Thousands of old boats are traded worldwide every year, and the industry is flourishing. While many individuals choose to utilise a broker, many transactions involve private sellers. Even though there is no guarantee when purchasing privately, there are methods to protect yourself, make a secure purchase, and save money.
Typically, private vendors offer their vessels “as seen.” This implies that there is no redress if something goes wrong in the future. To buy a boat from a private seller, you must research and ensure that you’ve checked all the boxes.
1. Be Sure to See the Boat
The most significant aspect of purchasing a secondhand boat is to inspect the vessel in person. Although this may seem apparent, it is easy to go on a cheap boat that is not close and believe all you are told. While most private sellers are trustworthy, they are not required to disclose any faults with the boat that you do not specifically inquire about. You may get a sense of the seller and comprehensively check the boat by viewing it in person. It is also the most important precaution to take when purchasing a secondhand boat.
You may discover listings for used boats in several locations, including local newspapers, marinas and online websites. You may look for boats outside your area and communicate with certified vendors on selling websites. Ensure that there is a phone number and that you speak to someone on the phone and not simply over email; this will allow you to ask questions about the boat’s location, condition, service records, title, and reason for sale.
2. Conduct a Thorough Inspection of the Boat
Begin by personally checking the vessel and assessing its condition. Take your time, and do not allow a vendor to hurry you. If they are attempting to prevent you from viewing anything, there must be a good reason. The amount of examination will vary according to the type of vessel you intend to purchase. Small skiffs, Jon boats, and RIBs with outboard motors are far easier to operate than a 12-metre sailboat or 15-metre centre console sports boat. Consult our guide on examining a used boat for further information on what to look for.
3. Conduct a Trial Run at Sea
It’s good to evaluate the boat while it’s on hard standing or tied in a marina, but you must also observe how it performs when in motion. A sea trial is essential for any boat, so when you examine it, inform the seller that you intend to conduct one, and allow them plenty of time to arrange lifts or ramp slots. During the sea trial, ask several questions and have the salesperson explain how everything operates. Listen to the engine and examine the bilges.
4. Inspect the Documents
Depending on where you purchase the boat, you will need a separate title to legally own it. Before signing any contracts or submitting a down payment, verify that the seller has everything in order. Most boats require a title document, and it is essential to confirm that there are no liens on the title for which you may be accountable as the new owner. Verify that the Hull Identification Number corresponds with the number imprinted on the boat.
5. Create a Purchase Contract
Once a final purchase price has been agreed upon, a boat purchase agreement (or bill of sale) must be drafted. The agreement should detail everything that you and the seller have agreed will be on board when you purchase the vessel, including electronics, lines, and ornamental objects. Exclude nothing from the list. The purchase agreement is the last step towards acquiring a good, safe, and clever boat, so take your time and avoid rushing.