Did you find that perfect sailboat in the classified ads or on Internet, and you got that fast loan to buy it right away? Whether it’s your first boat or not, it’s always good to know a few things before you decide to buy a used boat. It might seem like a good deal, and yet hidden problems might cost you much more than you thought in the long run. How do you make sure that you’ll be happy with your purchase?
Photo: Jennuine Captures
Maybe you don’t really know what kind of boat you want yet. Then don’t go out buying just now. You need to figure out what kind of boat suits your needs and desires before you actually purchase one. Take an expert with you; if you have no sailing friends and are a beginning sailor, think about hiring an expert. He or she will prove indispensable in determining the state of the boat, and whether it’s the right one for you. If you are new, especially, make sure that the boat is ready to sail without much work involved. You don’t want to spend the next year fixing it up on dry land, do you?
Fiberglass is always a good choice of material, especially for beginners. Wood is hard and costly to maintain, not to mention the difficulty of finding potential problems without tearing the whole boat apart. It’s now the most popular material anyway, so it won’t be too hard. Make a thorough visual inspection for damage, spots, leaking water, cracks and other potentially expensive problems. A leaking deck can cause extensive damage to the cabin, so avoid boats with leaking decks at all costs. This damage is usually caused by rainwater, not sea water. Also, water damage and rotting inside the walls of the cabin are usually a bad sign. Make sure to have these checked, they might be more than cosmetic problems.
The engine should be a popular, recent one. Anything old or rare, and you might find yourself unable to find replacement parts when it breaks. The smoke test is essential to make sure that the engine is healthy; the engine should be cold when you start it. If it is warm, the owner might have started it beforehand to hide potential problems. Always ask for a maintenance file; good boat owners keep all the invoices in a folder. Check all the electricals linked to the engine. Short circuits are not a good thing on the sea!
The last point to check is the sails and riggings. This, more than anything else, is the sign of a healthy or bad boat. If you’re new to sailing, definitely have an expert check them out. They’ll know the signs of good sails and rigging.
Photo: Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton
As you can see, buying a used boat involves research, time and attention to details. Do not make an impulse buy, even if you know you can get that cash loan quickly. Take your time and see a few boats before you make your choice. Your wallet will thank you for it!