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Legal risks to consider as a first-time yacht owner

On Behalf of | Feb 17, 2024 | Maritime And Admiralty Law

Owning a yacht can be an exhilarating experience, but it comes with its fair share of legal responsibilities and risks. As a first-time yacht owner, sooner is better when it comes to addressing these potential hurdles.

By going into your first yacht transaction with the right level of wariness, you can quickly get out on the water with confidence that there are no legal surprises waiting for you.

Registration and documentation

Registering your yacht is a basic legal requirement. It involves obtaining proper documentation from the relevant maritime authorities, which varies depending on your location and the size of the vessel. Failure to register your yacht properly can result in fines or even confiscation in some cases.

Insurance coverage

Securing adequate insurance coverage for your yacht protects you against potential liabilities. The right policy also provides coverage for unforeseen events such as accidents, damage or theft. Carefully review and understand the terms and conditions of your insurance policy to ensure you have the appropriate coverage.

Compliance with maritime laws

As a yacht owner, you must comply with various maritime laws and regulations governing navigation, safety and more. Violations can result in fines or legal consequences. Familiarize yourself with the applicable laws in your area and ensure that your yacht meets all regulatory requirements.

Contracts and agreements

Entering into contracts and agreements is common when owning a yacht, whether for mooring, maintenance services or chartering. Review and understand the terms of any contract before signing to avoid potential disputes or legal issues down the line.

Liability for accidents

Yacht ownership carries the risk of accidents or collisions, which can result in personal injury or property damage to other parties. As the owner, you may face accusations of liability for such incidents. Minimize your liability by ensuring proper training for anyone operating the yacht and maintaining the vessel in a seaworthy condition.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association reported that there were more than 415,000 first-time boat buyers in 2022. While yachting continues to become a popular form of recreation, it also becomes more important for first-time boat-goers to know how to navigate common legal pitfalls.