The Logistics Of Selling A Boat

As you know we’ve put Dazzler on the market and will be looking forward to new adventures once she sells. But, we thought it would be interesting to tell you about the logistics of selling a boat in a foreign country. I’m here to tell you that it is not for the faint at heart and there is a significant upfront cash outlay too. In fact, I think we worked harder to get her ready to sell than we’ve ever done to get ready for a passage. Anyway, here’s some of the tasks you can look forward to if you decide to sell your cruising yacht abroad.

First of all, you can’t just cruise into a foreign port and put your boat up for sale. There’s all sorts of legal hoops to jump through. Australia is particularly strict with their regulations regarding the sale of a foreign flagged vessel in their country so we spent a bit of time making sure we had all the facts before we moved forward. 

Here you cannot even advertise your boat for sale unless she’s been imported and the proper import duty has been paid. This precludes you from trying to do an offshore sale. And, we’ve learned from the Australian Border Force Officers that they are very strict with this. They actually check boat sale websites, Fakebook pages and sailing blogs and cross-reference them with foreign flagged vessels that have checked into country. If you’re caught with your boat for sale it can mean thousands of dollars in fines and/or possibly to confiscation of your vessel so it’s not worth it to even try to do anything hinky.

Logistics, Logistics, Logistics

Figuring out what and how to import her was a process all in its own. The Australian government website isn’t very clear and with something this important you don’t just want to go by what someone heard from their friend whose friend’s brother sold a boat here ten years ago. In fact, what we are telling you here could easily change with the stroke of the political pen so we do highly recommend that you do your own due diligence with a broker and/or the Australian Border Force authorities. 

Dan Painting Bottom
Another beautiful bottom job by Captain Dan!

After months of research and talking with everyone we could we learned that the first thing we needed to do was to have a “valuation” done on her. This is done by a marine surveyor and the amount of import duty you pay is based upon this valuation We used Ray Pettengell of QLD Surveys. He was super easy to work with and we feel like her gave a fair assessment. In Australia the import duty and GST (sales tax) turned out to be around 12.8% of the surveyed value. Of course we had to pay $700 AUD for the valuation survey as well.   

Now hiring a broker isn’t absolutely necessary but we chose to hire one to file the import paperwork. We spoke to plenty of people who agreed that when dealing with the Australian government using a broker is the only way to go. And, we’re pretty sure they were correct. We hired Nathan at Dazmac and the $760 AUD we paid him was money well spent in our opinion. He was so efficient it was mind-blowing. From the moment he made contact with us to the moment we had our official “Authorization to Deal” (the official import document) was about ten days! 

All import fees paid, bank account significantly lighter and certificate in hand we were ready to get her on the market…well, sort of. I mean, all the legal stuff was done but then came the process of getting Dazzler ready to market and show to potential buyers. That was more than I, myself, was ready to tackle. 

When you live on a boat and she’s clean and her maintenance is done regularly you really don’t realize how much there is to do until it comes time to clean out & pack every single locker and tidy up every corner. WOW! This 36’ boat can truly hold a lot of stuff!!!

While I worked on locker duty, Dan worked outside doing everything from bottom paint to  varnishing, cleaning, checking rigging and making absolutely certain everything is ship shape for the lucky buyer to be. The thing about selling a boat is that people want it to be virtually empty when they see her so you have to literally take just about everything you own off of her. The trick is figuring out a place to put it.

Packing Logistics

Being overseas and not having a home anywhere else means we had to do some pretty creative logistical planning. In fact, we pretty much had to plan the entire thing backwards. Dan has lived on Dazzler for twenty years so he has a lot of things on her that he wants to keep. And, I’ve collected my own things over the past seven years. So, first thing to do was figure out how much stuff we were thinking of having shipped back to the States.

Storage and Shipping

Of course what we plan to take back also depends on how much it will cost to get it there as shipping overseas is NOT cheap. So, I started with looking up shipping companies to determine the cost and sizes of containers. We’ve known other cruisers who shipped things back and received lots of broken items on the other side. Initially Dan had a plan to build a wooden crate to put everything in but then I located Seven Seas Worldwide. They actually have premade wooden crates in three different sizes.

Logistics of Packing
This is our life! Everything in one neat little Tetris puzzle.

SSW delivers the crate to you, waits while you pack it and then takes it to the port to put it on a container ship where it will take upwards of 90 days to reach the USA. Many shipping companies just have you pack your stuff up on a pallet and wrap it in plastic. That’s how our friends did it and also is how they ended up with a lot of broken stuff. So, as you can imagine, we were thrilled to locate SSW.

Of course there’s always the possibility of things getting broken. But placing things in super heavy duty tubs & boxes and those being place inside a strong wooden crate that is then placed inside a metal shipping container seems a bit more secure to us. Only time shall tell if we are correct. 

Enter Dan…the ever precise planning guru. Dan pulled down the measurements of the medium size crate we decided to get and it was off to Bunnings. (Think Home Depot Australia Style) We spent several hours over the course of as many days looking at heavy duty plastic containers. It was like playing Tetris as Dan put his container puzzle together. Once he was absolutely certain his plan would work we purchased the prescribed number of plastic tubs/boxes.

Next we had to determine where we would store this stuff until the time comes to actually put it  in the shipping crate. THAT was a bit of a bugger to deal with as it’s almost impossible to find a small storage unit nearby the marina. We did finally locate an acceptable storage solution so the time to pack was upon us.

You know how when you are packing up to move and you throw stuff in boxes and label the box with a couple of the items inside it and maybe put “living room” or “kitchen” on it? Well, it’s a whole lot different when you are shipping things on a container ship. You actually have to create a detailed manifest that includes a list of every single item you are shipping. Think about that for second. Imagine cataloging every item in your house as you boxed it up to move.

Jilly's Manifest Spreadsheet

I created a spreadsheet (I love spreadsheets!) and we numbered each tub. As each one was packed I had to stop and make a list of the items in that box. This makes packing take about twice as long. Add to that the fact that we’re packing boxes in a confined space and you can imagine the chaos. I’ve packed and move over 30 times in my life but never have I experienced the likes of this.

I do have to give a huge shout out to my amazing hubby here as he had to haul all of the packed crates down the dock and to storage. Because we are located at one of the furthest out fingers here at Scarborough Marina it was quite a trek. In fact, and I did count, it’s 1000 steps round trip!!! Let’s just say he easily got in his 10,000 steps a day there for a couple of weeks.

As you can imagine there are things that we didn’t want to ship home and would not normally be left for a new buyer so we had to figure out what to do with stuff like that. We threw away what was of no use to anyone. There was plenty of that stuff. The marina probably had to have an extra garbage pickup that week. 

We had lockers full of tinned food, clothing, extra parts and pieces etc… We put the nautical items such as tools or hoses or things like that on the “free” table here at the marina. It was pretty interesting to see how quickly these things were picked up by other yachties.

Getting rid of the tons of food we had on board was quite a different experience however. You see it turns out that even homeless shelters here in Australia don’t want non-expired tinned food. Since Covid they only want monetary donations. It was really a trick to find a place where we could donate this stuff. Fortunately we found a very worthy place that not only took the food but also other items such as clothing, cooking utensils etc… And, they were thrilled to get it. 

The organization is called Chameleon House. They specialize in helping homeless males and females from 16-25 years old. Their goal is to provide for their welfare and safety while helping them to move into society and find homes, jobs etc… They have been around for a very long time and their service is so important to this community. We made two large donations and were overjoyed to find such a worthy organization to donate to. If you’re in the Brisbane area and have quality items they could use, please get in touch with them.

And, of course we did have some items that we sold like our Engels Refrigerator/Freezer, some dive gear, a drogue and a couple of other items. It was actually nice to be taking in a little cash rather than dolling it out all the time. John Hebrow of the Down Under Rally helped out by advertising our items too. We sold both of our drogues due to his ads. Thanks John!

One thing we did note is what muppets people can be when you advertise stuff for sale on social media. We had a guy trying to lowball us on one item and when we wouldn’t budge he started sending really nasty messages. I finally told him we’d toss it in the ocean before we sold it to him for any amount of money and then, of course, I promptly blocked him. 

Social media is fraught with scammers too. When we initially listed Dazzler on Fakebook Marketplace we had a guy try to tell us if we’d just give him our bank account info he’d wire the full asking price to us immediately. Said he just couldn’t get here to view her but he “trusted” us” that she is as advertised. Really? HE trusted us??? When I told him that we’d put him in touch with a lawyer to handle the financial transaction he suddenly disappeared. Hmmmmm

Anyway, once Dazzler was emptied of everything we don’t absolutely need to survive it was time to take pictures and video for the listing. By the way…once everything was off of her she actually sat 8” higher in the water. We’re pretty sure we took about 2,000 pounds of stuff off of her. Now that’s a lot of stuff!

Turns out getting the photos and even producing the video was easy. Putting together the spec sheet, not so much. You see, unlike when someone is buying a house and they just take a walkthrough looking at the bedrooms, kitchen etc….when someone looks at buying a boat they want to know every single detail. Fortunately we keep detailed logs and I’ve spent years compiling all of this information on the computer but still, it was time consuming.

All the chaos is behind us now as she is listed with DBY Boat Sales who came highly recommended to us by John Hebrow. And, she has even been shown to prospective buyers. She’s getting quite a bit of interest too so it looks like we won’t have to live like we are camping for much longer.

Everyone keeps asking what’s next for us so let me shed a little light on that subject. Oh wait, I can’t because we honestly don’t know. We’ve got a few ideas but for now we’re just taking it one day at a time.

We do know that once Dazzler is securely in the hands of her new owner we plan to spend some time traveling about Australia. This is a huge country and there’s still so much we want to see and do. We also want to take one last trip back to New Zealand and also to Fiji. After all, once we leave this part of the world we aren’t likely to get back here so we figure we should see everything we want to see before we move along.

After that….who knows? An RV (a/k/a Land Yacht) to roam the countryside or maybe a casa in Mexico where the sun shines most of the time and the beer is cheap! Or, maybe we’ll put down some roots on a large plot of land. You know, give Dan something to do like building things and growing a garden. Whatever it is we are excited to get started on the next chapter in this grand adventure called life.

Until next time,


Celebrating the hard work being complete with one last margarita before we tossed the blender!

CLICK HERE to see all the sale details on Dazzler including a walkthrough video!

Author: Dan & Jilly

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.