Do I buy and new or used boat? It’s a question we get asked a lot!
A brand new boat. Feels like a home away from home. Exactly as you designed it. Smells like the intoxicating earthy scent of new leather. The newly fitted engines roar to life and ignite the imagination. All the fun and adventure that is at your fingertips and under your toes. Buying a new boat is certainly not devoid of emotion. If you are lucky enough to consider buying a brand new boat, an entire new world is opening up to you. Pleasure, adventure and ultimate comfort await you. Buying a new boat is a distinction not available to all but nevertheless, more and more accessible. However, it is still valid and important to ask the question. Is it better to buy a brand new boat or a used boat?
There is a seemingly endless stack of considerations when contemplating the purchase of a new boat. It is quite literally a massive decision. How long, how short. How heavy, how wide. Twin hull or single fin. When, where and how will I use it. And finally, new or used. You might be exhausted already but we must press on. Now ask yourself the hard questions. For what do I wish? What is my budget? These questions are the hardest to answer because they require pure honesty. If your budget does not cater to a high-performance super yacht, you are going to have to level your desires.
Both new and used boats have positives and negatives attached. We will guide you through the string of pros and cons and attempt to take some of the leg work out for you.
A brand new boat has plenty of perks. The freedom of choice is laid out in front of you. Design, colours, materials, the options and extras and personal touches. Everything is fresh and untouched and that is extremely desirable. No need to worry about where it has been before and how it was handled. You will be making history together.
Warranty and maintenance are also in order. No maintenance is necessary in the short term and you will be advised of your first required service. The warranty means that you have nothing to be concerned about. No extra hidden costs. Financing a new boat is easier than a used boat. Suppliers are more willing to cut deals on interest rates and the length of the terms.
The cons can be unveiled in the ever-increasing dollar signs. Want somewhere to lie comfortably? That is going to cost you. Would you like to go fishing or perhaps skiing? Well, that is going to cost you. At most, you can negotiate with the dealer to include the safety gear in the price. For all other extras like, fish finders, ski poles/towers and additional rod holders, you will be up for more cash.
Now more than ever, the market for new boats is increasingly accessible. Current market conditions mean that dealers are cutting incredible deals. With too many boats from last year’s stock on the floor, these boats need to move to make way for current new-year models. You could find yourself a surprisingly improbable deal if you hunt around.
New boat checklist:
- Research, reading and more research. Look at all aspects of design, builders and dealers. Consider speaking to previous customers when looking at a specific builder/dealer.
- Ask the right questions. How will you use the boat? Where will you use the boat? How much time will you likely spend on the boat? How do you want to finance the boat? Keep notes on the pros and cons for each boat you look at.
- Buy quality brands. Make sure the builder/dealer is reputable. Be aware of companies that have gone under and another builder has taken over their moulds. They rarely build them the same.
- Do not get sucked in. A handy way of comparing prices is to divide the standard price by the weight. It will give you a better idea about build quality and a per kilo build cost is more effective than cost per foot.
- Employ help. A used boat needs to be professionally checked and tested. If it is a new boat, go over the specifications with a fine-toothed comb. Do not assume anything when it comes to standards ad extras.
- Don’t change the design of a new boat. Unless you have money to burn, leave the boat design the way the builder designed it. Even small changes can end up pricey.
- Stay away from so called prototypes or the first built model. Anything untested and untried is risky. Stick to reputable brands and models.
- Consider only what you need immediately. You do not need every option and extra to get out on the water. Prioritise what is crucial and necessary. You can always add later.
- Demand a comprehensive handover. A comprehensive introduction and induction of the vessel is vital. There is no room for avoidable errors.
- Conduct a sea trial and again after any repairs you have requested. Regardless of what you are buying you should demand a sea trial before purchase. If you ask for repairs have another trial to make sure they are done.
- Don’t fork over all the money until you are satisfied. Keep a little power on your side.
Buying a used boat has plenty of pros. Firstly, buying a used boat will mean you can afford a bigger model if size is an important criterion on your wish list.
In addition, the previous owner has put in all the hard yards and often added all the extras. Items like ropes, shackles, lifejackets and other safety gear are generally included in any second hand sale. This means you can get out on the water quicker for less.
When it comes to renowned and respected hulls and brands, they hold their pedigree. For example, an old 1980s Haines Hunter 445F hull. This is a very well-known centre console fishing boat. There are still keen anglers actively seeking these hulls. At 4.5 metres long, they ride exceptionally well, offer plentiful fishing space and they were built tough with fishermen in mind. The downside is that their popularity keeps their second-hand price at a premium.
What is necessary with a used boat is a pre-purchase check or survey by an independent mechanic or marine surveyor. Whilst these checks do not offer any guarantees of problem free boating, they do offer more peace of mind of your purchase.
Does the used boat have a clear and concise service history? This is vital. Scan the boat with critical eyes. How well has it been taken care of? Check the gel coat for signs of fading. The vinyl upholstery for tears. Signs of neglect and damage of the interior and exterior might suggest other areas have also been neglected.
Be rational, not emotional. Take your time. Do the research. Play it cool.
Watch out for these second hand pitfalls:
- We strongly recommend avoiding the online, overseas second hand market. You have zero conception of what you are purchasing. They might look good in the photographs but do not be fooled.
- The ‘grey market’ (boats imported in small numbers outside of normal channels) is rife with dodgy operators. These boats are frequently not made to meet Australian standards and considerable work and money is required to get them up to spec.
- Not to be too dark, but if you import a boat into Australia yourself, you are listed as the importer. If a terrible accident was to occur, you may be held liable if the boat was not built to meet Australian standards. Insurance companies might agree to take your premium, but when you come to make a claim, you may find it is more difficult than simply filling out the paperwork.
Like with new boats, the used boat market in Australia is bursting. Choices galore. It is worth to shop around across both markets. You then have some very good points of reference for comparison and consideration. It will also inspire and ignite the imagination as to what is possible. Just don’t get carried away.