Ahoy, Captain: word on the water is that you’re searching for a new vessel. Here’s some shipshape knowledge to keep in mind as you embark upon your purchasing voyage. This one-stop guide for new boat owners is an invaluable resource; feel free to print it out for easy reference as you browse.
When shopping for a new boat, consider:
What Type of Boat Should You Buy?
The type of vessel that matches your unique intended purpose. Are you a fisherman? Pleasure cruiser? Someone who wants to pull the kids on that huge inflatable donut? Narrow your search by visiting a showcase event such as the St. Petersburg Power and Sailboat Show. Ask plenty of questions. The employees who work these shows are usually boating experts, so you’re likely to amass more information within a few hours than if you sat at home and typed ‘which boat is right for me?’ into search engines. Trust us. We’ve done it.
Consider How You Will Use Your New Boat
Climb on board and give the seats a try. Investigate cabins and their spaciousness (or lack thereof). Will Fido the Waterdog be a frequent boating companion? Look at the upholstery and make a note to choose one that is not easily ripped by canine nails (he has a lot of them). Ask about towing capacity, engine strength, service details. Go ahead – ask it all.
Shop Around for the Best Boat Manufacturers
Once you’ve identified the main uses for the boat-to-be, it’s time to look at boat manufacturers. This is a vital step; after all, no one wants to purchase a lemon. Nowhere in this guide is it okay to agree with those stodgy landlubbers who repeat the adage: The two best days in a sailor’s life are when he buys a boat and when he sells it. It’s simply not true – especially if you do your research.
Consider Maintenance Options for Your New Boat
Since you’ve already decided to purchase an entirely new craft, you’ve freed yourself from the worry that a previous owner amassed damages to the boat that he didn’t report. With that in mind, don’t expect every moment with your vessel to be concern-free. Maintenance is of course necessary for even the most well-built craft. Begin your boating relationship with a brand that is known to have a good reputation for consistent quality.
Shop Around for the Best Price
At this point in the purchasing process, one usually jumps right to price. If you’ve chosen a popular boat that is difficult to find, reassess your priorities. Shopping around is all well and good if that boat is waiting for you in thousands of marinas nationwide. Have your heart set on a particularly rare vessel? Add after-sale services the seller may provide as part of your decision and consider purchasing that boat now. A warranty and service staff at the ready can make your boating life much easier. Plus, waiting too long may make it impossible to find the same craft.
Timing is Everything with Boat Shopping
Note that securing a great deal on a boat often comes down to timing. Looking at a dealership purchase? Fall may be your best chance at a good value. You may also find favorable financing terms during boat show season, which is typically in the winter. Soon, the next year’s model of that boat will be released; if you’ve done your homework, you may be able to negotiate a lower price for the current year’s craft. Securing real savings comes down to doing your research and knowing the alternatives in the current marketplace. Know what you want and what it’s worth.
It’s finally finished – that beautiful boat is yours! Not so fast. You need to answer an inevitable question: where are you storing it? Indoor and outdoor options are available. You’ll also need insurance and perhaps financing options. Did the salesperson sing the praises of a marine insurance agent and tell you to ‘go see his guy’ to get financing? If so, give those professionals a chance. Personal referrals are often the best indication of competence.
Done everything listed above? Congratulations – you’re now the informed owner of a new boat!