I’m obsessive in monitoring the used boat market, especially where inexpensive VolksCruiserish candidates are concerned. I find the used market insane and trying to make sense of it is an ongoing conundrum that is entertaining.
One thing I’ve learned so far is there is zero rhyme or reason where the cost of boats is concerned. The best description I can come up with is that it’s bat-shit crazy.
However, armed with a bit of knowledge, we can use the current situation to our advantage.
Face it, it’s really all about the condition of the boat.
A lot of cheap boats are in terrible condition. If one look tells you to look elsewhere, look for another boat.
There are many cheap boats which are ready to go, that you can take out for a sail, and mostly everything works. I say mostly because I’ve yet to find a boat anywhere where everything works.
Most cheap boats will fall somewhere between these examples. It’s up up to you to make sense of what condition they’re in.
Things I look for in a boat are cleanliness, lack of clutter, workable systems, and upkeep. Since most sailboats are built well, you’re mostly looking for problems from previous owners rather than faults in the construction.
To be honest, I’d much prefer a boat stripped of owner improvements or a gutted interior, providing it was clean, and I don’t have to pull stuff out of the boat to fix stuff.
So, here are my thoughts on grading condition…
I’ll give the boat a 10 if it’s floating, has a dry bilge, is clean, and most everything appears to work. This includes being able to take the boat for a sail and if there’s a motor, it works.
A boat gets a 9 or lower for everything on my list that where it falls short. So a boat that is not clean, has a wet bilge, and the electricity does not work, would get a 7. The trick is to be ruthless and have a firm low number (in my case “5”) which is when you go look at another boat.
Obviously, a project boat is a whole different kettle of fish. I’ll be doing a series on how to cope with a project, but as there are so many boats that are close to turnkey for small money, I’d advise an affordable boat that is in a working condition.