Frequently Asked Questions about Boats and Boating in Hong Kong

What boat should I buy if it is my first time to buy a boat in Hong Kong?

There are different choices available depending on the purpose and budget. We are however talking more on motor boat / motor yacht here rather than sailing yachts. If you don’t want to spend too much and you are looking for a safe comfortable boat that you can drive yourself with a small family and children and enjoy the waters in Hong Kong and go to different islands, then a boat around 28 footer is quite good, A new Karnic speed boat which is a 28 footer costs around HKD 500,000 over all. The reason for this specific size is because this is the smallest size that can have a marine toilet which is of course small but usable. If you are a lady or like to have your wife or any ladies to accompany you on the boat then a toilet is very necessary. Storage and parking of boats this size is also easy and they can be lifted up easily for dry dock storage, maintenance is also very simple and not expensive if the boat has outboard engine. With inboard engine boats for first timers, you could get stuck with a engine if something goes wrong and needs a lot of repairs.
If you are looking for a larger motor yacht that you can use personally and also as a corporate entertainment, then you can go for a 40 to 45 footer boat, which normally can be a good for a family to stay for a weekend. The boats are also used normally for day trip and office parties where people can go on a island or a swimming spot and spend the day eating and drinking on the boat. People normally hire a captain to drive such boats. Berthing and mooring space can be a little bit of a challenge to find as the size of your boat gets bigger but it is possible nowadays in Hong Kong. But if you are looking for a marina club membership and berths, then be ready to hear ridiculous prices from Marina clubs who think they are monopoly in Hong Kong.

What is the procedure of buying a used boat?

The following procedure is to buy a used boat in Hong Kong.

1) When a buyer contacts us, we can show the boat to the buyer first.

2) After the buyer sees and likes the boat, he/she would like to proceed further, and then we try to look at the boat in more details and find out as much info as we can.

3) After buyer decides that he/she wants to go ahead, then we negotiate the price and sign a safe agreement which is good for boat buyer and the seller.

4) The buyer places deposit normally 10% on the boat, this deposit is refundable if the buyer finds the boat to be non-seaworthy or showing many problems in the survey.

5) All boat sales require a professional independent surveyor to do a full survey and inspection of the boat, the amount for the surveyor is paid by the buyer, and so is the lifting costs in a shipyard and any cost that may require cleaning the bottom of the boat so the surveyor can have a clear look at the boat’s bottom. In turn, the seller has to make a crew/captain available to test the boat and the fuel costs required.

6) Upon satisfactory survey report, the buyer can decide to make a final payment, re-negotiate the deal or back out depending on the survey report. Point to note is that, normal wear and tear are usually not points to negotiate on. The negotiation or rejection of the deal is taken place when there are lot of problems or any major problem that deem the boat un-seaworthy or incur lot of expense on the buyer to make the boat in a acceptable condition.

7) Asia Boating Ltd or your yacht broker should prepare all documents, check for any debts on the boat, ensure the items that are included are kept on the boat, all documents that the buyer may need in the future are available. The preparation for closing and all documents are signed by Buyer and Seller and are held by the Seller until the final payment is made.

8) Buyer requires to prepare cashier’s order which is normally exchanged for final documents in the Marine Dept of Hong Kong. Immediately after giving the cashier’s order and getting the documents, we give the documents to the Marine Dept to carry out the transfer of ownership of the vessel from the seller to the buyer. This procedure takes approximately 1 or 2 hours in the marine department of Hong Kong.

9) After the certificate of ownership has been issued to the buyer who is not the new owner of the boat, the buyer arranges to take the boat to his/her mooring place and takes the physical delivery of the boat.



What is the commission rate we have to pay to the broker when buying a boat?

Commission Rates in HK, can be flexible depending on the price of the boat. 
There are various ways. Both parties, the Seller and Buyer are required to split the commissions. 
Or sometimes one party is paying the whole lot. It is basically the same thing. 
Some buyers do want the sellers to pay commission, and vice versa. Either way it is added in the price. 

The best practice is to confirm the commission and it’s structure with the broker. And Let it be transparent.

A good boat broker who has been in business for long term, will openly tell you of the commissions. If the Buyers or sellers think it is very high. 
They should beware of brokers who charge very low commissions, but end up keeping a bigger difference during negotiations. 


What are the expenses in maintaining a small boat or a large motor yacht?

Yearly maintenance cost of a boat depends on the size, for a big motor yacht the requirements are more and for a speed boat the requirements are lesser.

For the ease of calculation, We will try to give round up figures and slightly on the higher end of expense.

Boat is very much like your home and car, you will require to fix normal wear and tear, plus some things that you must do to ensure it is running well. Those things are.
1)  Twice a year lifting the boat up, cleaning bottom and painting it with antifouling paint, and replacing zinc anodes. This is done every six months.
For a 20-30 ft speed boat : HK$ 12,000 – 15,000
For a 40-50 ft motor yacht : HK$ 25,000 to 30,000
For a 50-70 ft motor yacht : HK$ 30,000 to 50,000

2) Once a year engine servicing, such as oil change, filters change etc.
For outboard motors : HK$ 5,000 to 8,000 (from official dealers) Can be cheaper from other local mechanics.
For Twin Inboard diesels 2 x 200hp to 2 x 600 hp : HK$ 35,000 to 45,000 (From official dealers) Can be cheaper from local mechanics.
For Bigger Inboard Diesel Engines : HK$ 45,000 to 60,000 (from official dealers) can be cheaper from local mechanics.
From non-dealers or local mechanics the price is usually around 15 % to sometimes 40% cheaper.

When the engines are under warranty, normally people use official dealers because it will be more safer in case the boat owner has to claim any warranty services later. Many owners still use official dealers because mainly they provide more accountability if things go wrong. Some also use other professional engineering companies who hire experienced mechanics. Many times we see for older boats, when getting spare parts from local dealers the prices are very high, compared to other mechanics who order online spare parts for fraction of the price.

3) Mooring Berthing Costs.
Dry storage for speed boats, from 15 ft to 35 ft : Yacht club charges HK$ 2000 to 4000 monthly (but requires to have membership and waiting list), Local shipyards cost 6000 to 7000 monthly.
Swing mooring on the sea, unofficial renting for boats around 30-40 ft : HK$ 4,000 to 6000 monthly
Swing mooring on the sea, for bigger boats such as 50 to 80 ft : HK$ 8000 to 20,000 monthly
for walking berths in Marina club and yacht club, the yacht owners require memberships fees and the clubs usually put customers on waiting list. Prices for membership range from few hundred thousand to few million HK dollars and monthly walkway berth rental is around 7,000 to 20,000 monthly depending on size of your boat.

4) Captain and boat boys.
Mostly yacht owners hire one full time captain and part time boat boys as needed for boats which are larger than 50 ft.
Full time captain salary starts at : HK$ 25,000 to HK$ 35,000 Depending on how qualified and suitable etc.
Boat boys full time salary : HK$ 15,000 to 25,000 Depends on suitability and requirements of job.
Part time Boat boys to help captain on a trip will charge, HK$ 1000 per day of boating trip, approximately.

5) Teak floor maintenance.
Teak on outer deck area, on side decks sometimes on flybridge is an expensive option, when not maintained it makes the boat look horrible, and when maintained it adds to the beauty of the boat.
Teak requires yearly painting with teak oil.
Your full time boat boy or captains can do it for free, by just buying over the counter teak oils.
Or else part time labor charges around HK$ 3,000 to HK$ 5,000  for a job which requires to be once every year, for a boat of 50 ft size to teak oil the cockpit and swim platform. More if the boat is bigger.

6) Buffing and Polishing of the hull : This is not normally required for boats that are maintained reasonably well, but some old boats can require polishing and buffing maybe every couple of years or so. The cost of re-buffing a boat varies from different shipyards or even free lance labor, a 40-50 ft boat rebuffing and polishing can cost around HK$ 10,000 to 20,000 approximately.
More for bigger boats.

These costs are just general estimates, that can change from time to time, and different shipyards have different charges for different sort of works, so it is not be used contractually but only for purpose of understanding estimated cost of yacht maintenance.


How to get a Boat Operating License in Hong Kong?

The fastest way to get a Boat Operating license in Hong Kong to join a course. If you use google and check for Boat Operating License you will find the companies that provide such a course. They will Book an examination date for you from the Marine Department of Hong Kong. The Exams are held almost every week.

You will need 2 licenses. Grade 2 Masters to operate the boat, and Grade 2 Engineers to understand engines. Having these 2 licenses enables you to operate pleasure vessels or yachts upto 15m (Roughly 50 ft). If you want to operate bigger yachts. Then you will need Grade 1 license. For which you will have to wait for a year or more until you reapply.

There is no practical exam to get boating license. Unlike car license. This is only multiple choice questions. Approximately 40 questions. In the course you will learn basics and go through some syllabus in the book. But mainly you will have to go back to the center to do past papers and practice passing the exam. This is easiest way and some centers guarantee 100% passing rate, as-in if you fail the first trial, they will let you come to the center to do the past papers until you pass.

Time period of this course depends on the students. Roughly people do the course and practice for 2 to 3 months. If you find it easy you can do the exam earlier.

Cost of this course for both licenses is under HKD 10,000/-  . More of less depending on different centers, their locations and no.of. students they teach at a time.

It is advised that after you get your license, you approach your instructor and ask them to give you some practical lessons if you are going to buy a boat for yourself in HK.

You might find this article interesting about Buying boat for the first time. 


What size boat can I drive without needing a license?

As Per Marine Department of Hong Kong, If your boat is smaller than 11 ft, and has less than 4hp engine. The person who is operating the boat does not require a operating license (That means a boat driving license). However, anything that floats on the water and is attached to a motor requires a certificate of ownership and an Operating License (like a boat number). Just like your car has a car plate, your boat also requires a license number which is called as Certificate of ownership number in Hong Kong.

You will not require a license if your small craft does not have engine. That means an inflatable boat you are paddling and using around the shore and beach is ok. Of course if it is a sailing yacht you will require license.

Should I repair my boat problems before selling it?

Should you really repair your boat before selling? The answer is really depends on the type of repairs are needed. If it is a very run down boat that you want to cash out of. Then lower the price and sell it quick. Get rid of liability. But if your boat is a nice luxury boat, with broken gear box or some mechanical problem. Then it is recommended you fix it. Otherwise one problem will make your boat seem like a run down boat that requires complete renovation.

You should also use your sense and sensibility to make sure the boat is in a good condition overall. Telling a boat buyer that the interior is run down but engines are perfect is not going to hold value. Make sure your boat over all is presentable and in a good mechanical condition. If you have done patch up work that looks ugly, that is not going to help you gain value. People are too smart to overlook cover up work. A good Buyer and Broker will lose trust if you do so.

You have to think if your boat is worth HKD 2 million for example. It might need HKD 100,000 worth of general and interior work. You think this will keep the value. Then do it. Because if you don’t, then you are going to get offers of HKD 1.5m. It is not easy for customer to buy and renovate. Its is worrying factor for buyer.

Again, you have to look at more variations in this. Sometimes the market status affects everything. But if there are similar boats in the market and you ensure that your boat is in a good condition, then you will get a better offer. A boat that is quickly ready to be used is very attractive to buyers. A boat that needs repair is going to attract bargain hunters only and they are tough negotiators.

Tips : Interior damaged by leaks, need to be fixed and re-polished. Engine room bilges should not have water and oil. The lesser the rust in engine room the better it is. Clean engine room is going to attract serious buyers. It also gives a good selling point to the broker.


With Inboard Diesel Engines or Outboard Petrol Engines? Which boat is better to buy?

Whether Outboard engines are better on a boat, or Inboard diesel Engines. This depends on how you use the boat.
Both types of engines have their good and bad points.

Inboard Diesel Engines best for : 
– Bigger boats over 30 feet long at least, because diesel engines can produce more power to push heavier boats.
-Long journeys in rough waters. Diesel engines are rugged and can be used roughly for longer periods of time.
-Diesel is cheaper than Petrol.
-Less flammable fuel, therefore safer in a way.

Not Great Points about Diesel engines : 
– They are heavier
-They are expensive
-They cannot be taken out easily in case of problems.
-The propellers, shaft is always touching the salt water which causes corrosion & constant cleaning is needed.
-Repairs and access is difficult and expensive compared to outboards.
-Troubled engine can reduce the value of the boat. Very difficult hence expensive to replace.

Outboard Petrol Engines are best for : 
-Smaller boats under 30 footers.
-They are light, strong and durable.
-They are not expensive compared to diesel engines.
-They can be tilted up and kept from touching the water, which keeps the condition good.
-Easier to fix, access is easy.
-Easy to replace and broken engine will not reduce the value of the boat.
-Modern outboards are very reliable and strong.
-Good for pushing the boat fast and quick.

Not Great Points about Outboard Petrol Engines : 
-Not ideal for heavier and bigger boats.
-Not recommended for long offshore journeys
-Petrol is flammable, so need to be more careful. (always open hatches and let the fumes go before starting your boat)

So basically Outboards are great for speed boats and boats around 30 feet in length. Technically Outboard engines can also do long journeys and offshore journeys. We see patrol boats with multiple outboard engines every now and then. However generally people use diesel engines for long trips as diesel is cheaper and the engines are heavy duty.

Generally people don’t usually do offshore boat trips with smaller boats. So outboards are recommended for almost all small craft.


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