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QUICK GUIDE TO BOAT CONSTRUCTION TYPE AND BUYING A SECONDHAND BOAT

It will be very difficult to sort what is quality and what is not when buying a boat for the first time. You are faced with owners and salespeople who will be telling you their boat is simply much better than everything else on the market for the price. If you are buying a boat for the first time, you need to take your time to get acquainted with a myriad of issues.

Here we take a good look at the broad issue of boat construction type and what you need to concern yourself with before buying a secondhand boat. Don’t forget what BOAT stands for – Bust Out Another Thousand. Owning a boat can get very expensive and owning a lemon can end in financial ruin.

SETTING YOUR BUDGET

The good thing about boaties is they expect to haggle on price. If you have $20,000 you can safely look for anything within 20% of that price range. In the world of boating, it is always a buyer’s market. Nonetheless, if anyone is prepared to drop their price more than 20%, you need to find out why.

BOAT CONSTRUCTION ISSUES

Your next priority should be what type of boat construction you want to buy. Do you want to buy a fibreglass boat, a pressed aluminium boat or a more modern plate aluminium boat? Here is a look at the pros and cons of these boat types.

FIBREGLASS BOATS

Fibreglass is considered the strongest boat building material on the market. A well-built fibreglass boat has the potential to last forever. There are plenty of specialists who can repair and restore even the most worn fibreglass boats. As a buyer of a fibreglass boat, it is important to really know your stuff. Buying a fibreglass boat in awful condition plus the cost of repairs can often be much cheaper than buying a later model boat in fantastic condition.

PRESSED ALUMINIUM BOATS

Pressed aluminium boats are as good as how well the owner or owners looked after the boat. Getting a pressed aluminium boat repaired is even easier than a fibreglass boat. Knowing the true condition of the boat is of absolute importance.

PLATE ALUMINIUM BOATS

Plate aluminium boats really came onto the Australian market in the 1990s. This means they are still relatively rare in the marketplace. Most buyers are aware of the handmade nature of plate aluminium boats, which will always mean they appear in low numbers in the market. The difference between plate aluminium boats and the other two types is that you cannot be assured they were built to exacting standards. The quality of plate aluminium boats varies from model to model and boat to boat. If you are considering a plate aluminium boat you need to be sure you are buying a great boat because so many bad ones have been built. Poor quality plate aluminium boats are numerous. They often have a bad ride, their weight characteristics are all wrong and they are all too often out of trim and poorly balanced. If you are new to buying a secondhand boat, you are advised to stay away from risking your hard earned dollars on a plate aluminium boat unless you have a professional with a lot of experience to inspect before you buy.

BOAT CONSTRUCTION MATERIAL SUMMARY

Fibreglass is usually the best choice when buying a secondhand boat in the lower to middle price range on the market. Fibreglass is so indestructible. It doesn’t go away, it won’t melt and it will never dissolve. You are doing the environment a big favour by keeping a fibreglass boat alive because the material is going to end up in a landfill for thousands and thousands of years.

The problems associated with fibreglass boats normally doesn’t have much to do with the fibreglass. Wood is often the biggest problem with fibreglass boats because it was often used to stiffen the transom or was used as stringers under the floor of the cockpit and cabin.

The second choice for a secondhand boat is normally the pressed aluminium type (or tinnie). Tinnies come in 3 distinct types. There are the throw-away versions that have not been cared for – remember thousands upon thousands of tinnies have been built. If a tinnie is too cheap, you need to ask yourself why.

The second type of tinnie is normally an older model that has been very well looked after. They are normally a boat that was built in the late seventies. If you can find one of these, you could have found the secondhand boat you have been looking for. Small problems are easily fixed and often very inexpensively.

The third type of tinnie was built in the nineties. Industry standards rose substantially during the nineties resulting in a lot more high-quality boats. These boats which are around 15-20 years old still represent good value.

As for plate aluminium boats, avoid them if you are new to buying a boat.

GETTING STARTED

As you can see, we have covered a number of issues by discussing the main boat construction materials. You will need to know someone who will do a good job of repairing your boat after purchase or in the future. You will need to know the costs of renovation and you will need to know someone who can survey your boat before purchase. The first step is to start looking at classifieds and identify common and rare boat models on the market and know why that is the case.

 


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Martin White
martinw@dinga.com.au

Martin is huge on everything outdoors and is even bigger on driving and technology. He loves boats, new stuff and writing about it.