Buying a boat is a huge expenditure, there’s no question about that. Not everyone has the ready cash for a brand-new boat fresh off the lot, but that’s fine, because there are thousands of amazing used boats out on the market for hundreds and thousands of dollars less than their new counterparts. If you’re new to boating and you’re on a tight budget, buying used is a smart way to get a feel for the mariner lifestyle without spending too much on a boat you may not enjoy.
However, you need to be careful when making your purchase, as there are many unscrupulous boat sellers out there who are looking to make a quick buck on a less-than-ideal boat that has hidden issues.
So you’ll need to be smart about buying a used boat, which is why this boat buyer’s guide by North Georgia Watersports has been written. We want to help you get the best deal you can on a great used boat that you’ll enjoy for many seasons to come. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to stop by our dealership to ask us!
Get As Much Historical Information As You Can
When you talk to the dealer or the boat owner, you should try to get as much information about the boat in question as you can. Learn the boat’s age and maintenance history and how many previous owners it’s had. These things can help you to determine how well a boat was cared for and whether a problematic boat has changed hands many times. You can also use this information to figure out if the boat is being sold for a fair price for its age.
Check For Cracks
Small “spiderweb” cracks on older boats are common at screws, fittings and joints, and these are nothing to worry about. What you should worry about is any crack longer than about two inches or a great number of cracks that radiate from one area, which could indicate an impact or crash has happened that has structurally damaged the boat. Cracks in the transom or hull can indicate delamination, too. If pieces of the gelcoat are missing or if there are large repairs in it, this can also be a cause for concern.
Look for Mildew, Rot, and Rust
Mildew, rot and rust are all indicative of a boat that hasn’t been well-cared for, as they suggest the boat owner has not thoroughly cleaned and inspected their boat each season. Extensive rust, corrosion and rot can even indicate a boat has taken on water at some point, which should send you running the other way. Look over seat cushions and canvas coverings for signs of mildew. If there’s mold underneath the seats, then that could mean more mold has spread within the boat. Be wary of boat seats that look too clean as sometimes careless boat owners can use cleaners that are too harsh and actually do damage to vinyl coverings.
Test The Oil & Fuel
Look at the engine oil and feel it between your fingers. If oil is milky, this could indicate that water has gotten into the engine. If you feel grittiness in your fingers when you touch the oil, that means that metal shavings from the engine have gotten into it which means the engine is in disrepair. Smell the fuel and stay away if it smells rotten or off.
Start the Engine & Do A Test Ride
The most important step when buying a used boat is being able to start the engine and go for a test ride out on the water. You’ll never know how well a boat runs by just looking at her on land, and if the owner is hesitant or unwilling to let you test the boat, then walk away, because they probably know that you’ll find something unsavory about it if they let you go through with that. Don’t part with your money before you hear the engine purr and feel the boat move smoothly through the water, with functional electronics and lights and even steering.
If you’re near Atlanta, Georgia, and looking for pre-owned watercrafts and boats, come visit our dealership in Blairsville. We carry a huge selection of used, pre-owned boats of many times, including bowriders and pontoons. North Georgia Watersports serves the cities of Gainesville and Blue Ridge, Georgia.