To buy a boat you should think twice what you want, what (size, quality, etc.) you need, for what you need a boat. Not the least issue in this business is money: how much money you can afford for buying a new boat. If new boats are not for you, you may think about used boats. Boat loans are also a way out. It is better to consult an expert in this very serious issue, particularly if you gonna choose among used boats. Consider with him the following aspects.
· A beginner or an experienced sailor. If you are a first time sailor and want to buy a boat in the 25 to 50 ft range, is to sail with someone who knows how to sail, take a sailing class first. For beginners used boats are the best variant. Keep in mind that many of the modern designs of the last 10 years are designed specifically for two people to sail easily whether in the Bay or in the ocean.
· Where you will be sailing and who you will be sailing with. Decide on the type of berths that will be suitable for you, your family and your guests. For example, aft doubles aligned with the axis of the boat or an aft double that runs across the boat port to starboard. Although the latter tends to be larger and more comfortable in the slip it is definitely not a sea going berth.
· Where you expect to use your boat, long term. Will it be on the Ocean, trans-Ocean, near the shore, in a Bay, on the Caribbean or all of the above.
· Beware of the buying philosophy "I'll buy a smaller boat now and get a bigger one later." If you're buying new you will suffer two large depreciations. If buying used boats, the money you put into the first boat to bring it up to your own personal standards and needs will go a long way to paying a down payment or many monthly payments on the second boat. You will be upgrading the second boat anyway. Buy now what you expect to own for 5-10 years.
· If you choose among used boats, investigate their defects, they may influence the cost. Insurers have their own requirements. Your insurance agent and the surveyor should be working hand in hand. This is where purchasers of used boats can suddenly be faced with unexpected costs. So what defects are to be investigated in details?
1. Deck leaks around windows, masts, caprail, traveller or through deck fittings.
2. Rigging should be checked by a rigger and all running rigging must be overhauled end-to-end to detect hidden chafe.
3. Soft or cracked gellcoat on the deck.
4. Check for blisters, gellcoat cracks, soft spots, shaft play in the cutlass bearing and loose rudder bearings, hull integrity around through hulls and the gap between the hull and the top of the keel which should be filled with sealant else corrosion of the keel may have caused the keel to separate from the hull.
5. Check for undue vibration, overheating, proper charging of the batteries and that the engine can come up to its cruising rpm.
- If the used boats are more than 6 years old have the surveyor check that the engine mounts are OK and particularly that all mounting bolts are intact. Two can be broken without any obvious signs or effects. When 3 breaks the engine is loose! This is a common problem on used boats that encounter rough waters while under power and can easily be overlooked by the surveyor.
I hope this short rough guide will help avoid mistakes in your choice. I hope you will not invest your money in the used boats counting their last days.