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A Beginner’s Guide to Buying Secondhand Boats


For most people, buying a boat is less familiar than buying a car. This can make finding the right boat and getting a great deal much more challenging.

If this sounds like you, don’t get discouraged.

Getting a good second-hand boat can be easier than you think – as long as you know what to look for and who to work with.

If you’re on the market for your first second-hand boat, here are our top tips to make sure you end up with a great buy:

Know What It’s For

First, decide clearly what you need the boat for. Will you be fishing with it in rivers? Taking day trips and cruises? Using it for recreational boating or water sports?

There are many types of boats out there, and it’s easy to fall down a rabbit hole with all the different kinds of boats on the market. By knowing what you’ll use the boat for, you can narrow your search and stay focused on finding a great deal.

This will also help you determine how much power would you need from your boat. A boat with a smaller engine will likely have less power, which means you can’t use it for activities like boat towing or water skiing.

You also need to be realistic about your boat handling skills and make sure you have enough experience to handle the type of boat you’re planning to buy.

Try Before You Buy

In the same way that you should test drive a second-hand car before buying it, you should take the boat out for a ride to see how it runs.

If you’re new to boating, we recommend having a mechanic or seasoned boater do it for you. You’ll be surprised with how much they can tell you just by the “feel and sound” of the boat as they take it out for a spin.

And don’t feel pressured to buy the first boat you find. Spend time test driving different boats so you can understand the type of boat that’s right for you.

Make Sure It’s Legitimate

When buying a second-hand boat, you need to make sure that the seller owns the boat outright. You can do this by checking the Personal Properties Securities Register (PPSR), which will show whether the boat is free from any security interests that could lead to its repossession.

You can also use the PPSR to check if the boat was reported as stolen. The boat’s Hull Identification Number (HIN) should be registered in the PPSR’s database, so it will be quick and easy to check. You should also ask the seller for proper documentation to support his claim of ownership. If everything checks out, the next step is to do a full inspection of the boat.

Inspect It Thoroughly

Never buy a boat you like blindly; always make sure you inspect it for any damage or stress fractures. And if you’re buying an aluminium boat, you should also check for corrosion and cracks around the joints.

Don’t forget to check the boat’s maintenance records, and ask the seller how many past owners it had. A boat that has had several owners could be a red flag – there may be a reason it’s been passed around often.

You should also have your mechanic or marine surveyor complete a thorough check of the boat’s structure, wiring, rigging, on-board gear, engine – everything. Don’t think that this is being overly cautious – anything you miss at this stage could cost you a lot of money later.

A Few More Things To Remember

  • Check for safety gear. It’s important to understand that not all second-hand boats will come with the required safety equipment or on-board gear. If it’s missing important equipment, you can use it to negotiate the price.
  • Consider storage. Don’t forget to consider your boat’s storage. Remember that anchoring a boat in a marina can be a big added expense. If you’re storing it at home, you’ll need to have a trailer with a winch that’s suitable for the type of boat you’re getting.
  • Keep all the paperwork. Your boat’s paperwork should include all signed agreements with the seller, receipts, and documentation that includes the boat’s HIN and the manufacturer’s plate.
  • Register it. Lastly, after buying your boat, remember to register it with your state’s Department of Transport before you take it out on the water.

Have Experts on Your Side

These boats guide on how to buy a boat above will certainly help you a lot in finding a great deal on a second-hand boat.

But if you want to make your search even easier, we always recommend working with specialists like us.

At Buddii, we can help you find the perfect boat loan so you can purchase the boat you want quickly and with fewer issues.

Have a chat with us today to find out more about our boat loans.