Those of you who have the money and plan to keep one boat forever, should buy it new. If you happen to be on a budget and skeptical about owning a boat, you should buy it used. Buying used is great for some, although it isn't always the most glamorous decision. The oceans and lakes are filled with boaters who are far wealthier than most. Many boaters go well beyond their means and finance their boats at extreme levels. What really counts with a used boat is being out there on the water.
Someone who is out there every weekend on his beat up boat is a great boater. A businessman who only has time to ride on his 60 foot yacht once or twice a year isn't considered a boater at all. If you look around the water, you'll se that the little boats are the ones that move, while the big boats are the ones that never move. Those that are too busy earning money and never have the time to go boating shouldn't really have a boat at all. New boats can lose half of their value in less than 2 years.
With a used boat, the previous owner has already fixed the problems that are associated with new boats. The previous owner has also already hassled with the dealer to get the warranty service taken care of. A used boat normally hasn't be used very much at all. A boat will sit a majority of the time, which is nothing like a used car. You can find many boats with less than a couple hundreds hours of engine time. For the sake of comparison, look at how many hours are on the engine of your car. A used boat will already have scratches and dings, so you won't feel half as bad when you add a few of your own. When you purchase your used boat, you should leave at least a grand to outfit the boat and make any necessary repairs. A used boat will normally come with dock lines, life jackets, spare props, a radio, safety equipment, and other nice additions. New boat owners will have to pay hundreds of dollars for these kinds of things.
The wild card is, of course, whether or not the previous boat owner did the proper maintenance of the boat. Prior to buying you should always get the boat surveyed to be sure that it's in reasonable condition. This way, you'll know your getting a great used boat.
What are you looking for?