If the idea of spending your days rocking on a gentle wave, with the sea breeze blowing through your hair sounds like a slice of paradise, you might be ready to buy your own boat. But boats are an incredibly expensive purchase to consider. Not only is their sticker price massive, but the upkeep of any boat is significant. Fuel is pricey, licensing has a cost, and you’ve got to pay to keep it somewhere, both during the season and in a dry dock over the winter. All those costs add up, which often leave boat ownership to only the very rich. But you can make it a bit more affordable if you’re willing to buy a pre-owned boat. Boats that are several years old are often still in impeccable shape, and there’s no shame in buying used. You’ll still enjoy the fishing, and the flowing breeze as you kick the engine up another gear. But as with any used purchase, you’ll have to do a bit more digging to make sure it works out. Here are five tips for purchasing a pre-owned boat.
First off, before you ever go out shopping make sure you are crystal clear about what type of boat you are looking to purchase. If you just do a search for all used boats you’ll find hundreds of options. That will make it almost impossible to start shopping. So look over the various brands of boat manufacturers, and consider your needs. Think about the various types of boats, their size, the power you need and what you think you can afford. Once you have the specifics in mind, you’ll be much better equipped to start shopping.
Now that you’ve got these specifics down, start your searching. Looking online is a great way to get things going, as you can check out the specifics of a number of options all at the same time. In the end, you’ll still have a wide range of choices. But in general you’ll want to look for the newest boat that you can afford. That means both years in use and hours put on the engine. Check out some of the prices that come up and see how you feel about the work you’ve done so far. You might have to give up on some of the accessories you were looking for to make sure the boat will last many additional years of use.
At this point you should have whittled down the hundreds of options into perhaps a dozen. Call up the owners and ask about transferrable warranties. Are any of these boats still covered by the manufacturer? If so, make sure that warranty is included in the listed price. If not, see what else is possible. If the boat is six years old or younger you should be able to purchase your own service contract. Keep that in mind when setting your budget.
With a final handful of boats in mind, it’s time to get out to the dock and see them in person. Now is the time for a careful inspection. You’ll want to look for any evidence of damage, improper manufacture or overall neglect. If you’re not that familiar with boats, do some research so you know what you’re looking for. Remember, if you are seeing quite visible wear and tear, it’s a good bet that the mechanical elements of the boat haven’t been well maintained either.
Finally, ask the owner for a sea trial. This may not be possible at boat shows, but any time a private citizen puts up their boat for sale, they should be willing to take you out. This serves two purposes. First and foremost, it gives you a chance to see how the boat handles, and make sure everything works the way it should. But it also allows you to get to know the owner and ask some questions. They’ll probably be more relaxed now, giving you the opportunity to ask about the boat’s history and why this owner has decided to sell. You’ve got to make sure that this seemingly ‘good deal’ is truly that, and not just a lemon situation that’s being covered up.