Buying a Boat: A Guide for all Types of Boaters

Americans spend over $42 billion a year on boats and related products and services. There’s a freedom to owning your own boat that doesn’t come with anything else. A boat opens up a whole new world of adventure and memory-making.

Buying a boat can seem like a mere fantasy, but it’s easier than you may think. Here are some things to consider before buying your first boat and tips to help you through this exciting process.

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Are You Ready for a Boat?

The weather is beautiful and you’re ready to get out on the water. Buying a boat seems like a dream come true. Long before you sign on the dotted line, though, you’ll need to consider a few things about owning a boat.

Outside of the cost of purchasing a boat, there will always arise other costs and fees as long as you own your vessel. Boats need regular maintenance to ensure it stays safe to use on the water. These costs can add up, so be sure it’s in your budget annually to take proper care of your investment.

Where you will store the boat and how you will get it to and from the water is also a major consideration. For smaller boats, it may be possible to keep it at your home and trailer it to the water when needed. Larger boats will need to be kept at a boatyard or out in the water at a harbor, which will cost you a monthly fee.

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Boats provide a lot of fun, but there is also a considerable amount of work involved. Aside from regular maintenance, you will need to prepare your boat for storage over the winter months. This will require cleaning, prepping, wrapping, and paying for storage if you aren’t able to store the boat at home.

What Type of Boat to Buy

From sports boats to yachts, there are dozens of options for what type of boat you can choose. Knowing how you plan to use the boat will help you to narrow your choices down.

Boating Activity

What type of boat to buy will depend primarily on how you plan to use it. Boats can be used for fishing, skiing, tubing, cruising, and more. The shape of the boat and, more importantly, the size of the engine will factor in how you can use your boat.

The engine or motor of your boat is perhaps the most important factor in deciding what type of boat you need. The greater the horsepower, the faster and farther your boat will go. If you plan to do any kind of water sports like skiing or tubing, you’ll need a boat with some significant horsepower.

If you plan to boat out on the open water, it is very wise to get a boat with two engines. This gives you the power you need to get through larger waves and swells. It also gives you backup should one of the engines fail while you’re out to sea.

Number of People on Board

How many people you plan to have on board will determine the size and even the type of boat you buy. If you just plan to do some solo fishing, a small boat will suit you fine. If you’re looking to have larger family gatherings or parties out on the water, you’ll want to look into maybe a pontoon boat or something larger.

Also, think ahead at least 5 years when considering the size and type of boat you want to buy. If you intend to use this with your family, how old will your kids be in a few years and what will their needs be? The type of boat you buy now might not be appropriate down the road and you don’t want to find yourself with a boat that no longer suits your needs.

Where You’ll Use Your Boat

Obviously, you’ll be using your boat on the water, but whether it’s a river or lake or open sea will dictate what type of boat you need. For use out in the ocean, you’ll need a boat that is at least 25 feet long so it can handle the waves. In freshwater lakes and rivers, a 20-foot boat or smaller will work fine and will be easier to transport and store.

If you plan to use your boat in rough conditions, take a look at the boat chine. Multiple boat chines make for better handling and turning in rougher waters.

Your Boat Budget

How much you are able to spend is probably the biggest factor in what type and size boat you are able to buy. Knowing how much you can afford will help you choose the right boat for you. In addition to all the boat options out there, you can also choose to buy a used boat or one that is brand new.

When buying a brand new boat, you know exactly what you’re getting. It’s shiny and new and comes with a warranty. If you have specific needs and wants, you can even have one built to your exact specifications.

If you’re on a tight budget, a used boat you can get a good value for not a ton of money. Used boats, however, can come with many issues you can’t see. If the boat has not been well-maintained, it can end up costing you a fortune in repairs.

Other than the initial purchase, you’ll need to make sure you have room in your budget to take care of your boat. Maintenance costs can run around 10-15% of the total cost of your boat per year. If you’re not able to store your boat at home, you’ll also need to factor in storage costs as well.

Whether you purchase new or used, you can choose to finance a boat. There are banks and lenders who can help you out with this process. There are also online calculators to help you see the cost of monthly payments.

Buying a Boat

Boat buying is easier than ever and a gateway to fun on the water for many years to come. There are many things to consider when buying a boat, but once you’ve armed yourself with a bit of knowledge you can be out on the water in no time!

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