While nearly everyone dreams of owning a boat, making that dream a reality can prove intimidating. There’s so much to consider when thinking of buying a boat that it can scare some people off. But with a little bit of info about what to keep in mind, the boat buying process can be surprisingly easy. And with a payoff of sunny days spent on the water, who wouldn’t want to give it a try? Here are some things to think about before buying your first boat.
What are you going to use your boat for?
With so many different types of boats on the market, you need to consider what you plan to use it for, and then pick out a vessel that matches your needs. Do you plan to use it mostly for watersports with the family? How about long-distance cruising or weekend trips to regional ports? Or will you use it for fishing? Such considerations will help determine the size, layout and amenities you’re looking for in a boat.
Where will you keep your boat?
This is one of the biggest considerations for new boaters. Will you keep your boat in a slip at a marina or on a mooring? Or are you planning to keep it at home and trailer it? If you do trailer your boat, you will need to know how to launch and retrieve your boat, which is easy to learn but does take some practice. You also need to 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 now require boaters to have some type of boating education certification. The extent and details of certification requirements differ from state to state, so check on what your state requires. If you plan to boat in neighboring states, check to see if they accept your state’s certification or if you need one specific to that state.
Handling the walk-through and sea trial.
A boat for sale might look nice, but give it a thorough inspection to make sure it’s in a 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 the boat 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.
Love can make you do crazy things, and if you fall in love with the boat you’re looking at and the idea of boating (And who wouldn’t?), 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 try to 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.