BlogMarch 2023

5 Helpful Boat Buying Tips for New Boaters

5 Helpful Boat Buying Tips for New Boaters

By Debbie Hanson

Mar 28, 2023

Five boat buying tips for new boaters that can save time, money, stress. Helpful tips that contribute to a smoother, easier experience when buying a new boat

Are you ready to take the exciting step toward new boat ownership this year? If so, you will want to consider a few important boat buying tips that can save you time, money, and stress. In other words, if you spend time on different types of boats before buying, stay realistic about your level of boating skills, and get educated about boating safety; purchasing a boat will be a much smoother experience.

1. Spend Time on the Water Before Buying

Before buying your first boat, spend time on different types of boats with friends who are boat owners or rent a boat to get a general understanding of the boating skills, maintenance, time commitments, and costs that are involved with boat ownership. The more time you spend on a variety of boats before you buy, the better equipped you will be to make a smart decision on the best boat make and model for your lifestyle.


2. Do Research by Reading a Boat Buying Guide

There are plenty of helpful websites and resources that offer information on the best boats for first-time buyers. You can learn about the boating basics, get boating tips on YouTube, and use boat selection tools online to find out which boats are made for the types of watersports or activities you enjoy. For example, some boats are designed with features that are geared toward fishing (live wells, rod holders, open deck space), some boats are better for water skiing and wakeboarding (inboard power system, ballast tanks, towing tower), and others are made for day cruising or sight-seeing (Bimini top to provide shade, comfortable seating).

3. Buying a Boat from a Dealer

You might be wondering, “how do I buy a boat for the first time and avoid overpaying or getting scammed?” If you want to buy a boat and you’re new to boating, it makes good sense to ask other boaters for recommendations regarding reputable dealers. Dealers can help with financing and should be knowledgeable about the warranties for the lines of boats they carry. For many new boaters, the peace of mind that comes with buying a boat that has multiyear warranty is an important selling point. The warranty is the manufacturer’s promise to stand behind its product by providing service and repair after you purchase the boat. Boat warranties can vary widely in their coverage though, so take the time to compare the specifics before you buy.

4. Be Realistic About Your Boating Skill Level

Good beginner boats are small boats in the 15 to 25-foot range. It might be tempting to “go big or go home,” but first-time buyers should consider the fact that smaller boats will be easier to handle and allow you to learn as you go. Bigger boats require more time and skill when it comes to handling and docking. Be realistic about your boating skills and buy a boat that you’ll truly look forward to taking out. Bigger isn’t always better.


5. Take a Boating Safety Course in Your State

If you plan on buying a new boat, you need to know the boating rules and regulations in your state. There are online and hands-on courses that can teach you the basics of boating safety, navigation, and safe operation. For example, the US Coast Guard Auxiliary (USCGA) offers in-person boating safety courses. Be sure to ask or confirm which courses satisfy your state’s boating license (or boater education card) requirements. The USCGA also offers free vessel safety checks to verify that you have all the required emergency equipment on board or let you know what you need to comply.


Now that you have a few practical boat buying tips, you probably want to buy a boat even more. Start making new memories on the water with your family as a smart and educated new boat owner.

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.