“Always Buying, Consigning and Selling Queensland’s Best Used Boats Since 1964”

For those of you who have not read my short articles before, my name is Matthew Hodson. My wife Anita and I, own and manage Queensland’s largest dedicated second hand trailer boat yard in Queensland – John Crawford Marine (JCM). Our business was established in 1964 and is now one of the most respected second hand trailer boat dealerships in Australia. I have been collating some of my experience and writing so as to pass on some hints and tips when buying second hand boats.

I will also endeavour to try and keep my writing based on facts and pointers that will help you understand some of the pit falls that face the discerning used boat buyer.

With the massive surge of interest in recreational boating over the past 5 years, which I believe is mainly contributed to the boom in property values, families have been able to realise and take advantage of the equity that is now readily available in there family home. This has lead to most recreational/lifestyle product based industries enjoying an increase in sales eg the Caravan Industry, prestige car sales and of course our own, Boating Industry. Marine Queensland (our Boating Industry) has just released figures that registered recreational boat registrations in Queensland have now broken through the 200,000 barrier.

With this surge in Boating interest and boat ownership, also comes the down side – shonky new dealers, back yard boating bandits/repairers and second hand importers that I refer to as “Sharks” they smell something that may be able to be taken advantage of, come in quickly, bite, chew like mad and when the prey has gone, they swim on to find the next kill. Sharks in our Boating Industry, thankfully are few and far between and I am not advocating that all second hand importers, back yarders etc have a hidden agenda, however, buyers beware there are some hints and pointers that I can give you, to help avoid becoming one of there victims!

Although my business survives on customers trusting our judgement in being able to test, warrant, insure and finance a second hand trailer boat, there will always be part of the market for what ever there reasons or intentions will either buy or sell privately. For this reason it is very important to understand that although a private advertiser lists, describes and explains there product for sale, if you are mislead or buy a lemon – it is an incredibly difficult process to get a fair result, either a refund or repair.

Credible boat dealers or boat brokers will be a member of the BIA or a Boating Industry body. JCM was a founding member of our state organisation established over 25 years ago. This impartial, non profit organisation is there to help you, the purchaser, know that you are dealing with a business that works within the organisations code of conduct and operates in a fair manner. You will know if the business is accredited as they will have on display the BIA logo.

Buying privately or through a dealer (that is not a member) means you have no protection in the event you have problems or difficulty with your purchase. If you are convinced that buying privately is the way for you, then I urge you to ensure you purchase the rig subject to a satisfactory survey alternatively if it’s a trailer boat, organise a qualified marine mechanic from a Marine Queensland member to inspect the motor, hull and trailer for you.

Marine Queensland warns buyers of privately listed trailer boats to use caution when considering using a non accredited marine mechanic. You often find these guys advertising in the likes of the local Trading Post, local papers, etc. Again, most of these back yarders are not members and they are generally not qualified. The outcome for you again is that you will have no real recourse in the event of a problem. It may cost up to a few hundred dollars to have an accredited Marine Queensland dealer inspect the vessel in their workshop, but I guarantee you it will be money well spent!

I know it must sound like I am harping on about the benefits of buying or dealing with a Marine Queensland dealer but looking at the big picture, if you do buy a lemon privately, and due to the cost of repairs, lack of confidence etc, then decide to get out of boating altogether, our industry misses out the total amount of money that you would have spent owning, insuring, servicing, maintaining, fuelling, permits, registration dollars etc that you would have pumped into the industry and other associated businesses for as long as you own a boat. So on this basis, it is beneficial for the boating industry members to ensure you, the boat owner has an enjoyable, hopefully hassle free foray into the Boating way of life!

I will endeavour to give you tips on where and how to look for back yard cover-ups or trying to mask problems that you may be unaware of. Only to find the hidden problems at a later stage, but once 9 times out of 10, once you have handed over your hard earned spon dooly (cash – no one said I had to be grammatically correct here did they Ed!)

“Sharks” and “backyarders” generally don’t have access to the wide variety of quality resources that a dealership has in its work shop therefore they may skip some important points and make do with inferior parts, nuts and bolts, detailing chemicals etc.

Another common mistake made on boats is using inferior steel metal screws, nuts and bolts to fix a gadget or accessory to the hull. When inspecting a used boat look at how the accessories are fitted. If you are going to fit accessories to your boat and the hull is made of Aluminium, ensure to seek some advice before you fit your accessory/toy etc. I say this because when two dissimilar metals touch one another a reaction called Electrolysis occurs. I’m not an electrician or a Physics expert, but in layman’s terms, when two dissimilar metals touch, it excites the electrons within the metals and they start to move from one metal to the other. The end result is the weaker metal starts to oxidise, basically it looks like rust without the characteristic red/brown stain that is found on iron metals. On aluminium it generally bubbles and blisters the painted surface surrounding the rivet/screw etc. If the hull is unpainted generally a white powder like substance will appear.

Remember at the end of the day, pay attention to details, go with your gut instinct, if you do not feel comfortable with either the seller, question the product or have any doubts you are always better to leave it alone and move on. I believe that there is a boat for everyone! Next month I will highlight some another batch of issues concerning trailer integrity, the flood of second hand trailer boats from the US and ways to help prevent buying someone else’s problem!

Safe and enjoyable boating!
Matthew Hodson


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