Things that you have to consider when buying a used boat
We attended a panel discussion at the boot 2015 in Düsseldorf and talked with two experts about “the purchase of second-hand boats” . The experts gave some interesting insights and useful tips on what you have to consider when you plan to buy a second-hand boat. In the following, we will give you some useful advice that will help you if you want to buy a second-hand boat. In particular it’s important to know which parts of the boat you should examine closer.
First, it is important to gather a lot of information from different sources before the purchase and compare different offers. It is worthwhile consulting a specialist, who will assess the used boat and determine, correct or confirm the value of the used boat. In the following, we will give you some useful advice that will help you if you want to buy a second-hand boat.
1) Forecastle and Rear
It is recommended to use a flashlight to light up the forecastle and rear of a boat, which is especially necessary for wooden boats. If there is not enough air exchange in the rear or forecastle, condensation water can lead to corrosion and rust. Many forget to illuminate the rear and forecaslte of a boat and overlook possible rust and rotting damages. Hence, you should also have a look into the small corners of a boat.
2) Steel Thickness
You have to examine the steel thickness, when you plan to buy a steel ship. It is advisable to ask how thick the steel was originally. An expert has the proper measuring instruments and can find out how much has been rusted so far. You have to be careful especially concerning aluminium purchases because aluminium is exposed to electrolysis which can lead to corroded walls. Knowing the chemical nature and reactivity of metals is very helpful. Using so-called sacrificial anodes below the waterline and corresponding insulation of metal components can act as prevention. You should ask whether these preventive measures were implemented in the used boat of your interest.
It is useful to pull the boat from the water and have a closer look at the keel. You cannot see the centerboard area when the boat is in the water. Hence, many potential buyers forget to inspect this area which can result in major problems. In the worst case, your boat can drown if you do not inspect this area properly.
4) Steering gear
Next to the keel, you should also inspect the steering gear. You should ask yourself the following questions: Is the rudder alright or does it make strange noises? Is there too much free play?
In the matter of the motor you should rather consult a motor specialist than the boat builder. The motor expert has the necessary know-how about compression regarding every cylinder and can let you know whether the motor is OK.
Osmosis can destroy the boat hull and in most cases you can only detect osmosis if you pull the boat from the water. However, sometimes osmosis occurs also 3 to 8 inches above the water surface.
You should search the underwater hull for blisters. Osmosis occurs when the boat builder does not properly laminate the hull, neglects the temperature or due to improper sealing or a lack of regular anti-fouling It is quite difficult to create blister-free laminate and you can compare it with putting plastic foil on the car windshield. Laminate contains reactive materials and if fluid enters the semi-permeable membrane (gel coat), blisters can occur. If you pierce the blisters, fluid will leak out.
Osmosis is a drawn-out process and osmosis renovation can be very expensive. During the renovation process, the gel coat is being removed and the boat builder checks how much fluid is in the laminate. After removing the gel coat, the hull is washed with clear water in order to remove all reactive materials. Afterwards, the hull has to be dried. If the laminate is wet, it will not necessarily mean that the boat is damaged or that the boat will be infected by osmosis. In the last step, an osmosis protection coating is laid on, while 600g acrylic resin is recommended for firming the hull. In the worst case, the entire underwater hull has to be removed and re-coated. The square meter price has to be re-negotiated, may vary and can be very high.
Tips against osmosis
- Dry storage during the winter
- Gel coat has to be sufficiently thick
- Laminate has to be ventilated during the laminating process
- Fresh water and warm water temperature promotes osmosis
A documentation about the used colours and lacquer is quite advisable. You should ask for the invoice of the shipyard in order to find out the paint name that was used. In terms of private purchases, the purchase contract should include which paint was used. The chemical composition of the lacquers is sometimes not compatible with other substances and therefore a complete documentation is essential.
It’s essential for regatta racers to have sails in mint condition. If you examine the sails of a used boat, you should pay attention, whether there is any propulsion and ask whether the previous owner(s) often sailed during strong winds. If this is the case, you should consider buying new sails. New sails cost between 8,000€ and 9,000€ for 30m² sail area (inclusive spinnaker).
Is the tarpaulin alright? A new tarpaulin costs between 2,000€ and 4,000€. Since the tarpaulin is drawn over the whole boat, you should find out whether the UV radiation was strong in the past. Longitudinal and cross ventilation are very important. Otherwise you have to integrate ventilation bags, while four exhausters for each side are recommended. Sufficient ventilation is indispensable and if there is not enough ventilation, you have to consider additional ventilation. You also need mesh grids against spiders.
10) Boat price
You should find out the current market price and draw comparisons about prices from different suppliers. You can ask the shipyard about the estimated value of a secondhand boat. However, this may cost between 500€ and 700€ to compensate for travel expenses and time expenditure depending on the location of the boat and shipyard.
11) Further useful advice
The aluminium mast might have corroded, therefore, you should take a closer look to this part of the boat as well. The wall thickness can bloom and become thinner if it is not isolated correctly. The shrouds and chainplates should also be examined. It is also important to have a closer look at the interior space of the boat and search for mould or strange spots and check whether the interior is sufficiently ventilated. You should examine the solar ventilation and the ventilation grates. Furthermore, you should inspect the anchor, rescue devices, and mattresses. If the mattresses were heavily used, you have to renew or disinfect them.
It is also advisable to find out about the history of a boat: who designed the boat, on which shipyard was the boat built and has the boat been maintained? Old does not necessarily mean that it requires renovation. Sometimes an old boat can be so good that you can immediately release it into water without any repair works. A well maintained boat can last over 100 years. A documentation about the course of a boat can be very useful.
Moreover, it is advisable to ask the seller why he or she wants to sell his or her boat. Some people might want to get rid of a damaged boat that has to be repaired and polish it up to blind boat interests.
Among possible reparation costs, you also have to consider transportation costs, insurance costs, berth costs and other fees.
To sum up, you should consider consulting an expert with regards to the things mentioned above. Experts can give you good advice and prevent you from bad buys of second-hand boats. You should maintain a boat continuously and it is advisable to consult an expert once a year, who inspects the boat.