Buying Your First Boat on a Budget : PART II – Better Boat

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Buying Your First Boat on a Budget : PART II

How to buy a boat on a budget

This post is designed to save you a lot of grief and unnecessary expense on buying your first boat. I may not be able to look in my crystal ball and foresee every thing that is wrong with a boat or what may go wrong with your boat after you purchase it. But my goal is to try and cover as much as possible when buying your first boat. That includes not only boat problems, but problems with sellers that are deceitful. My hope is that my article will save you thousands of dollars in boat repairs and most importantly the lives of your family. If I can accomplish this then that would truly make this man very happy.  In Part I of Buying your First boat we touched on the size, type of boat (Bayliner) and the Motor. 

Speaking with the Prior Boat Owner

When you contact the seller by email ask him if he would be willing to take multiple pictures of different parts of the boat?

Tell him you are serious and have cash in hand to purchase the boat. If he agrees to your request send him this list of what parts of the boat you need to see.

On a boat this old you are going to see some scratches and dock rash also the interior is not going to be perfect there will be some rips and tears. However, I have seen Bayliners this old that had pretty good interiors.

It depends on how the boat was taken care of and if it was either covered or stored in doors. Back to the scratches some scratches are going to be ok.

It’s the deep gouges you should be concerned with. Those are the ones that go through the gel coat and down into the fiberglass itself. You will be able to see the light color of the fiber glass when the gel coat has been gouged out. These are the ones you worry about.

Boat Hull Scratched

A gouge this deep needs to be addressed because the fiberglass may have some stress cracks and when you go out on the water and start bouncing around on the water this could cause the stress to not only extend further into the boat hull but could easily spread apart and start leaking water.

If you don’t have the expertise to repair these gouges then a professional will have to be hired to do it for you. Depending on the deepness of the gouge and how long it is, potentially could cost thousands of dollars to repair.

This can make or break a deal. Scratches as long as there are no gouges into the hull down to the glass this is usually not an issue. We will get into that later when you lake test the boat.

A List of Photos to Request Before Driving out to See the Boat

- Bottom of the hull on the bow down both sides and down the keel of the boat all the way to the back to the boat both sides. The front of the keel on the boat is very important to look at very closely a lot of people run their boats up on banks and slide into rocks this will really scar up a boat so pay close attention to the very front of the bow and keel.

Cracked Boat Keel By the way these are great keel protectors if you are looking for one.  


- The back of the boat on the transom look for spider cracks or major cracks in the gel coat this could be signs of a rotten transom and is flexing from powering up the engine and stern drive.

When the wood is rotten on the transom you will experience excessive flexing and lose all strength and support for the drive and engine. This will be very expensive to repair.

They will have to cut out all the rotten wood and replace it with marine grade plywood and re glass the wood seal and match the gel coat to the color of the boat.

Very expensive and more than likely exceed the value of the boat. 

- Interior front of the open bow.

- Main seats inside the boat close ups of any tears and any close ups of damaged carpet or any places of the flooring that may be rotten or soft.

- Pictures of all the side panels inside the boat.

- Pictures of the back seats and the dog house for the engine if there is vinyl covering it.

A lot of dog houses get a lot of sun damage on it. If the vinyl is damaged don’t worry about it .You can get it repaired down the road.  You also should be using UV protection on your vinyl.  Our UV Boat Wipes are perfect for this. 

What you are worried about is major rips and rotten seats and frames of the seats. That is where the money really starts adding up to replace the interior.

For now you just need to be concerned with functionality of the boat.

- Picture of the instruments close up. If there is major fading and the lenses are very clouded up and you cannot see the instrument lettering very clearly then there is a good chance you will be replacing all the instruments soon.

instrumental panel on boat clouded over

Minor fading is ok it’s the milky very faded lens where you can hardly see the lettering you are concerned with .Gauges that milky and faded have been out in the sun for a very long time with out having a cover on the boat. Not a good sign. And very expensive to replace. 

- Picture of the engine, both sides close ups bellow the bottom of the engine in the bilge area.

You are looking for oil puddles and excessive oil stains. Also the cleanliness of the engine. If boats are properly cared for and stored either indoors or have covers on them the engines stay very clean.

Look for oil down around the engine itself. If you think there are any oil leaks on the engine don’t be afraid to ask for a close up picture and ask the seller about it.

No bilge area is going to be spotless unless the owner has gotten in there and steamed cleaned the engine and bilge area or possibly used our amazing bilge cleaner.

A thin film of old oil stains is normal. It’s the fresh puddles or oil dripping off the sides or back of the engine you should be concerned with.

Next Part of Buying a Boat : Trailer

In our next part III of our boat buying guide we consider the trailer and buying your first trailer.  This is also a very important consideration and if not addressed, could also cost you thousands in repair bills or trailer replacement. Until next time.

Performance Tech

By Roger Hockemier

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