I want to buy a used boat, so what do I need to know?

Much of what you need to think about is obvious, like what kind of boat you want, how you are going to use it and how much do you want to spend. But before you actually pull out your checkbook to buy that speedboat, sailboat, yacht or cruiser, here are two important steps that can save you pain later.

We know: Two Essential Tips for Boat Buyers


You can determine the overall market value of most boats by checking one of several boating blue books, or price guides. These reference books will help you determine whether youíre paying too much for the boat you want.

The three most common price guide books for boats are:

  • The NADA Marine Appraisal Guide from the National Automobile Dealers Association, which appraises boats from 7-100 ft long, that were built from 1976 to 1998.
  • The BUC Used Price Guide, from BUC Research, which has three different editions, covering various models from various years.
  • The ABOS Marine Blue Book from Intertec Publishing, that covers boats from 1984 to 1997.

All of these guides are expensive, and you probably donít want to buy one for just a single boat purchase. Where do you find them?

First, try your public library. Ask at the reference desk. If they donít have one, as them to direct you to a library that does. Also, any institution that finances or insures boats, such as your credit union and insurance company, should have them. Finally, try asking at your local boat dealer.


The most important factor in buying a boat is its condition, not its age. An expert needs to tell you whether the vessel has been well maintained and is up to snuff. You do this by hiring a boat mechanic or a marine surveyor to inspect the boat. Again, ask your insurer or a boat dealer to recommend someone.

So, do your shopping first! Decide what kind of boat you want and then began the search for a vessel. But before you actually throw down your money, check the boatís value and itís condition!

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