Are you looking to buy a second-hand boat? Here is a guide to all the key things to check before buying a second-hand boat. Make sure you remember to check the overall condition of the boat, the hull, the steering system, the rigging, the engine, the electrics and the boat's safety and security equipment.
Key points to check when buying a second-hand boat
The overall condition of the boat
- Boat exterior in good overall working condition
- Boat interiors in good overall working condition
- Hold (engine and/or bottom of vessel) clean and in good overall working condition
- Has the boat ever been involved in a (significant) accident?
- If so, is there still any damage apparent or not?
- Date of last careening
- Any visible evidence of osmosis, delamination or collision
- Hull/deck join in good working condition
- Portholes and windscreen visibly in good working condition
- Rail stanchions and balconies in good working condition
- Valves, through-hull and collars compliant, appear in good condition and are in good working order
- Hoses and pipes appear in good condition and have not passed their expiry date
- Floor timbers and backing plates in good working condition
- Ballast / hull join and keel bolts in good working condition with no signs of corrosion
- Keel in good overall working condition
- Rudders and spindles in good overall working condition
The steering system
- Steering system in good working condition
The rigging (for sailboats only)
- Age of standing rigging
- Most recent standing rigging check-up by a professional
- Standing rigging appears in good working condition on visual inspection
- Running rigging appears in good working condition on visual inspection
- Engine and controls in good working order
- Engine in good overall working condition (no signs of corrosion, condition of belts, etc.) on visual inspection
- Engine maintained according to manufacturer's recommendations
- Sealing system in satisfactory condition (no leaks, or wear and tear) on visual inspection of the gland, sealing boot, seal, etc.
The electrical circuit
- Electrical circuit compliant with current regulations
- Electrical circuit in good overall working condition
- Anodes in good working condition
- Manning and equipment up to date and compliant with the navigation programme
Planning for your purchase
Buying a boat requires planning, and selection criteria should be used, based on your navigation programme, sailing experience and budget.
Your navigation programme should indicate your desired sailing destinations, the average number of people on board as well as the trip durations. This basic information can be used to work out the right size of the boat as well as the required equipment to enable you to take full advantage of your purchase.
Your sailing experience should help you make the right choice regarding the size of boat to purchase; it is more difficult to manoeuvre a 40' boat in a port with high winds than a small boat, which is more responsive and offers more margin for error.
Your budget should also include any costs associated with the purchase. In addition to the cost of purchasing your craft, you need to consider:
- The port costs (docking, wintering)
- Maintenance costs
- Repairs or improvement works, the cost of which can vary greatly from one craft to another.