A captain’s involvement in the sale of a superyacht can vary depending on an owner’s requirements, but what happens when a captain replaces a broker altogether? Captain Todd Rapley, with his owner for four years, has just sold the owner’s superyacht with no broker involvement whatsoever. Here, he explains the ins and outs of the sale and how this experience has led him to believe captains should be at the forefront of the sales process.

I have just completed the sale of my owner’s multi-million-dollar superyacht without a broker. Why? Because we could see no advantage or benefit to having a broker involved. In fact, we could see so many benefits to not including a broker in the sale. What value does a broker bring to the sale process? As a buyer you can ask these questions as well. Contract documentation is readily available online, within the industry or with your owner’s lawyer and when it comes to negotiation skills, have brokers really had negotiation training or are the majority simply ex-captains? Many captains and owner-business-management teams already have negotiation skills.

Who really does the broker work for? If you get involved in a sales process you’ll get a consistent flow of brokers making contact saying, “I may have an interested party,” and that you should engage their services. So my question would be, if they are genuinely coming to the table with an interested party, then who are they working for; the interested party or the seller? It seems to me like it would be the buyer, so why should the seller pay a commission? The commission should be the buyer’s responsibility. Try asking the broker who the interested party is and you will get the typical squirming; “Oh, I can’t disclose that information.” If a broker was working for the seller then that information would be forthcoming.

Who knows the vessel inside and out? Does the buyer or buyer’s surveyor ask the detailed questions to the broker or the seller’s captain?

What special advertising skill does a broker provide? You can place adverts in The Superyacht Report or any one of the industry magazines and online websites. Take a look around; there is nothing special in the marketing plans or advertising wording. If you already have a yacht brochure and website then you are already halfway there. Who knows the vessel inside and out? Does the buyer or buyer’s surveyor ask the detailed questions to the broker or the seller’s captain?

Now for the ‘how to’ for captains. First, I conducted research just as we all do before cruising new waters, employing new crew or buying new on-board equipment. I read a variety of sale adverts in magazines and online, then wrote my own. I checked other comparable vessels for sale – size, year, location, hours, inclusions, broker and so forth – and presented the average price to the owner. I then showed my owner the broker commission, which when subtracted produced a very appealing sale price. I investigated advertising avenues including online, print, shows, industry and owner communication, as well as costs, a budget and the timeline needed to produce a programme. Mine started with an initial two months listed online on four sale sites, plus a homepage advert on our own website. After two months I intended to place magazine adverts, prior to attending a specified yacht show after reaching the six-month period. Right from the decision to go to market I reached out to my contacts in the industry and advised anyone with whom I discussed the yacht that she was for sale. The cruising schedule for the year was set around attending that particular yacht show and plans were made for future owner business trips. All plans came to an abrupt end within two weeks when we had a serious enquiry, and within three months she was sold.

Read Captain Todd Rapley’s full article and further advice in issue 70 of The Crew Report - click here to download.

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