Advise for buying 1st fiberglass boat

 Hi all

Well it's time to buy another boat as our round Aus trip has finished and I'm missing having a decent sized boat.

I'm looking at an older 80s model baron fiberglass boat that looks in great condition has the odd crack in the gel coat but appears nothing serious any advise on what I should be looking for my last boats have been plate ally. I cant feel any spongyness in the floor it has a pod conversion already which looks pretty good. Some of the cracks in the gel coat are on the underside possibly caused from the trailer is this common on fiberglass boats that have not had the trailer setup properly and is it anything to be concerned about

Cheers Rod

Francis's picture

Posts: 283

Date Joined: 17/06/08

 Cracks in the gel coat are

Mon, 2020-01-13 19:48

 Cracks in the gel coat are nothing to be worried about in my opinion. And good that your feeling for soft spots on the floor. 


Is there any way to access the bilge for a more detailed look ?

Does the transom have any flex ? A good way to test this is using the motor's power trim. You can see the flex when moving the motor up or down. 


And finally a water test. Back her down the ramp, make sure there is no water in the bilge and take it for a good swim. Let it sit in the water for a little while and also put it in reverse to try and force water in to any possible entry points in the transom. Then see if any water has ingressed into the bilge or anywhere it shouldn't.


I've got a swiftcraft that has some soft spots on the floor, some flex in the transom and lots of cracks in the gel coat. It used to leak when I first bought it but I spent a bit of time drying it out and fixing the leaks and the worst soft spots (i'm by no means a boat builder!). So I don't think it's the end of the world if there is a slight flex - depends on the cost of the boat I guess ! 

Swompa's picture

Posts: 2768

Date Joined: 14/10/12

 After rebuilding one, look

Tue, 2020-01-14 06:49

 After rebuilding one, look for soft spots in the deck perticularly in the high traffic areas and in the stern where cater could potentially pool.  Look for chunks out of the keel or any sort of impact damage along the bottom of the boat. Feel around the bung holes for any soft spots (any signs of rot).

Lift up the motor, lock it in place and then push down on it looking for flex in the transom. Have a look around the pad eye in the bow (where the trailer winch rope connects) for signs of rust or fatigue in the bow (my u bolt had snapped where it entered the hull but only flexed enough to be seen when i was winching the boat up.

If there are any hatches in the deck, look for any flex in the structure.

Overall, chips and lines in the gelcoat arent neccessarly a bad thing and you should be able to clearly see if it is just a expansion/contraction thing or from impact. 

Jackfrost80's picture

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Date Joined: 07/05/12

Pretty sure it was only going

Tue, 2020-01-14 07:14

Pretty sure it was only going to cost me around $300 to get a Shipwright to do a hull inspection for me (5.5m boat) when I was initially looking at an older hull. Piece of mind and might save you a bomb


If catching wrasse is cool, consider me Miles Davis

z00m's picture

Posts: 1086

Date Joined: 10/05/14

Gelcoat cracks

Tue, 2020-01-14 07:22

 Gelcoat cracks come from impact or stress. Cracks on the underside could be indications that the hull is flexing which would indicate poor internal structure (rotten stringers, poorly rebuilt, etc) or improper trailer setup. Cracks on the topside next to gunnel rubber is usually from drunk docking. Cracks in corners or specific spots will also indicate flex or stress where it shouldn't be.

Like JackFrost80 above, a few hundred bucks to have it inspected is invaluable if you don't know what you're looking at yourself. Soft floors are easy to replace. Soft transom or underfloor structure is a much bigger job.

Posts: 292

Date Joined: 22/05/19

 Lift the engine up and swing

Tue, 2020-01-14 09:15

 Lift the engine up and swing of it and see if the transom moves or flexes

Posts: 699

Date Joined: 22/07/10

 Bit hard to lift the motor

Tue, 2020-01-14 10:00

 Bit hard to lift the motor with pod, read his post. Ask how long the pod has been on and who put it on, backyard or professional.

Posts: 292

Date Joined: 22/05/19

 Sorry mate was a quick

Tue, 2020-01-14 12:49

 Sorry mate was a quick comment trying to help. Didn't have time to read the whole thing but was just trying to help. Good luck mate 

Brock O's picture

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Date Joined: 11/01/08

Why is it hard to lift a

Tue, 2020-01-14 13:16

Why is it hard to lift a motor on a pod ?

Posts: 292

Date Joined: 22/05/19

 Just is mate lol read the

Tue, 2020-01-14 14:13

 Just is mate lol read the comment hahahah I wouldn't buy the boat if ya can't tilt it if it's on the pod!!

Faulkner Family's picture

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Date Joined: 11/03/08

 another one to look for

Tue, 2020-01-14 16:24

 another one to look for depending on the seat setup for skipper and passenger, if pole type thats bolted in there can be a bit of rot where the bolts go into the floor


RUSS and SANDY. A family that fishes together stays together

Posts: 680

Date Joined: 30/12/09

 Or someone very large has

Tue, 2020-01-14 22:55

 Or someone very large has been sitting on it and has lent to far back and lifted the fibreglass up


 Get busy living, or get busy dying!

roddo's picture

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Date Joined: 16/10/09

 Thanks for all the comments

Wed, 2020-01-15 07:18

 Thanks for all the comments it has helped heaps.