Boats are no small investment; besides the actual cost of the vessel, you have to think about maintenance, storage and a host of other costs. It is estimated that over 60 percent of people in the market for a boat are looked for a used one. Like anything used, there are great deals to be had and not-so-great deals. But, with a little homework on your part, you can arm yourself with the basic knowledge necessary to make an informed, quality purchase. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Figure out What Type of Boat You Want
The first step in successfully snagging a used boat is identifying, with as much precision as possible, what type of boat you want. Learn more about the particular brands of the boats you are considering. Are they considered ‘’affordable’’ brands, what is their reputation and standing in the boating world? Where does this type of boat rank compared to other brands popular in your area? What about the engine? Certain types are not as desirable, and these boats should cost less than one with a better engine. For example, 2-stroke is not considered as good as a 4-stroke engine; EFI engines are more fuel-efficient than carbureted ones. Bigger is not necessarily better, and remember that the more boat you have, the more expensive it will be to maintain.
Know the History of the Boat
You should know the history of any boats in the running for purchase, as well as the reason for sale. Many used boats have dubious histories that can cost you a lot of money down the line. If it has been through a hurricane, salvaged and refurbished, you want to know that. Some of those great ‘’steals’’ were repossessed from boat owners who neglected the boat for years and eventually stopped paying for them. Generally, a boat that has only one owner is best. One good strategy may be reaching out to organizations that facilitate boat donation; they offer a list of donated boats for sale, and many of these come from the original owner.
What to Look For
While there is no way I could cover everything to look for in a used boat, here are some of the most important. Look carefully at obvious elements such as the upholstery, woodwork and gel coating—if they show signs of neglect, it is a good bet the rest of the boat is not in such great shape either. If the deck feels spongy, walk away. If any of the paint or gel coat looks mismatched, that may indicate an accident.Check for water lines in the boat and engine—this indicates flooding. Cracks in the fiberglass do not necessarily indicate problems, as smaller ones typically result from benign issues such as screws that have been countersunk improperly. Anything larger than 2 inches suggests a bigger problem, like an accident. Check the oil—if it feels gritty, this suggests serious engine wear. Regardless of how good a boat seems, always have a mechanic come look at any boat you are thinking about purchase.
About the Author: Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who blogs about a variety of boating topics.