Avoid Common Pitfalls when Buying a Used Boat

Buying a boat is a big decision, as they tend to cost a lot of money and require maintenance and a significant financial investment. You should take buying a used boat very seriously, as there are extra precautions you must take to make sure you don’t buy a lemon. The following are ten tips to avoid mistakes and pitfalls buyers sometimes encounter when buying a used boat.

Be Careful Online
Be careful dealing with online sellers. Boats are just as susceptible to money wiring and other scams, so avoid sending money or paying with cash. Write a check, money order or cashier’s check instead.

Functional over Fun
Pay more attention to the engine than the bells and whistles. While features such as depth finders, solar panels and radar equipment are nice, you want to make sure your boat will run smoothly. Some used boats have been decked out with amenities, but you’d rather have a standard boat with an engine runs great. Additionally, some sellers will add fancy amenities to distract for more serious boat issues.

Test Drive
Try to get the owner of the boat to take you on a test sail. You may not be able to convince them to let you take it out for a test run by yourself, but they should be willing to take you out on the boat and let you see for yourself how it runs. Whether it’s a motor boat or a sail boat, you want to make sure it’s working properly before you hand over your money.

Learn the Lingo!
If you’re new to boating or this will be your first purchase, make sure you understand the general terminology so that you can deal with the seller effectively. If you aren’t familiar with fixed keels or which part of the boat is the stern, you may want to do some research before pursuing a purchase.

Don’t Buy Beyond Your Skill Level
Different boats are suitable for different levels of boating knowledge. If you’re new to boating, look for boat that’s novice friendly.

Make Sure You Can Afford It
Many times people shopping for a boat make sure they have enough money to purchase the boat but don’t consider the other financial obligations being a boat owners entails. Make sure you budget for charges such as off season storage fees, gasoline, permits, insurance and maintenance.

Buy for Your Needs
Know whether you’re buying a boat for fishing, family outings, racing, etc. Different boats are designed for different needs. If you want a fast boat, make sure there’s enough horsepower. Don’t just buy the prettiest boat you find, make sure it fits how you want to use the boat.

Look and Listen
You should make sure the boat has not been in an accident. You can ask the seller about the boat’s history, but not all sellers will be honest and forthcoming. Look for visible signs, such as mismatched paints and ripples and folds or other inconsistencies on the boat’s surface.

Check for Liens
Make sure there are no liens on the boat. Request to see the title and verify the seller’s information is listed as the lien holder. If the seller is not listed as the lien holder or if they won’t show you the title at all, it would be a good idea to pass on the boat and look for another seller to work with.

Inspection
Hire a professional to perform a marine survey or inspection of the boat for you if you don’t know enough about boats to make an educated decision as to whether the boat is in good working condition. Don’t simply take the word of the seller if they are a complete stranger to you. Utilize any means necessary to make sure you are purchasing a great, fully functional boat.