5 steps to buying &
transporting a used boat
It’s possible to buy a used boat locally or interstate with the right pre-work
How difficult is it to buy a used boat & get it delivered?
You don’t have to spend hours driving all over Sydney to visit different dealers or marinas in search of a used boat. The majority of used boats for sale are listed on internet websites nowadays with a number of boat marketplaces making it easy to find nearly any type of boat you could want, all from the comfort of your own home. We know a lot of owners might go to websites like boatsales.com.au or boatsonline.com.au although there are also specialists like the BoatDeal marketplace where you can find a selection of high quality luxury boats for sale.
Using websites to find what is available also means you aren’t restricted to looking at boats that are for sale near you. Boat transport companies like Slip Away can pick up a boat from a marina, boat ramp or a dealer once you have bought it, even if it is located in another state. If the boat needs work or repairs Slip Away has mobile slip cradles for hire so you can move the boat to a service contractor to get repair or upgrade work completed.
By using the online marketplace listings, you can search through hundreds of boat models in a day, something that would have taken weeks or months to do previously by visiting different locations, but now it is easy to buy a boat online. It does sound a little intimidating, buying a boat from someone you’ve never met who may even be in another state, but there are steps you can take to ensure you will be satisfied with your purchase.
Below we provide some advice on how to do that safely, our tips on working with boat dealers or sellers via the internet, how to organise a sea trial, an inspection and getting your boat transported.
The five key steps to buying a used boat
- Find the right boat for your needs
- Ask the right questions
- Survey the interior, exterior, and motor
- Take it for a sea trial
- Work out what transportation you require
Step 1 - Find the right boat for your needs.
Before doing anything else in the boat buying process, you have to know what you’re looking for. By determining the exact kind of craft that you want to have, you will save time on your search and be far more satisfied once you find your used boat. Decide on the boat that will meet the needs of you and your family to serve you best when you hit the water.
What do you want to be doing out on the water? Fishing? Wakeboarding? or simply cruising?
You could even ask your friends and family that you are considering taking with you as they may have some ideas as to the things they would like to do. This collection of ideas will help select a boat that most likely will get used more often & enjoyed by everyone. The activities will determine the kind of boat you need from the facilities it has such as number of cabins and berths, overall range, cooking facilities, space on the deck areas etc
Doing this exercise will also help determine the type and size of boat you are looking for which will then assist making decisions on how it will be transported and where it will be kept when not in use. Sometimes it may be possible to store it at home, but for larger boats they will be kept at a marina or on a mooring in a sheltered bay.
Eventually you should find a few options that you like where you can then browse through the marketplace websites like BoatDeal or the other option is to use a boat broker like Luxury Marine in Sydney who can can find the right boat for you.
Step 2 - Ask the right questions
Once you find a boat you like, you need to ask the seller or boat dealer the right questions to find out the most relevant information. It is easy to get a little shy or gloss over important items for such an emotionally charged purchase. The best way to approach it is to make a list that you can follow. The owner will know the boat best, and when you are shopping for used boats online this is one of the best ways to gather information on a vessel.
You need to ask questions like;
- What year the boat and/or engines were manufactured?
- Do the engine hours listed online match what the seller or paperwork says?
- What, if any, major repairs have been done to the boat (either the engine or hull)?
- Is there documentation and receipts for all the past work?
- When was the last time it was serviced?
- Does the boat still fall under the original manufacture warranty?
- How long have they been the owner & how many prior owners were there?
- Is it in full working condition?
- How often did they use it & when was it last taken out on the water?
- Are there any items, systems etc that do not work fully?
Step 3 - Survey the Interior, Exterior and Motor
Buying a boat online means it could be located anywhere in Australia and you may not be able to inspect it yourself due to distance or accessibility reasons. Either way, you must hire a qualified boat surveyor to provide a full report. Once you find a qualified surveyor in the same location as your boat, ask them to do a full inspection, including a mechanical survey and send over a complete assessment on the boat’s condition.
Any used boats for sale is going to show some signs of wear and tear, but ideally these will not be anything more than just cosmetic. They need to make sure all electrical components and gadgets are in the condition that the seller has described.
You may need to get a mechanic to do the mechanical survey if the surveyor is not qualified to do so. You will want them to inspect the condition of the engine, which will include basics such as confirming the engine hours but also getting into the more important details like;
– engine pressure testing
– condition assessment of major components such as manifolds and risers (which are very costly if they need to be replaced).
Sometimes you can have situations where people selling a boat online may play down the extent of damage or the maintenance if they know the buyer is located elsewhere. So to have a surveyor carefully check everything, including the hull for any damage is critical. If the inspector’s report comes back looking good, then you are ready to attempt a sea trial.
Step 4 - Take it for a sea trial
The final step before purchasing a boat online is having it tested on the seas. Once again, if the boat is located too far away from you, you will need to hire someone to sea-trial it for you. It’s normal for a 10% deposit to be paid before sea trial, this is both to demonstrate your intentions towards purchasing the boat, and protect the boat on behalf of the vendor. You want to make sure the boat is tested thoroughly, but if the surveyor has been onboard before going out on the water, he is most likely to have picked any major issues by this point.
If you cannot be at the sea trials yourself, you will want to ask about how it feels, and discuss what you need the boat to do. If you plan to go 60kms offshore for fishing, your needs will be very different if you plan to simply find a local mooring to pull up for the odd lunch.
This is where it becomes really important about understanding your needs & selecting the right type of boat. Be clear that a sea trial is not a pleasure ride. It is the best way for you to see how your boat will behave on the water, and whether it meets your requirements as a buyer. There could be the situation that the boat struggles to reach your expectations during a sea trial, although sometimes it is because the wrong expectations have been set, in either case you may want to ask your boat dealer about other options or go back to do some more research.
Step 5 - Work out what boat transportation you need
At Slip Away we help boat dealers, owners, marinas and even government departments to transport their boat by road with our specialist trailers. We provide a ‘door to door’ service which means we come to you or where the boat is located. This makes it convenient to buy a boat from any location without the need to tow it yourself or have someone drive it by water.
Your other options could be;
- Get a boat shipping company who might put it in a container to then freight it by water – although in most cases you have to go to a depot to collect it & it takes a long time.
- Another option is using backload transport but your precious vessel is then sent with other heavy goods and again, may need collecting at a depot.
- There are people offering to tow boats very cheaply on Gumtree or Facebook, but typically these are individuals who are just using their own vehicle rather than a professional company. While this might be ok for smaller boats like a tinny or a jet ski, for larger boats especially longer than 20 foot this can be a huge risk to take.
No matter what you decide on, we can help get it transported either locally or interstate whether it is in a driveway at a house, at a marina or in the water. You don’t even need a trailer to move your boat, we can pick it up and move it by road locally or interstate which also saves extra engine hours compared to moving by water.