Portland, Ontario

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Used Boat Buying Guide

Why Used Boats (VS. New)?

What are the benefits of buying a used boat?

You want to have a blast on the water. Having worked hard for your money and don’t want to waste it, make a mistake, or be taken advantage of. Used boats are a great way to start your boat ownership experience. Here are a few advantages of used over new boats.

  • The first year’s depreciation is paid by someone else. Any piece of used equipment is worth less the day after it was purchased, buying used allows someone else to pay that.
  • If in good condition, the cost of ownership can be lower over the lifetime of owning the boat. Because of the lower purchase price and how well they hold their value, owning a 5 year old boat, for 3 years can cost you less than owning the same new boat for the same amount of time.
  • The wait time to getting on the water can be lower. If the season has started, and the used boat is ready to go, there is no reason you can’t be boating in it right away. No need to wait for rigging, or ordering, etc. like sometimes happens on new boats.

Used Boat Values

This is not a car!

Boats are a luxury, and used primarily for short amounts each season. They also don’t get abused going down highways with potholes, or get covered in dirt and exposed to salt.

  • Boats can hold their value well for 10, 20, or more years in some cases.
  • There is a reasonably small supply of used boats, because they last so long, people hold onto them and use them for many, many seasons.
  • Expect to see prices at 80-90% of new for 1-3 year old boats, 50-70% for 4-10 year old boats, and a remarkable 30-50% for 10-15 year old boats. Click here for articles about new and used boat pricing on pontoonsbowriders, and inboard towboats.
  • Click here to go to Nada for Used Boat Values. Remember, this is a US site, and the currency will need to be converted to Canadian. Also ad in all the options that were not standard with the boat at the time of purchase, and take the “Average Retail” as the likely value of the used boat you are looking at.

Resources/Articles

What are some other issues you may run into?

This is a big purchase, and likely second only to a home and/or car in terms of value. Here are some things that can go wrong:

  • Buying a boat privately can lead to privacy issues (they will know you), and could leave you exposed. There are horror stories of people using kijiji and other that are real.
  • Buying a boat that ends up having a lien on it or is not really owned by the person selling it. A good marina will get proof of ownership and do a PPSA search to protect you.
  • You get a boat that has sunk / been under water. This is more common than you think. Boats can sink from neglect, storms, or animal damage. After salvaged, were they completely restored including corrosion and moisture sensitive components.
  • You get a boat that has been used in saltwater. During times of significant currency rate fluctuation (storing Canadian dollar), there is a higher chance that someone will being up “cheap” southern boats that have often been run or kept in salt water. It happens! It’s a double whammy when that is the case after a devastating storm or hurricane.
  • You get a boat that requires major repairs at some point. This is a piece of equipment, and there is a strong likelihood that something is going to break or fail. There are used boat warranties available from some good marinas, some aftermarket companies, and even some engine manufacturers after the original warranty has expired. Ask questions.
  • You buy the boat that fits your budget, not your family. Because supply is limited and there is a sense of urgency to not “miss this one”,  it is much more common for people to jump into a boat at a price they have set in their mind and not worry as much about getting the right boat.
  • How can you protect yourself? Ask for recommendations from friends. Find a boat dealer that has strong testimonials online in all forums (google, facebook, yelp, other). If there aren’t many reviews, steer clear. You may also want to hire an independent marine surveyor – click here for a list in Ontario. 

Resources/Articles

What are some other issues you may run into?Ready to look or shop? This is what we have for purchase currently.

We are here to help you buy – not sell. Please use this as a tool to look at pricing, or take the next step only if you are ready.

We are a 3 generation, family run marina, on Big Rideau Lake between Ottawa and Kingston on the Rideau Canal. Having been helping boaters get the best time and value on the water since 1958, we are pretty passionate about guiding you in this journey. Click here to set up a phone chat to ask me boat questions.
Sean Horsfall
Len's Cove Marina

My name is Fraser and I am the head of Customer Service and Experience here at Len's Cove. I am a lifelong boater on both the Big Rideau and St. Lawrence River. Have a repair issue or want to schedule service for a boat you are thinking about purchasing? 
Fraser Hambleton
Len's Cove Marina