Noob buying used - Tips?

Hey folks,

I’ve found what I think will be a good used kayak. Reviews on here seem favorable, it’s a perception sparky 9.5, it’s several (3+) hours away and I want to ask the right things of the seller before driving all that way just to find something isn’t right.

What would you consider essential questions to ask before driving that far to look at it in person? And of those questions what answers would cause you to steer clear of it?

Seller says he bought it new in 2006 and has probably only used it about 10 times. Selling because they’ve moved and no longer have anywhere to store it.

It really is what I’m looking for, I think, cheap, not too long, light weight, good weight limit… I just don’t want to drive all that way to look at something that’s all wrong.

Your input is much appreciated.

You didn’t say what the price is?
Look at the finish and ask him where it was stored.

If it has a pleasant looking none faded look then it was probably stored inside.

If it has a faded kind of chalky appearance., it was probably stored outside and you might want to pass on it.

Check the hull for any signs of plastic repair work.

Don’t worry about scratches unless they are very deep into the surface.

Good luck.

I hope it is in good shapoe and you end up being a happy paddler.



check for
- obvious repairs. Plastic repairs are usually

clumsy and easy to see. If they are smooth and

otherwise well done, diff. story.

  • dry brittle plastic on boat body means it’s been

    exposed to elements and UV. UV deteriorates a lot

    of materials but esp. rotomoulded plastic. Some

    boats are slightly dry and need some wash/wax.

    Very brittle plastic will not come back.

  • check scratches/gouges in hull. Most are normal.

    1/2" or more deep, think twice. This is a rec boat

    and not built thick on the bottom like a WW boat.

    WW boats can be more deeply scratched and still

    be perfectly good.

  • footbraces slide easily when adjusted, stay

    locked in place when pressed.

  • grab handles securely screwed in, not loose,

    stay in place when you pick boat up.

  • seat is stable and doesn’t bend or shift under

    your weight. Fasteners all clean and tight.

    -drain plug is there. If you can, put some water in

    in the boat and do a test drain.

    of course, if time and seller allow, you want to take

    boat on the water for fit, stability, tracking, etc.

  • Floatation. What keeps it afloat? If there

    is foam it should be clean - intact and mildew free.

    Avoid crumbly foam.

    If there are float bags, are they clean, mildew free and do they hold air - blow them up early in your visit and see how they are doing.

  • thickness of plastic. use flashlight to look inside boat under dim light. If plastic is thin more light comes thru. Really bright areas can signal weak spots.

  • hull curvature - Put boat hull side up and sight the hull looking bow to stern. Banana curves are either poor workmanship or warping. They will track like crap.

    Hope this one works out for you.

price is
a negotiable $300.

Make sure
youve got a way to get it home - got roof racks already?

Don’t buy it !
You can get a brand new one that is equal, (OT Otter) at Dicks for less than that.

That seller probably paid $299 for it.

shame on them!



unless you can

– Last Updated: Aug-08-09 9:01 PM EST –

get it for $75 or less, don't even drive out there.


he said he’d
take $250, my bet is waving $225 under his nose would work just as well.

The problem with some of the new kayaks mentioned above. such as an OT otter is the weight limit… 225# won’t work… The sparky 9.5 has a limit of 350# which is the range I’m looking for… plus he’s including a skirt and paddle… granted they’re not anything spectacular but a decent enough package deal, In my opinion, to check it out closer.

So… I’m headed down in the morning to take a look…

if the paddle is the right
length for you feels good when you swing it, that’s a plus… is it a $100-$150 “plus”… depends on the quality of the paddle & if it fits YOU…You can get a cheap paddle used for $50 or less…

A skirt in a big wide cockpit like the Sparky’s is basically a sun and raindrop shield. And half skirts that will do the same are all over the net for $35 or so.

What does Wm. Shatner say on those Priceline spots… LOL… “go lower”.

and again, hope it works out for ya.

Were do you plan to paddle?

– Last Updated: Aug-09-09 8:30 AM EST –

The Sparky is very much a "rec" boat =- intended for protected waters like ponds, very quiet rivers or creeks. It is slow, very vulnerable to the wind etc. Your profile indicates you want to do photography and camp, both of which require some kind of dry storage and usually covering some distance. Do you want to do these from a boat?

As to the price - including a skirt for a Sparky is interesting but kinda overkill for a boat with the intended use of the Sparky.

If you want to do photography and camp from a kayak, you would be better off checking out a used transitional or transitional touring kayak with at least one sealed bulkhead, some perimeter rigging, more length (like 12-14 ft) and a less giant cockpit.
If you are thinking ocean (I see Virginia in your profile) a boat like the Sparky isn't even close. It'll be a planter by a few weeks as you discover all of the situations it is not designed to handle.