Almost everyone loves the idea of owning a boat—being able to go fishing with your pals, cruising to interesting ports, and evenings spent on the water enjoying the company of friends. But when it comes to making that idea a reality, things can get intimidating. That’s because there’s so much to consider when buying a boat that it can scare some people off if they’ve never done it before.
But buying a boat doesn’t need to be intimidating if you’re well prepared and know what to look for. Here are a few things to consider to help you through the process of buying your first boat.
What are you going to use your boat for? With so many styles of boats out there, you need to think about what you plan to use it for, and then pick out a vessel that matches your needs. Will you use it mostly for fishing? How about long-distance cruising or weekend trips? Or will you use it for watersports with the family? Such considerations will help determine the size, layout and amenities you need in a boat.
Where will you keep your boat? This is one of the biggest questions for new boaters. Will you keep your boat in a slip at a marina or on a mooring? Or do you plan to keep it at home and trailer it? You also should consider what to do with your boat in winter and whether you’ll store it on your property or if you’ll need to pay for storage at a facility.
What kind of certification do you need? Most states require boaters to have some type of boating education certification. The extent and details of certification requirements differ from state to state, so check your state’s requirements. If you plan to boat in abneighboring state, see if they accept your state’s certification or if you need one specific to that state.
Handling the walk-through and sea trial. Thoroughly inspect the boat to make sure it’s in good shape. Walk around the boat and inspect everything on it, from the deck and fittings to the engine and machinery. If you’re satisfied, take it out for a sea trial and consider how it handles, how fast it goes and how responsive it is. If you’re still interested, and the boat is in the water, have it hauled out to give it a more thorough inspection and make sure there are no problems hidden below the waterline.
How to close the deal. If you fall in love with the boat you’re looking at and the idea of boating, you may end up paying more than you should. Try not to be emotional when negotiating the price. Determine the boat’s value to you and stay close to it. Also, if you’re buying a used boat from a boatyard, check that there are no outstanding bills or liens on the boat.