You know what they say: “The happiest day of a boat owner’s life, is the day that they buy the boat.” Although boats are often teased as money pits, the fact is that a well-maintained boat can offer plenty of affordable family recreation.
Buying a boat is much like buying a car. Although some people are willing to drive down to the dealership, pick out something that’s on the lot and drive it home, most of us like to take our time and look for the perfect car. Purchasing a boat should be no different. The fact is that the majority of boat owners will be making long-term payments on their new dinghy. Thus, it’s important to purchase the boat that’s right for you.
When you’re out browsing boat shows, the internet and dealerships, consider the following:
What are you planning to do with your boat? Are you strictly looking for a weekend fishing boat? Or perhaps you’ll be spending summer afternoons wakeboarding on the lake. By having a clear vision for the uses, or uses of your boat, you will be able to focus on models that fit your needs.
Be realistic. Before getting serious about finding the perfect boat, evaluate your finances and decide what you can afford. Consider the cost of monthly payments, insurance, registration, maintenance and storage. The average cost of a new ski boat hovers around $40,000, which is a hefty chunk of change. And don’t forget to consider the cost of accessories like lifejackets and tubes!
Different boats handle best in different conditions. Thus, it’s important to think about where your boat will be primarily used. Do you have a small, local lake that stays relatively calm? If so, a direct drive boat may be your best option. Alternatively, if you’ll be cruising around a larger body of water that can see plenty of chop and rough conditions, a larger boat with an inboard/outboard motor may be just the ticket.
When buying a new boat, pay close attention to the warranty offered with your vessel. A good warranty from a reputable manufacturer may save you on unexpected repairs!
Talk to friends and acquaintances with boats similar to those you’re considering buying. A guy who is fed up with his boat’s poor performance isn’t afraid to tell you, and you’ll most likely receive the most honest opinions about real-life performance from actual owners. Online discussion forums are another great place to hear what boat owners are saying.
Once you know what you’re looking for, shop to your criteria. Boat shows are a great starting point for buyers, as you’ll be able to view models from multiple manufacturers in one location, and often bag a great “boat show discount.” Don’t be afraid to ask questions and be sure that when you do buy a boat, it’s the happiest day of your life. After your wedding and the birth of your children, of course.