When buying a used boat, you should always have a professional survey completed. Depending on the size of the boat, a survey can cost a few hundred dollars or more. Before you commit to a survey you should be fairly sure you actually want the boat. If possible, ask the owner for a tour of the boat and keep in mind the areas listed below.
1. The hull is the most important part of a sailboat. If it is wood, it should be free of signs of rot. All hull types should be free of barnacles, dents, puckering, and peeling paint.
2. The sails should be free of tears and excessive wear. Some mildew on the sails is acceptable, but this may be an indication that the vessel hasn’t been kept in top condition.
3. If there is an engine, it should not produce any blue smoke when it is first started. If it does, that means it will probably need work or need to be replaced.
4. The bilge should not smell. If it does, there might be leaks.
5. Look in every corner and crevice. Excessive dirt and grime means that the boat has not been well cared for.