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Buying a second-hand boat: what you need to know


So you want to buy a boat that is not brand new. Sure, why not? There really is a lot to be said for it: Modern GRP boats are robust, durable and therefore one thing above all: inexpensive. But they are often better equipped than the new, but bare “entry-level models”, the option! Option! – Must be completed with many crosses on the list of accessories at an additional cost. A used boat should also be over the various quirks and quirks that new models are sometimes plagued by, and the loss in value when reselling is significantly lower than with a ship that is bought brand new.

The following applies: It has never been easier to get an overview, the selection of boats has never been greater than today. There are thousands of them on offer, many of them at bargain prices. But be careful: Often nothing is more expensive than buying cheap.
The good news: In the age of the Internet, everyone has the opportunity to obtain comprehensive and free information about the market situation or even specific boats. Regional, national, international, everything is just a click away today. Specialist magazines and internet portals simplify research and enable extensive comparisons not only in terms of price, but also in terms of condition and equipment. But what else do you have to know to make the campaign a success? What are the key points that should be discussed or inspected before buying? And what about reviewers? Here are the most important tips:

Choice of boat type
Before you fall madly in love with a boat, ask yourself whether it can live up to your needs. The following criteria must be clarified before the boat search:

  • In which area should the boat mainly be used?
  • What are the prevailing wind and weather conditions there?
  • How high should the payload or passenger capacity be?
  • How long should the tours last on average?
  • Do you have the necessary driving license / driver’s license?
  • Are you familiar with the type of boat?
  • How much own funds or outside capital should be invested in the acquisition?


Nowhere is it easier to get an overview of the price range of comparable boats than on the Internet or in the classifieds of the specialist magazines. Other interesting sources when looking for a boat are the advertisements of the yacht brokers or the private notices in clubs and marinas. Even if the advertisements often promise more than the boats deliver on closer inspection, it is never wrong to create a basis for comparison in advance, which could be helpful later in the selection of the ship and the negotiations. You could also order the printed “Marine” rating list for a hefty $ 260 from the Schwacke website.


Once you’ve decided on a boat and contacted the owner or broker, the real buying process begins. The following applies: trust is good, control is better. Be sure to take the opportunity to take a close look at the boat for yourself. Pay attention to details: even if they are inconspicuous, they could indicate bigger problems:

  • Blisters and osmosis
  • Jumps in the gelcoat
  • damage to the keel
  • Bearing play in the steering gear
  • Imprecise or sluggish steering mechanism
  • Propeller damage
  • Transmission problems
  • Damage to spars, standing and running rigging and keel bolts (if it is a sailing yacht).
  • Condition of bulkheads, stringers, frames and sea valves
  • Electrics (the wiring should be laid clean and signposted)
  • Check the installation of the water supply (pumps, hot water preparation, etc.)
  • Function of the engine (starting, idling, cooling water discharge, smoke development)
  • Also important: the inspection on the crane or trailer, which provides information about the condition of the underwater hull and the paintwork, but also about the keel, propeller and rudder system.


An experienced and fair seller may have his own report, which was drawn up by an independent expert. You are free to accept this or to call in an expert from your whale yourself, who will draw up a counter-opinion. The costs for this depend of course on the size of the boat, but are usually profitable because they help to realistically assess the real price of the boat, which consists of the purchase price and follow-up costs (repair, maintenance, etc.), or to correct it downwards . All in all: When buying a used boat, in most cases it is worthwhile to get the expert opinion of a boat expert
And many a prospect has already refrained from doing an unreasonable deal after an expert opinion. Here you can find the extract from the register of experts of the association for international boat experts.

Test drive

Of course, you should go on the water with every boat before signing the purchase agreement. Pay attention to the condition. Is it thoroughly cleaned and tidy? Also ask what items of equipment on board are included in the purchase price. Try to pick a day when it’s a little windy because after all, you want to know how the boat will perform in rough water.

The purchase agreement

The following points should be included:

  • Name and address of the buyer or the seller (presentation of the identity card)
  • Proof of ownership
  • Actual purchase price
  • Type of payment processing
  • Exact description of the boat with hull or engine number
  • registrations
  • CE certificate
  • Detailed list of supplied equipment
  • Place and time of handover of the ship
  • warranty claims
  • VAT certificate
  • The payment to the seller should wait until the conclusion of the purchase contract and, if necessary, can also be processed via a trustee account.

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