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Tips for identifying Sandy-damaged boats

Boats that were damaged during Hurricane Sandy are being sold on the used-boat market. The challenge for buyers is in understanding any damage or repair problems, according to BoatUS says.

BoatUS put together used-boat buying tips to help consumers determine whether they are buying a boat that Hurricane Sandy damaged when sellers are not forthcoming about the boat’s past.

Nearly a year after Sandy, some of the 65,000 boats that were damaged or lost in the storm are being sold on the used-boat market, either in "as is" condition or after repairs have been made — which is fine if sellers are truthful about past damage.

The BoatUS Consumer Affairs Department is offering used-boat buying tips, as well as indicators of whether the boat has hurricane damage.

• Trace the history: When a car is totaled the title is "branded" as salvaged or rebuilt and buyers know up front that there was major damage, but few states brand salvaged boats and some don't even require titles for boats. "Anyone wishing to obscure a boat's history need only cross state lines to avoid detection, which can be a tip-off," BoatUS consumer affairs director Charles Fort said. Also look for recent gaps in the boat's ownership, which may mean it was at an auction or in a repair yard for a long time.

• Ask the seller.

• Look for evidence of storm damage: A boat is more likely to have been badly damaged in a storm if you see two or three indicators such as recent hull repair, new repairs or sealant at the hull-to-deck joint, evidence of sinking, extensive corrosion in the electrical systems or evidence of major interior repairs.

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