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What to Look For When Buying a New or Used Boat 

With a good portion of our planet covered by water, it’s no surprise that more people are investing in boats to explore and have fun on the water. Coastlines are pristine and fantastic places to take friends and family on a relaxing day off work, and to get some exploring in, and with a boat, your freedom is essentially limitless. 

Owning a reliable, luxurious and feature-packed boat is one of the best ways to make the most of your free time and you’re able to head out fishing, have a dinner on the water or go for a swim in some hard-to-reach places with no trouble at all. 

However, investing in a new watercraft isn’t as simple as getting your hands on a car, especially if it’s a used vessel. So if you ever need the help financially, you can use the boat loan calculator from Southeast Financial.

Of course, if you’re investing in a boat with reputable retailers who assess their used vessels prior to sale, like Grays boats, you’ll be in good hands. Though, it’s always good to do your research prior to making a purchase. 

If you’re new to buying boats, and need a little direction when buying a new or used boat, we have some tips for you below. 

Considering the Type of Boat 

Off the top, there are a whole range of different boat types that you’ll need to consider — these will greatly dictate what you can and can’t do on the water. 

To make choosing the type of boat a little easier, it’s a good idea to consider what you want to do and what your personal requirements are when it comes to features, safety and storage. 

If you’re someone who’s more likely to use their craft for friend and family gatherings as opposed to fishing, wakeboarding and other sporting activities, then a wide-body boat or even a pontoon might be a better option for you. 

However, for the action-packed boaters, a powerboat might be a better option for you as you’ll want something with great responsiveness and plenty of power. 

Choosing the Size of Craft

In a similar vein to the type of boat above, the size of the craft will also be contingent on the power and features you’re looking for. 

A lot of speedboats and high-powered models can be a little smaller and more nimble, which means if you’re looking for a wide-set vessel for dinners and other gatherings, then you may have to forgo power and prioritise width and size. 

Keep in mind that the size of the vessels will also dictate your price, which means you will have to find a happy medium between size and price before making an investment in a new or used boat. 

A Boat’s Use History

For those of our readers looking at the used or pre-owned boats, there are a few other things to take a look at. 

If you’re buying from a private seller, take a look at the condition of the boat and also do your best to ask the seller about how they’ve used the boat, where they’ve used it and if it’s spent a lot of time in saltwater or not. 

All of these things are important to know as these factors will affect how long the boat lasts and whether there are any issues you should be aware of down the line. You don’t want to be unaware of a potential weak point in the boat’s hull, for example, and not spot a potential leak or further damage. 

Understanding the Hours The Boat Has Done

Similarly to cars, the hours a boat has done is an essential factor to keep in mind when investing in a used model.

However, our big tip here is to take a look at the motor itself rather than relying entirely on the hours on the odometer. A boat’s odometer can be more easily reset than on a car, which means you should do your best to physically inspect the outboard motor for signs of wear, tear and age in general. 

If you’re new to buying boats, it’s a good idea to have a technician have a look at the motor for you, as they’ll be able to tell you whether you’re looking at a well looked after motor, or if you’re buying into something that’s a little worse off. 

A few things to look for include: 

  • Corrosion
  • Oil Leakage
  • Milkiness in the Gearbox
  • Vibrations 
  • Excessive Noise 

These are some important things to be on the lookout for when determining how well a boat’s motor has been taken care of.

Look for Maintenance Records

Another point to be on the lookout for when buying second hand boats are the maintenance records. 

These are going to give you a good peek into the boat’s history and whether it’s been routinely serviced and regularly serviced by the owners. It’s always good to see a boat has been well-serviced and kept in pristine condition all the way up until the potential sale. 

Also be on the lookout for any issues outlined in the servicing and maintenance sheet which have either reoccurred or are a red flag. Following a service, these issues are generally dealt with, though knowing what the issues were is a good way to tell if a vessel is going to present similar issues for you in the future. 

Any Added Extras

One final thing to look for are any added extras in your purchase of a new vessel. These could either add value to your investment, or show a red flag from the previous owners who are looking to pawn off as much of their problematic accessories to you. 

Although these are generally offered in good faith, it’s always a good idea to be a little apprehensive about inclusions in your purchase which may point to issues with a vessel down the line. 


With all of the above said, it isn’t too hard to see that getting your hands on a new watercraft is fairly easy, though you’ll need to know what to lookout for and be a little pedantic when looking over the vessel. 

It is going to be what keeps you out of the drink, after all. 


Jeff Campbell