Where Old Boats Go to Die

Note: For your safety Boat Trader does not publish comments that contain personal phone numbers and email addresses. If you have an old boat you’d like to donate to someone, or you’re looking for a free boat, we’d suggest using a social media site like Boat Trader’s Facebook page to post your message (without email address or phone number). Then follow up with interested parties using direct messaging. Also refer to commercial operators like boatangel.com or charityboats.org.


When I was younger, one of my hobbies was going to junkyards, and if you saw the heaps I drove in those days, you’d understand why.

Junkyards are just part of a car’s life cycle. Someone buys a new model off the lot. It goes through a series of owners until it gets crashed or just plain wears out. Then it goes to a salvage yard, where it gets stripped, crushed, melted, and recycled. And the process begins anew.

This tired old boat and its tired old trailer will be stripped for parts and pieced out, but the hull is likely to end of in a landfill.

This tired old boat and its tired old trailer will be stripped for parts and pieced out, but the hull is likely to end up in a landfill. Photo courtesy of http://www.salvage-cars-for-sale.info

A you-pull-it salvage yard seems like a good idea for boats, but I’ve never driven past or even heard of a boat junkyard. I’ve seen a couple of storage yards that looked the part, but never a bona fide boat junkyard.

It’s not so easy to figure out How to Get Rid of An Old Boat. You can trying giving it to a charity like Helping Hands for America or BoatAngel.com — or any charity or vocational school that will take it. But what if you’re stuck with it? What actually happens to old boats when nobody wants them?

To find an answer, I did an Internet search by typing in “boat junkyard.” One listing was Horne’s Marine Salvage in St. Petersburg, Fla., so I picked up the phone and I called them. Here’s what I learned.

There are machines in Europe for grinding up used FRP for use as filler in paints and road materials. As you might imagine, the machines are hugely expensive — in the millions — and somewhat scarce.

In the United States, as it turns out, a lot of old boats wind up in landfills all over the country, and the registration goes back to the state.

Some marine salvage operations will buy interesting boats. More often, they salvage the engines and drives and put the boats out in the yard, then haul them to the dump because they run out of room.

A Google search also turned up Yachtsofstuff.com, but the site was more of a virtual salvage yard. It did offer logged-in members the ability to list used parts available for purchase and exchange.

So I tried new keywords: “used boat parts.” Bingo. Up pops Shipwreck Marine in Rancho Cordova, Calif., whose website is called shipwreckusedparts.com, and judging from the site, this is  a bona fide boat junkyard. Oh, and if you ever need a used trailer, you can find one here.

But when I called to find out where their old boats go after they’re stripped, I learned it’s actually one of the biggest costs in this industry. The salvage yards actually have to pay to get rid of them. Essentially they chop them into pieces and pay $5 top $10 per linear foot have them hauled off. They fill up 40-yard dumpsters and haul them to the landfill.

So, now we know the great circle of life for a boat is … a semicircle.


  1. Bill says:

    At least wooden boats had the decency to rot. We need to develop a fiberglass eating worm. I live in Florida and junk boats are a huge problem.

    • JR says:

      You would think fiberglass boats could be ground up and used as a raw material of some sort.

    • Marty says:

      Need Help::

      Have a 1997 Chris Craft Express Cruiser Corwne 32′. Lost the Port hatch awhile back it blew off in a storm. Haven’t had any luck finding one or getting someone to make on it is make out of that milky acrylic and is Oval with a bend in it. Anyone know of a salvage yard that might have this.


  2. Rob Smith says:

    I’ve donated a few to our local fire dept for boat fire training. Once burn there’s not much left but recyclable steel.

    • Doug Logan says:

      Yep, a fiberglass boat can burn in a big way, especially with a load of fuel on board. And one of the costly parts of recycling them is removing the fuel, the engine oil, the batteries — all the things you don’t want to go into the atmosphere or the landfill.

  3. Glenn Allen says:

    We do what you have written about. We take in boats, motors and trailers. The are stripped down or put on the line and people can come and look for what they need.

    • Arick Girard says:

      I need a bow pulpit and some of the stainless from a 1989 Bayliner 2556. How do I get in contact with you?

  4. Lee James says:

    Your idea is superb for old boats. We have collection of old boats. Person who wish to buy online boating visit http://www.theboatonlinestore.com/.

  5. Richard Nelson says:

    I am looking for a port side corner casting for a 1986 Lund Renegade boat. Any help finding one will be appreciated. Richard

  6. James Cronin says:

    I’m looking for a windshield assy for a 1987 Checkmate Enforcer O/B Serial #CHK35893E787. Would appreciate finding one Thank You James

  7. Lane says:

    Good to hear they are being recycled or re-purposed. For those looking for parts or a project boat keep checking http://Free-Boat.com . They keep the an updated list of free boats available in the US.

  8. Jerry Baxter says:

    i am looking for a drivers side front glass for a 2002 4 Winns Freedom anyone have any suggestions 4 Winns will ship you 1 for $1500.00 but i cant see putting that much money in a boat that old .Thx Jerry

  9. As the weather becomes increasingly warmer many boat owners chose to make the tough decision whether to keep investing in their boat or to give it up. This can become a moment of truth where the financial investments and the time investments often outweigh the fun times. A few of the positive reasons to donate are listed below.
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    • Gerald says:

      I have boat that is not good for much and don’t know how to dispose of is it against the law to burn fiberglass

  10. hazel says:

    Im trying to find a place that buys junk boats with trailer and all; its an old chris craft. I live in sarsota fl

  11. Annie says:

    You forgot to mention http://www.Boats2Charity.org

    oh, and what about http://www.CharityBoats.org ? I’ve heard that both of those places are wonderful places to donate boat to charity!

  12. Scott says:

    I am looking for parts for a 1993 Silverton cruiser 34.6
    I am looking for the internal door frame

    Would anybody have an idea where to look


  13. Lane says:

    RE boat parts – sometimes you can find a close match on boats people are scrapping at http://Free-Boat.com

  14. James says:

    I am restoring a 1986 Scarab 1 and I am looking for the windshield top hand rails. Any help would be great.

  15. You are right that i Europe quite a bit is happening meanwhile with yacht recycling. I had started a research back in 2011 about it when hardly anyone was talking about it yet. Then rapidly some momentum set in, with the introduction of way stricter environmental laws known as the recreational craft directive. Also, there is progress with fibreglass recycling. See the website I mention here and try to make it to France or Sweden with your boat! France meanwhile has more than 50 yacht dismantling stations…and Sweden set up a voluntary yacht dismantling scheme. The directive, fibreglass recycling becoming recyclable plus maybe some obligatory owner registration in some EU countries might finally wake up some instances more – and create funding sources on the way. See “EU finding” on the website.

  16. Robert Gullo says:

    HI I have a old 25 foot cabin cruiser that I have to get rid of I do not have a trailer for it so it has to be moved by you I really need to get rid of it its been in my yard for 5 years and I can not fix it and it needs a lot of work I live in Fort Ann NY 12827 Please let me know if you can help me to get rid of it you can email me with any questions you have. Please help me if you can or tell me who can help me Thanks Elena and Robert Gullo ERTD

  17. Mark Kunkel says:

    I need ceilings for a 2005 Evinrude v tec outboard motor 50 hp….thank you.

  18. George kay says:

    Need parts for my crestliner fiberglass boat 1974.

    • James Smith says:

      Want kind of parts are you looking for, I dispose of old boats and have many parts. Jim

      • Mark says:

        Have a 1996 tige that I am trying to find 2mtrs of gunnal rubber can anybody help me or tell me who to contact .

      • Dave says:


        I have a 1991 Johnson outboard my gear shift is broken but the wiring harness is fine would you have the the gear shifter

      • friz freleng says:

        James Smith – I am looking for a Cargile Cutter to pick. Specifically the stern railing with a boarding ladder in the middle. If you have one or know where one is at please email me. I live in central Florida.

  19. When you donate your boat to Charityboats.org, you have the awareness that you are part of a trusted, dependable, charitable organization that has the expertise to handle your donation better than any other boat donation program. If you represent a local business, supporting charities will enhance your company’s reputation in the community and potentially attract new customers. Just click on the link charityboats.org to tell us about the vessel you would like to donate, or you can call us toll-free at 1-888-888-7187 to learn more about online boat donation.

  20. Randy Metcalf says:

    Looking for the fold out rear seat in a 95 searay sundancer 290.

  21. donzi 3250 says:

    I am looking for a starboard side engine blower cover for my 98 donzi 3250 do you have one or know where I can get one thanks

  22. KJW says:

    I am looking for the lower unit to a 1972, 135 HP Mercury outboard. Mine has problems and won’t shift anymore. Engine runs great. It’s on my 1965 Mark Twain that I’m trying to sell. I’m having a hard Tim finding a lower unit for a reasonable price. Does anyone know where I could get one? Or have mine repaired?
    Thank you!

  23. Robert Leach says:

    I am looking for the center piece to the steering wheel on a 1998 Fastech 271 Formula boat. I am close to having it restored to it’s past natural beauty but have hit this stumbling block everything else restored to perfect condition just can’t find this part anybody have any Ideas?

  24. tim McGraw says:

    I am looking for a holding tank sending unit for 1999 regal Commodore 292
    it is a screw in fire boy xintex model and is 10 inches long and has a 3 wire connection on it.
    used and working is fine. any help out there??