Do you buy your skis in June, frequent the car dealers in December, and have eBay's bid alert system down to a science? Then you obviously live for a deal.
But if you're new to boating—or simply used to buying new—the prospect of buying a secondhand boat may be enough to send you running for shore.
Here are 10 reasons you have nothing to fear buying a used boat.
1.They're everywhere. Seriously, open your eyes. You can find them on YachtWorld or BoatTrader, or you can take a drive to a boating community on an autumn day and see how many Boston Whalers and Grady Whites are sitting in driveways and front yards. Go to a shipyard and ask the yard manager what boats haven't paid their fees in ten years. That Hobie Cat sitting in a field? It's probably for sale. Heck, 75% of boats are 'for sale' in their owner's mind the day they're purchased. Don't be afraid to ask.
2. Trash = Treasure. Buying the right used boat is an art, a dance. Unlike a dealership, the driveway sale comes with zero pressure to buy on the spot. You can haggle, trade and even barter. How do you know this guy with the lake cruiser isn't looking for just enough cash to drive off into the sunset? Don't be afraid to offer outside the box. There are no rules to buying used.
3. Self Improvement. Buying used boats may be a self-education in itself, but it's nothing close to what you'll learn getting her into shape for next season. Want a killer winter project for you and the kids? Buy a beat-up 1969 B0ston Whaler and spend every Sunday over the winter rehabbing it in the garage. There are endless online tutorials. Challenge yourself to learn something new and teach the kids a new skill at the same time; you can reap your rewards together on the water next spring.
4. You're not paying a dealer's margin. They say when you drive a new car off the lot, you might as well throw a third of the car's value out the window in cash. It's the same with new boats. Buying used will minimize your initial investment without reducing your fun on the water.
5. Re-Power! Do you have any idea how reliable today's outboard engines have become? (If not, read What Kind of Engine Do I Need?) Repowering is the perfect way to breath new life into a well cared for hull. Just make sure you find a solid, dry hull with a clean gas tank. Electronics and wiring are easy to fix; pulling off the deck and replacing a corroded fuel tank is not.
6. Accidents Happen. Errare humanum est. You—or your kids, or both—are going to hit things and break stuff. Accept this as part of the joy of boat ownership, and you'll save a whole lot of money on nightly mouth guards. Now ask yourself, what hurts more? Scuffing your brand new $70,000 Regulator, or adding more 'character' to the twenty year old Grady White you just picked up for under $5k?
7. The old Cost /Benefit Analysis. This one is simple. Buy used, spend less. Spend less, enjoy life more. Trust me, every sunset spent on the water feels the same, regardless of how much you've spent on getting there.
8. Your relationship. Odds are that your significant other won't leave you as fast if you stay away from the college and vacation funds. In fact, there's a twofold potential for relationship improvement. Only a used boat offers the chance to impress with your DIY skills. Just take plenty of "before" pictures to look at on that first ride out of the harbor.
9. B.O.A.T. It stands for: Break Out Another Thousand. The less you spend on day one, the better you'll sleep at night.
10. It's Autumn. If 'snow day' means anything to you, autumn is the official end of boating season and the unofficial start of deal season. Every fall, countless boaters are ready to sell. You might as well be the solution.
And if you need any more encouragement, here's a great article about buying used from Matt Trulio.
Don't be afraid. Your dream boat is out there, sitting under a tree, collecting leaves in someone else's driveway. So get out there and find her.