, and US Coast Guard- which should I purchase?

My Dream Boat...

When buying a pre-owned boat, you want to be sure you have the full hull history before actually making the purchase. Unfortunately, sites like and do not provide histories on boats so you have to look elsewhere. There are three main services that all claim to provide the history, but of them, which is best and do you need to purchase all three? I was curious which was the best, so I did a trial between the US Coast Guard, and To establish a little background- I just sold my last boat, a little 25 foot center console, and I wanted to move up to something in the 36 foot range. I started shopping around and ran each type of report for every boat I looked at. All you need is the hull id number (also called the HIN)- essentially the boats social security number, or the equivalent of the VIN for cars. It would be much simpler if carfax and autocheck would branch into the boating world as well but...

First I want to start off by saying each of these services are important for boat buyers to look in to. Depending on what information you want, one type of report might be better for you than another but here is what I found:

United States Coast Guard

US Coast Guard - Always important to look at for documented boats (which are typically over 35ft). The reports give you a general ownership history (i.e. name changes, port changes, size and year documentation info) which is nice to have but doesn't give you details on the condition of the boat, including negative events/accidents. They can be used to see the types of water the boat was used in which could be helpful but again, it doesn't include any specifics on the condition and integrity of the hull.

Boat History Report - definitely would be my go to report if I was choosing just one. It included all the info I received from the US Coast Guard documentation history (i.e. ALL years of documentation) but also included info on negative events in the boats history. For example, if it was salvaged or in any accidents. This to me is the most important information before handing over large sums of cash, not to mention the safety of your family if there is some structural issue found! Also, they get data from all kinds of sources including law enforcement accident data and data from your states dmv or titling/registration agency. One of the boats I was looking at turned up an accident!!!!! So needless to say I didn't end up putting in an offer on that one. Overall this was a great service and very complete and thorough with all the things it checked for.

Boat Fax - They have a "check your boat" option which at first I thought was like or maybe like the search I did on However, it turns out it actually only checked for stolen boats or if someone happened to submit info to their site on that particular boat, which seems unlikely. I really can't see someone getting into an accident or having their boat stolen and then jumping onto to submit the data to their site. The boat that turned up one accident on boathistoryreport came up clean on boatfax. They have a lot of other things they offer on their site so other items may be more useful but in terms of history reports, seems like the name is the only thing similar to carfax- definitely not the quality.

In Summary:

So I guess in summary they are all decent services but I would probably recommend trust me, it is worth it. Would have hated to buy that boat only to find out the deck-hull joint split in rough waters and caused a partial submersion. As a side note, boatfax did seem cheaper than boathistoryreport but I guess you get what you pay for. Anyway, happy boating to all!!!!

If anyone wants more details or info shoot me an email:



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john000 5 years ago from Superior, Arizona

You've convinced me to go to if I want to investigate a boat. Afraid I am in the bass boat category - it would be great to be considering a 35 footer. Good hub.

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