Has anyone ever purchased their boat through an auction? I saw a boat that fit the bill for me at 50k, but in the bidding process do you get the time to have it professionally inspected, or is it sold "as is"?
I bought my present boat at auction (at the second attempt) and before that bid on but didn't win a couple. It is usually strictly "as is, where is". For a conventional auction, there is a viewing day and I guess you could turn up with a surveyor but do you really want to pay a surveyor for a boat you may not win? If you aren't comfortable spending a few hours crawling all over a boat and then figure out what you know, what you don't know and how big a risk you are willing to take, I would say an auction isn't for you.
True auction boats have usually have been repossessed and often were neglected prior to that. i.e. they usually have issues and sometimes issues that aren't obvious. You also need a really good idea of what the boat is worth and you won't figure that out from one evening looking at Yachtworld.
I know nothing about the online sealed bid type auctions but I don't trust them.
Never have bought a boat at auction but did recently sell a boat at auction. Didn't get the amount I bought it for but fairly close. During the auction the boat was not really available for inspection as I was actively cruising at the time. I did show it to a couple of people when it worked out.
The winner of the auction drove 3 hrs to come look at the boat after the auction. He was satisfied and we agreed on a hand over date. The buyer even wanted to pay the bid amount a couple of weeks before the hand over but we told to wait because, as I said, I was still actively cruising. The buyer, through his own volition, did transfer the money a couple of days prior to the hand over. There was no title to the boat but I did sign a document saying that to the best to my knowledge there were no liens on the boat.
We didn't have any problems except the buyer had no concept of time.
Bought a few small boats on eBay charity auctions. In every case it was a good buy, I fixed them up and sold locally making a decent profit. If you know what you are doing, auctions can be a great source. The only way I would buy a $50K boat at auction would be if I knew I can easily sell it for $80K with just a small investment of my time and money. It is a very soft market for boats now so I would be very picky what I buy for that kind of money.