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What to Know When Buying a Used Boat

Niharika Arya
Is price the only thing which should kept in mind when buying a used boat? No, there are many other things, like the functioning of the engine, the hull condition, the history of the boat, etc., which are equally important. Find out more about the important points you should keep in mind when going to buy a pre-owned boat.

Important Tip

Look for a boat which is NMMA (National Marine Manufacturers Association) certified. This certificate is given to boats which meet all US Coast Guard regulations, and standards of the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC). This certification increases the guarantee and safety of the boat.

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A boat is a necessity for people living in coastal areas or at the bank of a river. But there are many people who want a boat because they love boating for adventure, or just want to sail in peace with their family and friends.
A brand new boat can be prohibitively expensive, which everyone can't afford. So, if you have a tight budget, or are not that passionate about buying a new boat, you can opt for a used or pre-owned boat.
Today, there are a large number of people who are looking for a used boat, and more importantly, there are many who are ready to sell their boats. A used boat is not a bad option at all, as it can fulfill your requirement and fit into your budget as well.
Boating is really adventurous and fun, but needs a huge investment and regular expensive maintenance. Even if you have the money, boating is no easy task, as it requires hard work and dedication as well. Thus, before you go looking for a used boat, make sure you really want a boat, and are going to use it regularly.

Checklist Before Buying a Used Boat

There are many advantages of buying a used boat. As boats are never used as extensively as cars, there are high chances of you finding a boat that has been used for less than a hundred hours.
Boats have many add-ons, that you should either check when you are buying the boat, or buy separately. Some safety equipment, like life jackets, should be bought new, even if the previous owner includes these items in the price of the boat.
Other than this, there are a few things that you should check thoroughly before you make the purchase. These include the following:

What Kind of Boat You Want

The first thing you need to do before looking for a used boat is to decide what type of a boat you want.
There are many different types of boats, that are used for different purposes, like fishing boats, racing boats, cruise boats, etc. Depending on your need, you will have to decide which type to buy. The size of the boat also matters, as the number of people who can be accommodated on the boat will depend on the size.
Once you have finalized these two important parameters, you can then decide on how luxurious a boat you want. Obviously, the more luxurious the boat, the more you will have to pay.
Once you have finalized the type and size of the boat you want, conduct more research on the advantages and disadvantages of the boat.

Compare the Prices

After you have decided the type of boat you want, find out the actual price of the new model, so that you can understand the difference in the new and used prices.
Contact the dealers and owners who are willing to sell their boat. Spend at least 1-2 weeks searching for the best deal available in the market. You can go through various websites that sell used boats.
Take quotes from various dealers and owners. Do not forget to add the expenses of taxes, registration, insurance, repairs (if required), equipment, and accessories. Compare all the prices, and look for the best deal. You can also try and negotiate on the price.

General Information of the Boat

Get basic information about the boat before showing interest in buying it. Here are a few things you should know about the boat before even considering buying it.
  • The year the boat was purchased
  • Whether the boat was used in saltwater or freshwater
  • Details about the engine and boat hull
  • If the engine or any part of the boat was replaced
  • The reason for selling the boat
  • If there are any accidents associated with the boat

Check the Internal parts

Once you have answers to all your questions, make an appointment with the owner or dealer, and check the boat on your own. Internal parts include all the parts associated with the functioning of the boat.
The most important part is the engine. Check the condition of the engine; is it dirty? A dirty engine will indicate poor maintenance. Check the cooling system, batteries, steering cables, bilge pump, propeller, fuel tank, etc.
Do your homework, and read about these parts before you go for the inspection. You could also take along someone who is experienced in these matters to help you out.

Inspect for Cracks and Corrosion

It is very important to check the condition of the hull. Tap all over the hull to make sure it is solid and in good condition. If you find any mismatched paint patch, or a change in the paint color, it may indicate an accident.
Check other parts of the boat for cracks and corrosion. These minute details are very important as they may be harmful in a long voyage. Make sure all the parts are in good condition.

Take a Test Run

A test run is very important before you finalize anything. Pay close attention when sailing a boat. Check the steering, gears, gages, instruments, water hose, etc. Check the hours logged; if it exceeds 500 hours, then the engine will require extra care and more maintenance.

Proper Paperwork is a Must

Ensure that there is proper paperwork. All the papers should be available, and there should be no doubts or problems associated with the paperwork. Also, check if the boat is NMMA certified. Complete all the legal formalities, and only then pay the amount.
So, these are basic things you need to check before buying a pre-owned boat. It is always better to take professional advice before finalizing the deal. Many times, you may not be able to spot a flaw, which a professional can point out in just one look.
Be completely aware of the rules and regulations of your area before buying a boat, so that you do not face any trouble after purchasing it. Most important, do not rush when making the deal.