Boating tips: So you want a new boat

Published 4:08 pm Monday, February 15, 2016

You only get one chance to make a first impression, said Will Rogers. Look at your boat from the buyer’s eyes then put it in excellent condition for a fast sale at top dollar.



Work from the inside out.

First, remove everything inside and out that is not staying with the boat when sold. Buyers don’t care about that cooler your kids gave you for Christmas 2011.

Bilge — Thoroughly clean the bilge to make it look like new. Inspect everything especially rubber and plastic parts plus thru hull fittings and electrical wiring. Do bilge pumps work and are over board hoses in good shape? If you don’t find and fix it, the surveyor or prospective buyer will. Investing $25 now means $150 on the selling price.

Tighten all hose clamps, replacing or adding clamps as needed. Remember, two clamps are as good as one; one clamp is as good as none.

Change fluids and filters. Charge or replace the batteries.

Interior — Clean the interior top to bottom. Lift cushions, pull out drawers and open hatches and closets for cleaning. If the boat has carpet, clean it. Look in and under stuff. Tighten that screw or bolt or replace that hinge or latch. If you were buying this used, what would you inspect and expect? Every $1 invested here adds another $5 to the selling price.

Exterior — Wash the boat and inspect every inch of her top and bottom sides. Does the boat need compounding and waxing or paint touch up? Cleats tight? Are all electronics fully functional? Locate the manuals on electronics and put them with the electronics.

Get a Vessel Safety Check (VSC) to put the buyer at ease about buying a safe, used boat. Contact your local Power Squadron or Coast Guard Auxiliary about a VSC. To prepare for your VSC:

  • Boat registration number
  • Registration/documentation papers
  • Personal flotation devices
  • Visual distress signals
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Ventilation and blowers
  • Backfire flame control
  • Sound producing devices/bell
  • Navigation lights
  • Pollution placard
  • MARPOL trash placard
  • Marine sanitation devices if equipped
  • Navigation rules for larger boats.

I just learned that fire extinguishers have expiration dates. Even if the gauge marker is in the green, the extinguisher may be outdated. Replace it if expired. Saving $30 is not worth someone’s life.

You should have saved work orders and receipts. Organize them in date order in a file folder. If not, create a date log from memory of all major work done. Logs add peace of mind for buyers and surveyors. Find the boat’s manuals, adding them to the same file. If you added anything to the boat and have receipts and product information, add it to the folder. Also, keep that log of date, hours, fuel usage and fluid additions for the next owner.

Step back and take a critical look your boat. Would you pay good money to buy this used boat? If you answered yes, then you’ve done well. Also, depending on the boat type and typical use, have a woman go over it bow to stern. Women influence most major buying decisions even on fishing and hunting boats.

Your boat is ship shape, plus female approved. You’ll get a quick sale at the highest price possible to put towards the new boat.

Selling or not, spring Vessel Safety Checks are just around the corner. The Pamlico Sail & Power Squadron offers free Vessel Safety Checks by certified inspectors. Email Fred at for your inspection. The Squadron is also offering boating educational courses and seminars this spring. To learn more, email or call Kelly at 252-561-6995.

Biff Matthews is a member of the Pamlico Sail & Power Squadron.