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Things To Look Out For When Buying a Second Hand Boat

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 25 Nov 2010 | comments*Discuss
Buying A Second Hand Boat Considerations

If you’ve never lived on a boat before and are not entirely sure that living on a boat on a permanent basis is something you’re certain will be a lifestyle which is definitely going to suit you, then buying second hand might be a better option as you’ll be risking less of a cash investment. However, if you’re considering buying a used boat, there are many factors to consider.

How Would I Go About Buying a Used Boat?

Generally, people will buy a used boat from a private seller, a broker or a marine dealership. When buying from a private seller, however, it will usually come without a warranty. Therefore, you’ll either need to have a good boating knowledge of the important things to look out for when you’re inspecting the boat or, better still, get a marine surveyor to inspect it.

This service will cost you but a professional opinion might end up saving you a lot of money and heartache in the long run.

Boat dealers and brokers, on the other hand, may be able to offer you a limited warranty in most cases but the overall cost will be reflected in a higher price as the result of the dealer’s commission. It’s still worth getting a marine surveyor to inspect the boat though.

Questions You Want To Be Asking The Owner

One of the first questions you want to be asking the seller of the boat is the reason why they’re selling it. Naturally, you can’t always guarantee you’ll be told the truth and sometimes you might need to rely on what your instincts tell you but it’s still a useful opening question to ask.

You should also ask if the boat has a maintenance log and, if so, if you can you take a look at it as this will contain information about any repairs the boat may have undergone, its service history etc. Try to establish from the owner what the boat was mostly used for and how frequently it was used.

Inspecting The Boat

Much as in the same way as you’d view a house, you can often establish a general idea of how well a boat has been looked after by simply walking around on deck and inside the boat’s living quarters itself. Paintwork and the care of wood and metal fixtures and fittings are obvious signs of care or neglect and if you can see things like waterline marks inside the boat, this is a sure sign that it has flooded in the past.

Ask them to run a test of the equipment such as the bilge pump, freshwater system and things such as generators, heaters, stoves etc. Check who the builder of the boat was and, if you’re not familiar with the name, do your research to find out how reputable the company is. Find out the hull’s registration number and make sure it matches that on the documents and that it doesn’t appear to have been tampered with as you don’t want to end up buying a boat that might have been stolen.

Wherever possible, ask if the boat can be taken out of the water so you can check the hull below the waterline. A reputable seller should not object to this at all if you can arrange for this to be done as all boat owners appreciate just how important the condition of a boat’s hull is to a potential buyer.

Obviously, procedural engine checks are equally important and it’s acceptable to ask if you can take it for a ‘test drive’ to see and feel how it actually performs.

Ultimately though, unless you’re really knowledgeable yourself, if you want to be sure that you’re buying a good quality used boat where the asking price does reflect the quality of what you are buying, a marine surveyor is the best person to employ to carry out all of the above tests and to ask the relevant questions far and above what is mentioned here.

And, on that note, anyone can call themselves a marine surveyor so make sure that they belong to some kind of registered marine surveyor’s organisation that is genuine and reputable.

Finally, even if things might not come fully up to scratch in all areas and either you or the marine surveyor thinks the price is too high for what the seller is asking for the boat, depending on the surveyor’s report and/or your own observations, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to simply walk away from the sale (although you could do so should you choose to) but it can be a useful bargaining tool to get the seller into agreeing to a lower price.

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