Tips and Ideas for Those New to Boating and Considering Buying a Boat
Go boating with Family or some friends several times. Make sure the activity really fits your interests.
Be aware of the true cost and time commitments of being a boater. The old joke about a boat being a hole in the water you pour money into may not be far off at times, and yet a boat can provide great recreational and learning experiences for you, your family and friends. We just ask that you do some serious looking at original cost, insurance, interest, fuel and oil, trailer, storage, repairs Boat Safety Certificate, setting up a tow vehicle, lodging, weekend food, extra fishing gear, skis, life jackets, licenses and permits, maintenance, etc. Also realize the time required to round up the gear, get to the water, participate in water activities, get back home, unpack, and service the boat. Millions of people do this and couldn't enjoy it more. We only suggest you consider it before you plunge in. Relatively developments in engine efficiencies, sport jet boats and inflatable boats are making boating both easier and more economical.
Go to some boat shows, but leave your wallet at home. DO NOT buy your first boat at a boat show. The sales pressure is too intense and you have "boating fever." Boat shows are a great place to review products from the various builders, obtain brochures and gain some knowledge of local dealers.
Decide what your main boating activities will be and how many people will be in the boat. Will you be fishing, skiing, cruising or living aboard.? Will you ever operate in salt water? Do you plan on putting your boat on a trailer or hard standing ?
Don't buy too much boat your first time. Get a small, economical, sound, easy to get around, easy to handle boat you can learn in that doesn't cost a fortune and that doesn't go 75 miles an hour or eat gas like a rocket ship. You won't be so sad when you crash it into the dock a few times and scratch it up trying to learn how to get in on a trailer on a windy day. Your whole family can learn on it and you might even keep it on as a second boat for the kids if you "move up" later. Your dealer might have a nice used boat that still has some warranty and is in excellent shape that could make you a nice first boat. Big boats are more difficult to handle and more costly to operate. Your dealer can help you find an appropriate sized first boat. Lots of buyers move on to a bigger boat within the first two years.
Small builders - If you are a beginning boater interested in a boat from a small builder, buy one from a builder in your area, don't buy one from a small local builder half-way across the country. Strong large builders can service boats across the country; many small builders do a good job of servicing boats in their region, but may struggle as servicing certain problems across the country.
Beware of instant low price deals you have to take "right now". Good, well established firms want to sell you a boat, but they want to sell you the one you need. Firms struggling for cash sometimes resort to "must buy now" offers. Shop around and think about your potential purchase for a while. Don't make spur of the moment decisions.
Consider going "partners" with a family member or friend who has more boating experience and may already own a boat. Being a part owner has a lot of economic advantages. If your families boat together there should be minimal "it’s my weekend to use the boat" conflicts. After you gain additional boating experience, you might purchase your own boat and "mentor" another friend into boating, or perhaps you and your first friend might purchase a "bigger and better" boat together.
Read the Press - Go to a Library or internet for free info, or a large bookstore / magazine stand and purchase a handful of boating magazines, especially any directly dealing with the type of boats you are interested in. This industry has several excellent magazines. You can learn a lot from them. Most magazines have online counterparts, but few are as informative as their printed cousins.
Asking Price vs. Selling Price - Just like cars, most boats sell for less than the asking price. Learn the approximate value of the boat from the guides and comparison shopping, and then be prepared to deal.