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How to Buy a Used Boat

A boat at sea

Thinking of buying a used boat? Don't land yourself in hot water. Follow our simple guide below to ensure the process is smooth sailing.

1. Ask loads of Questions

Once you find a boat that you like, ask the seller the following questions before adding it to your shortlist.

  • Why is the boat for sale?
  • How many hours on the engine? (anything over 500 indicates the boat will need upgrades)
  • How often has the boat (and its motor) been serviced?
  • Where was it stored in winter?
  • Has the boat ever been in an accident?
  • Is the trailer included in the price? If so, what condition is it in and is it roadworthy?
  • Does it have a warranty and if so, is it transferrable?
  • How has the boat been treated after use in salt water?
  • What's the condition of the running lights,line, anchor chain and rode?

2. Take it out for a spin

No matter how nice the boat sounds on paper, it could literally sound much worse once you get it running. Bring a few people along with you as the extra weight will be a true testament to the boat's performance.

During the test drive, pay particular attention to the following:

  • Starting up - If the boat sounds noisy and vibrates upon starting, it could be a sign of a bent propeller
  • Gauges - Ensure the temperature, RPM and speedometer are all working properly
  • Steering - Test the steering in all directions, as well as reversing the boat
  • Shifting - Does the boat jump into gear or is it a smooth transition?

3. Hire a professional boat inspector/marine surveyor

Once you've decided on "the one", hire a professional marine surveyor to conduct a thorough inspection in and out of the water. The surveyor will be able to recommend any repairs or maintenance, confirm the safety of the boat and estimate its market vale. Most importantly, they will provide you with a survey that you'll most likely need in order to secure your watercraft insurance and financing.