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Buying a Boat

Guide to buying a boat 

Things you can do before engaging a Boat Surveyor

You will need a full survey report and valuation before you can insure the boat; however, if you follow the advice below you are less likely to waste a survey on the wrong boat.  Please feel free to discuss with us any boats in which you are interested, prior to committing  yourself to a boat purchase.

The general principles outlined below apply to both sailing and motor boats, although naturally you would adapt to them suit the boat you are trying out. If everything about the boat fits with your criteria, then it’s time to take the boat for a sea-trial. However, “Act in haste, repent at leisure” should be your guiding principle.

Before you start the engine, you should check whether it is already warm; if the engine has trouble starting or smokes a lot when cold, the vendor may have warmed it up prior to your arrival, in order to disguise such problems.

Check the bilges, both at the start and end of the trial – you are looking for any evidence of an oil leak, water pump gland leaks etc – and of course, leaks from the sea-toilet or thru-hulls.

See how the boat performs as you manoeuvre her;  Is the steering responsive? Experiment with hitting waves at different angles; look for excessive pitch or roll. Try out these factors whilst you are above and then below deck.

Test that all the instruments are working correctly; run the engine for long enough to see if overheats, rattles or smokes.

If you’re trialling a sailing boat, put the sails up, and see how she manoeuvres under wind power alone. Try out different points of sale. Examine the mast and rigging under load.

If the boat does not pass on any of your tests, you do not necessarily need to rule it out, as long as you are willing to put some time (and money) into putting things right. Any defects or even minor imperfections can be used as bargaining tools to try to negotiate a lower price. Get any agreement  in writing.

If you decide to purchase the boat, it is best to get everything put down in writing in a Sales Agreement. This should state the terms and amount of payment, and detail any pre-sale repairs that have been agreed – also making it clear who is responsible for carrying them out and paying for them. It should also list which accessories are included and the delivery and payment dates.

Beware of fraud; there are a few things to watch out for to make sure you are not the victim of fraud when you buy a boat:

 The RYA agreement for the private sale of a boat can be downloaded HERE

Other useful  information