Jimmy Rogers


Selling an Older Classic Yacht


Tom George and I were approached a little while back by a long time friend of the family who had a client with a special situation. Bottom line there was a classic 1983 55′ Rybovich that needed to be sold quickly, cost effectively and to bring the absolute top value possible.

The first thing I did was go take a look at her at the Palm Beach Yacht Club. She was in pretty good shape overall but had definitely suffered from a bit of neglect over the past year and needed a little TLC.


One really great aspect of the yacht is that she was a Rybovich, which is an extremely well known and respected builder of yachts for many years. Additionally she had received a massive refit/re-power in 2014 from Michael Rybovich and Sons in Palm Beach to the tune of $1.3M…or so I was told…but the value of that re-fit is dramatically reduced unless you can provide the paperwork to back it up.


After assessing the current condition of the yacht I was able to put together a multi-step plan to see her through to final sale. In summary this was what needed to happen:

  1. Track down any and all available service records on the yacht, specifically the ones related to the refit
  2. Assess what repairs and maintenance work should be done that would be a net VALUE ADD to the yacht…increasing both desirability and expected price
  3. Assemble a comprehensive media package- professional photo shoot, video shoot, video walkthrough and virtual tour
  4. Bring the Yacht to market with heavy advertising
  5. Put her under the nose of prospective buyers at the Palm Beach Boat Show

STEP 1- Records

All of the service work was done at the Michael Rybovich and Sons Boatyard in Palm Beach.  After obtaining written authorization from the owner to have the records released I got the records in about 75 different PDF invoices totaling about 460 pages…a lot to digest…and it truly was $1.3M of work!  This work was all compiled into a simple 2 page summary that could be distributed to serious prospective buyers for their review.  Giving someone an understanding of the scope of work performed has a dramatic impact on the value of an older vessel.  Even if the work was performed but there is no way to prove exactly what was done via solid service records the yacht could easily take a 20%-30% hit in the value.

STEP 2- Value Add Repairs and Maintenance

Given the Rybovich pedigree and the fact that the refit work was done at the Michael Rybovich and Sons Boatyard, any repair and maintenance work really should also be done there as well.  It certainly is not the cheapest boatyard but they know the Rybovich yachts better than anyone and a prospective buyer would certainly feel more comfortable knowing that the work was done by Rybovich vs. some other yard…the name Rybovich is itself a value add in this circumstance.

I am a firm believer that regular maintenance and service work, structural components and repairs that affect the functionality of the yacht are a must do prior to listing any yacht and will be a definite value add in re-sale.  People by and large do not want to inherit a boat with current issues and will recognize and respect the fact that a boat is “turn-key” and ready for cruising.

To start, I will always sit down with the yacht’s captain and/or owner and ask about the last time any and all service and maintenance was done, what they know of that is not functional and also go through the yacht myself, testing the systems and even going on a brief sea trial to check for proper engine performance, abnormal vibrations, etc. 

With this knowledge we will know in advance with a good degree of accuracy what would show up in a buyer’s survey.  From there we triage any and all issues and come up with a list of the ones that we deem should be done, then put a plan together to have them addressed.

For instance- if there is a vibration in the yacht when running at cruising speed and one engine is running at below-specification RPM it is imperative that this be addressed.  It likely is just a prop that needs tuning, but a prospective buyer is not going to buy your boat based on what is “likely”…he has to factor in worst case scenario…it could be an engine is in need of a rebuild or worse.  So something that you could have addressed up front for $800 and never had the issue ever pop up you are now having the burden of proving to a buyer that it is not a major issue that could cost $50,000+ down the road…not a situation you want to wind up in.  Addressing ahead of time assures a smooth survey process and will instill confidence in a buyer that he is buying a solid yacht.

About a month and $20,000 later, LUCKY left the Michael Rybovich and Sons boatyard in excellent shape and ready for presentation. 

STEP 3- Media

With the 55 Rybovich LUCKY all tuned up and looking sharp we moved to the “media” day.  I have learned through my years of selling yachts that presentation is vitally important…a prospective buyer may only physically look at a yacht once prior to making an offer…but will obsessively look at pictures, video and virtual tours of it online 100 times!  

SO…the Pictures, Running Video, Walkthrough Video and Virtual Tour NEED TO BE AMAZING!  This can be accomplished by a dedicated, passionate and professional photography team that understands how to properly present a yacht.  Luckily I have found just that team and use them as often as I can for my yacht listings.  It is not a simple 45 minute in and out experience, but a 10-12 hour long day of shoots and ocean runs in different lighting to find the perfect background and lighting for the particular shot.  The results speak for themselves, check out this video clip:

STEP 4- Heavy Advertising

We were now ready for the 55 Rybovich LUCKY to make her big debut on the market.  The media that is assembled is compiled in a concise and organized format and distributed throughout the web for consumption via computer, tablet and/or phone.  From MLS sites Yachtworld, Yatco, IYBA.yachts, Boats.com, Boattrader.com to video hosts YouTube and Vimeo, virtual tour hosts Matterport to the yacht’s personalized homepage on TGYG.com…we make sure that it gets in front of all prospective yacht buyers and makes a lasting impact.  

One point worth noting here is my focus on my client’s yacht and advertising it in a manner that promotes it best.  So many yacht sales firms today just throw a bunch of listings in a magazine ad or have web pages that your yacht can get lost in…it may help promote their yacht brokerage firm “look how many listings we have!”, but not necessarily your specific yacht.  What has made me successful in by business as a yacht broker is the care and attention to each of my clients, and when selling a boat to put an intense focus on the sale effort of THEIR boat.

STEP 5- Boat Show

One time tested and still very powerful way to get your yacht in front of prospective buyers is to put it right under the nose of prospective buyers at a boat show.  There are 2 main reasons I am a big fan of putting my client’s listings in a boat show.  One is that buyers fly in from all over the world to come to boat shows to buy boats, it is the most convenient and easy way to get aboard the different boats of interest all in one place.  Your yacht can be on a buyer’s short list, but if it is not in the boat show and an inconvenient 2 hour drive away, there is a sizeable chance your yacht will just get skipped over.  The second reason I am a fan of putting boats in boat shows is that your yacht can catch someone’s eye that may not have even been aware of it or in the market for it..but since it’s right in front of him he may come take a look..and may even want to buy it!  I have sold quite a few yachts this way…you just never know who is going to be walking down the docks at a show that has the potential to buy your yacht.

Back to the 55 Rybovich- I did feature her in the Palm Beach Boat show very shortly after getting her officially advertised for sale.  We had an offer come in right before the show and was cinched up when the buyer came to the show to check her out in detail.


I hope that this article gave you a bit of a glimpse into what I do as a yacht broker to sell my client’s yachts as quickly as possible and for as much money as possible.  The 55 Rybovich was a very special classic boat that I enjoyed spending time on…while the older yachts may require more back end work and research on the part of the yacht broker than a 2 year old current model yacht, it was truly a pleasure on LUCKY!

See Below some great shots of the 1983 Rybovich 55 LUCKY


Jimmy Rogers

OneWater Yacht Group

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