Consumer tips
Boat insurance
​Eight ways to avoid buying a "floating lemon"
Family on lake in recently purchased boat

A careful decision at the outset can provide years of boating pleasure

It’s hard not to let your emotions take over when you’re buying a boat. After all, catching that trophy salmon is a lot more fun to think about than fiberglass separation, corrosion, and dry rot!

These tips will ensure you set “sale” in the right direction.

  1. Know the type and model of boat you want before you start shopping. That way, you’ll know its standard features, options, maintenance costs, procedures, etc., before you’re face-to-face with a salesperson. Also, check out magazines like Boating, Sea, and Powerboat to read test-result ratings of watercraft and engines.
  2. Talk with owners of similar models to learn about potential problems. Discuss your prospective purchase with service shops, too. That will give you an idea of parts availability and cost.
  3. Check the boat’s stress points. Cracks or lines in the hull or bubbles or layer separation in fiberglass can tip you off to poor construction or maintenance.
  4. If you’re buying a used boat, ask to see the owner’s maintenance records. Deferred maintenance or repeated repairs can be signs of a defect, hard usage, or an aging boat. If the boat is being sold by a dealer, ask for the previous owner’s phone number so you can ask about problems.
  5. Get an out-of-water marine survey for any older or frequently used boat. A confident seller won’t object.
  6. Be wary of quick deals, very low prices, or cash-only deals. The boat could be stolen. Don’t buy a boat if the hull identification number has been altered or removed. If it was manufactured after 1972, a 12-character identification number must appear. It’s usually on the upper-right section of the transom.
  7. Ask for proof of ownership from the seller – that means a registration certificate, bill of sale, or legal title. Require that the seller show you some personal ID, too.
  8. Check the boat’s insurability. Older wooden boats and high-powered boats, for example, may not qualify for PEMCO coverage.