THE ADVOCATE BoatU.S. CONSUMER PROTECTION BUREAU BY DEBBIE SCHAEFER
7 WAYS TO AVOID THE BOAT-BUYER BLUES
“He sounded so nice. Unfortunately, I found out later that the boat he sold me
had been salvaged, and had spent four hours at the bottom of the lake!”
When choosing a surveyor, make sure
the individual you hire does not work for
or represent the interests of the seller or
broker. The BoatU.S. referral list of National
Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMS)
and Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors
“The guy said to just bring
it back, and if there was
anything wrong, he’d fix it.
When the engine failed the
first time out on the water, I
called the seller several times.
He never returned my calls.”
AT THE BOATU.S. Consumer Protection Bureau, we often hear from embers who thought they were purchasing the boat of their dreams, only to find that the seller was less than honest, and they ended up with a nightmare on their hands. But there are ways to protect yourself, by following a few steps, before you sign on the dotted line.
GET IT IN WRITING
1A contract is more easily enforced if it’s in writing. Dealers often use standardized pur- chase agreements, but buyers have a right to protect their interests. By crossing out terms that are inappropriate and adding optional provisions or contingencies, you can tailor the
contract to protect yourself. Check out our “Buyer’s Toolbox” to see how you can obtain a
(SAMS) is a good source of independent
experts. When the surveyor completes his
inspection of the boat, he’ll prepare a written report, including his recommendations
for needed repairs and their estimated cost.
Armed with this information, the “
satisfactory survey” contingency in the contract
allows you to renegotiate or walk away from
the deal without losing your deposit. If you
decide to walk away from the deal due to
a contingency, the contract may require
written notification, and a strict time frame
which, if not followed, could entitle the
seller to keep your deposit. (To see what a
surveyor should test for, go to www.BoatUS.
ILLUSTRATION: MARCUS FLORO
HAVE A PRE-PURCHASE SURVEY
2Be sure to add a clause in your purchase agreement stipulating that your offer is con- tingent on a satisfactory survey. Hiring a surveyor to perform a pre-purchase survey and sea trial of your boat is the best way to discover any problems before it’s too late.
Surveys are essential for used boats (and even for new boats when buyers are inexperienced),
or if the boat has sophisticated equipment. Typical fees for a survey are between $15 and $30
per foot, but could go higher for more complicated vessels. Be aware that haul-out fees are
the responsibility of the buyer.
CONDUCT A SEA TRIAL
3You should also sea-trial the boat. According to Derek Rhymes, a sur- veyor in Annapolis, Maryland, “The
purpose of a sea trial is to test the vessel
in a manner in which it is intended to be
used.” His test includes the operational
evaluation of the propulsion machinery,
steering systems, trim tabs, and navigational electronics. He runs the engine at