How Long Do Boats Last?

When you buy a boat, one of the last things you probably think about, is how long is it actually going to last you? This is question is especially important if you are buying a used boat, or you are buying a boat for the first time. Depending on what type of boat you want to buy, it will depend on how long it will last, and what you want to look for when buying it to see if you are actually going to get your money’s worth.

Typically, a well-maintained boat will last you for 20 to 30 years before needing significant work done to it. There have been boats that were well maintained to go up to 50+ years before being dry-docked forever. The most important thing in a boat life span is how well it is taken care of, and if it is maintained on a proper schedule. Another thing that will determine a boat life span is how the boat owner drives the boat, and how careful they are to avoid obstacles like trees, stumps and shallow water.

Types Of Boats

Boats can be categorized into the most popular boats bought below, and what to look for when buying, selling, and trying to gauge the length of time it will last.

Fishing Boats

Fishing or Bass boats are one of the most common boats on the market, and have one of the biggest buyer and seller markets. When gauging how long this boat will last will depend on if it has an inboard, or outboard motor if it is aluminum or fiberglass, and what type of fishing you do, fresh or saltwater.

Look for dings or cracks in the aluminum or fiberglass. Look for any visible leaks in the engine, and if there is sludge anywhere on the motor. Any caked on oil or grime might mean that they do not maintain or clean their engine very much, and this can tell you if your engine is going to go out soon.

Ski Boats

Ski boats are becoming more popular now that there is a bigger generation of younger people on the market buying them. The problem with these boats is that people tend to over-rev the engine and run them over the maintenance time. It is important to see how the idle of the engine is.

Another big thing to look at is the interior and carpet. You want to smell for mildew or mold and look for tears, rips, and stains on the seats. Most people are traveling 25 to 35mph to tow someone on ski’s or wakeboards, which puts more stress on the motor.

Sail Boats

Sailboats will generally be more well-kept boats on the market because they tend to be more expensive, so people take care of them. One big thing to look at is the ropes and sails to make sure there is no tearing or fraying of the rope.

Sail Boat

It is important that when you are out sailing you do not have a rope snap, or even worse, a sail tear all the way down, stranding you on the lake or ocean. Typically sailboats are wood, so look for any leaks, or where the paint or lacquer has come off.

Kayaks / Canoes:

Kayaks and canoes are extremely popular for people that live near lakes because it is extremely easy to throw it on a roof rack. This is also a great way to exercise, and just to get outdoors. Since kayaks are made of plastic, and canoes are wood, you generally only need to look for sun damage and wood warping. People tend to leave their kayaks out in the sun while they are hanging out at the beach of a lake which can cause major sun damage. Make sure the plastic is not brittle or broken anywhere.

Engine Maintenance

The engine is one of the two most important things on a boat. If you have engine trouble, you are not going anywhere, period. It is extremely important that if we want our boats to last, we get them properly maintained on a schedule.

Getting the plugs changed, and getting the oil checked and changed on time is important to keep your boat running in tip-top shape. Replacing belts and hoses before they break will also save the life of your boat. The last thing we suggest is that when you are ready to put the boat up for winter, you winterize it so that the gas does not go stale in the tank when it’s covered for the winter.

Battery And Electrical Connections

Since you are on the water, always check your battery terminals and electrical connections for corrosion, especially if you are anywhere near saltwater. This is very important when you uncover your boat for the spring when you want to use it. Make sure no mice or rats have gotten into your boat and chewed through wires.

Your boat might start once, and then after getting out on choppy bumpy water, could rattle connections loose that will make your boat die, or not start again. clean any corrosion off your connections so that there is nothing that could cause shorts, or worse, a fire.


When you are done with your boat for the year, it is important that you get your boat winterized for the year. We wrote an article earlier about how to winterize your boat in a few easy steps HERE. You will put stuff in your gas tank, make sure the cover on tight, and other helpful hints that will ensure that in the spring when you want to take your boat out, that you have no issues or damage.

speed boat

Trailer Care

People tend to forget about trailers when they think about boat life, but you cannot boat anywhere without towing it there. Always check your trailer tires for cracks and age, so that you do not get out on the road and have a blowout that leaves you stranded, or changing a tire on the side of the road.

It is also important that you check the brakes and electrical connections so that you do not have trouble going up or down steep mountains without trailer brakes. You also do not want a ticket, so make sure your lights, blinkers and brake lights work on the trailer before you take it out on the road, or you could get pulled over and ticketed by law enforcement.

Final Thoughts

Having a boat is a HUGE responsibility, but your boat should last you a long time if you take care of it properly. If you are spending tens of thousands of dollars on something you want to last years, it only seems fair that you spend a few hours a couple of times a year making sure that you maintain it. Getting the oil changed and tune up will save you thousands in repairs.

Related Topics

What Are Spider Cracks On Boats?

Spider cracks or radial cracks are caused by some sort of impact, or the boat hitting something on the water. It can also be caused by a bolt on the boat that is putting some sort of strain on the boat hull itself. Thermal cracks are usually caused by the Gelcoat expanding and contracting from severe weather conditions, which puts a strain on the out coating.