OK, so you’ve decided to buy a boat. But, with the economy the way it is (and your wife the way she is!) you’ve got to go used rather than new. That’s all right, really. You can get a whole lot more boat for a whole lot less money if you’re not set on buying this year’s hot new model. On top of that, you’re likely to pay less on boat insurance as well. The trick is being able to tell a lemon from a real find.
Here are the major things you need to look at when you’re considering a new boat:
Start by giving the boat a quick once-over. What stands out? Does the hull seem to be in fair shape, at first glance? Are there major scrapes or scars on the boat that could become a problem down the road? Does the boat show evidence of constant care, or does it look like the current owner’s been a bit sloppy? If he hasn’t kept up on keeping his boat looking good, he’s probably been a bit sloppy when it comes to maintenance, too.
You should also take a look at the rudder, and make sure it’s in good shape. Water can often permeate a rudder. This happens either via groundings or via cracks in the rudder’s gel coat. When that happens, the foam core inside the rudder can freeze and then thaw, causing there to be cracks in the rudder’s fiberglass. This, in turn, will create structural problems in the rudder, and it should be repaired right away. If the rudder uses mild steel, that internal moisture can cause rust and will need to be addressed, too.
Next, take a look at the deck. You’re bound to see some spider cracks, for sure. However, if you have cracks with short parallel lines in areas that are cored, it can indicate that you have a wet core. You should also check your deck for areas where it’s become soft. This happens when water’s been absorbed. Drop a heavy object, such as a screwdriver, from about an inch over the deck. If the screwdriver doesn’t bounce, then your deck probably is in need of repair.
Motor and Systems
You’re not a boat mechanic, most likely. You’re not going to be able to immediately identify mechanical problems with the boat’s motor. Still, you can listen for odd noises or watch for smoke or be aware of strange smells. If you’re not sure whether there might be a problem, you can always have the boat inspected by a professional.
Photo via Paul Keller