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martintheduck

Real Ticked Off Buying Used But Finally Succeed!!!

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I've wanted my OWN boat since I was a kid. I grew up fishing from everyone else's boat in the gulf saltwater and from the banks of various bodies of water. I decided at a young age... one day I'll buy my own boat.

 

Well now I'm 24 and the money situation is all lined up so it's time to make that purchase. Should be pretty simple, right? Shop around, find something you like, go check it out in person, put it on the water, if need be take it to get checked out by a mechanic to make sure I'm not getting the run around. If it all checks out, finance it through the bank (b/c it's a darn good chance to boost the credit profile), handle the paper work and that boat is finally mine! Easy, right? NO NO NO!!!

 

For 3 months I shopped around on craigslist, boattrader, classifieds, and ebay. I requested brochures from every manufacturer I could. I pondered the various questions: glass-vs-aluminum, what brand motor, horsepower, wants-vs-needs, price, individual-vs-dealer...etc. I got a feel for the market in my state and what was really AVAILABLE within my various needs. Ultimately I decided the following ---

 

  • I need to buy used - heck, I might not really be keen to boat ownership. I decided my best option is to purchase something used for SUBSTANTIALLY cheaper than new, learn about boating and ownership, and if I become serious about boating I can upgrade while only losing a minimum amount of $ when reselling my boat.
  • Aluminum is for me - I've fished from glass my entire life in salt water. Handling a boat in open vast bodies of salt water is COMPLETELY different than in smaller shallow bodies, backwaters, rivers, and the stumpy bayous. I do not feel comfortable at this point handling a glass boat in anything other than the open seas. 
  • My price range began at $15,000 or less... more on that later.
  • I feel comfortable with Yamaha or Mercury. Those are the only outboards I've ever know someone to own. I've heard SUBSTANTIALLY less horror stories from those brands compared to say Evinrude or Suzuki. Horsepower was never something I factored in as a MUST HAVE. I went in with an open mind - If the boat has a 50hp and it will power the boat well enough, I'm game for a 50hp. If it has a 150hp, heck thats fine too. I labeled HP as a "want" rather than "need." At the moment anyhow I'm only comfortable pushing a boat about 40-45mph. (Safety first. I've always been pressed to NOT push the limits in a boat. Having known 2 people who have died in boating accidents, I heed this warning).
  • My only "need" is a boat that is ready to fish. I am NOT partial to buying a boat I would need to outfit with new carpet, seats, trolling motor, batteries, etc...
  • I DECIDED I WANT TO BUY FROM AN INDIVIDUAL AND NOT A DEALER. In Louisiana, person to person sales within the state are required to only pay taxes on the trailer. If I purchased from a dealer I would have to pay sales tax on boat, motor, and trailer. I made this decision to simply save some money. 

With all that said I can continue the saga. After 3 months of looking I began to feel confident in the market and fair prices for the boats I was interested in. It came time to jump in head first!!!!

 

First boat I go to check out in person is an 08' Tracker 170 w/ a 50merc. For $6500 I felt it was a fair price. Had brand new minn kota 55lb trolling motor and Lowrance mid-grade electronics (in the $500 range). Carpet and all seats in good shape. SOLID boat.  I go check it out, looks great, guy tells me he rarely fishes it and everything works fine(he is a friend of a friend). Well he lets me take it out and I put it on the water. When I put it in gear that sucker justs GRINDS!!!! I mean literally felt like it might blow up when I gave it gas. The pee stream was non-existant too. I gave it a bit of gas to try and get it on plane and the motor refused to trim up. It was odd because at standstill the trim worked just fine. So I trimmed up at idle, gave it gas, and the motor just fell straight back down. I didn't get good vibes with what was going on. I put it right back on the trailer, brought it back to the guy, explained about it and yada yada yada... told him I'd pass and he was understanding. Said he knew about the pee-stream, but never had that problem with the trim. Maybe a bad motor? Fluid? Heck, I don't know, but I quickly absolved myself of that boat.

 

Second boat I had arranged to go see later in the afternoon this same day. Drove 45 minutes to see it. An 01 xpress 20ft with a 90merc for $7,000. As soon as I was close enough to the boat to see it, I knew it wasn't what I was looking for. Shady amenities, rotten seat covers, and a flat bottom hull I was NOT expecting. Instantly knew it wasn't for me, but I did stick around and talk to the guy for a solid 30 minutes about duck hunting. It was worth the drive out there for the scoop he gave me on some of the public land up here (which I never knew existed till talking to him).

 

I stayed pretty depressed after that day because I REALLY liked that tracker boat (aside from the issues). It was a good size, price, condition, and I felt it would be a good first boat. My good buddy reassured me don't sweat it... something else will come up. I gritted my teeth and forced my heart to let go of it.

 

Fast forward another week.

 

Third boat time. I told a few people to keep their eyes peeled around town and a buddy tells me about 30 minutes away is an 06' tracker 190 with merc90. I go check that out. $7500. Brand new 45lb minn kota (just a LITTLE underpowered IMO...haha) and stock graphs. Carpet and seats in GREAT shape. Now the hull made it apparent...boat had obviously been fished QUITE a bit. I'm still interested because, frankly, the man was insistant he fished it often and kept it in great working order. We meet at the boat launch and he's brought another guy along to ride too. He claims this guy wants the boat too. Let me stipulate, each time I've talked to this gentleman about the boat he has come across as sketchy.

 

So we go out in the boat, he shows everything off. We go back to the dock and I get out and other guy gets in to go on a ride. They come back, he lets me take it on a spin while he goes to back the trailer in. BOAT RIDES GREAT! Everything worked perfectly. Well we load the boat back up, I tell him for sure I want it while the other guy is kind of wishy washy. I tell owner I want to take it to a mechanic to get checked out -- seeing how it's an 06' engine that has only been worked on by "a buddy who isn't licensed, but knows what he's doing." The owner got REALLY hesitant about it. Gave excuses. At this point we were ratcheting the boat down. I leaned down and pulled the plug out the boat and BAM water just POURED out. A heavy flow for a solid 10 seconds. I got an instant knot in my stomach and really felt there MUST be a hole in this hull somewhere. This wasn't just water from stopping the boat and getting backwash. After watching that water pour out I told the man I'd think about it and call him back. I called him 30 minutes later and told him I would pass.

 

At this point I am INCREDIBLY DISTURBED. I just want to buy a decent friggin boat! Is that so much to ask!?!?!?!?! I suddenly remember when a few weeks prior I had seen a 2011 17ft xpress w/ yamaha90 for $13,000 on craigslist. I frantically search the CL ads and eventually find the ad. I call the man up that afternoon after I've settled down a bit.

 

"Hey bud, do you still have that xpress boat for sale!?"

 

"Well, maybe? A guy is driving in from Florida tomorrow afternoon to buy it, but it's possible he'll back out. I'll call you tomorrow if it falls through?"

 

"DANG! Okay man. It's so hard to find a decent aluminum boat for sale around here! Know anyone else selling something?"

 

"(laughs) I hear ya man. No sorry I don't know anyone selling something else. I'll call you tomorrow though if he doesn't buy it."

 

"Okay. Thanks. Bye"

 

I just feel like a broken man at this stage in the game. For the past 3 months I've researched everything in my area. These tracker boats I believe are exactly what I'm looking for in a first boat. My researching has showed me that when one pops up on craigslist that is in good shape, it sells INSTANTLY. I just muscle up and conclude I must just stay on the hunt.

 

Two days pass and nothing happens. I think back on my research and I only rarely saw any boat come up between the $10,000 to $15,000 range. Rephrase that - I saw a BUNCH of 80's & early 90's glass boats come up for sale, but that is not what I need or want.  I start mulling over in my head being younger and being with my dad as he purchased 2 different cars. He brought me along to experience the whole car buying process. I'd asked him both times "why don't you just buy a used car and save some money?" His response was "because you never know what you're getting into. You might be buying someone else's problem."

 

I COULD NOT APPLY THIS LESSON TO MY BOAT BUYING. I'm dead set convinced buying a new boat is a terrible idea for me, but I go to the local Xpress dealer and look at their stock. At that point I REALLY decide I don't need a new boat (for $24,000 before tax) What I decided is maybe, just MAYBE, I can allow myself to increase my budget and get into some better condition boats? (I can afford to, I just cringe when I buy something more expensive than a package of gum!  :Idontknow:

 

I decide to go all in at this point. I'm sick of talking to people on the phone who have boats with issues for sale. I'm broken down from these two deals that haven't panned out. I decide EXACTLY the following: I will up my budget to $20,000 ONLY to be spent on a mint condition boat that is still under warranty. 

 

I'll be dang if less than 48 hours later, a mint condition 2011 H18 Xpress with a Yamaha vmax 150 pops up on craigslist for $19,500. He posted the ad at 3:30 P.M and I called him at 6:00 pm. He had just barely posted the ad.

 

On the other end of the phone was a very kind man who I could tell was older based on his tone and the story of why he is selling the boat. We talked for about 5 minutes and setup a time the next day to take it out on the water.

 

I drove 45 minutes to his home the next day (Monday) and was SHOCKED/FLOORED/DUMBFOUNDED by the condition of this boat. I instantly felt comfortable with this deal. The home was a large home on a rural property. Fine cars in the driveway. An f-250 king ranch hooked up to the pristine Xpress boat. Out walks a 65 year old soft-spoken insurance salesman who apparently has made quite a living doing so. He gives me a firm handshake, we chit chat for about 2 minutes and I can't contain myself. I blurt out "If this sucker floats, I want it." He laughed and started telling me the story of how he ended up buying it. Always fished, lifelong dream to buy a nice bass boat, finally convinces wife it's a good idea, buys it, fishes it maybe 5 times and keeps it in his garage. He tells me the worst thing to happen to this boat is that it's sat up unused for 1.5 years. I ask if he's put rabbit ears on the motor and run it while it has sat in the garage. He looks at me with this look of "are you and idiot boy?" and replies "of course of course. I really don't want to sell it, but my wife has been pestering me to and frankly it just sits here not being used."

 

He invites me to ride with him in his truck out to the lake (20 minute ride) and we small talk the whole ride there. He's just a genuine gentleman who has lived in the area his whole life. We discuss when they built the lake and damed everything up, discuss careers, families, and talk about all of our self proclaimed professional bass angling buddies.

 

We get to the launch and drop in. I explained to him beforehand, I'm nervous as all get out because the lake we dropped in at is NOTORIOUS for disgustingly large ninja stumps. He assures me he knows his way and we'll be fine. We toss on lifejackets, push off the dock, and off we go. He guns it once we get into the channel and we top out at 58mph. He switches places with me to give me some wheel time. I ask him where to go, he points me the right way and I give her some gas and get on a nice plane around 35 mph.  I trim up a little bit to make sure everything is working. I bring her back to an idle and tell him "I'm in. I want it."

 

So we test the electronics quickly, trolling motor, pumps, well, etc... and head back. Pack everything in. Ratcheting the boat down I bring up the finalized price again. 

 

"So I want this boat. I'll give you $19,000"

 

He asks if I can meet him in the middle. I say $19,000 I believe is a fair price. I thought about offering you less to begin with, but basically it's a nice boat and I'll pay for it. He reluctantly concedes and mentions "Heck, it hurts to sell her, but after taking you out today I believe I'm just going to keep it if you don't buy it." :respect-059:

 

I genuinely felt great. In shock and utter awe I just agreed to this purchase and the gentleman is on board for the same price. It's a PRISTINE example of Xpress boat. Still under warranty. The trailer is in mint shape. The tires treads look BRAND new even! I'll be honest here - it did not even cross my mind to have this boat checked by a mechanic it was in that good of shape. Plus it is still under warranty.

 

I'm super pumped up, the financing paper work was completed this afternoon (Wednesday) after banking hours, so it will go through on Friday. I should have my new boat in just a few days. Most of you probably won't read the whole story and that is okay. I really just wanted to write this story to give my experience and ultimate victory during my boat buying experience. I want to send many thanks to the folks who post in this boating forum and all other forums to help out the somewhat less experienced. Y'all are awesome. Cheers fellas!

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Congrats on the boat.

 

May you have many hours of fun and great fishing in it.

 

Your story parallels just about everyone's story who is looking for a used boat.

 

With new boat prices out of sight, purchasing a used boat is the way to go. But as you found out, there are many pitfalls involved and one must be extra careful when purchasing a used boat from an individual.

 

So where are the pics? We want to see the boat. We need to see that LSU decal on the transom or windshield.

 

Be safe; don't forget your watercraft liability insurance and get a $1,000,000 if possible; get extra ignition keys to keep on the boat and at home; get your ears; get a cover if one did not come with the boat; always remember to run the motor and test the trolling motor the day before you take her out; upgrade the battery charger in the future; and go have some fun in those wonderful Louisiana waters.

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Good luck with your new boat. Sounds like you made a good choice.

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I really enjoyed this story.  I plan on buying a boat in the near future so this was some good insight on what I should look for and what I can run in to.  Thanks for this.

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I really enjoyed this story.  I plan on buying a boat in the near future so this was some good insight on what I should look for and what I can run in to.  Thanks for this.

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Awsome post as I will be in the market for a boat round new years (motorcycle paid off) and not really knowing much about boats, mechanic by trade, kinda in the same boat as you.  It was a good read. need a good place to look for like "what to look for when buying used boats" website.

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Need pics man!!  You have to show us the goods!!

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Awsome post as I will be in the market for a boat round new years (motorcycle paid off) and not really knowing much about boats, mechanic by trade, kinda in the same boat as you.  It was a good read. need a good place to look for like "what to look for when buying used boats" website.

 

I did countless forum searches and google seaches. Read at LEAST 30 articles/threads relating to overall used boats, outboards exclusively, and glass-vs-aluminum. I can tell you though... my checklist went something like this:

 

  1. Meet seller. Introduce myself. Tell them "I'd just like to take a second and check out a few things." (try to get them to be quite so I can concentrate and not get sidetracked)
  2. Walk up. Check hull for gouges and overall condition... walk all the way around and give a GOOD look.
  3. Check trailer. walk all the way around. Check tires, shocks, tubing, and look for rust and dangerous wear. Also try to get a view of the bunks.
  4. Look at outboard. Check skeg and prop for damage.
  5. Check jack plate (if applicable)
  6. Lift rear compartment hatch. Grab a flashlight and give everything a good look back there. Rust? Corrosion? Standing water? Clean or dirty? Smell like gas? 
  7. THEN move to the interior of the boat. At this point I'd start talking to the seller again. Everything now is just smaller details in my opinion. It's pretty easy to take a quick look at the interior and flip and the switches.
  8. By this point, I'll know if I even want to take it out on the water. If you want to take it on the water, figure something out with the seller. This is the point I'd ask about it's service history - who's worked on it, last time water pump changed, any documents to verify work?  
  9. After test driving, if you are interested in buying, tell them you want to have a checked by a mechanic. If they agree, great, if they don't want you to, RUN AWAY.

 

Maybe that is a little helpful. Maybe not. Heres the mental checklist I ran when I was actually in the water testing boats. Granted, I never really got through the whole thing except on one boat.... it did help me decide to pass on 2 boats.

 

  1. Let owner launch the boat. Once boat is off the trailer, give a good inspection of the trailer. Check bunks for rot.
  2. Did motor start easily?
  3. Pee stream pumping well?
  4. Does trim work correctly?
  5. Get on plane easily?
  6. Does trim work correctly?
  7. (If applicable) GPS and graphs work?
  8. Handle well at full speed? 
  9. At this point, I'd slow down ALOT, and frankly, kind of drive like a swerving idiot to test the steering.
  10. If everything is working good, cut off engine. Test trolling motor, bilge pump, livewell.
  11. Load boat back up. At this point, you will know if you want to buy or not. Don't let anyone make you feel pressured. If there is ANY doubt ...even a LITTLE.... take time to "sleep" on it

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  • In Louisiana, person to person sales within the state are required to only pay taxes on the trailer. If I purchased from a dealer I would have to pay sales tax on boat, motor, and trailer. I made this decision to simply save some money. 

 

Congratulations on the purchase of your new boat and I hope you get many years out pleasurable use out of it.

 

 For reference to others in our state, the person to person transaction rules also apply to purchases of out of state purchases as well. If you have proof of taxes paid to the other state, you receive a credit for those taxes paid.  This is done when you complete LDR Form - 1331.

 

You are absolutely correct about the trailer though since it is registered with the DMV unlike the boat which is registered with LDWF.  Based on this, how did you allocate the total purchase price to the trailer.  Also, did you prepare separate bills of sale for the trailer and boat/motor.

 

Louisiana does not make it easy to buy a used boat by any scenario.

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  • In Louisiana, person to person sales within the state are required to only pay taxes on the trailer. If I purchased from a dealer I would have to pay sales tax on boat, motor, and trailer. I made this decision to simply save some money. 

 

Congratulations on the purchase of your new boat and I hope you get many years out pleasurable use out of it.

 

 For reference to others in our state, the person to person transaction rules also apply to purchases of out of state purchases as well. If you have proof of taxes paid to the other state, you receive a credit for those taxes paid.  This is done when you complete LDR Form - 1331.

 

You are absolutely correct about the trailer though since it is registered with the DMV unlike the boat which is registered with LDWF.  Based on this, how did you allocate the total purchase price to the trailer.  Also, did you prepare separate bills of sale for the trailer and boat/motor.

 

Louisiana does not make it easy to buy a used boat by any scenario.

 

 

 

Did not even think to do a separate bill of sale for just the trailer. I'm sure they'll want that at the freakin' DMV. As for value of the trailer, finance company looked all the values up before "okay'ing" the final loan. Trailer is nada value @ $1500.

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