Boats are commonly depreciating assets, but there are many measures you can take to not only slow that depreciation but in some cases possibly even reverse it.
You’re getting ready to list your boat in the BDOutdoors Fishing Boats Classifieds, but you’re depressed at how much it seems to have depreciated over the years? The last time I sold a boat, I got $200 more than what I had paid for it – six years after purchasing it new. Impossible, you say? Boats devalue quicker than trailer homes parked in Tornado Alley? Maybe that’s the norm, but it doesn’t always have to be that way. Just remember that when it comes to boats and motors, maintenance and money are directly connected. Here’s the really cool part: if you use these five tricks to keep your investment in the black, you’ll also be in for season after season of better boating.
#1 Waxing for Wealth – Keeping your boat shiny and clean is imperative because the wow-factor has the greatest impact on a boat’s value. It’s a bit sad, but it’s true: a boat that runs great but looks lousy is going to sell for less money than one that looks great, and at least runs. This is particularly true when it comes to your outboards. Nothing screams “buy me” like shining, pristine cowls, while dull and chipped cowls are a total turn-off. How will you make sure that the boat keeps looking like it did the day you bought it? Read Make Your Boat Shine Like a Perfect 10, to learn the drill.
#2 Record Behavior – You keep track of your business expenditures, right? You have flawless records when it comes to your own medical history, don’t you? And of course, you keep a written log of all cash payments you receive so you can give the IRS its due at the end of the year… maybe. But you get the picture. Keeping track of repair receipts, maintenance logs, and even fuel bills will be invaluable when you go to sell your boat. Maintenance logs and repair receipts serve as proof to the buyer that you’ve properly maintained your boat, but just as important, they prove that you’re an organized owner who has his finger on the pulse of that fishing machine. Added Bonus: keeping track of fuel bills and operation hours will help raise red flags early on before small problems become big ones. If you suddenly notice a spike in your fuel consumption, for example, it serves as a warning that something’s wrong. Maybe you’re suffering from excessive bottom growth, perhaps some foam coring has absorbed water and increased your boat’s displacement, or maybe you just need a tune-up. Whatever. You probably wouldn’t notice or be able to confirm the change if you didn’t have records for a baseline.
#3 Full Metal Jacket – Aluminum and stainless-steel rails and pipework are items that often get the short end of the maintenance stick. Unfortunately, this results in pitting and corrosion streaks. Do you want to get absolute top dollar when you sell your boat? Then that metal must remain bright and shiny. Each and every time you run the boat in saltwater – no exceptions – after thoroughly washing it off, give the metal a wipe-down with a cloth soaked in corrosion protector. Boeshield T9 and CorrosionX are a couple of especially good brands, but there are many out there.
#4 Seeing Clearly – Nothing makes a beautiful boat look drab and old like yellowed or crazed clear plastic windshields and flexible curtains. Unfortunately, these items do have a limited lifespan. Work as best you can to keep them looking good and in tip-top shape (starting by checking out Cleaning Isinglass on a Boat), but also recognize that replacing the clear canvass and/or a plastic windshield may allow you to negotiate a better price when you go to sell the boat. In fact, the bottom-line increase may be higher than what you have invested in those clear plastics.
#5 Go For a Spin – When’s the last time you tried swapping out your prop(s)? Most people assume that the propeller that came on the boat is the best for the job, but that’s often far from true. Even if the boat was originally sold with proper props, changes made over time (such as adding weighty accessories, painting the bottom, etc.) may have affected the ideal or not-so-ideal nature of the choice. There are many formulas and even apps (Prop Finder is a good one) you can use when trying to find the perfect prop, but these only provide a starting point. There are just too many variables for any mathematical formula to do the choosing for you. So before you put your boat on the block try swapping out a few props of different pitch, diameter, rake, and/or blades. Most reputable prop manufacturers will allow you to exchange out one model for another until you figure out which is ideal, so the cash investment isn’t too massive. Now let’s say your boat has always cruised at 29 mph and topped out at 37. You think it’ll make a difference when you take that potential buyer for a ride, and the boat cruises at 32 and tops out at 41? You bet it will.
Okay, time to fess up: one of the reasons I did so well selling my last boat was that I had bought it during the height of the recession, and sold it during the period of skyrocketing post-recession boat prices. In other words, to some degree I got lucky, and there will always be factors that are beyond your control when you go to sell a boat. Still, you’ll always want to get top dollar, right? But if you manage to pull off a profit, don’t forget to tell the taxman… maybe.