Fix Or Flip?

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Okay, you’ve had your boat for a number of years and it was a pre-owned boat when you bought it. The repairs are getting more frequent as age and the elements take their toll on the boat. Are there steps you can take to slow the ageing process of your boat or are you putting good money after bad?

Let’s start by checking if the engines are spluttering and coughing thick clouds of acrid smoke and leaving an oily sheen wherever you go. Are the electronics and wiring on the boat one step away from a fire hazard? Is your local naval museum eyeing your relic out with certain vigour? Does your delaminated deck play you a wonderful tune every time you set foot on it? Does the word “outdated” crop up frequently in your boating conversation? Is your galley more suited to a dark alley?

Fret not, though boat repairs can put a sizeable dent in your bank balance if the spending is left unchecked, with a bit of frugality, and careful shopping around, you can get your boat sparkling without the major cost attached to a new boat purchase.

Yamaha outboard engine motor barnacle

Should you fix the boat or sell it? Well, do you like the boat enough to lay out major cash for a refurbish? Will the cost of the refurbish versus purchasing a new boat give you as much pleasure (and financial freedom or lack of it) as the current boat? If the cost of repairs will not break the bank and you love your boat, then repair by all means. Alternatively, if the boat needs major upgrades and is in poor structural shape, it might be time to flip it for something new.
If you find that the boat no longer suits your needs, which is often the case when the kids grow up and the wife runs off with a Scandinavian yoga instructor called Klausk. You might want to downsize, or trade in your powerboat for a charter fishing boat. You could even set your sights on a houseboat to cruise your life away.

The chances of your financing your new or pre-owned boat is very good. This will allow you to pay off the boat, at a reduced monthly installment (a payment often in line with your monthly repairs) and have the benefit of a newer or brandnew boat.

If you’ve decided to go and repair your boat, then you need to carefully list these repairs and work out the associated costs. Once you’ve tallied up the combined costs, add another 30% to that value for good measure as there are always, yes always, added unforeseen repairs. Structural boat issues should be at the top of your list as these are the most important for the integrity of the boat and safety of passengers.

Before you begin tearing your boat apart and reducing it to its component parts, get a surveyor in to assess what needs to be repaired and the associated costs related to those repairs. If you have to sell your house, your dog and your accumulation of gold bars hidden strategically in a tin box under the lavender bush pot plant next to the tool shed, you might need to reconsider your desire to refurbish the boat. Get a qualified marine mechanic to take oil samples, test compression in the cylinders of the motors, check fuel lines, motor mounts, the exhaust system and report on the general status of the motors. If the motors are close to breathing their last breaths, it will be detailed in the report which you can then add to the other costs on your master repair list. Consequently, if your boat is in good condition with a solid hull and requires only a few cosmetic repairs which can be done during the week by the boat yard, and of course you still love your boat, then the repair should go ahead.

boat interior

If you decide that you want to sell your boat, ensure that it is clean and neat. Remove all clutter and polish all the shiny bits on the boat. Create an environment that is aesthetically pleasing to the buyer’s eye. You might need to be flexible on your pricing once the prospective buyer receives the surveyor’s report, but that normal for the sales process. It’s going to have to be give and take for the sale to reach its conclusion. Be sensible about the repairs by telling prospective buyers about the repairs. The last thing you want is a scourge of solicitors handing you letters of demand to appear in court for “undisclosed boat repairs”.

Whether you decide to fix or flip your boat, the bottom line is that you will still have a boat and that’s all that counts really. But, be cognisant of our suggestions above and you will surely end up with a better bank balance … and a better boat if you’re lucky.


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