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Second Hand Boat Buyer’s Guide

May 24, 2021 | Stories

If you’re looking to buy a boat, there are some fundamental aspects that you may like to take into consideration if you’re going to find a vessel that’s not only going to float, but going to float well.

Buying a boat is an exciting experience that many people have on their bucket list. It’s essential to understand exactly what you’re looking for before jumping in and purchasing a watercraft that doesn’t suit your needs — or worse, may not even be safe to take on the water. Our guide takes you through some top tips of what you may like to look out for when buying a used boat


Do your research

Before searching for a boat, you’ll need to know what you actually want to buy. There are too many different types of vessels to list, but ultimately the categories can be broken down into types of vessels, including:

  • Unpowered — such as a canoe, kayak or gondola;
  • Motorboats — engine-powered, for example, for fishing or skiing;
  • Sailboats — propelled by the wind in its sails, like a catamaran or monohull sailboat.

By knowing exactly what you want, you can narrow down your search. The first thing to think about is what purpose you’ll be using the boat for. Sailing, fishing, skiing and holiday making are all common boating activities, but each require very different specifications.

Secondly, you’ll need to think about your specific requirements. For example, if you want a fishing boat, you’ll need to think about whether you’ll be taking it out in the ocean or inland, whether it needs a motor, sail or ores, and what size the vessel should be to suit your needs.

Once you have a clear idea of what you need, you can begin your search and inspect any boats that seem like a good fit.

Inspecting Second Hand Boats

Maintenance history

Correctly looking after a boat can make all the difference in longevity and can add many years to the life of the vessel. You may want to ask to see the maintenance or service record when deciding if the owners have taken good care of their boat.

An annual service by a technician can indicate that the mechanics of the boat have been well maintained. You may also want to take note of the visual appearance of the boat’s body and interior. A healthy engine is great, but it’s likely to not be of much use if the rest of the vessel is falling apart around it.

Look for damage

One of the last things you want to see inside a boat, is water. So when checking the cabin and interior, you may want to keep an eye out for any water marks that may indicate the hull has a leak. A leaky hull can be repaired, but it could end up being a costly process, especially if the leak is below the waterline as the entire hull may need to be replaced.

If you’re getting a good deal on the boat, use your discretion to decide if the discount is a good enough deal considering how much you may need to pay for the boat repair. Water and moisture getting into where it shouldn’t be, can lead to more things like mould and rot, indicating severe structural issues and may be best avoided.

Check the electricals

We all know it can be a major safety hazard when water meets electricity, so it’s imperative to make sure the boat’s electricals are in good repair. In addition to ensuring the electricals are in good repair, you may also want to ensure that the wire used is marine-grade wire. Things like household extension cords, audio speaker wire, and non-marine conduit can easily cause a fire on a boat or even electrocution.

Check the engine

Signs of rust or corrosion on the outside of an engine can be a serious issue and can indicate that the inside of the engine is significantly damaged. You may want to check that the oil is not milky or containing grit, as this could mean major engine problems. It is recommended that you always start the engine, to ensure it runs. You may also want to take note of the RPMs it is able to achieve — if it’s significantly less or more than the manufacturer’s maximum RPM range, there might be an issue with the engine or propeller.

Ask plenty of questions

When asking questions about the boat, keep in mind that the seller is probably trying to convince you to make a purchase, so it’s reasonable to expect that they may exaggerate or put a more positive spin on their answers. If what they’re saying sounds too good to be true, it just might be; remember how “unsinkable” the Titanic was meant to be?

PPSR Search

Also, don’t forget to carry out a PPSR search on the boat you are looking at purchasing, to obtain a better understanding of the history of the boat, and to ensure that there is no outstanding finance on the boat.

Buy a Boat

When you’ve found the boat of your dreams, it could be time to exchange money and transfer the watercraft into your name. The legislation regarding boat registration varies greatly from state to state, so be sure to familiarise yourself with the rules of your own state.

If you don’t have all of the cash required to purchase a boat, you may be pleased to know that boat financing could be available. Check out Finance One’s boat loan options.


Disclaimer: The information above is of a general nature only and does not consider your personal objectives, financial situation or particular needs. You should consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice to check how the information relates to your particular circumstances.  We do not accept responsibility for any loss arising from the use of, or reliance on, the information.

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Makala Elliott

Makala is the Marketing Manager at Finance One. She has worked in the Finance and Lending industry for over 10 years, gathering a wealth of experience. She is passionate about helping Australians get back on track with their finances by passing on her knowledge.

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