If you are in the market to buy a new or used boat or outboard engine please keep a few things in mind.
#1 DON'T BUY IT IF IT DOESN'T HAVE THE FEATURES YOU WANT!!
We have seen a lot of things come through here that people have purchased (boats, outboards) and it wasn't quite what they wanted. It's easy to say "oh, I'll just add electric start" "I'll just take the tiller off and hook it up to a steering wheel" "I can have someone install a windlass later" but the truth of the matter is, it's expensive.
It's definitely possible to get rid of tiller and set it up for a remote, it's possible to add electric start, it's all possible but you have to consider the expense of it. You might have got a great deal on that manual start outboard, but it's not a great deal if you have to spend $1000 + to add the electric start later. If it doesn't have power trim and you want to add that it's going to be close to $2000 or more.
If you want an anchor windlass, buy a boat that already has one or is already set up for one because re-engineering the bow of the boat doesn't always look nice after, not to mention the labor hours to do so. You could easily spend $2000-$4000.
#2 SERVICE RECORDS
Ensure that the asking price is reflective of the boat being taken care of. Ask for service records. If the seller says "I do my own service" that usually translates to "I change my own oil". A true service is much more involved than fluid changes; there are many many more control systems that need attention/service.
If you are looking at a stern drive (inboard/outboard) ask about the last time the bellows were replaced. These are often overlooked and could result in a very bad day on the water if they were to fail.
#3 BE WARY OF LOW HOURS
Everyone thinks low hours are great, and on newer boats it is (<5 years old). But if that boat is older and it has low hours that means it's been sitting a lot. Sitting is not good for anything, especially boats. The more they sit the less people feel the need to service them and that's when we run into problems. Impellers take a set and don't pump water as they should, fuel system parts get dried out and leaks can develop, rubber gets weather checked and starts to fail, etc.
#4 GET A PRE-SALE CHECKOUT
It's never a bad idea to have a professional take a look at the boat before you buy it. You might spend $500 but it beats spending 10's of thousands of dollars on a boat only to find out that it needs another $10,000 in repairs due to lack of maintenance. It is also a very handy tool when it comes to negotiating a sale price.
#5 CHECK FOR EASY ACCESS
Look for boats with easy access to engine and other mechanical areas that require maintenance. Limited access may result in higher repair bills. Can you see the starter motor? You don't want a boat that requires a technician to pull your engine out of the boat to replace a starter or a water pump impeller, etc.
#6 CHECK FOR DAMAGE
Look for signs of damage such as paint missing from skeg, damaged propeller, rust or mildew or high water line inside of boat or bilge engine compartment. Look for discolored or melted paint. A prior incident may affect reliability or cost of ownership.
Well cared for boats seem to be a small percentage of the used boats for sale.
FOR OUR CUSTOMERS
If it saves us time it saves you money!
Parts Manager, Service Adviser
As summer comes to an end, most boat owners are coming up to the annual storage period for their vessel. This is the time when you should be considering a few things. We recommend doing a full service on the engine and drive before the storage period, most people think "spring tune up", but if its done in the winter you won't be on a mile long waiting list when the weather gets nice again. Not to mention your engine and drive won't be sitting with old, possibly caustic fluids for duration of the storage period.
Now you have to find a suitable place to store your boat. Everyone knows that inside storage is best, but it's not always feasible; in which case- Shrink Wrap to the rescue!! Here's what needs to be addressed before shrink wrapping can happen:
Now lets talk about service. Here's some things to consider if you decide to take your boat to a professional service facility. Be considerate of the technician. He or she has devoted their time and in most cases, considerable amounts of money in order to become proficient in what they do-which is service and repair of your engine and drive. Here's how to help:
The short answer is yes; however it is imperative that they don't stay that way. Most people don't realize the amount of damage that can occur when a boat is stored wet: rust, corrosion and mold are just a couple examples. The only 2 recommended methods for long term storage are either to store it inside or to have it professionally shrink wrapped. If it must be stored outside make sure it is covered (and that the cover is supported and properly vented, that way water doesn't pool and damp air can escape), that the bow is up and that all the drain plugs-and wet gear are removed.
Air warms during the day and rises, vents are vital so that the warm, damp air has a way out. Non vented plastic or waterproof covers trap moisture in and do much more damage than good. Covers also need support which allows no puddling on the cover. Quality boat covers made from materials such as Sunbrella® or Sharkskin® can have additional vents added and pole type supports.
These easy preventative measures will help ensure a fun season on the water for years to come.
Ethanol is hydroscopic — it likes to absorb water. If water does get in, the ethanol in the gasoline will absorb it. That's acceptable with small amounts of water because it will simply be burned in the combustion cycle. But ethanol can only absorb so much water. When it becomes completely saturated, phase separation occurs, and the corrosive ethanol-water mixture sinks to the bottom of the tank. If the engine is run, this mixture can damage seals, O-rings, injectors, and other delicate engine parts. The upper "gasoline" layer will be depleted of ethanol and have a reduced octane level, which can also cause engine problems.
If you can't empty the tank completely, then top it off and add a good fuel stabilizer. Run the engine for 10 minutes to distribute the stabilized fuel through the engine and fuel lines. Make sure the seals in the filler cap are still intact, the cap is closed tightly, and the vent for the tank is not blocked.
Once phase separation occurs, there is no way to reverse it. No additive can rejuvenate bad gasoline. Bad fuel is bad fuel, and the only option is to dispose of it.
"Regular service to your boat is cheaper than waiting."
"The best time to service your boat is at the end of the boating season; prior to storage."
"The purpose of winterization is not just freeze protection, it is also storage damage prevention."
"Schedule with us in advance to reserve your preferred time for service."
Many boats are damaged or even destroyed every year because the systems aren't given the attention they deserve. While everybody knows that the engine and freshwater system must be winterized, there are many small but critical jobs that should be done. Some various winterizing chores that are most likely to be overlooked are not only freeze protection, but storage damage prevention. Are the engine fluids contaminated with water or acidic from use? Is your battery low on charge or connections corroded? Have you checked to see if your spark plugs show any signs of water? Letting an engine sit during the off season without taking some time to prepare it can be disastrous.
Everyone knows the term winterize, but how familiar are you with all that it entails? Did you drain the sea water housing, block, manifolds, oil cooler, live well, water system, shower and make sure there is no residual water in your stern drive? Is your bilge holding water creating condensation to rust your engine parts.
Refer to your owners manual for specific draining requirements for your engine & drive package. It will also show you where the drains are located to make sure you have drained the unit completely. Always make sure water is draining when removing drain plugs. No engine is self draining. If no water is draining there may be debris or silt plugging the drain hole.
Is the boat covered properly? A winter cover is terrific protection if it's adequately ventilated. With most boats, lack of ventilation beneath the cover causes mildew or even rot problems below. The problem occurs most often when shrink wrap covers aren't ventilated. Any cover that isn't well-supported will accumulate snow and water, which adds considerable weight to the boat. It also encourages pools of water to soak through the cover into the boat. Really want to spend 5 hours scrubbing the mold out of your boat in spring? Store your boat with the drain plug out and the trailer slightly elevated at the bow. If you have a stern drive make sure to store it down but make sure you note that it is down. Maybe a bag with your drain plug and a note to raise drive before moving the boat hanging from your trailer tongue as a reminder.