Choosing A Dealer 

Choose a dealer with a good track record and a history of good service. These dealers will usually have better clout with the boat and engine manufacturers. If you have any doubt, check with the better business bureau, and consumer affairs. A reputable dealer will usually go the extra yard to ensure your satisfaction to maintain their reputation.

What is "As is"?

Many dealers and private sellers sell boats in as is condition. You should approach such deals very cautiously. If a serious defect or flaw becomes apparent later, be aware that you have virtually no recourse against the seller. Many federal and state laws absolve sellers from liability in "as is" sales. A Marine Survey is essential when considering the purchase of a boat without any guarantee. The surveyor can identify damages and needed repairs on used boats. If the seller agrees to make repairs before the boat is sold...... 


Sales Contracts

A written contract will spell out the terms of the sale and is the best way to guard your interests. Read both sides of the contract and ask questions about any unclear terms. Dont hesitate to cross out inappropriate terms and always add contingency clauses. Dont enter into a contract that requires you to make the final payment, or begin loan payments before the boat is delivered.

Contingency Clauses

These clauses can protect the buyer if the boat is found to be defective or the financing does not pan out. Make sure you get one or more of these clauses into the contract or walk away form the deal. A bargain to good to be true probably is. A good dealer will often volunteer to put some of these clauses into the contract for you.

1. Purchase is subject to a satisfactory sea trial and marine survey inspection of boat and engines.

2. Purchase is subject to acceptable loan terms, including interest rate, duration of loan, and affordable monthly payment.

3. Purchase is subject to ability to obtain adequate insurance.

4. Purchase is subject to a clear title, free of liens and encumbrances.

Use of these clauses can offer the purchaser a way out of the contract if a problem arises.


New boats often come with many warranties. One for the boat, one for the engine, one for each electronic device, one for the water heater, etc. Make sure all paper work is in order and all in writing.

Used boats may come with a short 30-90 day guarantee. This coverage may be limited to break downs or major failure. Unless specific warranty terms are in writing, it is unlikely you will get much help. MAKE SURE IT IS IN WRITING !!!!

The Marine Surveyor

Your best line of defense when buying a used boat is a pre-purchase inspection by a qualified marine surveyor who can judge whether the boat meets manufacturing and safety standards,  has latent defects, or may find items that just dont work properly. A survey gives a snapshot of the boats visible components and accessible structures at the time of inspection. Although it is not a guarantee against future problems, it will help identify existing defects, and how they can be repaired. An in depth survey will evaluate the boat according to U.S.C.G. requirements, as well as ABYC and NFPA standards. With your written survey report in hand, you can get repair estimates to correct the problems. You can use these estimates to renegotiate the sales price or back out of the deal altogether if the needed repairs are to expensive or complicated.

Buying a boat should be happy time, and it can be as long as you go into the deal armed with the knowledge necessary to make the transaction smooth and having a comprehensive marine survey inspection in hand