Get ready to set sail this summer! Read on for the ultimate boat-buying guide.
Step 1: Choose your boat type
Before you can start browsing, decide on the kind of boat you’d like to buy. Boats, like cars, should be purchased with their intended use in mind. Take some time to think about your favorite water activities and determine which are most important to you. Research different boat types and ask your boat-owning friends to share their own impressions and tips.
Once you’ve chosen a boat type, decide where you’ll keep it. If you’d like to save on dockage costs and have the space for it on your property, you might want to buy a trailer-able boat. Remember, though, that hauling your own boat means you’ll need to take it to a launch ramp each time you want to get out onto the water. A water-stored boat makes last-minute getaways possible.
Step 2: Decide if you want to buy a new or used boat
You can save a ton of money by buying a previously owned boat. Visit boating sites, like boats.com and discoverboating.com to check out used boats that are on the market. You might be pleasantly surprised! However, keep in mind that just like used cars, insurance premiums, repairs and maintenance may be higher for a used boat.
Step 3: Start boat shopping!
Get pre-qualified for your Boat Loan at Destinations Credit Union so you’ll know how much you can afford to spend. Now you’re ready to hit the shops! Start your browsing with online listings. You’ll be able to sift through hundreds of models and compare prices, all from the comfort of your sofa. Check out boats.com, YachtWorld.com and BoatTrader.com for a wide variety of models. On those sites, you’ll be able to search by boat type, size or even customize your search by location.
Once you’ve exhausted your online options, start making the rounds of local boat shows and dealers. Hop aboard as many boats as you can to get a real feel for the quality and potential ride. Be nosy and ask lots of questions. Snap pictures and organize them by boat so you can look it all over again when you get home.
Step 4: Narrow your choices
Now that you’ve spent some time checking out boats, you may have different priorities. Sit down and list what’s most important to you in a dream boat. Include all boat categories you will consider, and then narrow that by your must-have features, ones you’d like to have and ones you want to keep away from.
Next, review the snapshots of the boats you’ve looked at, both in real life and online, and list the ones that fit all, or most of, your preferences. Finally, it’s time to make that nail-biting decision and choose your boat!
Step 5: Inspect your boat
Once you think you have identified the boat of your dreams, conduct a walkaround and a sea trial. You might want to hire a professional surveyor to help you out here. You’ll need one for insurance purposes anyway, and they’ll know how to do the job more thoroughly.
Don’t be shy about inspecting your boat deeply – especially if a deal seems too good to be true. You don’t want any unpleasant surprises once the deal is done! Walk through the entire boat and closely inspect each structural component, feature and amenity.
When you’ve finished your walkaround, it’s time to take her offshore. Your sea trial will show you what the boat’s like out on the water. After the sea trial, ask to have the boat hauled. It’s important for you to see the entire boat before you buy it, even what’s usually out of sight and below the waterline.
Step 6: Find out what’s included
Before you sign a contract, sit down with the seller to discuss exactly what’s included in the sale. Request a list of all equipment that comes with the boat so you can ensure you’ve got it all. You can also ask the seller about an amenity package; they may be more than willing to get rid of their “boating stuff” and you can save a ton in add-ons this way.
Step 7: Seal the deal
You’re ready to make it happen! Assuming you’ll have the financial details worked out by now, all that’s left to do is sign the paperwork, and then the boat is yours. At this point, you may be feeling heady with excitement. Make sure you keep a clear mind so you don’t fall for any last-minute gimmicks.
Step 8: Purchase insurance, warranties and more
Before you set sail, make sure your boat is adequately insured against damage. You may also want to purchase a warranty against your boat’s condition. If you’re going to be hauling your boat around yourself, you’ll also need to buy a trailer before you can head out to the docks.
Finally! You’re all set to hit the water and take in many enjoyable hours away from it all. Power up that engine, feel the wind in your sails and enjoy the ride!
Your Turn: Have you recently purchased a boat? Share your best boat-buying tips with us in the comments!