Taking a boat for test drive can be fun or it can be nerve-wracking. But what it needs to be is informative.
If you don’t know how to test a boat you’re planning to buy, take along an adviser, a friend or relative who knows about boats.
But don’t leave the job entirely to them. You do need to know whether you can find a comfortable seating position, for instance or whether it has the right amount of storage spaces. You’re buying this boat for yourself, not your expert mate.
New or used?
New boats don’t usually break down during a test drive, so what you’re assessing is more about whether the boat's design will suit your personal needs.
If the boat is used, you do need to pay more attention to the traditional tell tales of neglectful boat ownership. Take a peek at the service schedule book – has it been properly and punctually maintained?
It’s a good idea to have the boat inspected by a professional mechanic before you even begin to talk about price. By checking this early, it will save you money in the long term if you do proceed with the purchase.
Handing over your licence
Leave the seller something of value before taking his or her boat for a test drive. That could be your licence or the keys to your current car.
Make sure also that the seller has your contact details (mobile phone number is best) and that you have his or hers. And – this is important – check whether you will be covered by the boat's insurance policy while you’re driving it.
How long and where to test?
Allow yourself half an hour to get to know the vehicle. Spend five minutes setting up the driving position to suit yourself. Ask yourself after 15 minutes behind the wheel, does it still feel comfortable? If you re-adjust the position and find you’re uncomfortable again by the time you arrive back at your starting point, this probably isn’t the boat for you.
What about the driving?
Check that all the comfort and convenience features are simple to use and are in easy reach. Try the audio system functions.
- Can you pair your phone using Bluetooth?
- On the sea, does the boat ride nicely?
- Is it as quiet as you would like?
- How does it load on to the trailer?
- Do you feel confident steering the boat?
- What about performance?
- Does it go well enough?
- Does it have all the accessories you need?
If the answer to all these is ‘yes’, you’re on to a winner.