WOODS ‘N’ WATER: On boat purchases, take these precautions

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: On boat purchases, take these precautions


“Hey, buddy, ya’ wanna buy a boat cheap? It was owned by some little old lady and she kept it at the dock all summer and she wants to get rid of it — CHEAP!”

If that sounds too good to be true, it more than likely is. BoatUS says that there are telltale signs that the used boat you might want to buy could be a storm-damaged lemon.

While many of the more than 63,000 boats damaged in the 2017 hurricanes will be repaired and enjoy more years on the water, some used boat buyers in 2018 could end up with storm damaged lemons. The Boat Owners Association of the United States, the nation’s largest boat advocacy, services and safety group for recreational boaters, cautions used boat buyers that some boats affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are beginning to hit the market, and that getting a prepurchase survey (called a Condition and Value Survey) is very important.

“It’s not that you don’t want to buy a boat that has been repaired, but you should have full knowledge of the repairs and know they were done correctly. It’s a transparency issue that will help you negotiate for a fair price,” said BoatUS Consumer Affairs Director Charles Fort.

BoatUS offers eight tips to help you spot a boat that might have been badly damaged in a storm.

First, trace the history of the craft. When a car is totaled, the title is branded as salvaged or rebuilt, and buyers should know up front that there was major damage at some point in the car’s history.

Only a few states brand salvaged boats (Florida and Texas do not) and some states don’t require titles for boats. Anyone wishing to obscure a boat’s history need only to cross state lines to avoid detection, which can be a tipoff.

Also, look for recent gaps in the boat’s ownership, which may mean that it was at an auction or in a repair yard for a long time.

Secondly, look for recent hull repairs, especially on older boats. Matching a gelcoat is very difficult. Mismatched colors around a repair area are often a dead giveaway and may signal nothing more than a filler under the gelcoat rather than a proper fiberglass repair.

Look for new repairs or sealant at the hull to deck joint. Boats that bang against a dock during a storm often suffer some damage there.

Look for evidence of sinking. Check for consistent corrosion on interior hardware, such as rust on all hinges and drawer pulls. You might be able to spot an interior waterline inside a locker or an area hidden behind an interior structure.

Corrosion on electrical items such as lamps, connections and behind breaker panels might mean the boat sank recently. Does the boat have all new electronics? Why?

Look for evidence of major interior repairs. Fresh paint or gelcoat work on the inside of the hull and engine room is usually obvious. All new cushions and curtains may be a tipoff too.

Look for fresh paint on the engine. It may be covering exterior rust as well as interior damage.

Last, but by no means least, ask the seller. In some states, a seller isn’t required to disclose if a boat was badly damaged unless you ask. If the seller hems and haws, keep looking.

Shed hunting

No, not the shed in your yard for storing the lawn mower and snow blower, but the antlers shed yearly by animals like deer, elk and moose. I have never been a shed hunter, but I know of a couple of guys who are. Some of the sheds they have found would astound any hunter.

Here in Connecticut, shed hunting usually takes place in early spring or the last part of winter if the snow is disappearing too fast.

The males of the species — deer for sure — drop their horns sometime in December or later. I have seen bucks still hanging onto their antlers in the middle of January and I have seen bucks with dropped antlers in November.

In fact, I shot one with a doe permit while hunting in Maine with our son George. I was sitting on a hillside one morning and I heard a noise in back of me. I slowly turned around and was surprised to see a “doe” rubbing its head against a sapling like a buck does when it is marking its territory during the rut.

“Cripes, that’s one big doe,” I thought, and since I had a doe permit, I used it. Imagine by surprise when I turned the deer over to field dress it and saw what it was equipped with.

I checked the top of its head for evidence of antlers and they had already dropped off. When George and I carried the critter out to my truck, we passed a couple of local hunters and they too were amazed the buck had already dropped its antlers. The buck tipped the scales at 163 pounds.

I have only found one antler in all of my time spent in the woods. Other hunters I know sit down and find them right where they are sitting, yet I have never been so blessed.

The one antler I did find in the wild had six points on it, but even though the antler was symmetrical it was rather small. I found it in March on land that we used to own in New York and it still had blood on it, so I knew it was a fresh drop. If any of you readers know a local hunter by the name of Paul Inserra, ask him about that six-point antler I found.

I also have a set (left & right) dropped in the yard of a lady who lives above Platt High School. She called me one day to tell me she had found them and would I like them? Naturally, I said yes. I had them mounted on a plaque and they now hang on the wall in my man cave at home.

I would NEVER sell these antlers, but there is big money to be made in selling them. Go to any Pet Store and check out the price on pieces of antlers sold as chew toys.

The state of Nevada is considering a ban on shed hunting from January 1 to April 14, a time when deer and elk foraging activity is critical. It appears the shed hunting has become a nationwide activity over the last 10years. The activity attracts everyone from hobbyists to commercial collectors hoping to discover a complete pair of elk antlers that can sell for about $14 a pound.

Antlers that score high in Boone & Crockett (firearms) and Pope & Young (archery) are also high in demand and can sell for big bucks. It has also been claimed that ground up antlers are supposed to enhance a man’s sex drive.

Oh well, different strokes for different folks. See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops who put their lives on the line so that some millionaire jocks can take a knee during the playing of our National Anthem.


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