If you’re in the market for a boat, you might be thinking about buying a used licensed pleasure craft. But what should you check to see if the boat is a good buy for you? Here are a few things to watch out for, but if in doubt, call in a professional. If you do decide to go ahead, you will have to complete an official transfer of ownership.
Give it an overall inspection
Check out the overall condition of the boat. Look for signs that the boat has been well maintained. If there is mold or cracking, wood might be rotting, and the fiberglass might be breaking down. These are serious problem signs, and you should probably move on to looking at another vessel.
Look closer for cracks in the fiberglass
Inspect the fiberglass both above and below the water. If there are small, spider web-like cracks, the problem is probably mostly cosmetic. The problem is that small cracks can turn into bigger cracks over time. Any crack of 2 or more inches could be the sign of bigger problems. Has the boat been in an accident, for example? This is probably a good time to call in an expert.
Inspect the seats
If the seats are loose, it could be an indication of rotten flooring, which is a serious problem. Otherwise, the screws might just be stripped. They can easily be replaced in this instance.
Look for mold
Check the boat for mold. If mold is limited to covers or upholstery, these can easily be cleaned or replaced. But if there is a lot of mold inside the seats or a moldy carpet, there might be hidden problems that require further investigation.
Check the electronics
Make sure that the electronics on the boat work. If the bulbs have burned out or there is a seized bilge pump, the solutions are cheap and easy. But if several electronic devices aren’t working, or if the insulation around the wires has melted, it could be a serious sign of trouble.
Test the belts
Have a look at the power-steering and alternator belts. If they’re worn, cracked, or thin, they need to be replaced and are a sign that the boat has not been cared for properly. Belts should be replaced every 100 hours.
Check the oil
Test a little of the oil between your fingers. It should be smooth and of the correct color. If it feels gritty, it probably means that metal filings are in the oil, indicating engine wear. If the oil has a milkiness to it, it means that water’s getting in. If the gears have been corroded. This is when you walk away.
Start her up
Start the engine. If it slips or starts rough, making a lot of smoke, noise, and vibrations, the boat could have big problems that might necessitate an engine overhaul. If, however, the problem comes from too much oil or old gas. These problems can simply be fixed during the boat’s first service.
If all’s well with the boat, maybe it’s time to sign the transfer of ownership for a licensed pleasure craft.