Many people are hesitant to buy a used car because of the risks involved. When it comes to buying a second-hand boat, the indecision increases tenfold and understandably so. Not everyone has the knowledge to determine a good deal from a bad one, and insider information is not really easy to come by. So they just go for the easiest choice: buying a brand-new boat. It’s the more practical option to guarantee a boat in optimum condition. However, it’s also a far more expensive choice.

If you are on a budget, buying a boat second-hand makes more sense, especially if you’re new to the world of boating. You just have to arm yourself with the right information to make sure to land a good deal.

Planning Your Purchase

Before shopping around for used boats, you need to plan your purchase carefully. That includes defining how you’ll use the boat, and how much you are willing to spend on it. This will narrow down the makes and models you should be looking at.

In Australia, there are mainly two types of materials used for building boats: aluminium and fibreglass. Each has an advantage over the other in terms of stability, weight, toughness, handling, repair, and maintenance. When it comes to cost, aluminium boats are generally much cheaper compared to fibreglass boats.

The next thing to consider is, how you’ll use the boat. Do you want a boat for fishing or tow sports? How many people will go boating with you? Do you plan to sail on a lake, a river or the ocean? These are just a few of the questions that you’ll have to answer in order to get the right type of second-hand boat. Your answers will determine the horsepower, size, storage, accessories and features of the boat that you’ll need.

Just like with cars, the bigger and more powerful the boats are, the more expensive they will be. By determining how you will utilise the boat, you’ll know the right specifications to look for and you’ll get a good estimate of how much it will cost. Subsequently, you’ll be able to set the right budget and find a source of financing for the second-hand boat.

Searching for Second-hand Boat Vendors

Buying a used boat also involves searching for different sellers. Where do you plan to buy your watercraft? From a private seller, your local dealership, or online vendors? Will you consider getting a broker for easier sourcing and purchase of your second-hand boat?

Brokers and Dealers

Buying a boat second-hand from brokers and dealers will give you more assurance in terms of quality and legal protection compared to private sellers. On the other hand, you could get a cheaper boat if you buy privately, unlike with dealerships and brokers who charge markup prices and processing fees.

When choosing a licensed broker, make sure to get a member of the state Boating Industry Association. It will give you a guarantee that the broker will adhere to a Code of Ethics and will only buy from licensed used boat sellers or pawnbrokers. Dealerships must also be licensed to sell second-hand water vessels before considering them as your possible vendor.

Remember to deal only with reputable brokers, dealers, and online sellers because these vendors are not required to give any kind of guarantee or warranty for a second-hand boat. This is the opposite of the car industry where used car buyers are protected by the law, so make sure to choose wisely.

Private Sellers

Buying a boat second-hand from a private seller will not assure you of a quality watercraft. Most of the time, there are likely to be defects that you will have to deal with later. On the bright side, this may give you better bargaining power to get a lower price. However, be prepared to fork out a little extra for repairs to make the boat seaworthy.

Some of the repairs that you may have to spend extra on include engine overhaul, plumbing and hull servicing, as well as lights and sail repairs. You may also have to replace the battery bank, standing and running rigging, and the electronics system. These aren’t cheap so make sure to factor it in to the overall cost.

Checking The Boat

After planning, budgeting, and searching for a reliable vendor, you can now shop for the second-hand vessel that fits your boating criteria and budget. After finding a suitable option, don’t forget to check the condition of the boat for yourself. It’s one of the most important tasks when buying a boat second-hand. If you know a seasoned boater, ask them to accompany you for a second opinion. Below are the things that you’ll have to check:

  1. Ownership History – Find out how many owners the boat has had in the past. Multiple ownerships mean there could be something wrong with the vessel. Ask the vendor for maintenance or service records to know the previous defects, which you may deal with again in the future.
  2. Signs of Poor Repair – Second-hand boats will most probably have gone through repair, but if there are imprints of it, then it has not been done well. Check for signs of repair, such as cracks, fractures, and corrosion; especially on the joints and impact areas of the boat.
  3. Unpaid Mortgage – Whether you’re purchasing from a dealership or private seller, you need to make sure that the boat was fully paid for and there are no outstanding repayments on loans or mortgage under it. You can do so by checking the Personal Properties Securities Register website. It has a free service that easily obtains information on properties like boats using only the Hull Identification Number (HIN).
  4. Documentation of Ownership – For further proof of the vendor’s ownership of the boat, you should ask for sufficient documentation like Registration Certificates, Australian Builder’s Plate, Listing Agreement, Sales Agreement, and Statutory Declaration.
  5. Hidden Costs – Some second-hand boats are sold with incomplete accessories and gears. You will have to take these into account as additional costs. Some good examples are the required safety gears and equipment, a trailer and winch, or a Marina fee.

Conduct a Sea Trial

Testing the second-hand boat on the waters is the best way to ensure that it’s in good working condition. Make sure to check that the engine starts easily. Listen to any noises that could be signs of engine defects. Check that all lighting is functioning correctly, the sail system is in proper order, and the rigging is working well.

Make sure that you are present starting from the boat launch until its retrieval. While on the waters, let the owner or a skipper drive the boat first so you can get a passenger’s perspective. When it’s your turn to steer, carefully observe the handling and movement of the boat. You have to be comfortable driving the second-hand boat before you consider buying it.

Conduct sea trials on calm water and on the waves to make sure that the boat is working in different conditions. Get the boat on a plane, slow down, and do sharp turns. When you’re satisfied with its performance, the only thing left is to show your negotiating skills for a lower boat price.

Get a Second-hand Boat Loan with Aussie Boat Loans

Buying a boat second hand can be very rewarding with the right knowledge. But if you want a smooth purchase process, you have to get the financing pre-arranged before shopping for your boat. Boat Finance can help you with that.

Apply now and get a pre-approved boat loan from Boat Finance so that you can get your dream boat as soon you want.