SEVEN WAYS TO AVOID THAT SINKING FEELING
When an insurance company declares a boat a constructive total
loss (CTL), it means the boat was heavily damaged; whoever buys
it from the insurance company knows up front what they’re getting
into. Some storm-damaged boats will be properly repaired as good
as new, but many more will be patched up just enough to sell, leaving
the new owner with what could end up being an unusable boat. Hire
a marine surveyor to inspect any used boat you’re considering buying. Here are tips to help you spot a boat that might have been badly
damaged in a storm.
Trace the history: When a car is totaled, the title is “branded” as
salvaged or rebuilt, and buyers know up front that there was major
damage at some point in the car’s history. But only a few states
brand salvaged boats, and some states don’t even require titles for
boats. Anyone wishing to obscure a boat’s history need only cross
state lines to avoid detection, which can be a tip-off. Look also for
recent gaps in the boat’s ownership, which may mean that it was at
an auction or in a repair yard for a long time.
Look for recent hull repairs: Especially on older boats, matching
gelcoat is very difficult. Mismatched colors around a repaired area
are often a dead giveaway, and may signal nothing more than filler
under the gelcoat, rather than a proper fiberglass repair.
Look for new repairs or sealant at the hull-to-deck joint: Boats
banging against a dock during a storm often suffer damage there.
Evidence of sinking: Check for consistent corrosion on interior hardware, such as rust on all hinges and drawer pulls. You might be able
to spot an interior waterline inside a locker or an area hidden behind
an interior structure.
Corrosion in the electrical system: Corrosion on electrical items,
such as lamps, connectors, and behind breaker panels, might mean
the boat sank recently. Does the boat have all brand new electronics? Why?
Look for evidence of major interior repairs: Fresh paint or gelcoat
work on the inside of the hull and the engine room is usually obvious. All new cushions and curtains can be a tip-off, too.
Ask the seller: In some states, a seller isn’t required to disclose if a
boat was badly damaged unless you ask. If the seller hems and haws,
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