By Capt. Douglas Malat
It's funny when the boating bug bites you - all you can think about is getting out on the water and having fun. But purchasing a power boat is a financial decision and using your head, rather than your heart, is wise when selecting the right boat for you.
There are specific things to examine and a lot of questions to ask when shopping for a used power boat, so you should know where to start. First, you need to decide which type of boat will suit your needs. You may want a fishing boat, an open boat with plenty of room to fish; a cruiser with a cabin for overnight stays; or a speed boat to get there fast. No matter what kind of boat you desire, all should be inspected for tell tale signs of possible problems.
Begin by examining the exterior. Do a walk around, looking at the hull and deck. Is the gel coat faded, the stainless steel not so stainless? Are the lines holding the boat to dock frayed?
Looking at the hull, is the gel coat faded or dull looking? This could be due to a lack of maintaining a good wax coat. Poor or no wax barrier lets the sun's harmful rays attack the gel coat and, let's not forget about the salt that constantly eats away at it and the wax gel coat. The surface may only require a quick wax, but more serious cases may need a compound and wax job. In the most severe cases, it might need a light sanding with 1000 or 1200 sand paper to get at the original gel coat, followed by compound and wax. The secret is to thoroughly wash the hull 3 or 4 times to make sure all that's left on the hull is the gel coat and no residuals from other products that love to stick to the hull.
Let's look at the deck. Are the cleats or other deck hardware loose? Were the hardware and accessories put in professionally or owner done? If there is teak, has that been protected and maintained?
1. How's the gel coat? Does it need a wax or more?
2. The cleats and hardware should be tight with the sealant seen in between, otherwise water might have gotten underneath and soften the deck.
3. Was the hardware and accessories installed professionally?
4. If owner done, it could be a good job, but did he mount it properly and use the proper amount of sealant to keep the water out?
5. Is the teak well-maintained? It should be smooth and attractive, having either a varnish or similar type finish. If not teak easily becomes weather-beaten. The soft part of the wood gets eaten away, leaving a rough, grayish finish. There are several types of products to restore the luster of teak, but sanding and varnishing takes time.
All the above tells whether the owner had pride in his boat. There are great deals out there on boats than have not been well-maintained if you have the money and the time and experience to do it yourself. You can save a lot of money.
Some questions you can ask the owner or the yacht broker you are working with are:
1. Why are you selling the boat?
2. How many hours are on the engine(s)?
3. When was the last time bottom paint was applied?
4. Are there or had there been blisters on the bottom?
5. When were the fuel filters changed?
6. When were the cooling system impellors changed?
All these questions help to determine where in the picture you are coming in, plus they let you know how much you'll have to spend to repair the boat. Your yacht broker will help you figure out the cost of these things and where possibly to get them done. Boat dealers and yacht brokers have a wealth of information to give you at the asking. They are there on your behalf and might find things you overlooked. Your yacht broker or boat dealer wants you to be happy, because in the future you just might want to upgrade to another boat...and he'll be there.
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