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Think Like a Buyer (Blog)

For many of us, our house or our boat never looks better than just before we sell it. A deadline motivates us to tackle those long deferred tasks. It is also true that after a while you grow accustomed to various deficiencies, and tend not to see them. A buyer however, tends to look more closely and more critically than the current owner. Whether getting ready to sell your boat or preparing to cruise, you can use this tendency to your advantage. After all, if you would identify and correct deficiencies for someone else, why not do that for yourself?

Here’s my suggestion. Take a pad and a pen and walk away from your boat. When you walk back, imagine that you are a buyer. Make notes on all of the items you see that would concern you as a buyer. Before doing the walk around, create a list of categories so that you approach the process with a game plan. The following list provides a rough outline showing how you might organize your inspection:

  • Topsides

Condition of finish – if gel coat, does it need wax?

Evidence of previous repairs

Cosmetic scars

  • Cabin/Deck Exterior

Condition of finish

Condition of windows, ports, doors – function and finish

Signs of stress around deck hardware (crazing, flexing, compressed core)

Moisture meter check (have your boat yard provide this service)

  • Flybridge

Canvas condition

Electronics and gauges condition

  • Exterior Wood

Condition of coatings

Teak decks – condition of bungs

Teak decks – condition of caulking

  • Interior Overview

Evidence of leaks from windows and ports – high priority

Condition of soft goods

Cabin sole finish

Headliner stains – indicative of hidden leaks?

  • Galley

Appliances condition

  • Heads

Overall condition - absence of mildew, fixtures work properly

Absence of odor

  • Bilges

Overall condition – cleanliness, standing water

Presence of mold

  • Engine Room

Overall condition –clean, organized, well maintaine

  • Engines

Overall exterior appearance – leaks, rust, corrosion

Condition of mounts

Condition of all hoses, belts, filters, and wiring

  • Genset

Overall exterior appearance – leaks, rust, corrosion

Condition of all hoses, belts, filters, and wiring

  • Hoses

General condition­ – absence of cracks, rust showing from wire reinforcement

Hose clamps free of rust and not distorting hoses

  • Seacocks

Free of corrosion

Able to Manipulate

Depending upon your technical knowledge, you can dive much deeper into your systems, including items like bonding wires, stuffing boxes, and batteries. It can be helpful to do the walkthrough with your partner – a fresh pair of eyes helps and you will each tend to focus on different aspects of each area you inspect.

Use the notes to create a list and assign a time frame to each item found. Whether you are selling the boat or getting ready for more cruising, thinking like a buyer will result in a better boat.

Steve Zimmerman is the president of Zimmerman Marine which operates four boat yards in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. Steve has been repairing and building boats for almost four decades and in addition to running the yards, he assists boat buyers. 

 This old hose is cracking.

This old hose is cracking.

teak deck thin plugs