Best Boat Deals: Expert’s Choice, Vol. 1

 

2006 Formula 330SS

2006 Formula 330SS

2006 Formula 330SS

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Formula’s designs don’t change radically from year to year. They evolve, and that’s good for a couple of reasons. First, you can spot a Formula pretty easily. A 2015 Formula has a lot of similarities with, say, a 2006 Formula. Second, it’s good for buyers on the secondary market because they can get a boat that’s a few years old, but still looks a lot like the new models coming out of the Formula factory.


This story will be available in the future as part of Boat Trader’s Best Boat Deals series,  but the boat listings below may not be. If you click through to an expired link it means that someone nabbed the bargain — or the owner had second thoughts about selling.

– Boat Trader editors


 

Take this 2006 Formula 330 SS, for example. Formula doesn’t make the 330 anymore, but it’s similar to the 310 and 350 the company is currently offering. It’s nearly 10 years old, and according to the rule of thumb of 50 hours per boating season, it should have nearly 500 hours on it —  but it only has 288. This boat has twin 496 MerCruisers, which push it to a top speed of 58 mph, and that’s fantastic for a cruiser of this type. It’s got freshwater cooling and a full canvas package, and it’s just big enough for overnighting comfortably.

It also is available about a third of what it cost new. I’m not sure if Formula is aware, but its biggest competitor in the small cruiser market might not be Sea Ray or Rinker or Cobalt, but the boats it made just a decade ago. This Formula 330SS still looks current, is well kept, and it does everything a new boat can.

2005 Performance 40 Center-Console

2005 Performance 40 Center-Console

2005 Performance 40 Center-Console

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You’d be hard-pressed to find a 40-foot center-console for less than 30 grand, but there’s one available in Miami Beach for $29,900, a steal of a price if the boat checks out. And you’d be wise to have it checked out. Why?

Well, for starters, I couldn’t find any information on the brand, Performance, which is a little odd — but this is a huge center-console for the money. Pay a marine surveyor to check it out and you could get into a big-water boat for the kind of money that usually gets you no farther than the mouth of the inlet.

Sure, it’s a bit sparse on amenities, but if you’re looking for a fishing machine that can get you out to the reef and back in relative comfort in 4- to 6-foot seas, this could be the ticket. Just look at all those rod holders! It might be a little underpowered with twin E-tec Evinrudes, but as the ad says, it’s set up for a third engine. Pay cash for the boat, finance a new engine, and enjoy this one for years.

2011 Sea Ray 185 Sport

2011 Sea Ray 185 Sport

2011 Sea Ray 185 Sport

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There are a few keywords in boat ads that always perk up my ears: “low hours,” “impeccably maintained,” and “must sell.” They’re like music, really. This Sea Ray 185 Sport looks like a good buy, and here’s why.

First, it’s a freshwater boat from New York, meaning two things: It hasn’t been exposed to the corrosive power of salt, and it hasn’t been used year-round. That’s why a 5-year-old boat only has 60 hours on it. Second, the ad says the owner paid someone else to do all the maintenance, which is a good thing. Owners who do their own maintenance are sometimes wont to cut corners, but this one looks as though it has been maintained the right way.

I also like this runabout because it’s a known brand name, which translates to better resale value for the buyer who picks it up used, then sells again later. The first owner always takes the biggest hit on depreciation. A well-known brand like Sea Ray will be easier to sell down the road and will hold more of its value for the second owner.

Sea Ray doesn’t make the 185 anymore, but it does still build a 190 and 205 Sport, which are close enough to make this boat look pretty current, even though it’s 5 years old. Add in the fact that it’s got a full canvas package and a bimini top, and you can pick up a higher-end boat for the price of a stripped, entry-level new model. And who knows, maybe that “must sell” will translate to an even lower selling price?


 

Boat Trader has plenty of  Buying and Selling advice, but also check out the hundreds of articles in the Boating section, with tips on everything from seamanship to maintenance, how-to, where to find replacement parts, and much more.

 

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