If you’re looking for an affordable way to own a boat, considering a salvage boats for sale can allow you to score a great deal. However, finding a quality salvaged boat that meets your needs takes some research and inspection. In this post, we’ll cover tips for finding salvage boats for sales and what to look for when evaluating and purchasing a boat in need of repair.

Defining Salvage Boats

Salvage boats are those that have been damaged in some way and are being sold for parts or repair. This damage can vary greatly – from cosmetic issues to major mechanical problems. Salvage boats can come from insurance claim payouts, abandoned vessels, coastal storms, and government auctions. The level of damage impacts the potential cost of restoration.

Types of Common Damages

  • Engine problems – Could range from faulty parts to completely blown motors.
  • Hull integrity issues – Cracks, leaks, or holes caused by impacts, wrecks, or storms.
  • Fire or water damage – Can harm systems, controls, and components.
  • Cosmetic wear – Fading, dents, missing parts that affect appearance.
  • Electronics/system failures – Issues with navigation equipment, electrical systems, pumps, etc.

Doing Research on Available Boats

Finding salvage boats takes more digging than locating regular used boats. Here are some resources to check:

  • Insurance auction sites – Boats are posted here after being declared total losses.
  • Government auction listings – Federal, state, and city agencies may auction damaged, abandoned, or seized vessels.
  • Classified ads – Search sites like Craigslist for salvage boats being sold by private sellers.
  • Message boards – Boating and marine forums often have for sale sections worth scanning.
  • Repossession sales – Banks sell repossessed boats to recover losses.
  • Brokerages – Some brokers deal in salvage boats, connecting motivated buyers and sellers.

Evaluating Condition Carefully

Once you find a potential salvage boat purchase, careful inspection is crucial before buying.

  • Assess structural damage – Look for cracks or holes, bring in a professional if needed.
  • Check systems – Test electronics, controls, pumps, propellers, and motors for functionality.
  • Look for leaks – Signs of water damage indicate leaks to be addressed.
  • Estimate repair costs – Research what parts/repairs will realistically cost.
  • Consider missing inventory – Factor in pricier aboard amenities that may need replacing.
  • Examine registration – Ensure you can get a salvaged title or registration after purchase.

Negotiating a Fair Price

Salvage boats sell at a fraction of normal used boat prices, sometimes as low as 10-30% of typical value. But aim to pay as little as possible while still getting a restorable boat.

  • Note how long it’s been listed – The longer a boat sits, the more negotiable.
  • Point out necessary repairs – Use discovered flaws to bargain down the price.
  • Know market rates – Look up the make/model to compare to typical asking prices.
  • Start very low – It never hurts to aggressively negotiate first.
  • Offer payment incentives – Suggest paying cash upfront or removing contingencies.

Tips for Restoring Your Salvage Boat

So you’ve found and bought a salvage boat. Here are tips for bringing it back to life affordably:

  • Make a restoration plan – Carefully plan out your repair process, timeline, and budget.
  • Document everything – Keep detailed records of all fixes and expenses.
  • Prioritize the mechanics – Focus first on getting the engine running and electronics operational.
  • Repair the hull early – Stop leaks so you can then clean up interior damage.
  • Consider DIY options – What can you realistically do yourself vs. hiring a pro for?
  • Watch out for pitfalls – Replacing missing parts gets expensive quickly. Stick to your budget.
  • Be patient – It takes time to bring a trashed boat back into shape. Enjoy the journey!


For the right buyer, scoring a used salvage boat can be a fun project that leads to big savings in the long run. But finding and buy salvage cars or boat the right vessel takes research, diligence, and planning. Knowing where to look, how to evaluate condition, negotiation tactics, and restoration tips will ensure you end up with the perfect affordable boat repaired to fit your needs and dream cruising lifestyle.