Main Logo Aqua

Buying a Boat: Make the Right Decision

With the warmer weather fast approaching, many people are turning their attention to leisure activities and in particular, the water and boating. For some, boating is one of the great pleasures and a way of escaping the daily grind and having fun with their family and friends. Whether you fancy water skiing, fishing, sailing or cruising, the feeling of sun, spray and wind on your face all add up to a great way to relax and enjoy the outdoors.

Every month around 30,000 second-hand boats are listed in Australia to both first-time boat owners and those purchasing their second or third vessel. Many people new to boating are not really sure what they want or need in a boat nor do they know what to look for to make sure they are not buying a lemon. Buyers tend to get emotionally involved in the purchase and look for all things shiny and any visible cosmetic defects. As they say, beauty is only skin deep and the true condition of the boat to the uninitiated is unknown. This could lead to significant regret after the purchase is completed which is usually when any defects are discovered.

On the other hand, boat sellers want the maximum dollars they can achieve for their pride and joy. For some the price is well justified as their boat has been regularly maintained and serviced but for others, not so much. As the old saying goes “let the buyer beware”.Knowing what is beneath the surface could save you from disaster while on the water or at least a bunch of cash having to rectify unknown defects.

What to Consider when Buying a Secondhand Boat


Which Boat?


Here is a handy checklist of things to consider when you are ready to buy your next boat:

Determine the main use of the boat – this will be the type of activity you will mostly use the boat for such as water skiing, fishing, cruising or sailing, and where you intend to use the boat. For example, inshore waters, estuary, offshore, a lake or river. This will help you work out the style of boat and construction type and the sort of features to suit your purpose.

How many passengers do you intend to take on board? The answer to this question will help you work out the boat’s size and capacity to ensure the safety of passengers and importantly to stay within the boat’s design. This information can usually be found on the Builder’s Plate attached to the boat.
If you intend to tow the boat, consider the towing weight of the whole package which includes the hull, engine, trailer, fuel and the likely contents you may load onboard. This will have a major bearing on the vehicle you would require to tow the boat safely.

If the boat will be moored at a marina, you will need to consider the availability of a pen and the type of facilities and services you require. The cost will certainly come into play here and will be affected by the location and services requested. Similarly, if the boat is to be stored in a dry stack or similar storage, availability of space and cost need all to be allowed for in your annual budget.

Finding the Right Boat


Here comes the exciting part….now that you have worked out the type and style of boat that suits your needs, it is time to hunt for some worthy candidates. Your available budget will have a large bearing on this and will no doubt help you narrow down the size, construction and brand of boat to put on your shortlist. Boats of all shapes and sizes are advertised on various websites, sold by boat brokers and marine dealers and even sold through word of mouth and personal referral.

Once you have shortlisted one or two suitable contenders, it is time to physically look at the boat and determine its condition and importantly, see if it is worth spending your hard-earned dollars on. One word of caution, beware of misleading photos that present the boat better than it really is. This is a common trap and can draw you in and get you excited before you have even seen the boat!

Inspect the Boat Thoroughly Before Purchasing


Unless you are very familiar with all aspects of boats including hull construction, the mechanical aspects and electrical systems, we recommend you hire a professional marine inspector or surveyor. This will help eliminate the potential of you getting carried away and making an emotional decision. A qualified and experienced inspector will provide you with the real facts on the boat’s true condition and help you make an informed decision and whether to purchase or not.

What is a Boat Pre-purchase Inspection


A Boat Pre-Purchase Inspection is a detailed assessment of all aspects of a vessel. These include the hull condition and possible water intrusion points such as through hull fittings, bolts, bungs and scuppers. Identifying any cracks in the hull both externally and internally will also help to determine its structural integrity. The moisture content of fibreglass (GRP) or composite and wooden hulls should also be assessed. These can indicate rot and weakness which will lead to costly repairs. Aluminium hulls should be examined for corrosion and electrolysis. The functionality of the electrical systems, instruments, and electronics is vital as are cable connections and terminations. Water pumps including bilge pumps, deck wash, fresh water and grey water pumps should be checked for functionality, leaks and pressure.
Some inspections performed by marine service providers only focus on the engine. Whilst this is most important, it is only part of a full boat assessment. Petrol engines should have cylinder compressions checked, and evidence of any leaks, corrosion and deteriorated hoses reported. Both petrol and diesel engines should be run to check smooth operation and their ability to power up to an operating RPM. The function of control systems such as the engagement of forward and reverse gears, steering mechanisms and propeller condition should also be examined.

Safety equipment should be carefully assessed for compliance including the fire extinguisher or fire system, condition of life jackets, currency of flares and emergency beacons and other safety gear mandated by local State marine regulations.

Don’t forget the trailer! A neglected trailer can give you a lot of grief and let you down on your journey to the water or on the way home. Aspects such as the hitch coupling, wheel bearings, braking systems, tyres, suspension, wiring and lights should all be assessed for good operating condition.

The boat maintenance history is a crucial factor when buying or selling a boat, providing invaluable insights into the vessel’s overall condition and upkeep. Keeping a detailed record of maintenance activities, repairs, and equipment expiry dates ensures transparency and helps establish trust between buyers and sellers.

Tracket, a leading boatie app, offers an efficient solution for managing this essential information. With Tracket, boat owners can easily monitor maintenance schedules, track repairs, and stay on top of equipment expiry dates. The app streamlines the process of transferring this comprehensive history when selling a boat, giving potential buyers confidence in the vessel’s care and maintenance.

Seaworthy Inspections recommends Tracket as a reliable tool for maintaining and sharing your boat’s history, enhancing its market value and promoting a smoother transaction process in the marine industry.
With a detailed report in hand, you will be armed to make an informed decision to go ahead and buy the boat, negotiate a better deal given the defects present or possibly, abort the sale!

SeaWorthy Inspections, an independent recreational vessel inspection company, provides essential insights for safer and more informed boat purchases. Paired with Tracket, the leading boat management app, they offer a comprehensive solution for maintaining, tracking, and evaluating your boat’s history and condition. Learn more at www.seaworthyinspections.com.au or call 1300 462 883.

Share this post:

Written by: