Before you can sail away in the used boat of your dreams, there are a host of structural and technical areas you should examine, to avoid being financially drained by repair work in the long term.
The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) strongly recommends you employ a marine surveyor before committing to a purchase, so that you’re aware of any structural problems before making a financial commitment. But if you do want to make a start on your own, here is a useful checklist for buying a second hand boat;
We would strongly advise that you examine the hull and the superstructure of the boat. You will want to look above the deck at the gel coat over the cuddy or around the helm position for example and carefully look for any cracks or chips. You should also look for any evidence of blistering or fading.
As well as the external surfaces, you will also want to check the wooden decking as well as all of the interior woodwork. Keep an eye out for damp spots, which will usually look darker than the surrounding wood and will also be soft to the touch.
If you are looking into buying a sail boat then you will want to consider the condition of the sails and rigging. You will want to keep an eye out for signs of repairs, whilst also ensuring that they both work and function easily and freely. Replacing the rigging and sails can be costly, so if they are in poor condition, you will want to factor this into your budget and alter the offer accordingly.
If you are looking at a used RIB then you will want to take a look at the tubing and check it for blistering, delamination or any other evidence of previous puncture repairs. You should also check the air valves and make sure that they are functioning properly.
Check any deck or hull fittings to ensure that they are in good condition. You will want to ensure that they are functioning correctly and are watertight. Fittings that are in poor condition can be a bit of a hassle, so bear this in mind when negotiating your offer.
Have a look at the paintwork on the boat and keep an eye out for any signs of touching up or mismatched paint. If you do discover these signs then find out why this has occurred as it may be due to a major issue that could impact on your decision to purchase the vessel.
Open and close all hatches to see if they’re in good working order and that they don’t show signs on water ingress inside. If they do, it can means that they’re not watertight.
You will also want to have a look at the boat’s canvas covers, to make sure that they are in good condition. You should have a look to see if the poppers are in place and that they all fit. You won’t want to have to invest in new canvas covers right after purchasing a new boat, unless this was taken into account in the valuation of the vessel.
When you are pleased with the general condition of the boat you will want to take a look at all of the ancillaries that are on board. You will want to take a look at the lines or ropes, the fenders and the safety equipment on board. It is worth finding out if these are included in the purchase and if they are, are they in sufficient quantity to keep you and the boat safe? If these ancillaries are not included in the purchase then you will want to factor this into your negotiations as you will need them.
You will want to check to see if there are any electrics present and have a look at the electrical cabling for signs of repair, temporary fixes, rust and loose connections. These can be tricky to deal with, and it is worth finding out why any temporary fixes have been made, as they can end up coming back to haunt you in the future.
Check that the steering and throttle control cables are in good condition and that the wheel moves freely (and without squeaking) and that the transmission smooth, from forward, to neutral, to reverse. Fixing the steering and transmission can prove costly so make sure you are confident in them both before proceeding with the purchase.
Anything that has a switch or a handle should be tested, to ensure that they work correctly. You should pay particular attention to navigation lights, the horn, bilge pumps, internal lights, winches, heating, generators, cooking facilities and the taps and toilets. If all of these are working well, then you are in luck as it shows that the current owners have taken good care of the boat.
If there are water marks or stains within the boat, then this is usually a sign that there has been some form of flooding or leakage. If this is the case then you should find out why they have come to be and how frequently these leaks have occurred.
You will want to check and see if the boat uses any gas for appliances. And, if it does, you will want to check the connections to gas cylinders and cooker for leakage. You should also have a look at the bilges and see if there are any gaseous smells that could point to a leak. If you own a portable gas alarm then it is worth taking it along to the inspection with you.
Check the condition of all anodes protecting your boat, prop and engine from rust. If they’re well worn they’ll need replacing and this should be considered when negotiating; if the anodes are completely worn away then there’s a good chance that there will be damage (corrosion) elsewhere, so look for it!
Check the condition of the hull beneath the waterline and the condition of any antifoul treatment that’s been applied. And also have a look to check the condition of the propeller for signs of corrosion, especially if the anodes are badly or totally worn away.
Check the line of the propeller with the rudder and, in the case of inboard engines, the straightness of the line between the shaft and propeller and check for ‘wobbling’ between the two. Look for signs of any collision damage or twisting caused by tangling with fishing nets or other debris in the sea. The shaft, propeller and rudder can be expensive to replace, so check carefully and take any damage into consideration when you are negotiating the price.
One thing that you should check is the oil level of the engine. You should also examine the colour and texture of the oil. If it is grainy or gritty, then there are possibly tiny slithers of metal that could indicate potentially serious mechanical problems. If the oil has a slightly milky appearance, it signifies that there is a water leak into the engine.
Check the water level and examine the engine block itself for any signs of external white water residue marks. If it exists, it can indicate that the engine has been running hot in the past.
Take along this checklist and aim to get answers to each issue – at least where relevant to the boat you’re interested in. Being in an informed position will help you when it comes to negotiating the offer. Good luck and happy boat buying!
Article supplied by www.boatshop24.com, the leading European marketplace for buying and selling boats.
been looking online at Boats For Sale and have narrowed down my choice to five i will definitely be taking your list with me when i go view them in person. thank you for sharing your advice
Always welcome, Peter. Hope it comes in handy.