Navigating the Secondhand Boat Market: A Mariner Insurance Guide

January 2024

Remember the story of a former New York property developer who forged documents to sell an indebted yacht that was subsequently repossessed?

With over 20 years in the boat insurance business, Aaron Mortimer of Mariner Insurance has heard of many nightmarish scenarios stretching from costly mechanical failures, right through to gutting repossessions like the one above.

In a recent video, Aaron shares several tips tailored specifically for Kiwi secondhand boat buyers to help them buy with confidence.

Let's dive into his recommendations to help make your boat-buying journey a breeze. 

Avoiding the Too-Good-To-Be-True deals 

Aaron begins with a cautionary note:  

"If you found the boat and it's a deal that's too good to be true, it may be a little bit dodgy."  

He highlights the importance of assessing the seller's credibility. Those after quick sales, those with reluctance to meet at their home, or those unwilling to provide genuine ID – these are all red flags, and should be treated with extra caution. 

Watch Out for Stolen Goods 

Boats are hot commodities for thieves, but it is not just boats! Aaron recalls a spate of incidents where crooks chained boats to trees and drove off with the trailers stolen from right underneath them. To avoid falling into such traps, he suggests

"A good way to check if a boat trailer may be stolen is to check CarJam or MotorWeb online“  

The Hidden Financial Pitfalls 

Owning a boat with outstanding debts can lead to some seriously unpleasant surprises. In a recent case reported widely in NZ – including on NewstalkZB, a woman's yacht was seized due to a previous owner's outstanding debt. Unfortunately, after purchasing the yacht for $400,000, it was repossessed. She subsequently had to repurchase the boat, paying a further $202,000 after its seizure. She also incurred additional costs to bring the yacht up to international sailing standards.  

This case illustrates the risks involved in purchasing second-hand boats without thorough checks, especially regarding any outstanding debts or encumbrances on the vessel. 

Aaron advises checking outstanding finances using the Personal Property Securities Register. 

 Ensuring Boat Quality 

A well-maintained, modern engine is very reliable. However, Aaron warns against deferred maintenance, which can turn your dream boat into a costly project. He recommends professional inspections and discussing service records with the seller. 

Sea trials are also crucial, and Aaron advises bringing an engineer with you if you're not mechanically inclined. Networking online with other owners of similar boats can also provide valuable insights into the pros and cons of that particular model. 

The Significance of Sale and Purchase Agreements 

Aaron strongly recommends using sale and purchase agreements. "It's really good to have a formal agreement setting out what both parties wanted and were to do," he emphasizes. Mariner Insurance provides a free sample boat Sale and Purchase Agreement that you can use as-is, or as a basis for your own version. 

Navigating the secondhand boat market need not be a trauma

In Conclusion, with good background research, cautious dealings, and professional advice, buying a boat in NZ should leave you with a valuable asset that will stand the test of time, providing potentially years of enjoyment on the water for you and your family.

Take care, get good advice and you are sure to find the right boat for you out there.

And remember, once you do find your ideal boat, we are here to help you look after it with the right level of boat insurance to keep yours ship shape.  

Happy boating! 🛥️