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St Maarten Marine Trades Assoc.

Frequently asked questions about buying (and keeping) a boat in the Caribbean

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Frequently asked questions about buying (and keeping) a boat in the Caribbean

In the course of representation offered to our clients,an enlightening and useful discussion is undertaken with you detailing the marvelous opportunities (and challenges) of owning a vessel in the Caribbean,as an initial consultation. We listen carefully to your preferences ... requirements context of use and budget target. We share with our clients extensive local knowledge gleaned from THIRTY YEARS full time Professional Yacht Brokerage services experience... of which the last ten years have been here in the Caribbean providing on site, year round "on duty" Yacht Brokerage and custodial services With respect to acting on your behalf, we believe that skillfully presenting offers and negotiating agreements is our forte. Reviewing and interpreting survey inspection results serve the buyer to measure the costs of remedies necessary and their availability ultimately leading to a true market value transaction Partial Summary of services:
* referral to appropriate accommodation while visiting for inspections;
* test sailing vessel subject to agreement to purchase by both parties conditionally and "in principal";
* thoughtful guidance to select,quality local On-Island service providers of :
* expert qualified and accredited pre-purchase survey inspection,
* mechanical reports; insurance coverages; registration services;
* seasonal underwriter approved storage;
and most importantly,
* secure owner absent custodial services when you are unable to personally in your absence, supervise and prudently care for your vessel.
When clients are considering purchasing a vessel located in the Caribbean, we hear questions that express certain very reasonable concerns. Some of the more common ones.


"We're concerned about the cost, quality, and availability of essential services and parts in the Caribbean"


St Maarten is the home of the St Maarten Marine Trades Association. The combined talents and experience of the members of this Association makes St Maarten the Marine Trades Capital of The Caribbean. The Member Companies are pledged to offer quality services at reasonable prices and are committed to growing the Industry on St Maarten through customer satisfaction. You will find scores of Services,Trades, Chandleries and boating-related retailers listed at the Marine Trades website www.mta-sxm.com as well as very valuable Island Information helpful to Yachtsmen and Women.


We aren't familiar with the quality and availability of Marine Surveyors in your area...are they qualified and capable ?.


There are Marine Surveyors on St Maarten listed at the Marine Trades Website. In addition, Antiqua and The Virgin Islands offer Surveyors only a short commuter flight away. This provides a pool of qualified professionals that may outnumber the choice available in your own community! Credentials held by Caribbean Region Surveyors vary. There are those carrying Lloyd's Agency, NAMS and SAMS as one would expect of any group of qualified surveyors. Please feel free to request our Caribbean Marine Surveyors contact list We recommend you contact the firms, ask for credentials and review a sample survey. Choose the firm with the approach with which you are most comfortable and direct them to address any specific concerns you have.

Ques: How is my deposit held and what is the process of making an offer ?


For presentation of your offer to the vendor we require, initially, only a facsimile faxed to us of a deposit check made out to Weather Eye Yachts In Trust to accompany the Offer. We will e-mail you a blank Offer To Purchase Form about which we welcome your questions after you have reviewed the document, whereupon you print execute and fax the executed offer to us with the deposit in the amount of 10% of the offered price (approximation only) The vendor will consider price, closing date and the scope and content of purchase conditions such as Marine Survey, Test Sail and Mechanical and Rig Evaluation. If the Offer is accepted,we will only then require "Ernest Funds" ,a proper deposit wired either to our Trust Account in the Caribbean at an internationally recognized bank or to our Trust Acct at a North American Chartered Bank, which ever you are most comfortable with.


What if the survey finds defects that require significant remedy at substantial cost ?


The buyer then has a choice to make...either to withdraw altogether and receive a speedy refund of deposit (this refund is enshrined in the Offer To Purchase Agreement) or to proceed at a price reduction ... (based upon quotes from recognized professionals) ... that adequately compensates for the cost to cure deficiencies revealed by the survey.
Often the true value and appropriate selling price of the Vessel is not determined until all the facts re: condition of the vessel have been determined.

It has been, in fact, our experience that Vendors, when they encounter as a step in the sales process an independent, qualified opinion of the condition of their vessel ... are likely to agree to a reduced price for their vessel should there have revealed deficiencies in the Report Of Marine Survey. these deficiencies are often not known by the vendor when he/she lists the boat and quite often do indeed come as a surprise to the vendor.


How are vessels conveyed in the Caribbean ? That is, how is proper paperwork and good "Title" to the vessel assured?


We require the vendor to provide free and clear title and proof of ownership, and a notarized Bill Of Sale before funds are released. We commonly use the universally accepted US Coast Guard Bill of Sale and the Acte de Vente de Francisation depending on the Country of Registry of the vessel. The Bill of sale is then Notarized by an authorized individual charged to authenticating signatures and who then renders the document legitimate.
Ques: How long may I leave my vessel in St Maarten waters and what if I have to leave my vessel for months at a time ?


St Maarten issues Cruising Permits, which incur fees and also Bridge/Lagoon user fees which are levied depending on the length of stay.

The permissible length of stay depends on Nationality of Port Of Origin of the vessel and/or her skipper.

Ques: How can I legally avoid Foreign Vessel fees and extend my boat's stay and enjoyment in St Maarten?


Owners can avoid Cruising Fees and Cruising Permit time restrictions by registering the Vessel on St Maarten as her Home Port.
What owner absent services are available if we are unable to travel to perform them personally ? We arrange decommissioning de-masting and Hurricane Season storage and then at the end of the period, recommission and rig the vessel as the sailing season approaches at competitive, standard industry rates. Or, simply, check (start) the engine, systems, anchor and lock at whatever intervals you wish should she remain at a permanent mooring.

We help clients avoid wasting the first week of their stay aboard their vessels on deferred maintenance duties.

This is a very popular choice with our clients, and it is very easy to see why. Often the quality of our custodial service allows the vessel to be left at a mooring, far, far less expensive than conventional seasonal Marina dockage charges.

References are available for those considering this as an alternative to sailing back and forth to the mainland seasonally with resulting heavy and often unacceptable wear and tear on the vessel and crew.


How long have you been in the Yacht Brokerage and Management business.


Thirty years.


Weather Eye Yacht Sales, Management and Charters

C\O Porto Cupecoy, Marina Unit C 2
66 Rhine Rd. Dutch Lowlands
St Maarten, St. Maarten/St. Martin

Toll-free 866-407-3791
Tel 1 (721) 556-3085 St Maarten Direct
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