Advice on Downsizing Your Boat

There are a couple of situations that I commonly see when people are downgrading their boat. They are either downsizing from a launch because they can’t justify the costs for the amount the boat gets used.

Costs such as:

  • Mooring fees
  • Marina fees
  • Fuel Costs
  • Insurance costs
  • Maintenance costs

Or they are going from a large trailer boat down to something smaller because the boat is:

  • Too hard to handle
  • Doesn’t get used much
  • Is tying up too much money
  • Or they have worked out you don’t need to travel for miles to catch fish and have fun so the big boat is overkill

So, you have decided to downgrade for whatever reason, looked around and found the type of boat you want and it’s time for a deal. This brings me to the only specific downgrading information I can think of …

Be a Cash Buyer

No dealer wants to give a boat and cash to a customer for a second hand boat; it’s not good for cash flow and they will only do it if there is A LOT in it for them somewhere, either in the price they are stinging for the boat or the amount they are offering for the trade. This probably isn’t that relevant to downsizing from a launch as not many places will trade them for trailer boats. There are of course times when it might work out, like if the trade is a high demand boat.

You will get a much better deal if you sell the boat yourself and then buy with cash. I know it’s easier to trade; you don’t have to deal with all the tyre kickers, advertising, etc.

As an example:

Let’s say your boat’s current market value is $100,000
The boat you want to trade on is $40,000 RRP

Fair trade for a dealer would be around 20% less than market value to account for the money it will tie up (and don’t forget that a dealer has a bit more comeback on them for after-sales problems than a private sale does).

So, $80,000 trade offer.

Then with the new boat the dealer will usually find a way to bump the price up a bit, say another $2000 for a deal that will tie up extra cash. Or a 10% discount for a cash buyer on a stock boat depending on season is realistic.

Add that up and what do we have:

Cash buyer

$100,000 cash in hand for boat sale,      pays $36,000            has $64,000 left over.


$80,000 value of trade,                          pays $42,000           has $38,000 left over.

Can you be bothered selling it now? And let’s face it Trade Me is pretty easy to use.


People I talk to often get caught up in what APPEARS to be the best value for money but often don’t look much further than that. Things to think about budget-wise are:

The Initial Purchase Price

If a boat is cheaper than the competition, it is at the expense of something else. For example if the boat has similar features then it might be the trailer that is inferior or something behind the scenes that no one asks about. Electrical wiring loom, steering components, navigation lights, the bilge pump and even the aluminium itself can be imported to save money and while its grade can still qualify as “Marine Grade” its quality can be a big step down. There are of course ways to cut cost without cutting quality. Simpler designs can cut labour down, a dealer trying to move a boat that he’s had for a while may cut their margin, or you may get a better deal direct from the factory if this is an option.

Resale Value

If you are downsizing then maybe resale isn’t as important but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth considering. I’ve lost count of the number of people that I speak to that had brought their last ever boat but were back looking again, usually because they got it wrong the last time. In that circumstance you would hope they had given resale a thought. A look through magazines or online, to see how much, and how many, of the models or brands you are looking at are selling second hand for can help make your decision. If there are a heap of them for sale second hand, consider why. Or, if you can find hardly any, or they move quickly, chances are you will get closer to your asking price.



Be sure you know what is covered under warranty and for how long.  ASK!  A 1-2-3-5+ year warranty WILL NOT COVER EVERYTHING (this goes for hull, trailer and motor and the warranty may be conditional). It may seem strange to put this under the price heading but there has to be some allowance made for this across the products sold and sometimes cheaper can mean reduced warranty. You will always have some cover under the Consumer Guarantees Act and while you might think you are clever screwing the price down on the retailer at the time of purchase, they will remember it and can still make it difficult to claim while still staying inside the terms of trade.

 Well that’s all the unbiased advice I can give to someone upgrading their boat. Now for some slightly more biased advice.

Here at Marco Boats

At Marco Boats we do our best to give you the boat you want. We have a range of models so you can find something to fit your requirements. We mostly build only to order so don’t have stock to try to force on you. Furthermore, we don’t have dedicated salespeople to bug you. Everyone you talk to welds or grinds or fits out which means we all know exactly what goes into our boats and a fair bit about them as well. We do of course have some dealers around, and their circumstances may be a little different to ours, but the ones we do have are there because they give our customers the attention and after-sales service we require and you expect. As well as that, you have our commitment to making sure our customers are as happy as possible.

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