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Boat Evaluation Checklist

Evaluating a boat's condition is essential before purchase. New boaters and boat buyers can use this checklist to make a preliminary evaluation.

Marina with boats

Evaluating a boat's condition before purchase makes it easier for the prospective owner to say "good buy" or "good bye" to a deal. Likewise, an objective eye for problems that need to be corrected makes it easier to prepare a boat for sale.

Use the checklist below to make a preliminary evaluation:

  • Make copies for each boat you look at
  • Rate each area using a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 = poor and 5 = excellent
    • You may want to keep shopping if your evaluation has more than 10 scores of 2 or under.
  • Take a good hard look at what shape the boat is in:
    • Is it clean?
    • Are there signs of rust, hull blisters, peeling paint or varnish, previous repairs, cracks or corrosion?
    • Don't forget to check operating gear like winches, steering systems, running and standing rigging on sailboats, lights, head and galley equipment, electronics and instrumentation.
    • Start up the engine and take a sea trial.
    • Check for compliance with U.S. Coast Guard safety equipment requirements 

This checklist is NOT a substitute for inspections by a competent marine surveyor and a marine engine mechanic. 

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BoatUS Editors

Contributor, BoatUS Magazine

Award-winning BoatUS Magazine is the official publication of Boat Owners Association of The United States. The magazine provides boating skills, DIY maintenance, safety, news and more from top experts.