Shaft Drive
1. Shaft Drive:
Shaft drives are the most common and straightforward propulsion system. The engine’s power is transmitted to the propeller through a long shaft, ensuring reliability and ease of maintenance. However, the efficiency of this drive can be compromised if the shaft angle is not parallel to the boat’s hull.

-Reliability and ease of maintenance.
-Direct propulsion path ensures efficiency.

-Inefficient if shaft angle is not parallel to the hull.
-Limited maneuverability compared to other drive systems.

stern drive
2. In/Out Drive (Stern Drive):
The in/out drive, commonly known as the stern drive, positions the propellers to push the boat perpendicularly, providing efficient thrust for speed and maneuverability. This drive system is characterized by its ability to move the entire drive, making it easier to navigate sharp turns.

-Efficient thrust and speed due to perpendicular propeller positioning.
-Enhanced maneuverability with the ability to move the entire drive.
-Fuel efficiency.

-Submerged gears and machinery are prone to corrosion in seawater.
-Requires vigilant maintenance as damage can occur more easily.

Arneson Drive
3. Arneson Drive (Surface Drive):
Arneson drives, also known as surface drives, are designed for high-performance boats, offering exceptional speed and agility. They feature a hydraulic system that allows for sharp turns, with propellers positioned perpendicular to the hull for maximum thrust.

-High-speed performance and agility.
-Hydraulic system enables sharp turns.
-High speed and fuel efficiency. 

-Expensive to install and maintain.
-Complex mechanisms may be prone to failure.

IPS drive
4. IPS Drive / Zeus Drive:
IPS and Zeus drives incorporate innovative mechanisms that enhance maneuverability and fuel efficiency. These systems feature propellers positioned under the engine, allowing for 360-degree rotation and precise control. The boat can be controlled by joystick and can move sideways or any direction. It can also twist and turn making it very easy to moor the boat in tight spaces. 

-Enhanced maneuverability with 360-degree rotation.
-Improved fuel efficiency compared to traditional drives.
-Fuel efficiency and higher speeds

-Complex mechanisms may require specialized maintenance.
-Higher initial cost compared to conventional drives.

jet drive
5. Jet Drive:
Jet drives utilize a suction mechanism to draw water from underneath the boat, propelling it through a nozzle for thrust. This drive system is renowned for its agility and suitability for smaller boats and jet skis, enabling sharp turns and twists.

-Excellent agility and maneuverability.
-Ideal for smaller boats and jet skis.
-Fuel efficiency

-Susceptible to debris blockage.
-Barnacle growth may occur if not stored on dry dock. which is hard to clean inside the jet drive tubes.

V drive
6. V Drive:
V drives are engineered to optimize efficiency and speed by reducing the angle of the shaft, creating a more direct propulsion path. This configuration involves a unique arrangement where the engine is turned around, allowing the shaft to enter the water at an optimal angle.

-Enhanced efficiency and speed.
-Improved propulsion angle for better performance.

-Additional mechanisms and gears may increase complexity.
-Concerns about water ingress and potential damage to engine components.


Hope you understand more about the types of drive systems on boats. Lets continue. 


Which countries make the best luxury yachts? 

Truth is both Europe & Asia make good and bad boats. So when you are buying a boat you need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the manufacturers in these countries. 

Europe: When it comes to boat building, Europe has seriously long history and experience. Think back to ancient times when Greece and Cyprus ruled the seas. Italy’s been in the game for ages too, crafting some of the most beautiful boats you’ve ever seen. And let’s not forget about the UK— luxury yachts built in UK and Germany are known for their dependable engineering and quality. There are also some boats built in Finland like Targa, they are built to handle the roughest of seas. Well known brands of UK are Princess Yachts, Fairline Yachts. 

Asia: Now, don’t sleep on Asia. Taiwan has been building boats since the 1970s and has a large market in USA, boat buyers can custom design Taiwanese boats and they have been around for a long time. Famous Taiwanese builders are Grand Harbour, Dyna, Vitech and more.  Choey Lee yachts an original Hong Kong yacht builder has been around for more than 100 years. They are known for pioneering many new materials and spend a lot of money in research and development. They are commercial boat builders but their luxury fleet is also making waves because of their strong engineering. While they might not have the same historical clout as Europe, these Asian manufacturers are definitely ones to watch.

Strengths and Weaknesses: European boats are known for their sleek designs and luxurious interiors. The manufacturers make boats according to market demands and in today’s world of social media people are attracted to gimmicks and fancy things. So manufacturers push themselves to make flashier and spacious interiors. Fancy rooms, electric extensions. These constructions many times leaves very little space in engine rooms and when things go wrong they become difficult to repair. On the other hand, Asian manufacturers focus more on functionality and durability, which can be a big plus when you’re out on the water.

Price Tag: Building a quality yacht, whether it’s in Europe or China, doesn’t come cheap. European yachts tend to have higher price tags, but some Chinese & Asian manufacturers offer comparable quality at more competitive prices. So, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons before you break out your wallet.

Not all manufacturers in are good in Asia. You will find some trying to copy European boats without really understanding how to build boats. Some are in pressure to reduce the price and they sometimes comprimise with materials that do not last and cost much more in long term, so you have to consider these points when you are buying a boat. 

Final Thoughts: At the end of the day, choosing the right luxury yacht is all about finding the perfect balance between style, functionality, and price. Whether you go with a European sylish or an up-and-coming Asian contender, knowing what you’re looking for will help you navigate the waters of yacht shopping with confidence.


Hope you find this article helpful if you are out there buying a boat. 

For list of used boats in Hong Kong, Click here

If you are in market for a used boat here is a video on procedure of buying a boat in Hong Kong 

Baggy Sartape. 

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