Q: Is the boat NMMA-certified?
A: Boats have to be built to Coast Guard requirements, but sometimes those get missed. The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) has more stringent standards, and before the manufacturer can slap the NMMA sticker on the boat, an inspector has monitored the processes thoroughly to make sure the builder complies. The builder can’t put the sticker on until he can verify it’s built to those standards.
Q: Has it been subject to a recall?
A: And more importantly, has it met the recall? “You don’t want to buy a boat and the dealer says, ‘Oh, by the way, we’ve got a few things to fix. It won’t cost you anything, but we’ve got to fix it,’” Willard says. This could also hurt the resale value down the road. Check this U.S. Coast Guard new-boat recall website: uscgboating.org/recalls/default.aspx.
Q: What’s protecting the upholstery?
A: Upholstery seems to be the first thing to go. Someone sits on it with a wet bikini, and it stains. “A lot of it will have a red color that will leach out of it,” Ellis says. So you need to ask whether the upholstery comes with some form of protection, some type of stain guard. Also, microorganisms just love urethane foam cells, breeding in them and going on to lead rich, full lives. You want a foam containing antimicrobial agents.
Q: What kind of gelcoat are we looking at?
A: It’s shiny on the lot, but it’s starting to fade while you’re looking at it. The solution? “ISO-NPG is kind of the buzzword of high-grade gelcoat,” Codega says. It’s better than the average gelcoat when it comes to color and gloss retention, and is especially important when the boat has long, dark colors that fade and change from UV absorption. Restoring any dark color is very tough. Keep that in mind.
Q: What comes with the boat?
A: You write the check. Then the dealer says, “Where’s your trailer?” Be detailed before you ever get to this point.
“Don’t be afraid to ask, ‘What do I get with this?’” says Sidney Lanier of Marine Concepts. “Ask if it comes with a trailer.”
“And ask for a spare prop,” Naroth pipes in, “And a boat cover.” Don’t forget the boat cover. Maybe a tube too. Hey, it doesn’t hurt to ask.