One of the best days in the life of water enthusiasts is when they buy their first boat. Having a boat of your own gives you complete control over your boating hobby. You no longer need to book sailboat tours or wait for your buddy to invite you on a fishing trip. You can go out in your own boat on your own time and have the time of your life as often as you can. If you’re in the market for a boat, get excited but not impulsive.
If you want the best possible boat purchasing experience, the following considerations can help you make the right decisions and get you out on the water as quickly as possible.
Choose the Right Type of Boat
When you’re ready to buy a boat, the first thing you need to decide is which type. There are different boat designs for all the various water activities. The following are just a few of the options you could look at:
- Fishing boat
- Deck boat
- Speed boat
Think about your needs and wants and research the best boat features for you to narrow your choices. Don’t forget to consider size and capacity as you’ll need enough room for your desired number of occupants.
Consider the Cost of Owning a Boat
There’s more to buying a boat than the sticker price, so you’ll want to sit down and write a budget that includes a few key factors. Firstly, in order to use your boat, you must be able to tow it. Therefore, you’ll need an appropriately sized vehicle that can pull your boat and trailer.
Secondly, you may need a place to store your boat if you don’t have enough space at your property. You can start calling around to find marinas and boat docks, which come at an additional monthly expense. Depending on your region, you may also need to make plans for storage during the winter season.
Finally, think about where you plan to do your boating. You’ll need a vessel that is aptly sized for your activity as well as your waterway. You don’t want a boat with a deep hull for trolling through shallow water.
Get an Insurance Quote
Not only is it responsible to insure your boat for protection, but personal watercraft insurance gives you the peace of mind to enjoy yourself out on the water. The best boat insurance policies provide coverage for damage, replacement, wreckage removal, medical care and more. Because all boats are different and you have no control over how other operators navigate the water, you should always be prepared with a full-coverage, customized boat insurance policy.
Make a Budget for Your Boat Purchase
Boating is an affordable hobby when you leverage the cost of entertainment for yourself and your family, but it can be easy to go overboard with your spending. You’ll want to be as precise as possible with your budget to avoid getting carried away with all the impressive bells and whistles that boost sticker prices. When buying a boat, there are a few things to keep in mind.
A brand new boat typically comes with a warranty, and because it’s fresh off the factory floor, you likely won’t have any mechanical issues for a while. Whereas a pre-owned vessel may need a more thorough inspection, but the price may be significantly lower than a new watercraft. It’s important to weigh your options and determine which boat purchase is best for your budget.
Go Boat Shopping
Once you have your boat type and budget nailed down, it’s time to go shopping. A simple online search will yield numerous results for individual models, dealerships, forums and online reviews. Collect as much information as possible and continue to narrow your search to meet your parameters. Are you intent on buying local, or are you willing to travel or pay shipping charges?
Don’t rely solely on the internet, however. Reach out to boat owners or affiliates to learn more specific information that may be helpful in your pursuit.
Visit a Dealership
It can be hard to find the right watercraft without engaging your senses during the purchasing process. Working with a dealer allows you access to a variety of vessels that you can see and touch up close. However, don’t feel obligated to buy from the first dealer you meet. If you can, visit multiple dealerships and compare the quality and customer service. Part of a positive boat ownership experience is the purchase process, and you’ll feel better about your decision when you know you’re working with a reputable dealer.
Be sure to ask your dealer about the boating accessories you want, as well as those you may not even know you need for your activities. Additionally, make sure your purchase includes a boating safety and emergency kit and know where it’s located.
Take a Boat for a Test Drive
A sea trial is the equivalent of a test drive, but for watercraft. When you’re out for your sea trial, consider several factors that may affect your purchase decision. How will the boat handle when you fill it with your family and friends? Does it meet your needs for horsepower and steering ease ability? Depending on the amount of time you plan to spend moving on the water versus idling, you may value comfort over speed or vice versa.
Arrange a Boat Inspection
Especially if you plan to buy a secondhand vessel, you’ll want to have it thoroughly inspected before you hand over any cash. The major components including the engine, propeller, steering and electrical systems are just a few boat parts that should be in working order. Purchasing a boat without an inspection can lead to danger on the water as well as unexpected expenses for repairs.
If you’re not technically inclined or knowledgeable about boat mechanics, you can hire a third-party marine surveyor to perform the inspection and inform you of the craft’s condition.
Factor in the Final Costs
Be cautious of revelations that come out when closing the deal. When you buy a boat at the top of your budget, you may be shocked the final price of your purchase is higher than the sticker price. Just like buying a vehicle, there are often hidden fees and additional costs. Make sure your boat budget includes lines for dealer charges, registration, insurance and upkeep. Determining these costs ahead of time will help you stay within a price range you can comfortably afford.
Maintain and Upkeep Your Boat
Now that you’ve made your purchase and embarking on your boating adventure, remember your responsibility to your vessel. The more you put into upkeep on your boat, the longer you’ll be able to enjoy it. Neglecting regular maintenance, or putting it off for too long can negatively impact your boat’s condition or even lead to a bad experience offshore.
In addition to washing, waxing and taking your boat in for a tune-up, you can prolong the life of your vessel by learning as much as you can about boating industry trends and best practices.
If you get it right, your very first boat will not be your last because your passion for boating will only grow. So, hop on and enjoy the ride.