Buying your first boat is nothing like buying your first car. Unfortunately, unlike purchasing a used car, you can never be sure of a boat’s history.

If you’ve ever used Carfax to get a vehicle history report, then you know how informative it can be when deciding on purchasing a used car. A car can look perfect in pictures, but you can’t ignore some history, like frame damage or a recall.

Like cars, boats are intricate vehicles that can sustain hidden damage. That damage may not be obvious on the outside, especially to a novice boater. Up until now, states have had no regulation on how to record a boat’s history.

Keep reading to learn how vehicle history reports assist first-time boat buyers and for more tips on purchasing your first boat.

Why Get a Marine Vehicle History Report

Why Get a Marine Vehicle History Report

Anyone who’s owned a boat before will tell you that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Or, at least you should plan that way. Often, you end up fixing the same thing more than once. This is especially the case with sailboats, which have a lot of hardware and components.

Experienced boat owners typically know what kind of boat they prefer and they know what to inspect before purchasing a used boat. But, even an experienced buyer benefits from knowing a boat’s history.

You can’t see all damage from the outside. For example, if a boat’s hull suffered damage before, the owner could have fiberglassed and painted over the damage. But there could be water damage beneath the surface you can’t see.

The fact is, there is currently no country-wide law that requires boat owners to report damage or disclose previous damage to a new buyer.

Some states don’t even require boater’s insurance. That’s where a Carfax-like service for boats comes into play.

How Do States Require Boat History Reports?

The state of Florida recently passed its boat history law, dubbed the “Carfax for Boats Law”. The official name of the law is the Uniform Certificate of Title for Vessels Act (UCOFVA).

This new law in Florida doesn’t begin until 2023. But the law does great things to protect used boat buyers from purchasing damaged boats.

The law requires that any boat that has sustained hull damage report that damage on its title. In a state like Florida, where 1 in 29 boats have negative history, that’s a big step in vessel law.

Other popular boating spots have already implemented the “Carfax for Boats Law”. Virginia was the first state to require boat history. The District of Columbia, Connecticut, and Hawaii were soon to follow.

Unfortunately, until all states require boat titles, there’s not as much regulation as there should be.

For example, someone can purchase a boat in Tennessee, where boat titles are not required, and then bring it to Florida for registration. Then the boat automatically has a “clean” title.

How to Get a Boat History Report

Websites like Boat History Report are great sources for a boat’s history. They track hull damage, accidents, fires, hurricanes, run aground, recalls, and more. To help buyers, Boat History Report gives brokers access to their reports for free.

So, if you’re purchasing a used boat from a dealer or broker, make sure to get the boat history report at no cost.

If you’re buying a used boat from an individual, you can use Boat History Report’s website to search the boat’s HIN (hull identification number).

Another popular source for a boat history check is Boatfax. Not only does Boatfax report any negative history, but it also provides a cost estimate for what the boat is worth based on its make, model, year, and condition.

Boat history reports help get a fuller picture of the boat, but it doesn’t take the place of an in-person inspection. Never buy a boat without seeing it first yourself or sending a trusted person to view the boat for you.

Tips for Buying Your First Boat

Tips for Buying Your First Boat

Buying your first boat is a big step. You’re probably familiar with the phrase, “The best two days of a man’s life are the day he buys a boat and the day he sells it.”

It’s common for people to get excited about a boat and rush into buying it without a proper inspection. Then, they’re left with all the boat’s problems.

You can avoid this fate by following a few rules and tricks.

1. How Much Time Can You Devote?

There’s such a thing as a project boat. But chances are you aren’t looking for a project. If you want to get on the water as fast as you can, buy the smallest boat that meets your needs.

The smaller the boat, the easier it will be to get in the water and the less time you’ll spend fixing things or doing maintenance.

2. Pay For an Inspection

Once you check a boat’s history and do your inspection, if you’re still excited about the purchase, it’s worth it to get a professional inspection done.

An inspection costs around $25 per foot. It’s a pricey thing, but it’s worth it to be aware of anything that needs attention on the boat. An inspection will also help you determine if the boat’s price is worth it and could give you some price negotiating room.

3. Be Patient

Finding the right boat is more involved in finding the right car. There are so many factors to consider, and everyone has different preferences.

Don’t skip the steps, no matter how much you love a boat. It’s easy to fall in love with a boat and rush into purchasing it. But like with buying a car or a house, there’s always another boat to fall in love with.

As long as you follow these rules, check the Boatfax, and inspect the boat thoroughly, you’ll avoid a purchase that you eventually regret.

Free Vehicle History Report

Free Vehicle History Report

Thankfully, unlike boats, cars have detailed title histories. EpicVIN offers a free vehicle history report. Click the link here to see what a car’s VIN reveals.

Visit our website for more helpful vehicle tips and tricks!

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