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Test Drive Your Boat

boattestdriveWhen you are out on the market shopping for your boat, plan on taking the vessel out on a test drive.  On the test drive, pay close attention to specific things to make sure the boat is what you are looking for and that it handles properly to your expectations.  Make sure the boat does not vibrate.  Vibrations may indicate a bent propeller. No one wants a noisy boat.  If you are shopping for an inboard/outboard, check to make sure the trim works, which allows the motor to move from the down position to the angled position. Test the steering from one direction to another to see how long it takes the boat to respond. Check to see how long it takes the boat to plane after takeoff.  Does the boat slip smoothly into gear or does it jump?  Make sure the boat works in reverse. This becomes truly important when trying to dock.  Check the temperature, rpm, and speedometer for proper function.  Make sure the bilge is doing its job.  It is also a good idea to take several people along.  Added weight can affect the performance and quickness of the vessel.

Check to see how many hours are on a boat. You measure a car’s use by miles and a boat’s use by hours. If a boat has more than 500 hours you can expect to pay some money in upgrades and maintenance. Wood and water do not mix, especially in the floor of a boat. Carefully inspect the floor for soft spots, which indicate rot. You should not be afraid to get on your hands and knees and smell the floor for mildew.

Ask for a maintenance history on the boat. Find out what major repairs have been made to the boat. If a lot of work has been done to the boat, chances are there will be lots to come, which translates into dollars. Ask if the boat is still under warranty. Also, ask who the boat owner used for repairs and make a point to talk to them. It’s a good idea to have a qualified marine mechanic thoroughly inspect the boat before purchasing it. If you are going to do it yourself check the spark arrestors and plugs, alternator, belts, hoses, strainer, blower, shift cables, engine alignment, etc. Analyze the oil and make sure it is not cloudy or gritty Cloudy oil can mean the engine block is cracked.

Take a walk around the boat and inspect the hull and make sure it is in good condition. Feel free to tap on the hull all the way around and make sure the hull is consistently solid. Mismatched paint is a sign the boat has been in an accident. Also check for gel-coat blisters and dry rot. Check out the propeller. Check for warping, cracks, or nicks. Any of these things can throw off the performance of the boat.

The purchase of a boat is a large investment for most.  Take the time to make sure it measures up to your expectations and that it has all of the specifications for its intended purposes.  You will be happier in the long run.

Source: Tips on Buying a Used Boat for Water  Sports.” About.com Waterskiing. Web. 21 Jan. 2013.

 

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