4 Tips for Buying Your First Boat

Plan on Buying Your First Boat soon? Keep these tips in mind.

Are you finally ready to buy your first boat? The boat buying process can be exciting, but it’s also intimidating if you’ve never done it before. A boat can be a big investment and you want to be sure you’re making a smart choice.

4 Boat Buying Tips to Keep in Mind

They say the best days of a boat owner’s life are the day you buy the boat and the day you sell the boat. This is obviously a funny joke, but for many boat owners, it isn’t far from the truth. If you want your boat to be a blessing and not a curse, you have to do your due diligence prior to purchase. By putting in research on the front end, you can rest easy knowing you’re making a smart choice. Keep these tips in mind:

  1. Understand the Ongoing Costs

You aren’t ready to buy a boat until you understand the ongoing costs associated with boat ownership. Just because you have enough money to purchase the boat doesn’t mean you have the cash to keep it going. Talk with your friends who own boats, research the averages, and run your own calculations. You’ll discover that this isn’t a cheap hobby.

Between insurance, registration, gas, maintenance, winterization, renting a marina slip, storing, and purchasing all of the other gadgets and toys that come with boating (life jackets, tubes, etc.), you can easily spend a few thousand dollars a year without blinking an eye. Just be sure you can afford it; otherwise, the boat becomes a burden.

  1. Choose the Right Size

What size boat do you want? Are you looking for a 17-foot boat that you can jet around on and enjoy some fishing, or do you want a 40-foot cruiser that the entire family can enjoy? There’s obviously a huge difference and you have to decide what fits your needs and budget. Once you’ve got size squared away – or at least a range – you can narrow down your search.

  1. Evaluate the Main Systems

Finding a boat that fits your specs and price range is one thing. Before making a purchase, you need to be sure it functions properly. Little things like a rip in a seat or a scratch on the hull don’t matter all that much. An issue with one of the boat’s main systems does. Spend time evaluating all of the boat’s systems. If you don’t know what to look for, bring along someone who does.

  1. Insist on a Test Drive

A test drive is very important. Not only does this give you a chance to feel how the boat drives, but it also allows you to double check the main systems (as discussed in the previous point). Use all of your senses – especially your nose and ears.

Smell the engine as it runs. This can help you evaluate whether or not something is wrong with it. For example, the smell of burning rubber usually means water flow is no longer reaching the water pump’s impeller. Your ears will tell you if parts are grinding or loose. Again, if you don’t know what a boat should sound like, bring along a friend with some experience.

Don’t Rush the Buying Process

There’s no rush to buy a boat. You don’t need a boat before your family goes to the lake next weekend. (That’s what rentals are for.) You don’t need to have a boat because all of your friends do. Rushing into the boat buying process is a sure fire way to make a mistake. Have some patience, do your research, and wait for the right deal to come along.