Questions to Ask and What to Consider When Shopping for Your First Boat
So you are thinking about buying your first boat. Congratulations! You are embarking on a great adventure that will bring you closer than ever with your family, old friends, and even new ones as you unite with the people you care about on the water.
However, buying your first boat can be an overwhelming experience. There are a lot of things to take into consideration when boat shopping. How big of a boat do you need? What will its primary use be? How much are you looking to spend? How often will you use your boat? Where will it be stored when not in use? What are the maintenance costs associated with boat ownership? Panicking yet? Don't worry, we are here to help you find the best boat to suit your needs, budget, and lifestyle all while making getting out on the water for the first time easy and enjoyable.
Some things to keep in mind when you are looking for the perfect first boat:
- Most importantly, before you pick your boat, pick your dealer.
- Many boat dealers are done with their customers after they have sold them a boat.
- Look for a dealer that makes sure customers, especially those new to boating, are well supported and comfortable in their new boat, have access to appropriate service options, gear, insurance, and boating events that connect them to other boaters in their area.
- How will service affect my boating experience?
- If you live in a northern state, winterization and spring recommissioning service need to be taken into consideration.
- Boats that are not kept in dry storage and ran regularly will require more service.
- Be informed. Buying a boat privately could put you on the bottom of the service log at any dealership, and privately bought boats do not receive a dealer service inspection.
- Decide if you will be towing your boat.
- If you plan to trailer your boat make sure your vehicle is equipped to tow. Also, make sure the boat you purchase is under your vehicle’s towing capacity when fully rigged (engine, coolers and everything else you plan to put in it while towing).
- Beware of hidden charges.
- The price may look good until your dealer tacks on those “unavoidable fees”. Don’t be fooled by the price and then later incur charges for “shipping, rigging, fuel, delivery, ramp charge, documentation fee, etc.” Make sure you know all prices up front.
- Don’t be fooled! Know your boat's specifications.
- The boat model number does not always reflect the actual length of the boat. How much boat are you actually getting?
- What is covered by the warranty?
- Look for the big ones: motor, hull and deck, vinyl, steering, accessories, towing. Read the fine lines when it comes to your boat warranty.
- Make sure your dealer is equipped to service warranty issues in a timely manner.
- Is a used boat guarantee offered?
- Check to see if the dealer has a certified pre-owned boat program and what it includes.
Once you pick out the boat of your dreams, give it a packing test. Go to the dealer with everything and everyone you plan to take boating on a regular basis. Then get in the boat and see where it all fits. This can be eye opening and help you understand the storage and space you need.
These are just a few of the things to think about as you approach your new journey into boat ownership. There is no reason that you need to fall victim to the many mistakes that new owners commonly encounter. Armed with the right knowledge of what kind of boat you are looking for, having a realistic budget, and keeping an open mind, you can get the perfect boat to bring your family happiness and memories on the water for years to come.
For a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know when considering your first boat, we highly recommend you pay a visit to Discover Boating and check out their Beginner's Guide to Boating. It covers everything you could ever possibly want to know about owning and shopping for your first boat. Then, visit your local MarineMax store to learn how you can get the boat of your dreams and get out on the water!