Tips for Getting Your Boat
Ready for Sale

by Steve Hicks

Before an owner shows his boat to a broker, potential buyer or a surveyor, there's a lot he can do to improve first impressions. And first impressions are important, because when professionals start to evaluate a boat, there are half a dozen things they note immediately. A real professional will look at hose clamps, battery terminals and bilges before he goes into the real heavy investigation of blisters, drive strain systems and structural flaws.

Here some tips you can can use to check your before before putting it on the market:

Walk around the boat three or four times to get an impression.

Is there too much paint buildup on the bottom?

Is the propeller dinged with blades out of alignment?

Is the shaft loose in the cutlass bearing, or is there play in the coupling when you try to pull the shaft?

Are there bright spots on the through-hull fittings? - A sure sign of electrolysis. If so, have the situation corrected by an expert.

On deck, take a small plastic mallet and tap the fittings to see if anything is loose or not properly founded. Also check the stanchions and along the bow pulpit rails to see if there's any collision damage. Have any bent pulpit rails or out-of-line stanchions realigned or replaced.

Below deck look at the general condition of the interior.

Check for stains and signs of leaks around the port lights

 Make a note of any odor or mildew. There are plenty of commercial preparations on the market that will fix this problem.

Check for serious oil streaking down the side of the engine - a sign of gasket leaks.

Examine engine pulley belts and test for proper tension while at the same time looking for signs of wear, such as black belt dust in the area.

Inspect the hoses for cracks and be sure there are two hose clamps in good condition on all hoses. If not, put on additional clamps and replace those that are rusted or corroded. Use new stainless-steel fittings.

Check the batteries to determine if they are installed to standards. If they are liquid batteries, are they properly vented. Are they secured in a container that will hold acid should a battery burst? Are they properly blocked to prevent movement in rough seas? Are the terminals corrosion free? Make sure battery fluids cover interior plates. Many people forget that liquid batteries often need distilled water added. Check terminal fittings for tight connections. Remove all corrosion if present, and spray with corrosion-inhibiting agent.

Check all seacocks. Be sure you can easily close and reopen them. If not, have a professional fix the faulty fitting or replace it. Not only is it the safe thing to do, but it won't be a problem when it comes time to survey your boat.

Make all of these checks, and more, before putting your boat on the market.

-Steve Hicks

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