How to make the purchase of a Used (Pre-owned) Boat a good experience, and one that will give both you and your family endless hours of pleasure on the water

A used boat will cost less than a new boat and therefore if you choose the right boat first time you can find yourself getting a lot of value for your money, making it a wise investment. If you follow a basic set of guidelines, study all the pros and cons, and rather purchase from a reputable dealer than privately or online, there is every chance that you’ll make your purchase a good experience, giving you and your family in the longer term endless hours of pleasure on the water.

For example when purchasing a pre-owned boat from a reputable Dealer, the Dealer will ensure that the boat is registered in your name, free of any encumbrances, as well as ensure that the vessel is supplied with a current seaworthiness certificate (COF) in your name, and that all the documentation pertaining to the vessel’s flotation and seaworthiness, and trailer registration, are present and correct. The other positive to consider when purchasing from a dealer is that you, as the consumer are protected under the consumer protection act, against material defects and there is an implied 6 month warranty, which you do not have when purchasing privately or for example on Gumtree.
BOATING TIP-Close inspection of the hull copy

It is a common misconception that the Dealers are more expensive when considering a pre-owned boat.  The overall market which is way more powerful than all the Dealers put together, will ultimately determine at what price boats will change hands. It often happens that someone purchases a “bargain” on Gumtree (or other online mediums) only to discover, sadly and more often than not too late in the day, that they could have bought a later model, an overall better boat package, free of defects for way less from the Dealer.

Often when a vessel is purchased privately, it sometimes transpires that the boat does not have a flotation certificate, or indeed any form of flotation which essentially renders the boat useless in its current condition.  So what was supposed to be the start of a fun process turns into an expensive exercise, leaving you stranded with an inferior boat package option when compared to the same-priced ‘ready to go’ unit that you could have bought from a reputable dealer.
BOATING TIP-Transom copy

The main GUIDELINES to purchasing a used boat privately are as follows:

  • First appearances of a used boat are crucial, if it’s dirty or looks a little shoddy, then that’s just a precursor of what more is to come, so rather just walk away, it’s not worth the risk.
  • Is there a current manufacturer’s flotation certificate for the boat?
  • Is the trailer registered in the name of the seller?
  • Does the chassis number reflected on the registration certificate of the
 trailer match the number stamped on the trailer?
  • Are there any outstanding hire purchases on the vessel?
  • Does the boat have a current Seaworthiness Certificate (COF), and if not, 
when was the last survey done as this is an ongoing annual requirement?
  • It’s a used boat, so it’s had a previous owner. Try and get hold of him or her, find out why they’re selling, ask them how the boat performs and handles, and most importantly how was the boat looked after.
  • Visually inspect the boat for any obvious damage or repair work meaning that at some stage it’s been involved in an accident.
  • Check the condition of the hull. If it’s fibreglass, check for blisters, gouges, separation or leakage between the hull and the deck.
  • Is the boat equipped with a 2-Stroke or a 4-Stroke engine? The initial 
purchase of a 4-Stroke will be more expensive, but the cost of overall
 ownership will be a lot less.
  • Start the engine and check that the impeller is pumping a solid stream of
  • With the engine running check to see that the gearbox is working properly 
when engaging both forwards and reverse.
  • If the engine is equipped with power trim and tilt check the operation of the
  • Check to see that the steering system is free and smooth, or if the boat is
 equipped with Hydraulic steering that there are no hydraulic fluid leaks. If
 the boat is equipped with an engine larger than 90HP, it should ideally be
 rigged with hydraulic steering as this will greatly benefit your driving 
comfort and your overall boating experience, as well as future 
potential resale value.
  • Checking to see that the Transom is in good condition is absolutely crucial. Check that there are no cracks, stress fractures or rotting as this is
 potentially a very expensive repair, sometimes costing more than the 
actual value of the hull, making it not worthwhile to fix.
  • Check to see that the deck is sound and not cracked and sagging.
  • If there are inspection hatches in the deck, check the timbers below deck
 for integrity, eg. free of rot.
  • Check the trailer for corrosion and cracks, also check the wheel bearings 
because there should be no play in the wheels. A new trailer can cost up 
to R25 000               depending on the size of the boat, so the condition of the trailer 
plays a very             important role in your overall boating experience being a 
pleasurable one.
  • Preferably buy a used boat from the region in which you live, so that you have some sort of closer proximity recourse should there be any problems.
  • Finally before you arrive home with your new pride and joy, your Used Boat, make sure you that have your partner’s full consent to make that purchasing decision.       Rocking up at the house with something unannounced hitched to the back of your car could have unpleasant repercussions…!
    BOATING TIP-Used Boats copyIf any of these items do not check out, rather give your nearest Honda Marine dealer a call and let them assist you in appraising the vessel. It might save you from a bad experience and help to ensure that your time spent on the water is rather one full of fun and enjoyment.

    Info supplied by Honda Marine Somerset West