Few things can rival the thrill of slicing through the open water in your own motor boat, and as far as boats go they’re one of the easiest to operate. Of course, there’s a whole lot of mechanics to think about, but aside from that they’re a popular choice for both relative beginners and old hands alike.
If you have a pretty hefty sum of money kicking around that needs spending, or you’ve just won the lottery, then you may just want to head out and buy a nice shiny brand new motor boat. But for most of us a better option is to think second hand. Certainly there are plenty of second hand motor boats available, but what should you look for when buying a second hand motor boat?
Here’s a quick rundown of my advice for both finding and checking a motor boat before you commit to handing over your hard earned money.
One of the things I rely on when looking at any kind of second hand boat, whether it’s a motor boat or a yacht, is gut instinct. If you visit the owner who is selling the boat and you talk to them face to face you’ll often get a feeling as to whether you can rely on them to be completely truthful or not.
For instance, one of the questions I always save for when I’m actually face to face with a seller is, ‘why are you selling it?’ Don’t ask this in an email, wait until you’re there with them as you’ll find that will give you quite a big clue. Are they shifting it fast before it needs some expensive repairs, for example.
When you’re looking around a motor boat check the basics such as how clean it is, whether the fabric of the seats has been cared for, whether there are star shaped fractures on the underside or evidence of a water line inside. Star shaped fractures on the hull can indicate excessive crashing through waves at high speed, which could result in expensive repairs being due sooner rather than later, and an internal water line is a sure sign that it’s been flooded at some point.
If you can check the oil, even if it’s just by looking at the dipstick, make sure it isn’t a creamy, milky colour as this could indicate water contamination.
It’s easy to be convinced by a nice clean engine, but I find that if the engine is too clean, or looks as though it has been cleaned quite recently, I can’t help but wonder what’s being hidden. I actually like to see an engine that’s a little grubby, and as you would expect it, because this gives you a better idea of whether there are any leaks.
A problem I have found with motor boats in the past is that very often people use them plenty during the summer months but when it comes to the winter they will leave them sitting in a garage or shed. On the surface this might seem fine, but it’s actually bad news.
The reason is that whilst a motor boat is being run the oil is lubricating the engine and keeping things in good shape. Once a motor boat is left sitting idle the oil is no longer keeping things in good condition, and rubber gaskets and seals can dry up, shrink and crack. Then when you do take the boat out on the water it isn’t long before your engine needs a major repair job doing.
My advice is to always ask to see the boat in use in the water if at all possible, and if you aren’t an expert on motor boats then it might be worth paying a little extra by hiring the service of a marine surveyor who will be able to evaluate the seaworthiness of your boat, which is particularly helpful when it comes to getting your boat insured.