The Jon Boat Experiment Went Bad
After my experience with the Jon Boat, I decided I needed a “real” boat. Something that was more solid in the water and from which I could more comfortably fish. I listed the Jon Boat for sale and proceeded to look for my new dream boat. I spotted an ad on craigslist for the boat pictured above. My wife and I were just about to leave on a cruise and I told her “If that boat is still available when we get back, I’m buying it!”
The Greatest Boat Deal in History?
Well, a week later, we returned from our cruise which, by the way, was absolutely amazing! I checked online and, sure enough, the boat was still available! What SHOULD have been a red flag, I took as a sign that this boat was meant to be mine. This boat was listed at a very low price and, according to the ad, was in good shape and immediately ready to launch. Why had no one snapped this beauty up? Apparently, the reason was because the seller hadn’t found the right uneducated new boater to unload this turkey on. And then, along came me.
Maybe Not the Greatest…
My wife and I went to check the boat out. An older Sea Ray Bowrider. Upon arrival, the seller met us at the boat which was parked in his front yard. He mentioned that the upholstery needed some fixing but that the boat was perfectly usable as-is. Truth be told, he really didn’t have to sell me much on the boat. I’d come there with the intent in mind of taking this boat home with me. I asked him to start the engine. He produced a set of muffs to run water into the impeller and, after a number of tries, started the engine. I honestly had no idea what the engine SHOULD sound like but I thought I was at least doing some due diligence. After a few minutes talking to him and talking to my wife, the decision was made. We were buying the boat. Cash and titles changed hands and, before you could say “You’re screwed”, the boat was hitched to my truck and we were on the way home.
The Damage Done
Now, allow me to list the things that I found out was wrong with my $1500 boat over the next few weeks….
- Engine block cracked – Approx. $3000.00
- Near zero compression on one cylinder – Covered by engine replacement due to cracked block
- Upholstery desperately in need of repair – Approx. $2000.00
- Several soft spots in floor, stringers rotted – Not Repairable – Hull is scrap
So, my $1500.00 “find” would have cost me a MINIMUM of $5000.00 just to get it on the water and it would have lasted two, maybe three trips before the floor collapsed and the boat became unusable.
Oh, and I bought the boat in “As-Is” condition so there was no possible action on my part.
Ultimately, I sold the boat to a guy that wanted to try to restore it for $300.00. I was totally transparent to him about what was wrong with the boat.
How to Avoid My Mistake
So, how do you avoid getting screwed like I did? When considering purchasing a used boat, do the following:
- Find a local boat mechanic and have him go with you to check the boat out. They will charge you a nominal fee but it is absolutely worth it! My current boat mechanic checked this boat out AFTER I’d bought it and disappointingly said to me “Lord, Felix! Why didn’t you have me come with you to check this out?”
- Get on the boat as it sits on the trailer at the seller’s home. Walk around it! Feel if there are any mushy or spongy areas. If there are, RUN! There is rot in the floor and that is going to cost you big if it is even repairable.
- If at all possible, perform a sea trial. Actually go out on the water, Just like performing a test drive on a possible car purchase, there is a lot to be learned and observed when using a boat in its natural element.
- Have the seller start the engine and allow it to idle until it warms up. Be sure that water is coming out of the port and that the motor runs smoothly. If it’s a little loud, that’s really not a problem. It must run smooth, especially after the idle kicks down when the engine is warmed up. Listen for “misses” or sputtering. Here is a video of my current outboard running:
No one can guarantee that any boat or engine will continue to perform well once in regular use however, if you follow these important steps before buying a used boat, you can save yourself a lot of heartache.