Grooming Your Boat to Sell

With the backlog of boats on the market, it is essential that your boat stand out from the crowd if you want to sell it. Put yourself in the buyer’s position. If you were looking for a used boat to buy, you’d likely want one that is in good shape and that was well taken care of by the previous owner, right? So if you are about to sell your own boat, it makes sense to give it that same cared-for appearance that would appeal to you or any would-be buyer. First impressions of a clean, tidy, and well organized boat will expedite the sale.

I have a friend who recently bought a 24-foot SeaSwirl powerboat. He was comparing two identical boats, one local and one thousands of miles away in Florida. The local boat wasn’t very clean, and a little bit of mold and less than pristine condition had him buying the dealer’s boat in Florida that had been professionally detailed, even though it cost him a few grand more to transport the boat home after the sale.

Getting and keeping your boat in Bristol fashion will make it easier to sell.

Here are my 8 tips for selling your boat:

1. De-clutter, remove excess equipment and all personal effects.

2. Remove, wash, and store all canvas biminis and enclosures—keep boat open and minimalist

3. Repair any obvious mechanical or structural defects that a surveyor would find.

4. Oil or varnish any seriously distressed bright work

5. Clean, wax, and detail, inside and out, make it odor-free, even if you have to pay someone.

6. Organize, chart tables, lockers, and equipment, coil lines etc…

7. Provide a detailed equipment list.

8. Provide documented maintenance details, including engine hours and service records etc…

I know this all sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t seem to care as much about their boat once they decide to sell. Prospective owners are going to look in the bilge–you know you would if you were buying, so make it clean and dry or at least oil free. It may actually take more work to get your boat in sellable condition than you have previously invested. However, If you want top dollar and a quick sale, your boat must be shown to its best advantage.  Good luck.


  1. Nick Shafer says:

    Great Article!

    It definitely helped me sell my boat. I had an 2006 Nitro that was a little battered after some everyday fishing. I waxed the outside and inside multiple times, and after the third coat it looked brand new. Also, one thing this article doesnt mention is carpet. I had carpet that was a little faded, and I couldnt find any that was reasonably priced at basspro and cabelas… I went to and found some under $100 and laid it in a day. Sold my boat to the next person who looked at it, so I highly recommend new carpet.

    Thanks guys

  2. Holly says:

    I really enjoyed reading the tips on this article. We’re moving to a new home and won’t have as much space as we did for our boat so I’m looking to purchase a . It will be nice to use the tips to make our boat sell more quickly!