Should You Buy a New or Used Boat?Did you discover a hidden gem or the tip of an iceberg?
Think you've found a used boat that is the deal of the century? Buying the wrong boat will cost a lot more at the end of the day. I speak from experience. Read on...
The first boat I purchased as an adult cost me $19,000. I didn’t buy the boat from an Internet ad (Internet advertisements were scarce in 1999), or from a pushy used boat dealer.
The seller was loosely connected to me - his wife worked with my brother. The seller lived in the town I grew up in. I thought those connections would save me from being taken as a first time boat buyer. I thought I could trust that I would not be ripped off on the purchase.
I even overlooked the fact that the boat was dirty... Now pay attention here. There were empty soda and beer cans in the cabin even though it was spring and the boat hadn’t been used all winter, AND they had recently put it up for sale. The boat was only 5 or 6 years old, yet the vinyl seats on the deck, as well as the paint on the hull, were heavily faded.
Now, there are two schools of thought here. One, is that a messy boat is just the tip of the iceberg - signs of neglect on the outside could mean the previous owner didn't take care of her at all. Did they change the oil regularly, wash the salt off after each use, keep it covered over the winter?
The other school of thought is the route I took. I thought to myself that this was only aesthetic, and that it would actually help me get a better deal on what was a solid boat, as other buyers would be looking for something “prettier”. I was convinced that the lack of attention paid to the outside of the boat was not a sign of structural or engine damage inside the boat.
One thing I was concerned about a hairline crack towards the bow, so I had the boat surveyed (which you should always do anyway, more on surveying later). The surveyor told me the hull was in good shape, but I should have been wary when he asked “me” to climb down into the engine compartment and “have a look”. I am not mechanically inclined at all, as my friends and family will attest to (though they may not put it so politely). The end result was that after one summer’s worth of fun on the boat, I had to put her out to pasture due to a completely rusted out engine - the mechanic told me the rust was the result of years of abuse. The surveyer never caught it, and I bought the boat unknowingly with this damage.