You’ve finally decided to take the plunge …literally. You’ve saved and scrimped. You’ve cut back for months, maybe years. Now you finally have enough to buy your first boat. Amongst all the excitement and dreams of what you and your family and friends are going to do once you get your boat, there are some important items to take into account before taking the final step of signing a contract. A little general knowledge will go a long way as you search for the right craft for you. You should know about the types of watercraft as well as being up-to-date on boat news and reviews. Then, you can finally hit the open water.
The Right Type of Boat
Is your goal to take friends and family out on the water or to do weekend fishing trips? There are boats made for each activity and plenty of models that can handle both equally well. The most typical kind of boat you find on your local waterway is the cruising boat. There are bow riders with a little more speed and pontoons that are designed specifically for entertaining the whole crowd at a leisurely pace. Lower priced cruising boats are typically meant for day trips only. But if you bump up the price point, you can find bow riders and other cruising boats with cabins for overnight trips. Or if money is no object, a multi-room yacht makes for quite the vessel.
Fishing boats are all about making the big catch. With an open design and a cockpit in the back, these vessels give you plenty of space on the deck to move around after you’ve hooked a fish. There aren’t a lot seats since this is not the boat for the lake party. This one has a specific purpose and design. If you want a fast way to get to your favorite fishing hole, this is it. That said, there continues to be new, more expensive models for the serious fisherman that include a cabin for those who want to chase the fish all night.
If skiing, tubing and wakeboarding are what you’re looking for, a boat designed for water sports is the best choice. Able to reach higher speeds than cruising and fishing boats, these vessels have increased towing capacity with some models accommodating as many as four skiers at once. Water sports boats range from a ski boat for the beginner or intermediate up to designs made for serious athletes. Make sure you know which one is right for you. The top-level sport boats are typically for more experienced captains. Also, stay on top of boat news since designers are constantly coming out with new models.
Size It Right
Once you know what type of boat you want, it’s time to think about size. When it comes to boats, bigger isn’t always better, but it will come with more features and a bigger price tag. You can find large boats of greater than 50 feet in length that are akin to floating houses with cabins, toilets and kitchens. The drawback of the large boat is not only the price. These vessels will also come with many more parts to understand and systems to control. Unless you have the time to learn before you buy, it may not be worth it. In addition, boats larger than 35 feet may not even fit or stay secure on a trailer. That means dockage, which means another expense.
For the beginning boater, a 20-25 foot vessel is an excellent option. Small enough to trailer behind your SUV but big enough to enjoy the water, these smaller boats still come in a variety of designs with models that can pack a punch when it comes to speed. They are also among the cheapest on the market so, if the price is an issue, this boat is the one to start with.
Where to Buy
If you live anywhere near a body of water, you have seen countless newspapers and magazines focusing on boats for sale. Most of these are used boats, which aren’t always a bad option. They are great if you want to negotiate on price to get more for your buck. The downside is you have no idea of the history of the vessel. There isn’t a carfax for the boating industry just yet so your best bet if buying used is to hire a marine survey company to come take a look at your potential purchase. It will save you money in the long run and keep you from making the mistake of buying a used boat with tons of hidden damage. Also ask the seller if there is any remaining warranty on the vessel just in case.
New boats are straight from the factory and should perform well and look good as soon as they hit the water. They will have some form of warranty to cover damage or problems so you will not have to worry even if something goes wrong on your new boat. The drawback of buying new is that you will pay a higher price. You could find a similar used model for a discount, but it will have a history. With a new boat, you pay more but know what you are getting.
Insure Your Future
A boat is an investment. You want it to last many years just like your home and car. And just like those two items, you should insure your boat against damage. Even if your boat is kept on your property, homeowners insurance pays very little if there is damage to your vessel. There are a wide variety of insurance plans for boaters form basic coverage all the way up to towing and personal injury policies. And with many of the same companies that provide car and home policies in the game, it’s easy to find and compare rates for a policy.
Hit the Water
The process seems daunting. There are so many options and such a range of prices. But if you’ve already done the legwork of saving and preparing buy your first boat, you are ahead of the game. Just do your homework. Know what you want, find the right type, stay on top of boat news for all the latest information and reviews and insure it when you get it. Once you’ve done that, there’s only one thing left — smooth sailing.