“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 since COVID-19 families have been able to realise and take advantage of the changing home/work life dynamics our society is experiencing. Let alone record low interest teates, new tax cuts that are equating in a higher take home pay or moremoney for toys and lifestyle activities. These factors and many others are resulting in many recreational/lifestyle product based industries enjoying an increase in sales eg the Caravan Industry, prestige car sales and of course our own, Boating Industry. .

With this surge in Boating interest and boat ownership, also comes the down side – shonky new dealers, dodgy 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 and experience in being able to pre-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 - go Gumtree / Marketplace buyers - BEWARE!

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 BIA member to inspect the motor, hull and trailer for you.

Our industry warns buyers of privately listed trailer boats the risks and 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, Gumtree / Marketplace, 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 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 BIA 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, suppoting local buisness and fellow families. 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 workplace.

So we recomend that when out looking to buy a pre-owned trailer boat, compare apples to apples and ask each seller these questions below:

  • Do you provide and complete pre-purchase inspections with your own in-house employed workshop technicians or do we have to pay and organise independent inspections?
  • Can we see a copy of these reports, what cost is there to us?
  • Do you guarantee title on the boat/motor/trailer and accessories or do we take the risk of t being stolen or under finance to another provider?
  • What warranty is there after we purchase the package or do we take all the risk?
  • Are you a member of the Boating Industry Association?
  • Do you provide either on water tuition or provide a dry handover to help us become familiar with the boat?
  • Can you provide insurance quotes from two of Australia’s leading pleasure boat insurers?
  • Upon collection is the rig packed ready to tow and come with the reassurance that the trailer has been workshop serviced? Does it have the correct trailer plug to marry to our car? R-Clip? Correct tie down strap? Over hand flag if needed? Correct shackles?
  • Do you transfer the remaining hull and trailer registration into our name on our behalf or do we have to navigate this ordeal ourselves? (Qld buyers only)
  • Can you help us arrange a competitive finance quote?
  • Can you help us dispose of our old boat or take a trade -in?

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! 

Safe and enjoyable boating!

Matthew Hodson - Managing Director 



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