Flipping Boats For Profit: How To Make Money & Not Lose It!

All of us like to have some extra money when we can get it. These days the craze is all about side hustles and side businesses, and we would all love to be able to flip houses. But that can get expensive. So it’s no wonder that you might be thinking about buying and flipping a boat.

Flipping Boats for Profit: How to Make Money: Flipping boats is a profitable job where you buy a boat for cheap and sell it for a profit. This can be done by buying them, then fixing, cleaning, detailing, restoring, repowering, or improving them in some fashion to sell the boat for more money than what you have in it.

Read this for all the most common ways and tactics to flipping boats and making money while minimizing your risk of losing money!

Different Forms of Flipping

As with any form of flipping, boat flipping incorporates different aspects of fixes. Or modifications that you can do to the boat before selling it to another buyer. You can pick up an old rotten project boat and completely restore it before selling.

Or you can buy a boat in perfect working condition and sell it to another person after only swapping out the engine. Here are a few of the ways you can make a profit while flipping boats!


Flipping Boats For Money

The process of restoration involves buying an old rusty boat that is not functional. And restoring all the bits and pieces until it is working again. Once the boat is ready to take on the water. You can then sell it to another person for profit.

The process of restoring a boat takes up much of your time and money. Since you have to replace each part from scratch to get the boat working again. It can take months to properly restore a boat before you can sell it to another buyer.

Additionally, you often discover further problems with the boat once you begin restoring it. Which in turn increases the amount of time and money you have to invest in the project.

You should note that a restoration can be a tricky process, especially if you are just starting out. Knowing which boats you will be able to salvage and which boats will set you back. In terms of money, is crucial to making profits in this regard.

We will learn more about what to look out for when purchasing boats later on in this article.

However, with greater risks come greater rewards. If you really want to make proper profits, restoration is the way to go. Old and rusty boats are often dirt cheap, and you can get a particularly good deal on one if you know what to look out for.

Restoring a boat from scratch is also an invaluable way to gain knowledge about boats and what makes them tick. If you have a passion for boats, restoring one on the side can be a fun hobby.

That pays out in terms of experience as well as monetary terms at the end. Some people out there even make a livelihood out of restoring boats alone. They get to follow their passion, avoid a nine to five routine, and earn generous amounts of money!

The perfect dream job!

Fix & Flips:

Buying a boat that has one or two non-functional parts. Fixing them up, and then selling the boat for money is a good place to start for beginners. You can learn a lot about fixing boats this way.

Without the risk of losing a ton of money that is involved with restoring old, abandoned boats.

Flipping Boats For Profit

The major advantage of this type of boat flipping lies in the quick returns it provides you. Whereas the process of restoration can often take you months on end. Fixing and flipping is only a matter of a week or two.

Depending on the amount of damage the boat has gone through. You can get back your investment. And some profit in a small amount of time once you are done with the fixes.

However, boats that need only a few fixes are usually much more costly than old and defunct ones. As such, you will need a little bit of capital investment to pursue this line of boat flipping.

Additionally, the rewards or profits you can get with a fix and flip.

Simply does not compare to what you can earn with complete restorations. Depending on the desirability of the boat you are restoring.

It is important to note that it is often extremely difficult to find a good deal on a boat that needs only a few fixes. Keeping a boat is an expensive hobby, and only the people who are willing to invest their time and money in this hobby buy them.

As such, they usually do not wish to sell their boats if it only requires a few fixes to be working again. You can, however, find the odd person who realizes later on how much the boat is costing them.

And decides to get rid of it once it develops a few faults, rather than invest further amounts of money in it.

Clean or Detail & Flip:

This is one of the simplest methods of flipping boats. You buy a perfectly functional boat that looks like it has seen better days.

Give it a good old scrub and polish, and freshen up the interior until it looks like new. You can then sell the boat for a decent profit.

There is not a lot to the cleaning and detailing process. It takes up a tiny amount of time and effort on your part as compared to restorations or fault fixes.

However, the visual result of a cleaned and detailed boat creates an extremely powerful impact on the buyer. And you can earn much greater profits for flipping such a boat.

For this reason, we recommend that you always clean and detail your boat before selling. Whether you completely restored it from scratch, performed a few quick fixes, or a simple repower on the boat you bought for flipping.

These boats are a lot harder to come by though. It’s not every day that you are able to pick up a beautiful boat for cheap. Wax the hull and turn around and sell it for a gain.

It can take some searching and the right opportunity to find these kinds of deals.


Repowering a boat and then selling it for profit is also another extremely simple way of flipping boats. You can buy a boat with a non-working engine, replace it with a new one. And then sell the boat to another person.

Which we can even do this with boats that have completely functional engines but are underpowered for the size of the boat.

Knowing the right size of the engine and the type of propeller suitable for the size of your boat. It is an invaluable and key piece of knowledge for this form of flipping.

You can learn more about the right propeller for your boats here, and whether you should repair a prop or completely replace it here.

As with other forms of boat flipping, we recommend that you clean and detail the boat as well before selling it. This will net you much greater profits this way.

Sometimes you can find boats that have a blown up engine for pretty cheap. If the boat is in great shape and you know your way around the marine industry in your area. You can pick up another engine and get the boat up and running again!

The value is being purchased in the labor.

Here is a video we made about repowering and mounting an outboard!

Where to Acquire Flips?

The difficulty of finding a boat to flip can vary immensely in the region you live in. If you live in Florida, for example, you will have an easier time finding boats to buy and sell.

Then if you live in Montana. However, there are quite a few ways you can find boats for sale regardless of your area of residence.

Being able to acquire the deals and know when it’s a deal or not is going to determine how successful you are in flipping a boat!


You can often find boats available at auctions whether they be online liquidators or auction houses. This can be a good way to find a great deal on boats in all types of working conditions.

Just be careful not to bid too much on an unsuitable boat, as this will set you back in terms of profit. You can find police seizure auctions and repossession auctions in your area that will have a variety of boats to bid on.

Rather than bidding on the easiest boat to repair or on the boat that will sell for the most amount of money. Work out the ideal amount of money you would invest in each boat to maximize your profits for the least bit of time and effort you put in.

This applies not only for auctions but also for other forms of purchasing a used boat.


Marinas are also a surefire way to find all sorts of boats. However, it can take a bit of effort to find a good deal on a boat in a marina.

The best way to do this is to build a relationship with the marina. You can go in and give them your information and let them know what you are looking for.

It may take a couple of boats to get yourself into a good working system. But once you get contacts built up in the marine industry in your area.

Places that you have been at a couple of years ago, will begin calling you with deals! They might come across a boat and think of you!

Storage Facilities:

restoring boats for profit

You can find old or abandoned boats in storage facilities around the United States. If you spot such a facility that always has a boat parked inside, try contacting the owner and ask if it is for sale.

Since it is only gathering dust at the facility, and costing the owner to store it. They might decide to sell you the boat for a little amount of cash.

This goes back to the building of a relationship with these locations. Marina’s and storage facilities are dealing with boats every day.

Things happen in life and sometimes someone will die, maybe a divorce, financial trouble, moving, family issues, and any number of things can come up.

Leaving a boat unused for years, sitting in one of these locations. If you have a good relationship with the place and one of these situations come up.

You want to be the person on their mind that makes them want to call you! Knowing that it’s what you are looking for and you will come and buy the boat and get it out of there!

Giving them more space for other boats that might pay more for the spot.

Craigslist, Yard Sales, & Abandoned Looking Boats in Yards:

These are all ideal ways to find good deals on boats. However, make sure you inspect the boat carefully before buying them.

You can find them just by driving around and looking for them. Or get yourself into a routine where you scan craigslist once a day in the boat section.

When flipping boats, you should be able to know all of the available listings of boats that are on these sites. Other boat selling sites as well.

Being in the know is half of the battle when it comes to finding a good deal and being able to make money on flipping a boat.

Word of Mouth

Once you start flipping boats for profit, you will soon develop a network of people with a similar passion for boats. You can use this to your advantage, and find more boats to flip using word of mouth.

It all goes back to that building of a relationship. When people know what you are doing and what you are looking for.

As long as they know how to contact you. You become a go-to contact for them to send a deal to.

No one can help you find a deal or send you a boat deal. If they don’t know you exist or that you flip boats!

Knowing How to Inspect the Boat & What to Look For

Inspecting the boat is of the utmost importance when looking for a boat to flip. This will give you an idea of how much time and money you will have to invest in the project.

And how much profit you can walk away with at the end. Knowing this will allow you to have an idea about how much you should be willing to pay for the boat.

To find out the things you need to look out for, have a look at this article dedicated to knowing what to look for when buying a project boat.

We also have an in-depth article on how to go about The Entire Inspection Process For Buying Any Boat, Step by Step here!

Know What It Costs To Complete the Flip You Are Doing

Inspecting the boat will tell you about the fixes you need to do to get it in prime working condition. Look up what it would cost you to fix those faults.

But keep some wiggle room in your investment to account for other minor problems you may encounter later on. You should determine the profits you want based on the amount of time and effort restoring or fixing the boat would require on your part.

Then, deduct the cost of restoration from that value to determine the maximum amount you should pay for the boat.

This is where most people skip out on. They get attached to the project and forget to run the numbers to determine if it is a financially wise purchase or not.

Know the Value of the Finished Project

You should always know the value of the finished product in order to maximize your profits while flipping. Selling the boat for less than its worth will undermine all the hard work and time you invested in the project.

As such, you should wait for a good offer rather than selling the boat to the first person who offers a little more money than what the entire process cost you from start to finish.

Scout, the market to get an idea of what your boat should sell for. As you progress in your boat-flipping ventures, you will automatically get a clearer idea of the asking price for your next finished boat.

How to Sell the Boat Once You Are Finished

Selling the boat is extremely easy in the modern age of the internet. You can put your boat up for sale on various websites like eBay and craigslist. You can even find websites on the internet dedicated to boat trading.

Though you might need to pay a small fee to register an account there. Additionally, if you live near a marina, register your boat for sale in the local market. You can even utilize your network of boat enthusiasts that we mentioned earlier to find a prospective client for the boat.

You should use all of these methods of getting the word out that your boat is on sale. This will increase your chances of getting an even better offer in terms of money from prospective customers.

Thus, always hold out a little on time once you put your boat up for sale for the different offers to come through and then select the best one.

Here is a video from Our YouTube channel showing How To Sell A Boat:

Have an Exit Strategy If Things Go South

As with any investment, you should have a backup plan in case things do not work out. We advise against putting all of your life savings in efforts to restore your first boat.

Be careful with your money, and invest in less risky ventures, like a quick fix and flip, when you first start out. As you get a taste of the business, you can move onto complete restorations for the jackpot.

It’s also wise to start out in the low $1,000 range. Keeping your finished project value in the $5,000 range. This way you aren’t putting out too much of a risk.

As you grow, you can move onto those more higher-priced boats and boat markets.

Check Us Out!

Now that you know how to flip a boat for profit! Here are some other articles that you will find very helpful and informational!

Are Boats A Good or Bad Investment?

How Much Does It Cost To Own And Operate A Boat?

How Much Can You Scrap A Boat For?

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Aaron Hilligoss

Aaron has been working in the Marine Industry for over a decade and holds certifications for Yamaha and Mercury Marine. It is not uncommon for him to own and be working on at least three different boats at any given point in time!

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