We thought we were pretty good going, after finding the yacht of our dreams 1 week after arriving in Europe. She was not too old, hardly used, spacious, bright and airy on the inside, the perfect size and a great location to get to.
After our initial inspection of the yacht, we handed in an offer 3 days later, 4.4., in the hope that the seller would agree quickly and the whole purchasing process could be started asap. The plan was to be on the water by end of June. Things were looking good.
We received a poorly worded pre-purchase offer via mail from our broker on 6.4., which we changed, signed and sent back to the broker immediately. He said he would pass it on to the vendor the next day and we should get an answer maybe already on Friday. Fingers crossed!
While we were waiting to hear back, we realised we needed to find someone who could help us with all the legal stuff concerning buying, de-registering and re-registering a boat (in Italy), thanks to internet yachting forums we found an office in Italy who is specialised in this and is seemingly well known in the yachting world. We contacted the office of Wind Service in Italy and they are happy to help us with all of the paperwork.
Not very cheap but we’d rather have it all correct rather than worrying what to do and how to do it.
Received a quick update from our broker in Italy on Friday 8.4. – the vendor has not come back yet, but he will chase them up – at least we can relax a bit on the weekend. Once it is accepted and we get an MOA things may get hectic again. On Monday, still no sign of the MOA but received Privacy Firmatario from our broker to sign that we agree on background checks etc, before the MOA is sent through to us. One step closer to owning our boat!
2 days later still no news. Argh, we can’t wait much longer… What’s happening with our boat?! How much longer? (Please note, this is 10 days after our initial offer)
Still doing some online window shopping for all the different bits and bobs we will need for the boat, especially with SVB in Bremen (which turned out to be an amazing store, where we got everything we needed).
We then came across our first roadblock…. Since we are not NZ citizens we thought we would need to register the yacht in Europe. As Alistair does not have an English address, the plan was that I would buy the boat under my name and have the yacht registered under the German flag. With this in mind, only I got all the relevant paperwork to sign. When I say all, I mean the first week I got one thing to sign and send back, then a week later I got another paper to sign and send back. So by the time I had all necessary papers signed, 4 weeks have passed and no MOA was issued. While waiting we found out that you only need to be a permanent resident in NZ to be able to register our yacht under the NZ flag. This was great, meaning we could buy the boat together (under both our names) and we wouldn’t need to pay the VAT on her as we would be taking her out of the country/EU. We confirmed with the broker and he confirmed with the bank that this would be ok. Now, obviously, Alistair had to sign all the paperwork too, which took another week to complete. After another week, we checked for any updates with the broker, he mentioned the was a little problem with the VAT, but the bank should have this sorted by end of the week…. A week later we were still waiting on any updates and after contacting our broker, we were informed that with the new banking laws, we were not able to buy the boat without VAT and the MOA would need to be re-issued including the VAT , which would now cause a bit of a delay (you don’t say!!).
The last week of May, we finally received the MOA we have been waiting for. As per MOA, we now had 10 days to organise a survey and a sea trial (which needed to be within 2 days of each other). Problem now was to get all the involved together to do this – we needed a surveyor, a mechanic, a captain plus we needed to make sure that the yacht could leave the shipyard in time to get through all bridges along the canal to reach the marina in Livorno… Luckily, our agent was organising all of that. He then gave us a few dates, but all was delayed again because the bank agent needed to be on board during the sea trial as well – unfortunately, he was on holiday and we had to wait another week.
Finally, on 8.-9. June we were able to complete the survey and have the sea trial. It was good to see that the yacht can handle 9 people on board, no problem.
Both, sea trial and survey were completed successfully, we checked autopilot, VHF (not receiving, problem possibly at the aerial), seacocks, airconditioning, power to fridge/freezer and the generator. We discovered then that the generator was not working, which was really the only (major) defect on the boat.
We arranged for the bank to get the generator fixed and we shook hands on the deal. We got ourselves a boat!
A day later, we arranged with Windservice to start the de-registration process of the Italian flag – which was expected to take 4-6 weeks. We also arranged with the shipyard to undertake the services and repairs on the boat, which were discussed with the surveyor, eg. Antifouling, anodes, engine service, seals around the drive shaft… . All on track again to be on the boat by mid July!
By the end of July, work was still in progress and the de-registration had not happened yet. This meant, we could not take ownership of the yacht yet and also could not insure her.
Mid August, we have been advised that the yacht will have to be put into the water, as the shipyard will be closing for a month. Still no news on the de-regisration!
We now have been told though, that the final payment for the boat was due. Ok, no problem, I’ll send the money through. Yeah, but no, it was not quite as easy as just transferring the money. The bank in Italy needed to equal payments from both Alistair and I as we were buying the boat together. Great! We just had one bank account in Germany (with the money allocated for the boat), just under my name and now we had to quickly open another account (on a Saturday morning) and transfer half the money over (in 2 transactions, of course) and then take the money out again to pay for the yacht. Another week’s delay just for that. Then, to top things off, we got a call from the bank in Germany, (not quite but nearly) accusing us of money laundry and we had to go to the bank and explain and prove that we were buying a boat in Italy.
We realised after our 2nd time going down that it takes about the same amount of time to drive down rather than fly as there are no direct flights from Hannover and you either have to go to Hamburg, Berlin or Frankfurt. Having Tiny and cases, we decided it was less hassle for us to hire a car and drive the 12 hours (without traffic).
On 28th August we decided, enough is enough, and hired a car to drive down to Pisa. With all our belongings on board and the yacht being in the water, there was no reason why we couldn’t already live aboard, get things ready, clean up, get to know the boat, and wait for the dereg to come through before we could set sail.
A great thank you goes out to my mum and dad who put up with us for far longer than any of us anticipated, and supported us all the way. Thanks to you we had a roof over our heads, a bed and good German food! A shout out also to Alistair's family in NZ, who were happy to give us advise all along and helped with organizational/logistics.
Thank you and love you.
Believe it, or not, the day came (8.9.2016) - the Bill of Sale was couriered to us on the ship yard, NZ registration was done, insurance was taken out. We now had to wait for Monday - but then it was Monday 12.9.2016 and we were guided down the canal in Pisa towards Livorno (there, our captain jumped off) and we actually set sail and sailed for the first time on our own – towards Elba.
After 5 months of waiting – Let the adventure begin!
If you are interested in some more insights concerning our ups and downs , speed bumps, to VAT or not to VAT, then drop us a line and we'll be happy to share some more details of what we had to go through.
Just a few photos from the 5 months of waiting - not much sailing (obviously) but food and random stuff :)
Follow Alistair and Nicola as they share their experience of traveling around the world.