- Think about the people you want to boat with and consider the kind of space you’ll need to enjoy your activities and remain safe and comfortable.
- Where do you want to spend your time boating? Consider the flexibility offered with a "trailerable" boat in terms of selecting different boating destinations versus keeping your boat in a wet slip at a specific location.
- Gain as much knowledge as possible from boating publications, other boaters, boat dealers and marinas. A boat show is an efficient way to learn about boats, pick up brochures and magazines, and talk to dealers and outfitters.
- Consider your budget. Before discussing finance options, make sure you have a clear understanding of the additional options you want to include on your boat. It’s a lot like buying a car. You can get a boat with just the very basic in equipment. Or you can load it up with extras. Understand all potential expenses.
- Operational costs may include fuel, maintenance, insurance and spare parts. Other expenses to consider include winter storage; winterizing engines, water systems, heads and holding tanks; and seasonal slip rental.
- Consider boat maintenance. Make sure you understand the details and costs associated with maintaining your boat. There are daily, monthly and seasonal maintenance procedures to keep your boat always in good conditions.
- If you purchase a previously owned boat, bring along a friend who knows a lot about boats or hire a marine surveyor to inspect it. Don’t be afraid to tell a boat dealer or private seller that you’d like to do an inspection.
- Know about warranties, extended warranties and manufacturer/dealer support. Manufacturer's warranties on new boats are similar but vary in terms of length and inclusions. Also, extended warranties can be purchased from your dealer as part of a new or used-boat purchase.
- Consider boat insurance. Boat owners insurance protects you and your family should something unpredictable happen. In many cases your home insurance policy will provide minimal to no coverage for your boat or personal watercraft—refer to your home insurance policy to determine your exact coverage. You may want to look into additional boat insurance options.
- Determine your boat's value correctly with blue books. Boat dealers use them to calculate trade-in allowances; insurance agents, to set values; and marine surveyors, for their evaluations. There are three generally accepted price guides in the U.S. BUC Used Price Guide, NADA Marine Appraisal Guide, and ABOS Marine Blue Book.
CHECKLIST FOR BUYING A BOAT
If you’re planning to buy a boat, there are plenty of exciting options to choose from. Here’s a handy checklist to help you navigate all the options.