Things You Will Need
NADA price book for Boats
The first step is to determine how you will use your boat. Do you like to sail or would you rather just turn the key on and go? Do you want to pull a skier or someone on a tube? Do you plan to use the boat primarily for fishing or would you like to go cruising overnight? Part of the decision on how you will use your boat will be determined by where you will be boating. A power yacht or a large sailboat will not work very well on a small lake and in contrast, a canoe does not perform well in the open ocean. Another determining factor is how many people you plan to have on board. Boats generally have number of people and weight capacities. Exceeding them can lead to fines from the Coast Guard and local and state law enforcement agencies.
After you have determined the type of activities that you want to participate in and how many people you plan to have on board, the next step is to decide on the type of boat that will meet those requirements. A boat is a big investment and careful research should be done on not only the manufactures of a particular boat but also on the manufacturers of the engine the boat is equipped with. One resource is BoatTest.com. This web sight allows you to compare boats by type, size and manufacturer and gives you a head to head comparison of all the models that meet your criteria. There are also articles and videos of independently conducted tests for each model. By comparing models and manufactures when you go to a boat show you can go directly to the exhibits of the specific boats you are interested in.
The next step is to determine if you want to purchase a new or used boat. Generally you can get more boat for the money by buying a used boat. However, with that said, you also take a chance on buying someone else's problem. Boats can indeed be "a hole in the ocean that you throw money down." If you are a first time boat owner and your finances permit, a new boat with a solid warranty purchased from a repeatable dealer may be the best route. There are deals on new boats out there especially during boat shows. If you are not new to boating, a number of long time boaters say that the best way to buy a boat is to get a used boat with a new motor. What ever way you decide to go, remember that there are other expenses to consider with the purchase. Boats require a number of accessories such as anchors, dock lines, and safety equipment including life jackets, flares, fire extinguishers and a marine radio among others. You also have to consider operating costs such as fuel, insurance and ongoing maintenance. In addition, there are costs associated with boat storage. Will you have to keep the boat in a wet slip, dry storage at a marina, or on a trailer at a storage facility or your home?
Buying a boat can be a major financial as well as life changing event. If you too are ready to take the plunge, use the above tips to save yourself money and time.
Tips & Warnings
If you are financing your purchase, investigate the lowest rates and best terms available from several different banks, credit unions and other financial sources. If possible obtain prior approval.
If the size of your boat allows, keeping it on a trailer can provide a number of benefits. A boat trailer gives you the freedom to explore new waterways, an affordable way to store your boat, and they provide an easier way to maintain and clean your boat.