No matter the age, VAT is payable. If it is a rarely used 'collectible' I think it is 5% of purchase price
(check), everything else is 20% (presently). As a collectible it had better be rarely used too, or they will come after you.
The first Port you stop at inside EU waters, will be the Country you owe VAT to. Which is why my first stop North from Cape Verde
is going to be a UK one. If weather
needs to be avoided, Gibraltar
and the Channel Isles are options to run to.
There are rumours of an exemption being available if you own the boat for at least 12 months prior to entering EU waters, but UK Customs
and Excise were unable to confirm that when I spoke to them (it would contradict the reality in my PS).
Thinking positively, hopefully things will improve dramatically once we get out of the racketeering lawless State that is the EU (I may well stay away until that happens).
PS If you pay the VAT then leave EU waters for a few years, the boat is again liable to VAT when it returns a second (or third . . . ) time.