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Are you thinking about buying a second hand boat?

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Thinking about Buying a Second Hand Boat?  A Comprehensive New Zealand Guide

Many people have the dream of owning a boat, be it for fishing, water sports, or making memories cruising around little islands with your children as they grow up.
This article will help you look at buying a second hand boat in New Zealand, in a practical, realistic way, giving you the information and options you’ll need to consider before setting out to actually buy one.
In order to be more helpful and specific we will assume you are looking for something fairly standard, mostly for a good day out on the water, some cruising and a bit of fishing with a couple of friends or family.
What you’ll likely be after is a boat that can be sailed by one person if need be, is around 10-15m long and travels at an average speed. Also, we are assuming you’re not a millionaire and it needs to be a boat that is reasonably priced.

How Much Should It Cost?

The initial cost of the actual boat can vary between 10-40 thousand on average. They depreciate with age like cars, but slower. Boats loose around half their value by the end of the first 10yrs, and up to 75% of their value when they’re getting close to 20yrs old or more. So for the lowest price you’ll be looking at boats older than 10yrs old, it’s probably best not to go for boats over 20yrs old as your regular maintenance costs will then be higher.

These are the types of boats you will be looking at in that price range:

These two are currently for sale at
$9,990, you can often find a tin or fiberglass boat similar to these at around this price range, and sometimes less, depending on the condition they are in and whether you buy them through a private sale, online auction, or through a boat sale yard.Page-3-Image-4.pngPage-3-Image-5.png  These two are $17,990 and $19,990, so around the 20k mark you’re looking at this type of boat.Page-3-Image-6.pngPage-3-Image-7.pngThe next level up you’re looking at $31,990 for the one on the left, and $44,990 on the right. This price range will get you extra features, newer models, potentially less repairs and maintenance and a bit nicer looking boat than a 10-20k one. Depending what you want it for, for most people, something at 20k or less will do the trick, unless you’re specifically after special features or want it to look more like brand new, setting a limit of 20 should be fine.

(These price examples have been taken from TrevTerryMarine NZ)

The initial cost is only about 60% of the total costs of getting a second hand boat. You will nearly always have to do some work to get your boat sea worthy. So if you had $40,000 to spend, $15,000 of it should be set aside for maintenance, registration, getting emergency and safety gear etc. Double that if you purchase a boat that doesn’t come with a trailer to tow it.

It’s generally cheaper to buy through a private sale rather than a sale yard or broker, however some may feel safer buying through a yard as they can offer warranties and may have already had the checks done and can provide you with documentation for those. If you’re willing to pay a bit extra to get a survey done yourself, that will reduce the risks too, you’ll know exactly what to expect before you buy, you can request a survey be done even if you are purchasing from a ship yard. If you are buying from a sale yard, it’s also wise to look online for similar boats and ensure you are being charged a fair price for what they have, you could even show them the online prices and try to offer them a fairer price for the one you want there too.

Things to Check and be aware of that may need Repairs or Replacement:

·       Lights

·       Electronics on board (fish finder, gps and any other technology)

·       Engine/Outboard motor repairs or replacement

·       Water Pumps (Frequently need replacing, often only last 3yrs)

·       Steering Cables (If boat has been unused, they rust and seize up)

·       Battery Bank replacement (it may be worth paying to replace it with a lithium type battery, rather than the standard lead acid ones so that it will last longer)

·       Hull Repairs (Always view a boat out of the water so that you can check underneath)

·       Weather Cover/Canvas for over the top

·       Trailer tyres or rust repairs

·       Registration for the trailer and boat

Some of these you could probably check and repair or even replace yourself to save some money too. It might be a good project with older kids or friends in the weekends or holidays, and you can find a lot of guides and videos online to help you. It’s wise to also get a more experienced boatie to double check your work once you’re done, before you take it out to sea.

You will very likely need to buy some gear for onboard too, such as:

·       Life jackets for all passengers

·       An emergency flare, and possibly a personal locator beacon as well

·       A First Aid Kit

·       A fish finder and marine GPS/chart plotter

·       A buoy

·       A life saver ring

·       A VHF Radio

·       A bilge pump

·       A portable gas stove or fish smoker

·       Perhaps even a portable toilet and shower if you want

If the boat you are buying already has some of these things with it, you will need to check they still work, haven’t passed an expiry date and batteries aren’t nearly empty.

Questions to ask the Seller:

·       Why are you selling the boat?

·       How often has the boat been serviced?

·       When was the boat last used (if it has been ages there’s more likely to be rust etc)

·       Was it used mostly in fresh or salt water? (salt water damages the pump and motor faster, so those are more likely to need replacing)

·       What problems has it had in the past and how were they remedied?

·       How long have you owned it?

·       Are you still paying it off with a loan company at all?

·       Where is the boat usually stored? In summer and winter. (If it has been covered or in a garage it’ll be in a better condition, particularly fiberglass boats get sun damage)

·       When was the water pump last changed?

·       Can you run the motor for me now to have a look?

·       Can we both go out for a test sail? (Offer to pay the petrol and any costs. You don’t have to ask this, but if the boat is particularly expensive or you are suspicious, and you’re serious about buying that one, it might be worth seeing if you can trial it, the owner could also show you how it all works and ensure you’re confident driving it).

You should also take someone else who owns a boat or has some knowledge with you to view boats, and get a second opinion, and fresh eyes to check for things you may not have thought of. If you don’t know anyone who owns a boat, you could ask in a local facebook group and offer to buy someone with boat experience a box of beers for coming to have a look with you.

The Paperwork

·       Sales and Purchase Agreement (You can find some good templates online)

·       Insurance (Really important to get this)

·       Registration (of Boat and Trailer)

·       Learn the Rules & Responsibilities for Skippers (Read them here: Maritime NZ the Basics)


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