Buying a new boat is like to buying a new car – thrilling but expensive. The moment you strip the showroom plastic off the seats and turn the key, the slippery slope of depreciation begins. That's one of the reasons why many of us buy used boats. And as these five bargain boats illustrate, buying secondhand will often get you much more than you might think.

One quick word of caution: the budget we're sticking to is $10,000, but you may also want to set aside some money for a survey from an experienced (and officially accredited) marine specialist. Not only will it help unearth any major faults with the boat, it will also buy you some valuable peace of mind.

(1) Carver Santa Cruz 26

Yes, you can find a flybridge boat for under $10K.

carver santa cruz 26

This 1982 Carver Santa Cruz 26 is primed and ready for fishing or cruising.

If you like an elevated view, a flybridge boat may be in your future. This Carver Santa Cruz is one of the smallest around, and it cruises on a single gasoline 5.7L Mercruiser. It's been well-maintained (the outdrive, ignition module, and carburetor were all replaced within the past two years) and since it lives in Waukegan, IL, you won't see nearly as much corrosion and wear as on a similar boat used in saltwater.

Price: $8,500.

See all of the Carver Santa Cruz listings on

(2) Bristol 34

Want a cruising sailboat with room for the whole family? Betcha didn't think it could be found for under $10,000.

bristol 34

This 1972 Bristol 34 has a lot of cruising potential for a low, low cost.

Sure, the boat is over 40 years old, but she still looks good (and more importantly, went through a major refit in 2006). The engine, electronics, windows, deck, and sails were all replaced at that time and the hull was even re-cored. So even though there are a lot of miles under her keel, this cruising sailboat has had new life breathed into her.

Price: $8,000

See all of the Bristol 34 listings currently on

(3) Sea Ray 240 Sundeck

A classic fun-in-the-sun family boat, there are lots of used Sea Rays on the market. And this one looks like a steal.

sea ray sundeck 240

The Sea Ray 240 Sundeck was - and is - a very popular model.

This one may push the budget to its limit, but we're guessing it would be worth every penny. Sea Ray boats are some of the most popular around, and the 240 Sundeck is a great example of why. It will get the job done whether you want to go for a cruise, try some water skiing, or join the crowd swimming in Party Cove. It's also equipped with all the goodies that make a bowrider comfortable, like a stereo system, a freshwater system, and a Bimini top. It's a 1996 so you can't expect perfection, but even when it comes to new boats, perfection is an elusive target.

Price: $9,995.

See all Sea Ray 240 Sundeck listings on

(4) Tracker Fish Barge Pontoon Boat

Looking for a pontoon boat you can use to fish all over the lake? Here it is.

tracker pontoon

This 2006 Tracker could be everything you want out of a pontoon boat.

Pontoon boats are a great option for all-around fun and fishing, and this Tracker Fish Barge is a great find. It has a 60 HP four-stroke Big Foot Mercury outboard, two livewells, pedestal-mounted swiveling fishing seats, and a new Bimini top. And on top of that, the seller claims it's only been used in freshwater. The upholstery could use some updating and there's no trailer, but considering what you get for your money it seems like a win-win.

Price: $8,750.

See all Tracker Pontoons on (warning: there are a lot of them - over 2,700 at last count!)

 5) Zodiac Cadet RIB

If you don't need much room, this Zodiac Cadet RIB might be of interest.

zodiac rib

It's only 8'2" long and 5'8" wide, but this 2013 Zodiac Cadet RIB is powered by a 2013 Tohatsu outboard with electric start and power trim.

Yes it is on the small side, but never let it be said that you can't find a nearly-new boat on for under $10,000. This Zodiac RIB was just built in 2013, and its outboard is just as new. The rigid hull is a V-bottom, there's a bow locker built in, the boat has four lifting points, and this rig has been used for a grand total of three hours. So, why is it for sale? We don't know and we don't care - at this price it's a steal any way you look at it.

Price: $8,875

See all Zodiac Cadet listings on

For more surprising boating bargains, check out Great Gear for Under $50, and Bargain Boats and Charters: Fun For Less.