What type of boat?
- First things first, you’ll need to decide what type of boat you want to buy. Ask yourself some questions to help with this. What activity are you going to be using the boat for? How big does it need to be, how many people will need to be onboard? How are you going to transport it, and where are you going to store it? Think about where you’re going to use it the most – shallow rivers or the ocean? Questions like these should help you narrow on what type of boat you want to buy.
Go boat shopping
It’s important to look at the costs of boat ownership and set yourself a budget. Consider the additional costs such as registration, insurance, and potential storage fees. Do you need your boat licence? What kind of extra accessories are you interested?
When looking for your boat, online could be a good place to start, with research and reviews. Are you going to be buying a new or used boat? You can find a private seller online, or you could buy a new or used boat from a dealership. Either way, it’s important to inspect the boat before you buy it. Check things like the engine, propeller, steering and electrics. If you can, bring an experience boater with you or you may even want to engage an experienced mechanic or surveyor.
If it’s ticked all the boxes, take the boat for a sea trial – the boat version of a test drive. Just like a car, this will give you a good feel for the boat and how it performs on the water. If it’s a used boat, this can help you identify any faults or issues. Again, bring along an experienced boater to help you if you can.
Understand the hidden costs
In addition to buying the boat itself, a trailer and things like rego and insurance, there are a few other costs to think about like on-board gear (life jackets, Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), oars, ropes/mooring gear, GPS, flares), storage (for a small boat you might be able to find some space to store it at your home or maybe look at permanent mooring costs), and maintenance (keep strictly to the boat’s maintenance schedule).
Documentation and registration
It is important to see title documentation for the vessel, including the appropriate state-based registration certificate and receipt of purchase, the documents that transfer legal title in a boat. Ideally these should show a complete paper trail back to the original builder’s certificate. In reality, older boats (particularly those more than 20-30 years old) may not have a full set of documentation. An owner of an older boat can arrange a Hull Identification Number (HIN) via their state registry office to show they bought the boat, as well as other documentation such as receipts for moorings, boatyards and so on that substantiate their involvement with the vessel over a period of time.
Check for encumbrances – this is to safeguard purchasers of boats from unnecessary financial loss. If you buy a boat without knowing it’s financially encumbered (has money owing on it) you could have it legally repossessed and lose your investment.
Vessel registration in Australia is done on a state-by-state basis by the relevant registry office:
Getting a boat loan
- You can apply for a boat loan online, by calling 13 11 82 or by visiting your nearest branch.