A boat can be a dream come true for many people. It’s a touch of luxury and loads of leisurely fun. It can be an escape for the avid fisher and a way to provide quality time with family and friends. A boat is a large purchase, though, and it deserves the same care and consideration that you would put into buying a car or any other type of vehicle.
First things first – make sure it fits your lifestyle! A boat should never be an impulse purchase. You should go boating with friends a few times – or even rent a boat in the same class as what you are considering buying – to see if it’s an activity you really do enjoy, even with the work required to transport, launch and dock the boat. If you can’t afford to occasionally rent a boat, you probably cannot afford to buy one, so consider that as well. That leads into the second tip. You need to be aware of the actual amount of time and money involved in being a boat owner. Make sure you look into the cost not just of purchasing the boat but also of a trailer, storage, fuel, oil, repairs, maintenance, life jackets, equipment, licenses and permits and so on.
Consider what your main activities will be and what type of boat you will need for those activities. Will you be fishing? What type of fishing boat will you need? Will this be strictly a leisure or cruising boat? What is the price range you can comfortably afford? What size boat will you need to accommodate the activities you will be using the boat for? These are all things you should know the answers to before you start shopping.
Go to some boat shows to look at different types of boats and get a feel for the costs of the boats you like. Leave your wallet at home – there is too much high pressure selling going on and, while it’s a great place to get product reviews and brochures, you should never buy your first boat at a boat show. Buying your first boat from a dealer rather than from a classified ad has its benefits. This will give you a knowledgeable person to guide you and help to put you in a boat that is appropriate for you.
Don’t buy too much boat for your needs. A small, easy-on-the-wallet, easy-to-handle boat that won’t break the bank in gas will be easier for most people the first time. That really gives you more room for mistakes…and those small slip ups won’t hurt so much!
Last but not least, read up on the type of boat you are considering purchasing. There are many excellent magazines within the boating industry that can give you plenty of insight. Read books and ask around for advice from knowledgeable friends. Know that, just like with cars, most boats sell for far less than the asking price. Research the value of the boat you want to buy and comparison shop. Be prepared to wheel and deal with the seller, just the same as you would with a car.