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Thursday, November 01, 2012


Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on marinas from New York City south to the Delaware. One marina in Elizabeth City was completely destroyed. However hundreds of boats that have severe damage will be repaired rather than written off. This includes boats with salt water damage to engines that will will be “pickled“ with diesel fuel and eventually restored to running condition. Would you want to buy one of these boats? Not me!

Buyer beware. Hurricane Sandy will create a glut of boats that will be put onto the market after restoration paid for by insurance companies. Boat owners will get rid of their repaired boats like hot potatoes because none will want a wet salt infused boat and even some write offs will eventually be repaired and re-enter the market. It is especially easy to trade these boats at a low price on a new boat and then it becomes a dealer or broker problem to get rid of the boat.

Problem is, a boat sunk in salt water will never be the same again. Mildew and mold will always have their way over time even when the boat has been thoroughly dried out and the upholstery/liners replaced. Salt water dunked engines – you don’t want to own one. Moisture core breaches due to broken fiberglass will be common. Problem is, other than moisture in the boats core, it is hard to tell a boat that has had the engine pickled or the interior redone. Older boats get refurbished for other reasons and also have fresh interiors. In fact the repaired boat might look like a very good buy as it will be shined up after repairs and will have very low wear on upholstery and other soft items that get replaced in the interior. These boats will end up all over the US for sale, both privately and with dealers and brokers. Not everybody has the integrity or even the knowledge to declare a boat a hurricane victim. Many potential buyers assume that you just have to watch the affected area you buy a boat in ... but history has shown that these damaged boats end up coast to coast and even offshore from USA very quickly. As they get sold and resold over a few years, if there was a declared history with the boat, it disappears.

Peoples memories are short and after a year or so they forget the risk of buying hurricane damaged boats. So over the next few years your chances of getting ripped off are high. Here is how to avoid getting a hurricane damaged boat.

1/ Never purchase a boat that you cannot clearly document it’s owners and location over the age of the boat and ideally contact previous owners (or better yet - stick with one owner boats or an owner you know).

2/ If it looks to good to be true it probably is.

3/ The sure way to avoid the problem is don’t buy a salt water boat. I know ... 80 % of the market is salt water boats - but if you want to be REALLY sure on what you are getting ... with careful inspection it is almost impossible to disguise a boat that has been in salt water ... even for a season. Steaming will not remove all the evidence. Unless they take the boat down to the bare hull and interior sand and re-spray, you’re going to know if an expert inspects the boat for salt water. You can chemical test bilges in several places to be sure. So as harsh as it may sound ... shop for a inland lake boats, e.g.. Great Lake boats that have never seen salt water and it’s hard to go wrong. Besides, used fresh water boats (all things being equal) are always worth more than salt water boats and they are probably winter stored, so they see less sun and wear and tear.

I know there are probably some brokers shaking their heads at this article, but buyers want value for their hard earned money not someone else's problem boat ... so we feel obligated to share this kind of information.

Posted by at 4:20 PM