Buying a Boat in NSW – Check List & Considerations

So you’ve decided to buy a boat to sail and explore Sydney’s wonderful waterways…but you shouldn’t rush into this decision. Many people say that the best 2 boating days are the day they bought and the day they sold. It can be an impulsive decision but we want you to enjoy your experience so in this guide we talk about what you need know before buying a boat and those questions you should ask yourself to help you make the right decision.

Questions to ask before buying a boat

There are a few questions you need to ask yourself before purchasing

  1. Why do I want a boat?
  2. What is my budget?
  3. Should I buy a new or a used boat?
  4. Should I consider boat share or join a boating club instead of ownership?
  5. Can I afford the annual fees, maintenance, insurance, berthing or storage etc
  6. Where will I store or berth it?
  7. Will I use the boat enough for it to be a cost effective purchase?
  8. Will it fit my lifestyle?

If you decide to purchase a boat think about the following when speaking with the broker or owner

  1. Why is the boat being sold?
  2. How many owners has it had?
  3. How, and how often, has the boat been used?
  4. Is it still under warranty — and is it transferrable to a new owner?
  5. How has the boat been stored and maintained?
  6. Has the boat had any major repairs?
  7. Has the boat had any modifications made to it?
  8. Can you have a marine surveyor or engineer inspect the boat?
  9. Can you put it in the water for a trial?
  10. Leave a deposit to secure the sale and draft a detailed receipt including- 
  • Date
  • Seller and purchaser’s full name and address
  • Deposit amount
  • Final purchase amount
  • Location
  • Signatures
  • Agreed terms


Check out more detail on what is required  for a boat bought and registered in NSW in the link below below.

Deciding what type of boat you want

Before you buy, you’ll want to consider the upfront purchase costs. The first step is figuring out how you want to spend your time on the water and what type of boat you want to buy. You might want a fishing boat, or a bow rider for family fun. Perhaps a cabin cruiser that could house your family overnight for extended trips, or a specialty craft like a pontoon boat for family parties or a ski/wake boat for water sports.

How much are you willing to spend?

Let’s make no mistake – boats aren’t cheap to purchase! A worthwhile vessel can cost anywhere from 4-7 figures depending on the purpose and specs. Therefore, you need to ensure that you are serious about your purchase before committing to it.

It’s not just the initial payment to think about either. You will also need to factor in the maintenance costs required to keep your boat seaworthy. And don’t forget the costs to insure your boat, as well as any finance repayments. Read our guide on cost of boat ownership in Sydney.

The Discover Boating loan calculator above could be a useful tool for you.


When purchasing a boat consider that it has

  • A high initial financial outlay
  • An associated interest costs on finance
  • A 15% annual depreciation costs
  • Consider the associated opportunity cost – lost ROI if funds invested elsewhere

PLUS costs of

  • Insurance
  • Maintenance
  • Cleaning
  • Berthing
  • Servicing

PLUS time and hassle associated with repairs, maintenance, cleaning  and all pre and post cruise preparation, cleaning, shutdown, re fuelling, pump outs, water tanks, etc.

How often are you going to use it?

Given that boating tends to be a labour intensive and relatively expensive yet very enjoyable pass time it is worth considering how much time as well as money you have to invest. There are many marinas with boats berthed that rarely move. You want you to enjoy the boat and the many wonderful experiences it can provide as often as possible.

Maybe a short term “try before you buy” option would be preferable if you haven’t owned a boat before. Join a boat club or maybe consider shared ownership. Learn about in our guide on the difference between syndication, rental and club.


Transfer vessel registration

What paper work is required when buying a boat?

The last check worth doing is a PPSR (Personal Property Securities Register). This is a government website allowing you to find out if the boat has any financial interests registered (finance owning). The PPSR check is best done just before the sale, because if done earlier a new interest could have been registered. They can be done online for boats here, or by calling 1300 007 777.

Make sure you check the registration papers and actual serial numbers/HIN (Hull Identification Number- can usually be found near the transom) match – your receipt will be invalid if the details do not match the boat you have purchased. You will also need to ensure the registration is current.

Are you insuring the boat?

Before organising an inspection, you need to consider which insurance company you will be using and confirm their requirements. Depending on the insurer, some require an out of water Marine Survey if the boat is over 5-10 years old. If you have this information first, you can then get the required inspections done together and save time and money.

In addition, you’ll need at least liability coverage, and likely damage coverage—especially if it’s a newer vessel. Often lenders will require comprehensive coverage on a financed purchase. It’s smart money in the long run, in case of accident or theft—your boat is covered!

Check before buying a second-hand vessel

It is so important to know how the boat you are considering to purchase has been cared for.

A service and maintenance record is absolutely crucial when making such an expensive purchase. A regular and up to date servicing and maintenance record will indicate any rectification works or issues that have occurred in the past and will show you how well cared for the boat has been.

It’s important that the previous owners have had regular and professional services on their boat throughout its whole lifetime. Ideally, the boat will have been serviced annually by a certified marine technician or service centre.

Unlike cars, second hand boats don’t have odometers on them. Knowing how many hours engine has done will give you good leverage when determining the boat’s value.

Visually inspect the boat, or even better, get an inspection from a professional marine technician. In older second hand boats, rot, mould, and mildew can be a major problem, especially around the transom or deck coring. Cracks in the transom are an obvious sign of major structural failure. Keep an eye out for watermarks within the cabin which would indicate a leaking hull.

Make sure you know what is included in your purchase. Often we see customers purchasing a boat without checking what is included in the offer, misleading photos can give the impression that you are buying a fully equipped fishing boat but in reality, the offer was only for the hull and so on. Fishing and safety gear, for example, are the most common items not included in the purchase.

Things to consider after the boat is purchased

Check out the information on Discover Boatings website for helpful tips and hints.

Like a car, a boat purchase also carries yearly maintenance costs, and these can vary based on the type of boat, how often it’s used, whether it’s used in fresh or saltwater, and whether it begins its life with you as new or used.

A new boat will cost less to maintain than a used one, at least for the first few years. With a boat, you have all the same engine maintenance costs as a car, and cleaning, but add hull maintenance, storage, winterizing (when you don’t use the boat year-round), haul-out (if not keeping in the water year-round), and spring make-ready and launch.

Costs for these services can vary widely; some of the determining factors will be the boat and engine size, the local area, fresh or salt water, and the type of storage (inside a building or outside, covered, rack storage, etc.). Likewise, costs increase with boat and engine size. For example, cost to service and winterize a four-stroke outboard engine of 150 horsepower might be $250, plus cleaning and winterizing the boat may be another $250.

Also keep in mind that using the boat in freshwater will keep maintenance and cleaning costs down considerably. Saltwater, on the other hand, is definitely harsher on a boat and engine than freshwater.

Obtaining your boat licence

Each state determines the requirements for operating a powerboat, sailboat or personal watercraft (PWC) on the waters in its jurisdiction, and most require some sort of boating safety and education certificate, which may be called a boating license. In most cases the boat license course can be completed online, and is followed by a boat license test that is also completed online. The boating safety certificate courses are not as comprehensive as those for an automobile driver’s license; there is also now a requirement for on-water assessment in most states.

Follow these simple steps to get your boating license:

  1. Research the boater education requirements for your state.
  2. Complete an online, or in-person, boating safety and education course.
  3. Successfully pass the boating license test and on water assessment at the end of the course.
  4. Submit payment after course completion.
  5. Keep your boat license or completion certificate with you whenever you’re out on the water.

Boat Fuel

It is important to consider your options – there is petrol, diesel (the most cost effective), a combination of petrol/diesel but more recently the development and introduction of both electric and hydrogen powered vessels which may be the future.

Petrol engines are less expensive to purchase but more expensive to run. Diesel engines are more expensive but less expensive to run.

Boat Sharing or Clubs: Better Alternatives?

As mentioned above, it may be worthwhile to consider syndication or boat club options if you don’t think you can maximise time on board your own boat.

A boat club like Pacific Boating offers

  • Simple membership
  • No high initial financial outlay
  • No long term contracts or equity agreements
  • Set monthly fees
  • Ongoing additional cost of fuel only
  • Flexibility to access the fleet of boats and all waterways
  • Walk on walk off service means no cleaning, maintenance, berthing
  • 24hr support
  • Protected from possible damage caused by other members
  • No maintenance costs

Boat share or syndication operates a little differently but is also an option for you

This option comes with 

  • An initial financial outlay equating to your share
  • Associated interest costs on finance if needed
  • Depreciation
  • Who are you sharing with? Will other shareholders look after the boat?
  • Access is divided amongst owners of one boat at one location
  • Opt in and out dependant on selling your share so not quite as flexible as the club concept
  • A choice of boats that suit you best – Pacific 44 and Pacific 52

PLUS annual costs that include

  • Management fee
  • Insurance Premium
  • Maintenance costs (additional to monthly management fee)
  • Repairs (not covered by maintenance fee and servicing schedule)
  • Berthing, Servicing, Antifouling, Cleaning and Slipping charges

Enjoying Sydney’s beautiful waterways is a privilege and there are so many options available to you that might just suit your lifestyle perfectly, so contact us today to learn more or sign up today. Happy Boating!



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Why Buy a Boat? Enjoy Ours…

Pacific Boating offers an alternative way to enjoy a boating lifestyle without having to purchase your own boat or enter into a boat share contract. It’s simple, flexible and easy to join.
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  • Maintenance free
  • Pittwater & Sydney Harbour access
  • A fleet of 18 luxury sports cruisers
  • Full training provided

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