Denver here is where we are missing each other - using your classic car example, you were going to buy that car regardless of the problem.
No, that's not true. The "survey" I had done on the car revealed something I didn't know. I told the seller he had to come down further on the price if he wanted to sell it to me. He did. We made the deal.
This is exactly--EXACTLY!--the way a boat survey works. If you find out something you don't know about it's back to the negotiating table. You may be able to make a deal, or you may not. But now you have more information than you did before. Information that you could not have gotten without paying someone more knowledgeable than yourself to take a look at whatever it is that you're buying.
IOW, no matter what the problem, you are coming out on top. There is no negative financial consequense to your buying decision. And the truth is, you and the seller agreed UPFRONT that there was an issue.
And once again, absolutely not true. The seller didn't agree to anything. He insisted, in fact, that the engine was not that bad and only needed a tune-up. I told him I wasn't going to buy the car without having a mechanic (at my expense, obviously) check out the engine carefully.
He could still have insisted on the original price, the deal would have fallen through, and I would have been out the cost of the mechanic's time. Once again, EXACTLY the way a boat survey/purchase works.
In addition, the mechanic not only checked the engine, he also looked over the suspension and checked the transmission. It was entirely possible, had he found significant issues with these other things, that it would have been a "walk away" for me. There are plenty of cars out there that "have such serious hidden defects that they are not only not worth the asking price, but any price." That's why we have auto junk yards, after all.
I chose to spend some of my own money to make sure about the car. I had no guarantee that the mechanic would find anything, or that he would not find something that made the car a "walk away," or that the seller would agree to further negotiations if the mechanic did find something.
And yet, one more time, this is EXACTLY how buying a boat works. It is EXACTLY how buying an airplane works. And it is EXACTLY how buying a house works. All of which, by the way, can have serious hidden defects that make them a "walk away." The boat buying process is not "backwards" in any regard. It works just like buying any other big-ticket item.
No offense, honestly, but it is beginning to sound like you're just pissed off because you think the seller knew that the boat was junk and didn't admit it. That's a whole different issue than whether or not the boat buying process is backwards. Or maybe you're annoyed that you weren't able to tell how bad the problem with the boat was yourself, without paying for a survey. Again, a whole different issue than whether or not the boat buying process is backwards.
The boat buying process is not backwards. In fact, it is almost identical to the buying process for any big-ticket item.