10 Tips for Buying Your First Boat 

November 21, 2022

The freedom to set sail and explore life on the water is unmatched. Whether you grew up fishing on a family vessel or watched from the shore, buying your first boat is an exciting step. You may be surprised by the speed at which you can complete the purchase and start enjoying your maiden voyage. Consider the following tips as you buy your first boat. 

  1. Determine a Budget

Outlining a specific budget before you take a serious look at boats can save you time. Look at your finances and determine how much you can comfortably afford. Remember that boat ownership can include surprise maintenance on top of fuel costs. Create a cushion so that you can address any new costs without worry down the road. You may save money upfront by securing a truck rental with hitch to transport your new vessel. This can give you time to think about purchasing a vehicle with towing abilities.  

  1. Research Types of Vessels

There are many different types of recreational boats. Do you want a maneuverable speed boat or a yacht with living quarters? Think about how you will use your boat and how you might accommodate friends on board. Look into the length and depth of your preferred vessels, and whether your local waterways can handle their size. It may be smart to start with a modest boat so that you can learn how to do maintenance tasks on your own. 

  1. Visit a Boat Show

After you conduct an introductory round of research, make sure to see the boats in person. Look up boat shows in your state or plan to travel for a major event. This can be a great opportunity to ask questions and see a variety of finishes. Witnessing the reality of online listings can be extremely helpful and clarifying for first-time buyers. 

  1. Compare New and Used Options

A shiny new boat can feel luxurious and extra special. It is satisfying to be the first captain to paint a name across the outside. Still, a well-maintained boat can be a perfect option. Taking ownership of a much-loved boat allows you to optimize your budget and continue a maritime story. The previous owners may be willing to show you the ropes, give you tips about nearby trips, and answer maintenance questions. Either option can be a good choice.

  1. Get a Second Perspective 

In your excitement about a particular boat, you may overlook points on your checklist. Enlist a friend or family member with boating experience to survey your top options. 

  1. Try Before You Buy

Request a sea trial before finalizing the purchase of any new or used boat. You need to establish how well it navigates real-world situations and check the quality of the equipment onboard. Inspect the vessel thoroughly and do not be afraid to offend a friendly salesperson with many questions. 

  1. Locate a Boat Slip and Trailer

Secure a strong trailer that can accommodate your specific boat size. Check the tire pressure before you arrive to pickup up your boat for transportation. Locate local public and private boat slips. Establish the seasonal schedule and determine if it is worth paying for access to a local marina. 

  1. Find a Place for Winter Storage

You may need to find winter storage on land. This is dependent on your climate and some warm locales do not need to factor this into the plan. If your area gets cold and freezes over, you will need to move your boat out of the water. Think about covered garage storage or a secure lot. 

  1. Secure Proper Permits and Insurance 

Always know the local permit, registration, and boating license requirements. Keep your documents and insurance up to date. 

  1. Install Safety Features 

Keeping safety in mind from the start allows you to fully enjoy each voyage. Place life vests at well-marked places throughout the vessel, outline an evacuation plan for onboard emergencies, and maintain a means of communication with the shore.   

Find the best boat for your lifestyle and get ready to launch. 

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