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Buying a Used Boat Checklist


buying a used boat checklist

I spend an inordinate amount of time talking to potential clients about the proper way of approaching a boat purchase. I have created a Buying a Used Boat Checklist to help boat buyers make an informed purchase.


Let’s relate this process to a marriage. Before you choose a husband or a wife, there is a process called, hopefully, dating your prospective spouse. You take time to get to know your possible future spouse before you consummate this relationship. You should really discover their history or any unusual aspects that could adversely affect your relationship.


So, what should you as a prospective buyer be aware of before you pass “Go?”


1. Can I afford this wonderful thing?

2. What do insurance premiums run per year on this type of vessel?

3. What does it cost to store wet or dry per year?

4. What will maintenance cost be per year?


So, if you have reconciled 1-4 with your discretionary spending budget, what’s next? You need someone knowledgeable enough to give you a non-prejudicial opinion about this particular vessel.


So where to look? There are two prominent organizations from which to search:

NAMS (The National Association of Marine Surveyors) and SAMS (The Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors). Both have websites with a list of members and their geographical locations.


So now you get on the phone and start the selection of a surveyor that best fits your

buying a used boat checklist

needs. Ask them, “What does your inspection involve, and are you familiar with this type of vessel?”


There are lots of moving parts here. Both societies have minimum standards of survey

content. Some surveyors have specialties. Some do primarily motor-powered vessels, and some sailing auxiliaries. Some have been doing it so long that they do both. Phone interview several so you won’t be disappointed with the survey content and your chosen surveyor's experience.


History, especially on older vessels, is of extreme importance. Some surveyors provide a Sellers Disclosure form, which gives the seller the opportunity to disclose any significant events that have occurred during his or her ownership period. This is an invaluable tool for the buyer.


© Capt. Neil K. Haynes, 2023

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