Good summary of the boat buying process Keelhaulin'.
When you are looking at a boat, it might be a good thing to talk to the other boat owners in the marina. They can often tell you what the real story behind the boat is—whether it was raced hard, sat at the dock and used for evening cocktails, etc...
Also, when you are looking at a boat, check inside the lockers, and other spaces that you don't normally look very closely at. Often, these areas can tell you whether the boat has normally been well taken care of or if the shiny, clean boat you are seeing has just been done for the sake of selling it. A shiny galley stove doesn't mean much if there's a good layer of grunge stuck under the stove. People often look and see how clean and well kept things are, and forget to look past the surface appearances.
If a lot of work has recently been done on the boat and they are selling... try to find out why the work was necessary.
When one of my crew was looking at a boat, it had had all new interior upholstery and cushions as well as some new electronics replaced about six months previous. What the owner didn't say, and talking to the other people at the marina revealed was that the boat had sunk at the dock the previous season because a through hull popped a hose. That was the primary reason for the refit. The surveyor found some interesting water lines behind some of the storage lockers. While the wiring looked fine, but I'm willing to bet that not too much further down the line it would have had some serious problems as well.
Don Casey's book Inspecting the Aging Sailboat
is a bit more thorough than the brief outline he has in his repair book.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)
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Still—DON'T READ THAT POST AGAIN.