For most of us, selling our boat is how we get the down payment for our new boat – so we need to make sure we get the best price we can. Two main factors will impact your ability to make top dollar: the boat itself, and how you advertise it. We’ll explain the ins and outs in our “How to Sell Your Boat for Top Dollar” video, and hit on the main points right here.


One of the most important things you can do to boost your boat’s value is get it looking good. You’ll need to get that gel coat shining like never before, which can be a fairly involved process. We've made an entire video about how to restore your gelcoat’s shine.

Get the other parts of your boat shining and clean, too. Use a metal polish on the rails; baking soda on a sponge works well for shining pipework and rails, too. Then treat all of your seats, cushions, and bolsters with a quality vinyl cleaner/protector. Shine your engine cowl, Lexan and windshield glass, vacuum the cabin, oil the teak, and rub along every seam and corner—this is the time to make that boat as good as humanly possible, because appearance will have a huge impact on how much cash you can get for your boat. And remember: never use an ammonia-based cleaner on those plastics, Lexan, or Plexi-glass parts, because it can make them look hazy.

With your boat looking ship-shape, you’ll want to be able to prove you always maintained it well in the past, too. This is where your maintenance records become valuable. Have them ready for inspection in a file or folder, ordered by date.

Ready to advertise? Naturally, we think is the best place to post a listing. But wherever you decide to advertise, a good running shot of the boat is imperative. While static pictures are better than nothing, a photo or two showing the boat underway is bound to be more appealing to the eye. Also try to gather some detail shots which show special features on the boat, and pictures of the boat in use.

In the listing itself, make sure you include all of the boat’s outstanding features and accouterments, listed in order of importance (if you’re not sure which feature is more important than another, order them by cost). Before posting the ad, print it out and read it over—it’s amazing how many mistakes that go unnoticed on the computer screen will jump out at you from the printed page.

Now, you’ll have to wait for an interested buyer to show up. When one’s scheduled to arrive, have the boat ready to go so you don’t keep them waiting, and we’re sure we don’t need to say this, but make sure the engine(s) are running right. Now put on your best poker face, and get ready to negotiate—if you can stand to let your pride and joy go!

For more information on selling your boat, read How to Sell Your Boat.

Written by: Lenny Rudow
With over two decades of experience in marine journalism, Lenny Rudow has contributed to publications including YachtWorld,, Boating Magazine, Marlin Magazine, Boating World, Saltwater Sportsman, Texas Fish & Game, and many others. Lenny is a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, and he has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.