Interview with Josh Lee and Martin Holmes of Lee Marine

The TYS team caught up with Josh Lee and Martin Holmes of Lee Marine who gave us some useful insight into buying a yacht for the first time, and discussed the role of the yacht broker.

What the best advice you have for a new boat owner?

JOSH LEE: Definitely surround yourself with a team of friendly professionals to ensure you complete convenience and satisfaction. Don’t cut corners with boats. The smallest things can irritate you at sea and if you buy just the deal be prepared for endless costs fixing the boat. Nightmare!

What do a lot of boat owners neglect to consider when buying and selling?

JOSH LEE: Relationships. With brokers, crew and service teams. They decide your level of overall satisfaction so it pays to have a good friendly team, all under one roof if possible.

How should someone go about buying his or her first yacht? What are the first steps if they think they might be interested?

MARTIN HOLMES: If your considering buying a boat I first recommend you understand your time allowance to use the boat. This will dictate the size and budget. Always talk to a passionate and honest broker.

JOSH LEE: #1- Get on board a wide range of boats and compile a list of the ‘must-have’ features that will make all the difference to the kind of boating/cruising that you intend to enjoy. #2- Consider the amount of time that you will get to spend onboard and the people that you will be with. #3- Find a good yacht broker! Once you have an idea of the type of boat you might be looking for then use your broker as a sounding board to test your ideas against the knowledge and experience that your broker will bring. Quite often this may lead you in a direction you hadn’t considered so don’t be afraid to think outside the box.

Would you recommend chartering some yachts before you buy one?

JOSH LEE: Absolutely yes.

MARTIN HOLMES: Yes. Once you are out on the water you might well find things about the boat you are on that either suit you or don’t.

What are the biggest steps people can take when buying a yacht for the first time to make sure they get the end experience they are looking for?

JOSH LEE: Read answers 1 and 2 above plus make sure you have a running budget and service team for when things need repair.

MARTIN HOLMES: Use an established yacht sales team who will follow up with care and ensure that the whole experience is a pleasurable one, and fun too.

If a client is interested in buying a yacht, what are the technical and mechanical checks that should be made before they purchase the yacht?

JOSH LEE: Always get a full independent survey conducted. Always. For boats of any size, it is invaluable. Check everything from hull and machinery to paperwork.

MARTIN HOLMES: This depends on the yacht itself (age, equipment, etc) but will usually mean commissioning a survey from an independent marine surveyor to ascertain the overall condition of the vessel. Further specific checks on engine performance and oil analysis may also be carried out. A comprehensive service history goes a long way to show the type of care that the vessel may have received prior to sale.

Are there any importation taxes if they intend to keep the yacht in Singapore?

JOSH LEE: No extra considerations aside from 7% VAT import duty.

If someone has not had a yacht broker before, what should they expect the yacht broker to do when helping them find a yacht?

MARTIN HOLMES: They should expect the yacht broker to have a clear picture of the buyers' expectations and to conduct research on the vessels that may be suitable and why. Once a shortlist has been determined, then the broker will arrange inspections and viewings of potential boats and use this process to fine-tune the search into boats that meet the clients' expectations on all levels – budget, suitability, safety, size and ultimately resale further down the line. Most of all your yacht broker should be someone you trust and put your faith in to help you. We live and breathe yachts every day and our experience can be very helpful to avoid the pitfalls.

What is not expected of the yacht broker?

JOSH LEE: A broker should not push you into a yacht that suits them more than it suits you!

MARTIN HOLMES: A good broker should listen to your requirements before suggesting vessel type. This is key. If a broker isn’t listening to you change immediately.

What are the first things I should do if I want to build a superyacht?

JOSH LEE: Find a broker you trust with a proven track record in custom building. He will be able to help put your vision onto paper via a well-selected designer. Once that’s done shipyard selection and project management are key. Try and run it all with the smallest team possible i.e. broker, designer, project manager, lawyer.

MARTIN HOLMES: Building a superyacht is probably one of the most personal and rewarding experiences that one can undertake. Have an idea of your expectations in terms of cruising areas, usage and creature comforts on board. Then, close your eyes and imagine what your superyacht will look like anchored off your favourite beach. Your mind's eye vision will lead you to particular designs that might just set off your creative spark.

When should I approach a yard, should this be before or after I have a design in mind?

JOSH LEE: After if possible. Some clients don’t have specific requests and go straight to shipyard selection. It’s a little bit case by case. The bigger the yacht the more important to get the sequence correct. i.e. design first then tender to yards.

MARTIN HOLMES: You should think about the design first and in particular the build material (GRP, Aluminium, Steel), target cruising speed and range and also the requirement for guests and crew.

What are the advantages of buying a yacht from a series platform as opposed to a totally custom-built?

JOSH LEE: Cost save, proven project, faster delivery time.

MARTIN HOLMES: With a series platform most of the naval architecture, tank testing and engineering are already done leaving you to focus on interior design and layout changes where permissible. A series platform will usually have a shorter delivery time.

At what length is it usually necessary to bring in a permanent crew for a boat/yacht?

JOSH LEE: Normally above 50-60ft, you need a crew.

MARTIN HOLMES: In Asia, it could be as small as 50ft but usually more like 65ft+. A lot of owners want their boats kept in immaculate condition and ready at all times and a crew member can make this happen.

At what length does it start to become necessary to have a crew who are not sharing positions on a yacht?

MARTIN HOLMES: Probably 80ft and above.

How much vacation time do crew expect to get per year?

MARTIN HOLMES: Between 2 and 4 weeks per year.

What are the pros and cons of buying a new boat/yacht over a used boat/yacht?

MARTIN HOLMES: A new boat is like buying a new car; you get exactly what you want and to your specification. The entire boat and its machinery will be under warranty for a period of time and this gives the owner peace of mind. A new boat will often feature latest technologies which may not be available on an older vessel.

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