Looking for a Pre-Owned Boat?
Give it a Thorough Inspection Before You Buy
Purchasing a used boat can save you lots of money, when done right. A lightly used boat that’s been treated with kid gloves can be an absolute steal and provide you and your family with many happy years on the water. If the seller is upgrading, they might even throw in PFD’s, seat cushions, the cover and fishing / watersports equipment. Buying a used boat is also an excellent way to get your sea legs established without the sticker price of a brand-new vessel.
When shopping around for a used boat, there are many things to take into consideration. It can be intimidating, particularly if you’re brand new to boating. First, consider what type of powerboat you envision yourself in. Are you most excited for watersports, or relaxed weekends cruising the coast? Do you want to entertain friends and family or enjoy secluded getaways? Will you keep it moored or haul-out at the end of every season? To keep you focused on your search, decide early on what type and size of boat works with your lifestyle.
Once you’ve found a few boats you’d like to take a closer look at, or what you suspect is “the one”, take out our used boat buying checklist and start checking off the boxes. Together, we’ll make sure you’re completely confident about your new-to-you boat!
Go for a well-known brand but avoid models that seem to be prominent on the used sales scene. This could indicate an issue with the model that you don’t want to inherit.
- Does the brand have a good reputation?
- Does the model have a good reputation?
- Check reviews
- Ask other owners for their feedback
Knowing the history of the individual boat is helpful in knowing where any dings or scrapes / larger issues may have come from
- Any recalls?
- Any known issues?
- Has the boat been in any accidents?
The engine can be one of the most expensive parts of a boat, so take your time and really make sure it’s in good working order. A test drive will really give you a sense of how the boat handles.
- Inboard or outboard motor
- How many motors
- Check engine hatch for breathability
- Motor starts smoothly
- Check engine insulation
- Check for any leaks
- Check age of engines
- Look for any smoke
- Check transmission
- Check levers on every seacock
- Check raw water intake and strainer
All electronics should be in good condition and working well. If there’s a short or any indication of issues with the electronics, the electrical should be thoroughly inspected
- Review owner’s manual
- Check battery for damage or corrosion
- Check interior and exterior lights
- Check navigational equipment (GPS)
- Check electrical box
- Check HVAC or Air Conditioner for effective cooling and heating
- Check appliances
- Check all wiring and connections
- Check for corrosion or signs of damage
- Test the generator on full tilt for 30 minutes
- Do a final test of all electronics on board
Beyond the aesthetics of the boat, the exterior condition can tell you a lot about how well this boat has been treated and the potential for bigger problems down the line. Check the boat over with the hull lifted out of the water so you can see below the waterline.
- Check the fibreglass/laminate for any hollow sounds when tapped
- Check for scratches and cracks
- Check for cracks or damage around fittings
- Check for any damage on and around hatches
- Check condition of handrails
- Check to make sure cleats are secure and in good shape
- Check for any rust
- Check the condition of the deck
- Check the condition of the hull
- Look for bubbling in the paint
- Check the condition of the zinc anodes
- Check the bearings of the rudder
- Check the overall rudder
- Check seating and upholstery for any mold / mildew / tears
- Check the helm for any damages
- Check the steering wheel
The interior of the boat will be your home away from home, so you’ll want to make sure it’s comfortable and in good shape. You’ll also want to make sure it’s free of any issues with plumbing and electricity.
- Check the condition of lockers
- Check the condition of trims, stairs, flooring
- Check for damage to doors and portholes
- Check lights and switches
- Check TV, speakers and any other extras
- Check toilet, sink and shower for water pressure and quality
- Check appliances for interior or exterior damage
- Check to ensure that appliances are bolted and mounted
- Check for leaks in fridge
- Check temperature in fridge / freezer
- Test all appliances to make sure they work
The bilge pump, fire extinguisher, anchor and chains should all be in good working order. Even if you plan on replacing most of the safety supplies, it’s a good idea to look through the existing ones to get a feel for how the current owners have cared for the boat and its components. Read our complete boating equipment checklist.
- Check expiration date of fire extinguisher
- Check bilge pump
- Check condition of life jackets and any expiry dates
- Check oars and any other manual propulsion tools
- Check the flares
- Check to see if the marine radio is working
- Check condition of heaving line and lifebuoy(s)
- Check condition of first aid kit
Owner’s Manual and Legal Documents
Look through the owner’s manual and legal documents so you have the exact specs and features list with you. You can either print it off yourself or ask the current owner to provide one.
- Check the bill of sale or sales documentation
- Check insurance papers
- Check for any outstanding money owed
- Check that the engine hours and KM match what’s on the sales contract
- Check for any warranty information
During the sale of a boat, once a price has been agreed upon by the buyer and seller, the boat will then have a marine survey and mechanical inspection performed as part of the condition of the sale. This means that many of the buying a used boat checklist items above will be checked off by a professional and you can rest assured that you’re getting a quality yacht. The cost for these inspections, however, are paid for by the buyer.
Once you’re sure you’re found the boat for you, be sure to review our post on the ins and outs of buying a used yacht. This will cover everything from the sales process to the storage of your new vessel, for a worry-free purchase experience.
Is this the year you’re making the leap to boating? Looking for that perfect used boat? Come and talk to us at Van Isle Marina. We have a fantastic selection of new and pre-loved yachts and cruisers to choose from, as well as a wide variety of new world-class Pursuit Boats. Browse our new and used listings, then contact our expert yacht broker, to find the boat you’ve always dreamed of.