Many people wonder if they are getting screwed when buying a boat. Here are some things to ask yourself and to look out for when thinking about and buying a boat.
Be informed and educated about boats and buying boats. If you just jump into it without any preparation you will definitely get burned. Before you even think of getting a boat you should have significant boating experience. If you don’t then it is very important to study boater education and your state’s boater education exam. You’ll have to check your state’s boating laws and regulations. Boating is very different than just hopping in a car and driving. You must be educated on boating responsibilities and have the skills to safely operate a boat.
When buying a boat, screening the boats you’re interested in is the majority of the work. You must have a trained eye for this as people new to boating won’t be experienced enough to see some of the warning signs. Your trained eye should be a reliable and objective friend that is very experienced in boating and has made good boat purchasing decisions.
Bring your experienced boater with you the first couple of trips you take to look for boats to buy. Have them look at the oldest and cheapest boats you like so they can point out anything that needs to be fixed or could turn into a financial nightmare. Pay very close attention when they tell you what to look at and look for. Bring a notebook with you to write this down, and keep notes on every boat you see. Also follow your friend’s advice and if they tell you to walk away from a boat due to something they found, do it.
Don’t actually decide to test drive a boat or even buy right now. You need to go home and review your notes on all the boats. Then decide if you want to test drive any of them. When you test drive the boat you should know how to legally and safely operate a boat. During this test drive you need to be focused on the performance of the boat. Does it take long to start? Does it die regularly after the engine has warmed up to operating temperature? Does it hesitate for a long time when given significant throttle? Does the throttle cut out during cruising speed? Is there excessive vibration or unusual noise? Do any of the gauges not work?
When buying a boat you have to remember that there are no lemon laws protecting you when buying boats from private owners. You must get the boat taken to a marine service shop to get inspected.