Thursday, October 27, 2011

Part 1: Where to Start

Remember that old saying? “A boat owner has only two really great days of boat ownership... The day he purchases it, and the day he sells it”. We can use this to our advantage...

There is misconception about recreational boating in general. I'm talking about the cost of the boat, boat storage, insurance, safety equipment, fuel, registration etc. Most non-boaters believe that it's much too expensive a pastime. It really isn't. Once all the essentials are in place, it's just a matter of what body of water you want to put the boat "in”.

To begin with if you want go boating, you will need a boat. There are tons of them out there. New, used, operational, broke you name it. Ask yourself; "How much money, effort and time do I want to put into this?"
Here are some answers:

1. New. Forget this blog and go see a dealer.
2. Used: Older classic or a gently used newer model.
3. Running or not running?

As you can see, these “answers” lead to a lot more questions at this stage. So let us explore the main points of four basic issues. Brand new or used late model vs. old classic, running vs. broken, where and how, to find a good deal on a used boat and the big one, cost.

An average size, well appointed new boat these days will cost between $1500.00 and $3000.00 Per Foot... Yes, that's what I said, “per foot”. So in keeping with the subject of this blog 'nuff said.

At present, a good used late model (within ten years old) will cost around 5 to 10k. This is a general assumption with regard to most makes and models under 20 feet. Of course one must take into account how well the craft was taken care of. Just because it has some bad upholstery doesn't necessarily mean that it's a piece of junk? Often times, a real gem of a boat is found just under the dust and worn cushions.
Do not ignore the motor and drive unit. Ask the seller for maintenance documentation or other proof of regular care. If you are mechanically inclined, an even better deal can be had if you look for a vessel that has motor or drive problems.

Still too much money out of pocket…? Read on.

Older "Classic":
If you gaze awhile at any average inland marina these days, what you'll find there may not impress the eyes. Slip after slip of the same looking, same size, same color, same appointments and those god-awful looking "Roll Bars". Actually those are used for "Wake Boarding" and the enthusiasts call 'em "towers". 

OK fine. There is no accounting for taste, I'll grant that. But back in the day, boat builders didn't want to compete on the same level as the other builders. They strove for innovation. They built something that no other builder had seen before. They pushed the limits of their imaginations and came up with hull and deck designs that have become the basis of today’s incredibly sophisticated boat building technology.

If you’re are in the market for an older boat or even what may be considered a "Classic", you will find them in abundance. In any given suburban neighborhood, rural community, large commercial back-lot or storage yard, they will be there. Poor forgotten fiberglass, wasting away in the elements and no one gives a care. They can also be found in today’s online classifieds websites such as "So-n-So’s" -list, and The- "Cha-Ching" -Saver. Using boat brand names as search keywords will reveal online communities of avid manufacturer-specific Boating Clubs and Associations that can be another great angle to look for a good old or restored classic fiberglass boat.

Running or Broke:
Take for granted that not all "motor heads" actually know anything about Internal Combustion Engines. But for the sake of this article, let us assume that you do. Two (2) stroke outboard motors function on the same principles and theories as all other non-marine 2 stroke motors.
I/O's (Inboard-Outboard) are glorified automobile engines with a transmission and a propeller instead of wheels attached to it. So, if you can fix your dirt bike or tune up Wifey's grocery-getter, then you can fix an outboard or stern drive (I/O). Or at the very least, figure out why it won't run. The more technical and parts replacement questions can be answered with a mechanics Bible. (Repair Manual)

As for the hull structure and fiberglass repair, the vast online boating community is ready and willing to answer any question you may have regarding repair or restoration issues. Vessels such as these can be had for as little as $100.00 up to a grand or more depending on the size, type, model year, overall condition of the boat itself, and how bad the sellers Wife wants it gone!

If you don't want to bother with some one elses' "headache", then opt for a vessel that not only runs, but runs well. Pass up any possible purchase if the seller refuses to either run the motor with "water muffs" and hose attached or refuses to allow you to inspect the motor. Chances are it was not well cared for even if it does run. Also remember that a 2 stroke outboard may sound good out of the water, but it can fall flat on its face when put into gear. (More on this later...) Additionally, put the boat in and test it whenever possible. This is the best way to assure a good purchase. If everything checks out and you are satisfied, start the "haggling" process and buy the boat.

- Be aware - You will find that your expected monetary outlay to be at least 50% to 100% more on the purchase price for a boat that can used immediately as opposed to a boat that requires repair.