Buying your own boat is one of the best ways to take advantage of  the natural splendor of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. Whether you’re thinking of buying a boat for the first time or you’re considering a replacement for your current boat, the buying experience can be daunting. But with a little careful planning, you can save money while you maximize your time out on the water.


At Canvasworks in Cokato, we work with Minnesota boat owners every day creating customized and  durable boat covers to protect their boats. In this post, we’re sharing important tips to help you make an informed decision when buying a used boat. After you’ve found the boat of your dreams, give us a call to learn more about custom boat covers and how to best protect your boat’s interior..

Checking the Hull

The hull is as important to a boat as a foundation is to a home. That’s why you should always begin by checking the hull of a used boat. Look and feel for osmotic blisters, small bumps that can be felt or seen on the surface of your boat. These blisters are moisture pockets often found trapped between the fiberglass and gel coating. While a few small blisters are common in older used boats, especially on freshwater, don’t purchase a boat that has larger blisters or numerous blisters. This can lead to costly and time consuming repairs down the line.


Next, look for cracks in the boat’s coating both above and below the waterline. Like osmosis blisters, a few small cracks are not a cause for concern. But if the boat has significant cracking in the hull or transom, this can lead to delamination. You should also steer clear of boats that have signs of a previous impact.


Signs of structural damage resulting from an impact are:


●        Radiating cracks

●        Multiple cracks in one area

●        Wavy gel coating that could indicate a past shoddy repair

Other Signs to Look Out For

After checking the hull, you should inspect the rest of the boat thoroughly before taking it for a ride. Avoid these red flags when making your final decision:


●        Squishy flooring, a sure sign you’re going to be investing in an expensive floor replacement at minimum.

●        Loose or worn steering, this can be one of the most expensive systems to fix on a boat.

●        Water inside the boat

●        Battery corrosion can be a sign of electrical issues. Make sure you check the wiring for loose ends, taped together wires, or chewed/corroded wiring.

●        Foul-smelling fuel or other fluids.

●        Damaged seams and upholstery or upholstery that is too clean. The first means you’re going to be investing an expensive reupholster project sooner rather than later. The second may be a sign of harsh cleansers being used on the vinyl to clean off mold. This causes the upholstery to age faster, resulting in an expensive reupholster project on the horizon.

●        Canvases that are in poor condition. If the mooring or travel cover is in poor condition it can mean that the interior of the boat has not been properly protected. At minimum you will need to repair the canvas, but it may need to be replaced. Bimini tops, fisherman tops, or enclosures that aren’t in good shape will need to be repaired or replaced before use.


After you’ve finished looking the boat over for any obvious damage or mechanical issues, it’s time for the most important part of the buying process. The test drive! Get the boat out on the water and see how it drives. Make sure you listen carefully to the engine, any engine knocks are a definite red flag.


If this whole process seems a bit overwhelming you can hire an accredited marine surveyor and let them do the hard work. You can search for surveyors in your area on the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors website.


At the end of the day, it’s also important to choose a boat that feels right and makes you happy. Once you’ve decided on a boat, be sure to protect it with a professional custom boat cover. At Canvasworks in Cokato, MN,  we manufacture custom boat covers for all types of new and used boats to keep your boat looking its best for many years to come. We can also create custom Bimini covers , winter storage covers as well as replace damaged boat upholstery.


To check out our boat covers, stop by our online gallery. Then give us a call at 320-559-0165 or contact us online to learn more. We can’t wait to hear from you!