Boaters are typically conscientious people, usually taking time to think before acting. It's good to take your time and really see which boat is best for you.
Most people will consider items such as what will be the intended use; cruising, fishing, maybe both, how many people will normally be on the boat, etc. Here are some ways that may help you become a good "investigator". It's far better to learn in advance.
Ask for every record available and review each closely to see what has, and has not been maintained.
Ask if there is a vessel log. Experienced mariners understand the importance of maintaining a log. Reviewing the log book will give you a much better idea of distances and time traveled, helping you gain realistic cruising speeds.
Check to see that the hour meter is working. Inaccurate or non-functioning hour meters can change the entire prospective of maintenance records and possible overall mechanical condition.
Copy Of Previous Survey/s
Most vessels over about 24' will have been surveyed. Older vessels can have been surveyed several times, or more. Today, many insurance companies require a Marine Survey every several years. Lenders now generally require that a vessel undergo a out-of-water survey prior to finalizing financing. Ask to see any copies, preferably the most recent. Compare each closely, comparing again, hour meter readings. Also look closely under the general comments, findings and recommendations, and other related comments made by the attending Surveyor. Reviewing all previous surveys is invaluable when looking at a used boat, especially boats over 10 years old.
A very costly part of every vessel, including even small runabouts or day sail boats. Unless you are buying a boat with virtually no value being applied to the engine and drive components it is highly recommended to have a mechanical survey. Try to locate a marine facility that is factory authorized for whatever brand of engine you have. They are normally well informed and can provide you with very valuable information.
Where will she be moored, or stored?
If you ever sell the boat, is the moorage transferable? Many marinas now require a boat leave its slip if sold. Some marinas allow the moorage to be transferred to the new owner. Although the slip is leased, it is not uncommon to realize a intrinsic value, especially when discussing covered slips and boathouses.
Where has she been moored or stored?
Covered or open? In water or dry. For how long?