Your guide to buying a second-hand boat

Buying a boat is a lifetime dream for some people. The dream of exploring new destinations, creating happy memories and relaxing on the waterways with friends and family. 

To help make your dream a reality, we have created a hassle-free guide to buying a second-hand boat with useful tips and information to make each step as easy and stress free as possible.



Ask yourself these questions before buying a used boat

Where to moor

We all have a wish list and when it comes to buying a boat... it's no different. You need to make sure you ask yourself the right questions in order to find the perfect boat for you. Take your time to do your research and think about what size boat meets your requirements. For example; will you be living on board? How many people will you be welcoming on board? How many cabins do you need?


You'll also need to think about where you plan to moor your boat - will it be overnight when exploring the waterways or a long term solution when planning to spend periods of time on board. Either way the boat should be easy to access to make sure your time on the water is as stress-free as possible. 


Contact a few ports and marinas to consider your options, taking into account the size of your boat including the length and width as this is often how mooring spaces are calculated. Small waterways, in France for example, can be quite shallow with low bridges to navigate through. Be sure to think about the air and water draft to ensure you are able to access your chosen destinations.

How much does a second-hand boat cost?

Owner testimony

If you have been thinking of buying a boat for a while, it's likely you'll already have a budget in mind. It's important to make a budget and stick to it, making sure you have considered any additional financing that may be needed. There are plenty of boats for sale to suit all needs and budgets, so you're bound to find the PERFECT boat.  


Be sure to consider all the costs as your boat will need regular maintenance and there will also be costs for insurance, running and mooring too. We recommend meeting other boat owners to weigh the pros and cons of owning a used boat and to find out everything you need to factor in. 


How to find your perfect boat in classified ads

Choosing your second-hand boat

When you start looking for the perfect used-boat, you will be surprised by the thousands of ads you'll find. The more you search, the more options you'll find. It's important to limit yourself to looking at ads that are clear and complete. A carefully written detailed ad goes a long way and gives a good indication that the owner has taken good care of the boat.


Ask for details of any repairs that have been carried out, the maintenance history and the condition of the boat, because you don't want to start your boating adventure with endless repairs.


If you're purchasing a used boat through our brokerage team, we do all of this for you. So you can relax and ensure the boat you are purchasing is in excellent, maintained condition. 


What are the signs of a boat in poor condition?

Check the boat hull

When buying a used boat, it's important to keep an open-mind and we'd recommend to look at more than one. Take a good look at the boat, walking around it, looking for signs of wear and tear. There's a few things you should look out for:

  • Discoloration of the top layer may be a sign of previous damage to the boat
  • Blistering on the underwater sections of the boat, i.e. the submerged part of the hull, could be a sign of osmosis: a chemical reaction between the hull components and the water in which the boat cruises. Water gradually penetrates the gelcoat, which becomes porous as it ages. This water then comes into contact with the resin and fibre of the laminate that makes up the hull.
  • If the boat is out of the water, check the condition of the hull, anodes and propeller blades.


Often these things can be repaired or maintained but they could add additional costs to your purchase that you weren't expecting. If you're unsure about what you have spotted, get a second opinion or research your options, you might also want to consider negotiating the purchase price if the costs are increasing.


But our biggest advice is don't settle with the boat if you're not happy, be prepared to walk away. You will find your dream boat!

Important basic checks before buying a boat

Secondhand boat engine

1. The engine 

Buying a boat is similar to buying a car. Before you visit, ask the seller how often the boat has been used and ask the engine hours. Check that the engine itself doesn't look rusty and that the mountings are still sound. Check that the oil in the dipstick is not milky and that the belt is not cracked or worn.


Electric cables

2. The electrical wiring

Take a look at the electrical wiring. The electrical system can quickly be overloaded. Check that all plugs are secured: worn and loose wiring can cause electrolysis, an electro-chemical phenomenon that leads to a quick oxidation of the hull, which can lead to water entering the boat, corrosion and boat fires. In addition to the danger of poor electrical wiring, and the boat being unsafe, a complete rewiring can be expensive. 



3. Gas, appliances, installations and equipment 

Check the age and certificates of the appliances onboard to ensure that they are up to standard. It's also important to identify what items are being sold with the boat (similar to buying a house). Does the boat come with ropes, fire extinguishers for example and what condition are they in? Do they need to be replaced?


Feeling overwhelmed by your boat purchase? Don't panic! Our expert Romuald Leblanc is here to help. He's done all the hard work for you and has carried out all the inspectations, maintenance checks and has carried them out for you and has selected the best second-hand models for sale. They all meet our strict quality criteria! Having been a Chief Mechanic for Le Boat himself and as well as living and owning on a boat himself for nearly ten years, he knows exactly what to look for. Romuald is on hand to find you a boat of your dreams and walk you through the process and answer any questions you may have along the way.