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Buying a Used Sailboat

By Charles Hopkins Published 08/31/2006 | Fishing and Boating

Often, purchasing a previously owned product serves our needs just as well as paying for a new product. When it comes to sailboats, it is certainly possible to find a used model that is perfect for you and your needs. There are several factors that should be looked into thoroughly when buying a used sailboat. Here's a few points to consider.

First, is the manufacturer still in business? Knowing that in the future you can speak with someone who knows the make and model of the sailboat you own ensures a certain level of comfort. Also, you are assured of being able to obtain information about recommended replacement parts as the years go by.

Take a long hard look at the boat, noting any signs of wear and tear. While it is important to check out the basic equipment, also take note of any scratches on the deck or any fiberglass portions of the boat. Make sure none of those scratches are in fact hairline cracks that will cause you grief later on. If possible, have someone check the wiring and take note of the condition of the upholstery. If anything seems to indicate more than normal wear and tear, do not make an offer on the boat. There will be others for you to consider.

Ask the current owner why he or she wants to sell the boat. If the reasons are along the lines of trading up to a larger boat or because the family is grown and the owner wishes to downsize, you know you are talking to someone who knows how to properly maintain a sailboat. If the reason is along the lines of being tired of the maintenance or similar reasons, there is more of a chance the boat has not been maintained properly and may have some hidden issues.

Ask to see all the maintenance records. The records should indicate such items as when the oil was changed, how often the engine has been tuned up and how often replacement parts have been needed. This not only gives you a good idea of how the maintenance has been done; it also gives you some idea of how much it will cost you to keep the boat in good order. If it looks like more than you are willing to spend, then keep looking for something else.

It is a good idea to avoid a sailboat that has been used extensively for fishing. The reason for this is that fishing requires long periods of moving along at slow speeds. This type of use puts additional wear and tear on both the engine and the driving system. While not necessarily an indicator that the boat isn't a good deal, make sure you are not paying a price that would be more in line for a boat with less wear on its operating systems.

Keep in mind that age is not very high on the list of things to think about. Overall condition and performance are much more important. An older boat that has been well maintained is a much better buy than a newer model that has been abused or not given the proper care. By checking into these few basic areas, you can readily determine whether or not the boat is worth your time and money.