Twelve tips for buying the right used boat


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used boatAn annotated list of suggestions for those planning to buy a used boat. It is a universal guide, useful from small fiberglass boats to large technological yachts, from the old wooden boat to those made of exotic materials. A guide on things to check and also on economic underestimates. Simple but effective rules. A contributor of ours who has had a dozen boats, from 7 to 18 meters, wrote it out of the blue. He has sailed in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic but confesses that, even he, has taken a couple of shenanigans in his long career as a shipowner. This is precisely why he has compiled his 12 golden rules for not getting ripped off by buying a used boat. Because, he confessed to us, “too many times I got carried away with the urge to buy a boat that I loved to death. But I didn’t have enough money to maintain it.”

logoBy the way, after reading his advice, drop by Topboatmarket, the site where you can find ads for used boats, new boats, inflatable boats and yachts. You’ll find all the brokers, boats produced by boatyards, boat sheets and quotes for sail and power boats – who knows, maybe your dream boat is already waiting for you!


opre_imagecarousel_image4_v01Tip 1. Remember the 30/70 rule. The builder makes 30 percent of the boat and purchases the remaining 70 percent from other suppliers. Of this 70 percent, almost all must be replaced periodically at ever-increasing prices. This explains the devaluation of a boat by about 50 percent after the first decade.

a-villani-sailor-cleaning-the-keel-of-a-shipTip 2. Maximum attention to the purchase price, to which must be added the cost of the inevitable overhaul and possible refit. An effective rule of thumb is to allocate 50/60% of the available budget for purchase and the remaining 40/50% to be used over time for upgrades and changes. Don’t forget to calculate the annual maintenance budget. Not to go the extra mile. No one likes a boat stuck ashore.

sail-evalTip 3. Don’t be fooled by the list of equipment and gadgets that almost every used boat has. Most will need to be replaced, either immediately or over time. One more gadget does not make the boat sail better. If you are told that the boat has been “refitted” recently, be skeptical and check thoroughly. Sails, for example, have you ever seen a used boat with really new sails that cost a lot of money?

220px-Details_of_rigTip 4. The greatest replacement and maintenance costs are most likely to be in sail equipment and the engine. After 10 to 15 years, the condition of the mast and turnbuckles should be checked, and the condition of the turnbuckle and bulb bolts attached to the hull should be inspected. In addition, the rigging should be thoroughly checked (after 30/35,000 miles it should be replaced). Better to prevent than to risk losing the tree!

1500-Hound-Engine-InstalTip 5. The engine and its related parts usually need to be replaced after 20 years. Two roads: either replacement with a new engine or a “rebuild” of the parts most subject to wear and tear. Remember, a reliable engine is essential. And if it breaks down in underserved places, it is a real headache to find replacement parts, which are much more expensive than under normal conditions without emergencies.

solution_image2Tip 6. Nothing is more comfortable than the size of a boat. Everything on the boat can be changed but not the size. But it is a double-edged sword; costs go up terribly and not in proportion to measure growth. A word of advice, focus on waterline length, which is what determines the actual volumes of the boat as well as being the parameter for figuring out what the actual speed is.

maxresdefaultTip 7. The more electrified rigging, from winches to sail furling, the easier it will be for two people to steer it even with several years on their shoulders, a rule that applies even with boats of 60 feet or more (18 meters). But maintenance and costs go up considerably, reaching five-figure costs. Today’s 40-footers (12 meters) are boats with invaluable space and comfort and cost affordable amounts of money. And you have to think that 30 years ago a 30-footer (9 meters) was a good boat for long sailing!

DSCF7410[1]Tip 8. Beware of the eagerness to have lots of wood and teak on the deck. Nice, but does not improve safety and needs continuous maintenance. If you do not have sufficient funds, avoid the teak deck; you will also gain unnecessary weight. A teak deck does not last more than 15 to 20 years.

frersTip 9. Opt to own a boat designed by a famous naval architect instead of one designed by the builder himself, unknown as a designer. And then you need to know the history of the boat by comparing yourself with owners of similar boats.

1139_004 (1)Tip 10. If you plan to sail long distance, for several days at sea, you must pay close attention to how the cabins and bunks are arranged. Today there are boats with cabins that look like real home bedrooms…but that is the mistake. A boat’s cabins and beds should be designed for those who rest even when sailing. Otherwise, you will end up resting at the dunnage in the square dreaming only of getting to port.

life raftTip 11. Regardless of your budget, take safety seriously. Before you solace yourself with electro/informatics gadgets. Better to have an ocean-certified raft, an Epirb, vests with harnesses, VHF with AIS, efficient bilge pumps of the right evacuation range. Afterwards, treat yourself to a state-of-the-art autopilot, TV set, wi-fi router, and so on.


Tip 12. Never be in a hurry to close because you are in love with a boat. Sea trial, real and not a motor ride is essential. Try it under sail, possibly with good wind. Only then can you realize if that is the boat for you. Most importantly, only by sailing can you realize what the state of the boat is like. If rigging works, if it makes water, if when a wave passes everything creaks…boats are made to sail. Too often we forget this.



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