It may surprise you to find out that most boat sales occur outside of boating season. Beginning in the fall, dealers and manufacturers are looking to clear what’s left of their stock, and you can often find great deals on new models. It’s also a good plan to shop during winter boat shows when the market is prepping for the upcoming spring/summer season. So, as we exit boating season and enter boat-buying season, your friends here at Crownline want to give you a few tips on buying your next boat.
1. Choose the Style
There are so many different styles of watercraft. From yachts to dinghies, jet boats to fishing boats, pontoons to runabouts, luxury cruisers to backwater jons, there’s a style for every boater and every activity. Your first job is to find out which boat best suits your needs. A great place to start is the Crownline Boat Models page. Keep in mind, the best boat for you is the one you’ll use most often. Don’t be beguiled by a great-looking model that you’ll only use once or twice a year. If you’re into fishing and your family is not, look for a boat that has a fishing package. Many cruisers and pontoons now offer fishing options that deliver the best of both worlds. There’s a lot of variety when it comes to layouts and styles, so be sure to experiment with as many as you can before settling on the one you like best.
2. New or Used?
This choice comes down to savings. Is it worth paying more for a brand-new boat? Often it is, especially if you plan on reselling. But boats last a lot longer than they used to, and it’s usually safe to buy a used model—if you do your homework. Have it inspected, do a thorough walkaround, and take it out on the water before you put money down. New boats can also have their quirks, so an inspection is always a good idea.
3. Start Shopping
This is the fun part! Start comparing different boats online and in person. Go to dealerships and boat shows. Look for promotions and talk to experts. The industry is full of friendly people who want to help you find just what you’re looking for. There are also dedicated websites for analyzing and comparing boats, such as boats.com. Once you’ve found the model you like, locate a dealer and get it inspected.
4. Inspecting the Boat
Most inspections have three phases:
The walk-through allows you to ask questions of the seller. Don’t be shy and ask as many as you can. Boating Magazine has a great checklist here.
The goal of the water test is for you to get a feel for the boat and how it performs underway. It’s not a joyride, so don’t spend hours. Take just enough time to cruise the lake and try a few speeds and turns.
For this stage, you’ll want to hire a marine surveyor to inspect the boat before you make the purchase. The surveyor will examine the boat both in and out of the water. Here’s a good article that explains what will be done: https://www.boats.com/boat-sellers-guide/understanding-boat-surveys/.
Boat buying is a lot of work, but it should also be a lot of fun. Throughout the process, remember to do your research, work with people you trust, and take your time to find the perfect boat for you.