Second-hand boat buying checklist

When considering to purchase a second-hand boat, follow the list of helpful tips and advice:

  • Pay a reasonable price for the boat
    Beware of paying a cheap price for a boat that is obviously worth a lot more. "Have I got a deal for you mate", might indicate that the boat is stolen. If you purchase a stolen boat that is eventually recovered by the police, the boat will be confiscated and you may be charged with a criminal offence.
  • Locate the serial number of the outboard motor
    All outboard motors should have the serial number on an aluminium tag or sticker that is attached to the transom-mounting bracket. Your suspicions should be aroused if the sticker or the tag has been removed.  Don't accept an explanation that the tag or sticker has fallen off. The serial number may also be stamped into the engine frost plug that is located in the block of the motor. You will need to take off the engine cowling to see it.
  • Locate the serial number of the boat
    Some boat manufacturers attach an aluminium tag with the serial number onto the boat. It can sometimes be located on the dashboard or outboard well or on the transom. Not all boats have this tag.
  • Has the trailer been registered recently
    Does the registration date of the trailer match the manufacturing date of the boat? If the boat is being sold on an unregistered trailer or a recently re-registered trailer, ask why. It may be that the boat and trailer are stolen and the offenders have re-registered the stolen trailer in an attempt to disguise it.
  • How long have they had the boat and why are they selling it
    If they have only had the boat for a short while it may indicate that there is something wrong with it or that it is stolen.
  • Trace the boat ownership history
    You should establish the previous owner's details. Contact them to confirm that they sold the boat to the person selling it. The further back you can trace the people who have owned the boat the better. Ideally you want to go right back to the original dealer who sold the boat new. That way you can confirm that the boat has not been stolen.
  • Confirm the details of the seller
    Where they live and the vehicle they drive. Don't meet the seller in a public place or deal over a cell phone.
  • Check if the trailer is stolen
    Contact your local police station with the registration number of the trailer. They will tell you if the trailer has been reported stolen.
  • Check if money is owed on the boat
    The seller may have secured a loan from a bank or finance company to buy the boat. The bank or finance company will then have a financial interest in the boat. This could effect you as the new owner. You can contact MotorWeb, Phone 0900843847 or 0800843847 or visit their web site This is not a free service. You will need the registration number of the trailer. They will be able to tell you if the trailer is stolen and if money is owed on it. They may not be able to say if money is owed on the boat, as most boats don't have any permanent form of identification. For this reason banks and finance company's use the trailer as an identifiable object.