There are many disadvantages to buying a used boat, and for many people that can, or should, outweigh the advantages. Here are some points to think about before buying a used boat…
No warranty. Most used boats are out of warranty for the boat, engine, and equipment inside.
Faded or oxidized gelcoat. Unless the gelcoat has been rigorously maintained by compounding and buffing several times a year, the luster of the gelcoat is hard to revive.
Inefficient engines. Engine makers have made great strides in the last several years in creating ever more efficient engines both in outboards and in inboard/sterndrive engines -- and they are more reliable, too. This is largely due to direct injection.
Old Styling. A used boat may look great to someone unfamiliar with boats, but chances are the styling is out-of-date. Like automobiles, most builders’ designs change every four to seven years. As a result, beginners often buy boats out of style.
The Wrong Signal? Many buy boats because of the pride and status of owning a yacht. But a used boat signals that the owner can’t afford a new boat. How much status is in that?
Rough-riding Hull Design. While builders never talk about it, the fact is many older boats have rough-riding hulls. The reasons vary from brand to brand: some were too full forward and pounded; others were too flat amidships and bone-jarring at speed in a chop.
Encapsulated wood in the structure. Until relatively recently, many builders used wood in the transom, decks, or stringers of fiberglass boats. This provided the framework for the fiberglass that went over it. With time, because of holes drilled into the transom for the sterndrive units or bolts for outboard brackets, the wood would soak up water, becoming soft and heavy. Sometimes the wood would rot. Virtually all builders today use composite materials in transoms, stringers, and decks.
Primitive electrical wiring. One of the most vulnerable systems on a used boat is the electrical wiring. Until the last decade or so, wire connections were exposed to the air and typically corroded. Wires ran through bulkheads that were often inadequately secured and shielded from abrasion. Tracking down the location of where the wiring on a boat has gone wrong, or replacing junction blocks, can be expensive.
No vinylester resin in the bottom’s surface coat. Years ago, virtually all builders used only polyester resin in their hull laminates. But with time and under hydrostatic pressure, water will migrate through the surface and into the laminate. This can cause hull gelcoat blistering and can permeate the wood of a balsa core laminate. This is a particular problem with very old boats. Today, virtually all builders use vinylester resin as a skin coat to prevent this problem.
Rubber hose and hose clamp failure. We rarely hear of a new boat having a failure of a spitting hose or broken hose clamp. But this is a common problem with used boats. A rotten hose can cause an engine to overheat or a boat to sink.