Owning a boat usually isn't a necessity -- it's a luxury. But that doesn't mean you want to waste money when you make the big purchase. To ensure that you end up with one that fits your lifestyle and needs, there are four key things you should you know before you visit your local boat dealers. |
Know Your Budget
As with any major purchase, you should know how much money you can afford to spend on your watercraft before you start visiting dealers. If you don't set a firm budget ahead of time, you may find yourself swayed by pricier options that you can't really afford. You can arrange financing for your purchase, but think about how much money you have for a down payment so you don't get in over your head.
And don't forget the other costs that come along with ownership, such as insurance, registration fees, fuel and oil, dock fees, and winter storage fees, to ensure that you can afford to maintain the vessel too.
Find Your Type
There are many options to choose from at local boat dealers, so knowing exactly what you're looking for can help keep you focused when you begin shopping. Start by identifying the main way you plan to use your vessel, e.g. for fishing, water sports, or cruising. Most models can do double-duty, but certain types are a better fit for some activities than others. For example, a Sport Fisherman is ideal for regular fishing trips, while a pontoon is perfect for relaxing cruises around the harbor. You should also know what type of trips you plan to take in your watercraft. If you're going to take it out for simple day trips, you don't need a cabin. However, if you're planning overnight trips, you'll want a larger model that you can sleep in comfortably.
New vs. Old
At your local boat dealers, you can choose between brand new and used models. There are pros and cons to each, so it's important to know what you're willing to buy before you start shopping. A new model obviously features unused equipment so you shouldn't have to deal with any operation issues at the start. It will also offer warranty protection if something should happen to the craft -- but you'll pay a higher price, so if you're on a tight budget, it might not be the best option.
A used option may not be under warranty protection any longer, and there are no guarantees that the previous owner has taken proper care of it. You'll pay less, though, so the tradeoff may be worth it. Have a marine surveyor inspect a used model that you're considering buying to ensure that you won't wind up buying a lemon.
Know How to Operate It
Owning a pontoon, yacht, or cuddy cabin can certainly be fun, but it's also a responsibility -- be sure you can handle it before you start shopping. That means you must know how to safely operate the vessel through strong winds, heavy currents, inclement weather, and other dangerous conditions. In most states, some type of safety certificate is required to operate a watercraft. To earn the certificate, you must pass an approved boating course, such as one offered by the U.S. Coast Guard. Take the class before you begin shopping so you're confident that you can safely captain your new purchase from day one.
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