Considering buying a used boat? Take heed of the following tips before you sail right past the point of no return!
The condition of a boat’s hull will usually tell you everything you need to know about the rest of the ship, which means if you see a lot of large “osmotic blisters,” you’re not really starting off on the right foot. These unsightly water pockets tapped beneath the surface of the hull can really bring down the value of a ship, and will eventually grow and “pop,” though they often don’t cause serious structural damage. A few tiny blisters on a boat that’s 10+ years old is even considered common. To be safe though, you should avoid any used boats with extremely noticeable blistering.
Cracks = Chaos
Fiberglass is designed to be flexible, and gel coating is designed to be stiff, which means you’re going to see a few small cracks in any used boat simply from normal wear and tear, especially around certain stress points and/or where fittings are mounted. However, a whole bunch of cracks in a particular area, or cracking that has shape or pattern, is a strong indication of impact/structural damage. Plus, too many cracks in the hull/transom may eventually lead to delamination.
Scratches, Chipping, & Obvious Repairs
While most scratches, paint chipping, and obvious signs of repairs may not compromise the functionality of a vessel, cosmetic damage can certain affect its value. So make sure you give any used boat you’re looking at a full physical inspection to identify any points of damage you can bring up during your inspections or price negotiations.
Worn down steering systems can be wildly expensive to fix, not to mention dangerous to deal with in the meantime. For the most part it means the boat is land-locked. So, when looking at any potential vessel, make sure you grab hold of the drive/engine with some force and try to move it around. If it barely moves you’re in good shape. If there’s a lot of slack though, you might really want to consider just walking away.
A ships bellows are the soft, pliable rubber sleeves that protects a variety of important components onboard your boat as they pass back and forth through the transom. Keeping water out is their primary function, which means any visible can lead to a sinking ship. They should not have any cracks, holes, or other signs of stiffness that could result in future tears.
Trust The Lubricant
If a ship has been well taken care of, lower unit lubricant and engine oil should look great, with no signs of burnt smells, metallic fillings, water, or other obvious signs of neglect. If the oil and lubricant appear to be lacking, you might want to really look closely at what else is likely wrong with the vessel.
Obviously a boat should never smell bad, and if it does you might not want it anyway, but the scent of the fuel specifically is certainly something to look at. Just by popping that cap off and giving it a good swift smell, you should be able to tell if the fuel is bad/contaminated.
Any canvases that protect a ship’s interior spaces should still be watertight. If there’s any damage to the zippers, stitching, or a problem with the fit, you will most certainly end up paying for it later – and good canvas covers cost a lot!
Suspiciously Clean Upholstery
Did you know that the upholstery on a boat is made with special protectants that help reduce elemental wear and tear, UV damage, mold, and more? That’s why, if you can clearly see a ship’s furniture has been deep cleaned, you should ask what was used to ensure there isn’t any potentially unseen chemical damage that could cause you problems later on.
Get A Good Marine Surveyor
Of course, from wiring issues, to corrosion, to structural damage you don’t even know how to find, the list of things to look out for when buying a used boat is endless. That’s why, if you’re serious about buying used, you need to get a good marine surveyor. One of my thorough Condition and Valuation Surveys here at CAS Marine Surveyor, for example, would be more than enough to open your eyes to all the important information you need to know about whether or not you should take a chance on any ship! To schedule a survey for your own vessel, or one you’re going to purchase, reach out to Christian A. Syoen of CAS Marine Surveyor today by calling 1.810.531.0992 or fill out the form in the sidebar to schedule your free consultation.