Boat Buying Tips

By Staff Writers



Palm Harbor, FL -- It's been proven that recreational boating helps improve your quality of life. Boating offers a great outlet for entertainment, reduces stress, and provides enriching opportunities for self-discovery. Here are a few simple tips to help you make the right choice when buying a boat:


How You'll Use It

Decide first in how you intend to use the boat. Do you want it strictly for wakeboarding or for fishing miles offshore? Do you have kids that like to do a little bit of everything? Will it mainly be an in-land fishing boat or do you want to overnight with the family as well? These factors will help determine your boat and engine type. Discover Boating has a great tool to help you find the type of boat that best fits your needs.


Where You'll Use It

Larger, more wide open bodies of water require bigger boats. Larger boats typically handle rough water better than smaller boats. Determining whether you'll use the boat in saltwater and/or freshwater also has an impact on your decision making. Figuring out where you'll use the boat most often will also help you make the right buying decision.


Where You'll Keep It

Planning to keep it at your home? Are there any covenants and restrictions in your neighborhood that prevent you from storing the boat on your property?


Trailering it to and from the water? has some valuable information about trailering your boat.


Marina or Dry Storage? Check with the marina to see what size and hull configuration limitations they may have. Sometimes pontoons, boats with radar arches and towers, as well as boats with extended decks and swim platforms may limit who can accommodate your boat. It's best to have your storage situation figured out before you make a buying purchase.


How Much?

How much can you afford? Remember to take into consideration the following costs above and beyond the actual price of the boat:



         Boat and trailer registration fees



         Docking/moorage fees


         Safety equipment such as life vests, fire extinguishers, flares, marine radio, anchor, dock lines

         Accessories like fishing gear, water skis, tubes, and other fun items



Also, depending on the type, size, and how you use your boat, maintenance and repair costs will vary. Be sure to ask the seller or dealer what type of maintenance has been performed and how much you could expect to spend each year in maintenance. Good maintenance habits can add years to your boat and save you a lot of future headaches.



With the purchase of your new or pre-owned boat, one of the smartest things you can do to protect your investment is to purchase an extended warranty protection plan. Waiting until the manufacturer's warranty runs out can leave you with costly repairs if your vessel is left unprotected.  

Dealer Reputation

If you're purchasing a new boat, or a pre-owned boat through a dealer or broker, make sure their service department is reputable and has the ability to turn repairs around quickly. Checkout our customer-rated Service Directory for the latest information on service providers near you.


Take a Sea Trial/Test Drive

You wouldn't buy a car without test driving it first would you? The same should hold true with a boat. When you sea trial a boat, pay close attention to the following things while underway:


         Quickness to plane


         Steering responsiveness

         Shifting (including reverse)

         Gauges and instruments

         Make sure there is no standing water or oil and other contaminants in the bilge area

         How many hours does the boat have on it?


Ask the seller about the boat's maintenance history. Find out what major repairs have been made. Ask who performed the work on the boat and speak with them as well. Is the boat still under warranty? Click Here to see if the boat qualifies for an extended warranty.


Get an Inspection/Marine Survey

It's a good idea to have a qualified marine mechanic thoroughly inspect the boat before purchasing it. If you are going to do it yourself, check the spark arrestors and plugs, alternator, belts, hoses, strainer, blower, shift cables, and engine alignment. Analyze the oil and make sure it is not cloudy or gritty; cloudy oil can mean the engine block is cracked. Would you like to schedule an inspection with a qualified mechanic? Contact the Managed Services team and we'll put you in touch with qualified technicians in your area who can inspect a boat for you.


Research the Boat's Market Value

Determining the market value for a used boat can be tricky. Banks typically use the NADA Guide Book to determine the amount they will lend on a boat. You can also checkout sites like to see what comparable boats are selling for on the market.


Negotiating the Sale

Just like purchasing a car or any other high-dollar item, boat prices can be negotiable. Even if the price is firm, other items can be negotiated like including accessories, safety equipment, and electronics or other options. But if you know your budget, find the right boat, and a willing seller, you'll be on the water and having fun in no time.


If you'd like free assistance in selecting and buying the right boat for you, please contact the Managed Services team and let one of our agents help. After all it's FREE!