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How a First Time Small Boat Buyer Can Make a Well-Informed Decision

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A smaller boat that can be transported via a trailer can be an attractive entry level vessel for the first time buyer looking at new boats for sale. Just as with a larger craft, you have the option of purchasing the vessel from the manufacturer, an approved retailer (whether the vessel is new or used), via a broker or in a private sale. There are ways to make the process as easy as possible, whether it's deciding on the best physical location for the boat or by ensuring that the vessel is of the best possible quality.


Though the size of such a vessel arguably makes it more manageable in many regards (such as removing the need for a fixed berth), the physical dimensions of the trailered boat still need to be considered. Is there sufficient space on your property to store the vessel and trailer? This can be as simple as having the room to park the trailered boat on your driveway while still having space to manoeuvre your vehicle and access your garage. Alternatively, consider a self storage facility that allows you to reverse the trailer into the unit and is ideally located en route to an appropriate body of water when travelling from your home). Any off site storage fees and insurance for the vessel while at a secondary location need to be factored into the vessel's ongoing operational costs.

A Pre Purchase Inspection (Marine Survey)

Much as you would arrange a pre purchase inspection for a car, you can opt to do the same for a potential boat purchase. This can be prudent when you have the necessary boating licence and the knowledge to operate the boat but might not know how to accurately assess the boat's engines, structure and safety systems. It's best to find a company who can send a representative who is both a marine surveyor and a mechanic so that all pertinent aspects will be assessed at the same time. You can contact the Australian Institute of Marine Surveyors (AIMS) to find a local qualified surveyor to suit your needs.

A Well-Informed Decision

A qualified professional will conduct the inspection, and a written report will be provided at the end of the process. In addition to an evaluation on the boat's individual systems or components, the report might also make recommendations as to foreseeable repairs or upgrades that these systems or components might require in the near future (which might not necessarily be a deterrent). The report can also indicate whether the market price for the vessel is a fair reflection of its make, model and current condition. As such, the completed survey can also allow you to negotiate the price of the vessel. Such a process allows you to make a well-informed decision. A comprehensive, professional and recent survey of the boat can also be beneficial when obtaining insurance.

By getting qualified assistance when it comes to assessing the quality of the vessel, as well as knowing the best place to store and access it, buying your first small boat can be a remarkably straightforward process.