Are you ready to buy your first boat but don't know where to begin? We're here to help with these 7 essential boat buying tips.
Imagine yourself out on the open sea, surrounded by family and friends. You’re driving your boat, feeling the wind on your face as you ride out in the ocean. You stop to go swimming, water skiing, kayaking, and engage in other water activities.
Does this sound like paradise? Well, owning a boat is amazing. Other people agree. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, boat sales reached an all-time high in 2020. But before your fantasies become reality, you have to buy a boat.
Boat buying can be intimidating for the newbie. Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Here are 7 boat buying tips for first-time boat buyers.
1. Knowing the Type of Boat You Want
Out of the tips for buying a boat, knowing what boat you want is probably the most important. There are several types of boats you can choose from. Leisure boats are the most common, but yachts, wakeboarding, and wake surfing boats are also popular options.
Other types of boats you can buy include:
- Express cruisers
- Fishing boats
- Center console boats
- Pontoon boats
- Speed boats
To know the type of boat you want, consider your reason for boating. If you want a boat that can fit several guests, you may want a bigger boat such as a yacht. Watersports boats, such as wakeboarding boats, are ideal if you’re wanting to engage in water sports.
Once you consider the boat you want for your purpose, there are other aspects to consider. The costs and the time you’ll spend are examples of important factors.
2. Shopping Online
There are two main places to look for a boat: through a dealer and an individual seller (especially if buying used). Regardless of the method you choose, you have to exercise diligence to ensure you’re buying a quality boat.
Buying boats online is generally the go-to method for many, so we’ll focus our efforts here. The only downside is you have many options, and this can get overwhelming for new buyers.
We suggest looking in a couple of different places and comparing some boats you like. Compare the listings by looking at what the boat offers and the photos. If you're buying used, be wary of boats that need a lot of work.
Even when buying a boat online, you should always buy a boat in your local area. You’ll still need to inspect it in person, which we will cover in a later section.
3. New or Used
While owning a boat is luxurious, they tend to come at a high price. Many boat owners save a few bucks by buying a used boat. But buying used can come with some downsides, such as more maintenance. That, and there’s always the risk that you’re buying a low-quality boat.
If you decide that you want a used boat, there are a few factors you should look for. The boat should be made of aluminum or fiberglass since these materials don’t rot easily.
During the inspection, look at some core aspects, such as the electrical system and engine. You can also be sure you're buying a great boat by purchasing your boat from a reputable dealer.
Regardless of where you buy your boat, you should always conduct a boat inspection. This brings us to our next section.
4. Boat Inspection
If you want to know how to buy a boat, you need to know that the inspection is one of the most vital parts of the boat buying process.
But how do you do this? Start with a walkaround. Look around on the boat and be sure it has been maintained and cleaned well. Keep an eye out for any scratches or other imperfections, especially if you’re buying a used boat.
Next, see if you can go out for a test drive. A sea trial is the best way to see if the engine and other electrical components are working well. See if you can put the boat under different conditions, such as driving at fast speeds and slowing down, to ensure everything is working well.
Since this is likely your first time buying a boat, it wouldn’t hurt to hire a boat surveyor. This may also be required by your insurance company.
5. Document Everything
When learning how to buy your first boat, you should know to document everything during the inspection. Even if you get a boat surveyor, you should still document everything in your inspection. Write notes on what the seller tells you. List some of the features and selling points of the boat, as well as anything that may need servicing.
Take pictures of the entire boat. If you have a family member or friend who’s more experienced with boating, see if they can tag along to provide some insight.
Do this for every boat you’re inspecting, if you’re looking at more than one.
6. What’s Included?
Some sellers include some essential pieces in your boat, such as extra life jackets. But don’t promise that the seller will include these items — it’s best to research the extra amenities you’ll need and how much they will cost.
The amenities you get will depend on the type of boating you’re doing. Some popular examples include:
- Swim ladder
- Sporting equipment (water skis, etc.)
- Fishing equipment (if you plan on fishing)
- Dock lines
- Refrigerators and coolers
You’ll also want to consider possible upgrades. For example, upgrading your engine will improve the driving experience and can even boost your resale value.
7. Know About Any Warranties
Last but not least, you shouldn’t forget about a warranty. Most boat warranties cover certain parts of the boat and repairs. You should also know if the warranty covers any emergency repairs in case the worst care scenario occurs.
Boat Buying Doesn’t Have to Be Difficult
When it comes to boat buying, finding the right boat is essential but also finding the best dealer. Whether you want a new or used boat, a great boat dealer will only sell the best boats and will offer an extensive catalog for all boat buyers.
We understand a boat is a major investment, which is why we’re devoted to selling the highest quality boats. To ensure your boat runs perfectly, we also offer servicing and parts for local customers. If you’re based in Orlando, search our boats today.