Tips for buying a second-hand boat
Buying a used boat can get you on the water for much less than a new boat costs. However, buying wrong can end up costing you even more in the long run.
Here are some things to look out for before shaking the seller's hand and buying the boat of your dreams,
Get the hull truth
Boats are designed to be in the water, but with older second-hand boats, rot, mould, and mildrew can be a major problem, especially around the transom or deck coring.
Cracks or soft spots in the transom are an obvious sign of major structural failure of all types of construction, but it's especially important to look for with fibreglass and wooden hulls.
On aluminium boats, check all the welds for cracks or signs of fatigue. Aluminium may not rust, but galvanic corrosion can occur where other metals contact the hull, like a sounder, bait board or canopy frame. Look where fittings meet the hull for any raised or discoloured spots that may indicate a weakening of the hull.
Ask the seller how the boat has been used previously. Has it been freshwater only (e.g., lakes) or saltwater? Saltwater is a lot harsher on boats and over time will deteriorate a hull quicker if it hasn't been cared for or washed down thoroughly after each use.
Scratch below the surface
Check the propellor and outboard or stern leg. Look for signs of damage or denting from hitting things or running aground.
Even a slightly damaged prop will cause the boat to operate poorly as it inefficiently pushes water. The skeg (fin right at the bottom of the outboard) is a tell-tale sign of how the motor has been looked after. If all the paint has scratched off, or there are chunks missing, it may have had a hard life.
Have a look at the electrical system, starting with the battery. Batteries have a five-year lifespan on average and should crank over the engine and starter motor easily.
Turn the electronics such as the VHF & chart-plotter on to see if they power up and function fine. If they randomly flicker or turn off intermittently, it could be a sign of a wiring issue. Check the boat's wiring loom is neatly harnessed and does not look like a plate of spaghetti.
Check the boat's hour-meter to determine how much work it has done and ask the seller for the service records, which will show if the boat has been taken care of regularly.
The legal legwork
Have a look for serial numbers on the motor and hull (check the CPC plate to see if the motor size fitted is within the manufacturers specs).
Make sure the trailer W.O.F & registration is valid. Check the rego on Carjam (yes, they do boats too!) for any red flags.
If the trailer looks old, but has been recently registered, this may indicate it has been stolen. On that note, check the police website as they have a database of stolen boats.
Get the professionals on board
A nearby boat service centre can perform a pre-purchase inspection for a small cost that will give you peace of mind. They'll go over the hull, motor and trailer, and tell you if anything concerns them.
On a moored boat, it is highly encouraged to get an Out of Water Survey done by a qualified shipwright or surveyor. Much like a building inspection on a house, this is a detailed report that assesses the condition and function of the boat. Most insurers require a survey when reviewing older boats, so it pays to have it done.
One final thing...
Once you have agreed on a price and shaken the seller's hand, it's vital to get boat insurance in place so that you are covered the minute you take ownership.
Tower makes things super quick and easy to get a policy online so you can get everything taken care of before you set off into the sunset on your new waka!