Buying your first boat can be an overwhelming experience. You are quickly going to realize that there are a lot of options out there. In this post, I will try to show you how to sort through some of the clutter. Here are some things to consider when buying a boat.
Power or sail: this is he epic question that can be debated by boaters indefinitely. To make this decision you need to ask yourself some key question. 1) are you passionate about one over the other 2) what do you wish to accomplish with your boat. Long distance travel will be better served by a sail boat due to high fuel costs associated with powerboats. Also in general, the livability of a sail boat is better than that of a powerboat. 3) do you have children, if so what ages and are they willing to sit on a slow moving sail boat vs getting there NOW on a power boat. These are lifestyle choices they are very personal and can only be made by you.
If you decide on a sailboat, my suggestion is that you don’t buy one just yet! Hear me out. I own a powerboat but I would like to get into sailing sometime in the future. Power boats are easier to handle and require less work by the owner to upkeep. They are therefore a good way to be introduced to the boating lifestyle. In my opinion sailing is more challenging that power boating and when I choose to make the move, I plan on joining a sailing club first. The cost to join a sailing club for two people is roughly the same as docking and storage fees for your boat and you’ll get to learn on the clubs sailboats. You will also have a better understanding of what kind of sail boat you want to buy when you are ready to buy it. It’s a win win situation. That’s my two cents on sailing.
Moving on, let’s concentrate on the next steps in your search.
1) Purchase Budget: Set a purchase budget then subtract 10% of that budget. So for example If 50,000$ is your budget. Look for a boat that cost 45,000$. Save the 10% for initial upgrades and work that the boat may need.
2) Boat category: you have bow riders, cuddy cabins, cabin cruisers and a multitude of other types of boat categories. Decide on which one suits you best. Look at things like room to entertain, facilities and other criterias that are important to you. For instance, If your interested in drinking on your boat, look for a boat with a sleeping area and washroom facilities. If you are looking to spend the night on your boat, a cabin cruiser or larger may be appropriate.
3) Size: When buying your first boat size is something you should pay attention to, especially if you are new to boating. There are many people who buy boats that are larger than what they are capable of handling. They become intimidated by their own boat, and end up not operating it as much as they would like. Keep your skill level in mind. As a new boater I recommend a single drive boat that is no larger than 26-27 feet.
4) Decide on a marina: Some marina’s have a 2-3 year waiting list. If you are serious about buying a boat, start inquiring with marinas you are interested in.
5) Make: Narrow down the makes and models of boats you are interested in. Like cars, boats come from a verity of manufacturers with different reputations, do your research and chose a manufacturer or two that you are comfortable with.
6) Travel: Scour the classified ads and be prepared to travel. look within your price range to get a better idea of what year of boat you’ll be able to afford with the purchase price you’ve set.
7) Make a short list: Once you find some boats you are interested in, make a short list and investigate those boats in more detail. Things to look for are low engine hours (in my opinion below 1000 hours, but this is subjective), good condition camper top, the reputation of the manufacturer and the previous boat owners! the boat ownership history will tell you a lot about the type of boat its been and the type of care its received. When I purchased my boat I spoke with two previous owners. They were very happy to speak with me and tell me all about the history of the boat.
8) Negotiate: Be reasonable but, Negotiate, Negotiate, and Negotiate some more! Once you are ready to buy, sign a conditional agreement and include the condition that the boat be checked by a marine surveyor to your satisfaction.
9) Marine survey: Get the boat looked at by a reliable marine surveyor. You will find more information on that here.
10) Lean and Police check: I’ve written a separate post on how to make sure the boat you purchase is not stolen and doesn’t haven’t any leans on it.
My final thoughts: don’t be rushed into buying your first boat. Take your time as you are making a huge investment. It is a lot easier to pull out of a deal than to purchase a boat and end up with a lemon. Your dream of boating will be better accomplish if you first invest the time to find a boat that is suitable for you and your family. I wish you the best of luck.