So you are ready to buy that boat you wanted? About the right size, good looking hull, and it has a
nice looking black engine in it. To a lot of people this is all they need to know to make the purchase
and find themselves hauling there new rig home only to find out shortly later that they had just bought
someone else's nightmare. So lets back up and go through the homework that is needed to be done before
making that purchase.
I will start with the purchase of a new boat because there is not much homework involved. First you will
need to decide on what kind of boat you really want... a fishing boat? A pleasure boat? Or maybe a ski
boat? You will need to pick the length that will work best for you and keep in mind how many people
will be normally in the boat as well as the size of the body of water you will be in. And finally the
proper size of engine that will fit your needs. The sales person should be knowledgeable and answer
all your questions.
Before you purchase its a good idea to read the brochures and even go to the boat manufacturers website
to familiarize yourself with the product. Then compare the boat you are interested in with other
manufacturers with a boat that is similar. Quality, options and price are things to be considered. One
thought that many over look is engine access. Somebody will eventually have to work on that engine, and
you will pay by the hour for someone to service it. Many boat manufacturers tend to tuck the engine in
a little cubby hole with no thought to the mechanic needing to service it. This can make a difference
from a r & r of a starter @ 1 hour to a r & r of a starter taking 5 hours. At 85.00 dollars an hour,
thats the difference between 85.00 and 425.00 in labor for a starter replacement. Another thought is
the engine manufacturer. Does the dealer service this motor? It is a good idea to stick with a name
brand engine as there will be many more service shops available if you may happen to move or have
problems with service from the dealer which you bought the boat. One last thought is to barter with the
sales person... see what he can throw in with the deal, maybe a coast guard package or maybe a fishfinder
and a marine radio? Dont make it look like you are too easy. : ) I would highly
recommend a ride in the boat before you sign on the dotted line to make sure that it is indeed what you
Ok, you dont have the cash for that new boat and have to resort to a used boat. Well its much like buying
a new boat as stated above, but there will be a need for more homework. So lets say you found the boat
you want to buy and did your homework on the manufacturer, now its time to go over the boat from bow
When buying from an individual dont feel funny going over the boat, take your time. First it would be
a good idea to go over the hull, bottom and sides. Look for damage or repairs that had been done. Hit
the bottom of the hull with the palm of your hand to check for a weak hull or maybe stringer rot. The
bottom of the boat should be very solid. Bump the sides as well to check for firmness of the outer hull.
If all looks good its time to check the transom area. Rotted out transoms are very common. I normally
will put my foot on the drive and bounce on it to check for transom flex, it should not move! A peek
at the transom from inside the boat will also show signs of rot or damage. Walk away if there is any
problems here. Look at the stringers (normally) fiberglassed wood that supports the floor in the engine
compartment or maybe through an inspection cover on the floor. Walk about the boat to make sure the
floor is not weak or rotted. Inspect the seats and the dash. A look under the dash will tell you if
someone was messing with the wiring, it should be all neat and tied up. Check that all the switches
activate the proper items bilge pump, blower, lights ect.
The engine and drive will need a good look as well. A general once over as in visual looks can tell a
lot. Is there a lot of corrosion on the drive? Maybe chunks broken off from the drive and - or a damaged
prop? Signs of oil leakage on the engine or in the bilge? Any of these suggest the boat was not cared
for properly and can lead to problems at a later time.
Many boats have what is called a hour meter that will tell how many hours are on the engine. You can
not always go by the meter as the meter can be disconnected or the meter may have been added or replaced
after many hours have been put on the engine.
Some important things that should be checked for either outboard or inboard engines is the compression
and the oil if its a four stroke. The gear lube should be checked to make sure its full and clean, no
water, or signs of metal in the oil. On the sterndrive engines the bellows (the rubber boots between
the drive and the boat) should be checked to make sure they are not weathered or torn. And finally a
boat ride in the boat to ensure the motor is running properly, A boat ride will normally show any
problems that have been over looked.
Some last comments on a used boat purchase is that you may want to check with a bank and find out the
loan value of the boat to ensure you are not paying more than what the value of the boat is. I would
ask for any service records on the boat and you might also ask to have the boat taken to your marina of
choice to have it inspected professionally. The cost of the inspection is well worth it as it can save
you hundreds if not thousands of dollars in the long run. You may want to have the boat fully serviced
before purchase, and if not I would have it serviced after the purchase. The service should include a
tune up, alignment, oil and lube change. With this being done you will have a starting point for future
Every year I run across at least one person that gets burnt on a purchase on a used boat and end up
putting a lot of money into the boat for repairs. This article should help to make sure you dont get
in this predicament and end up buying someone elses nightmare.
Blue Water Marine 8690 S. Oceana Drive, Montague Mi. 49437