If you are ready to buy your first boat, or maybe you are ready to upgrade to a bigger boat, you might be considering buying new. If you have been doing some window shopping, then you already know how expensive new boats are. Sure, they look really nice, but will it help you catch more fish?
Why used boats are better
The number one reason to buy a used boat is cost, but you need to know where to find these good deals. Another good reason to buy used, is that you can customize it any way you like. Got a scratch in the paint? No worries, it’s a used boat, so who cares. Do you want to learn how a boat works? There is no better way than taking one apart and trying to reassemble it.
Where to find good deals
Classified ads will be your best resource. I like to use Craigslist, but your local newspaper might have some good deals as well. Boats are like exercise equipment. People love to buy them, but soon realize they don’t have the time to use them, so they end up sitting out back. Just drive around your neighborhood and look for boats that look like they have been sitting there for years. You can always knock on a door and make an offer.
Customize your boat
If you found a clean boat that’s ready to go, good for you! If you really want a good deal, look for ones that have a solid hull, but may need some interior work. Carpet is easy to replace, so if you can find a boat that has bad carpet, and makes the boat look awful, you can use that as a negotiating tool. You want to inspect the floor to see if there is any soft spots in the wood. If you need to replace the wood, it can be a lot of work, so depending on how much you’re paying, it might be worth the work, if you think its a task you can handle.
Boats have a fairly simple electrical system. Some don’t require any electricity, but many have things like, electric start, navigation lights, radio, etc. Some of the electrical components may not work in a used boat, but it’s a job that most people can handle, even if you don’t know a lot about electricity. The main power comes from a 12 volt battery, similar to the one in your car. You will probably need to buy a new battery. It is best to get a dual purpose marine battery. This kind of battery will work as a starting battery for your motor, but also can be used as a deep cycle battery to run your electronics on board. To protect your electronics, you will want to run your power through a fuse box. You can find many types of fuse boxes online. Just find one that fits your needs. If you have a trolling motor, then you will also want a separate deep cycle marine battery to power it.
The motor is usually the most expensive part of the boat. The great thing about boats is that they have very few moving parts, so they don’t really wear out. As long as the hull is intact and doesn’t leak, it doesn’t really matter how old it is. Most fishing boats use an outboard motor, which hangs off the back of the boat and can be changed, so putting a newer motor on an older boat is an option. Fortunately, boat motors also last a long time. I’ve had several from the 1970’s that worked just fine. I currently have an 88 hp Evinrude special from 1995. It’s the newest motor I’ve ever owned. It doesn’t even occur to me that its over twenty years old. It runs great! A buddy of mine bought an old Alumacraft Classic 16. He got the boat and trailer for $800. We found him a 60 hp Evinrude from 1968 for only $200. We connected the motor to a battery to see if it would turn over, and it fired right up! We didn’t even have a gas line hooked up yet. That motor is still running strong. So don’t be afraid to have a motor that’s got a few years on it.
If your goal is to catch fish, then save some money on buying your boat, and put the extra cash into the important things, like a good trolling motor, and fish finder. I upgraded my trolling motor to the Minnkota Terrova with ipilot. I rarely even use my outboard motor anymore. My trolling motor will run all day on a single charge, and has GPS controlled auto pilot, so I barely have to control it. My favorite feature is spot lock. No need to ever throw out an anchor again! Today’s fish finders have become amazing too. It can display lake maps, with depth contours and your precise location on the lake. You can even get down imaging and side imaging to see photographic images of the lake bottom. So if you are handy in the least bit, then go find a great deal on a used boat, customize it the way you like, add some fancy accessories, and go catch some fish!