When buying a boat there are several things you should consider. Like buying a car you need to know your budget, your needs, and your preferences. Some states also require that you have a boat safety education certificate or even a license. For larger boats, it’s better to have certification regardless of whether you legally need one or not, simply because knowing how to your boat works and how you can fix it while you are out on open water is imperative for safety.
Looking to buy a boat for the first time? Follow this comprehensive guide to get you started.
What the Boat is For
Before you can narrow down your choice of boats, you should first know and choose what you want the boat for. Do you want it to fish? Do you want to race along coastlines? Is it for inshore, offshore, or both? Do you just want a pleasure boat that you can go out for a few hours, or do you want one that you can comfortably spend a day in?
What you want the boat for will typically correlate with what is around you. For instance, if the body of water around you is a lake, you don’t need to have a boathouse or a boat that has an indoor area. If you live near a large river or an open body of river like the ocean, you have the option to cruise much further.
Similarly, you could look for larger vessels. Yachts, sailboats, and other vessels that can take you across the ocean act as a second home. When crossing an ocean is your goal, you will want a captain’s license. While you don’t need a license to captain a yacht, your insurance company might not insure you unless you have qualifications or have a qualified person on the vessel.
Essentially, if your goal with your boat is to cross large bodies of water, you will need to be qualified. Unlike with smaller boats, where the driving and mechanics are straightforward, boats meant to cross waters have many systems that need to be maintained. They can break when you are out on the water, and unless you have knowledge and the know-how on how to fix it, you will be stranded. There are water-filtering systems, septic systems, heating and cooling systems, GPS systems, and more.
When you are crossing a large body of water, being qualified isn’t about meeting state or federal standards, it’s about survival.
Who Will Be Using It?
This determines how large a boat you need. Will it just be you? Will it be you and a friend? Your entire family? Whatever kind of boat you want, you need to think about the logistics and safety. You don’t want it to be crowded, and you certainly want to make sure that everyone can fit.
This is particularly important when you want your vessel to do day or longer trips – people get cramped and claustrophobic when they are forced to stay in a small space for too long. You will also need to make sure that there is enough storage for things like food, water, and even extra clothes or blankets.
What Weather Do You Want to Use It In?
What seasons do you want to be able to use your boat in? Would you want to drive it in more severe weather like rain? Will you store your boat during the winter or are you in a region where the water does not freeze? If you want a boat for the summer you don’t need a boat that has an indoor area. Your everyday speedboat will suit you just fine. If, however, you want to use it during rain, or during cooler months, you should consider purchasing a larger boat that has an indoor steering wheel and seating area.
What kind of boat you need depends on what you want to do with it. Rather than jump into a spontaneous purchase because you like the way a boat looks or what a salesperson is saying, know what you need the boat to do. Have a checklist of you needs so that your boat will fulfill them.
Just like any other large investment you make, you need insurance. Having insurance on your boat means that it will be protected in case of sinking, fires, storms, theft, if it capsizes, if you’re stranded, or any other accident. You can also get liability insurance, which is just as important as getting insured for your boat. Having liability insurance means that if you get into a boat accident, you have a means to pay your medical expenses for you, your relatives, and any other passengers on your boat. This insurance is for when the accident is not at the fault of someone else.
When you are in a boating accident that is someone else’s fault, you will need a personal injury lawyer. Visit StephenBabcock.com for the kind of lawyer you need. Compensation for an accident that is not your fault should always be compensated for. Be legally protected, and enjoy your boat!
What Can You Afford?
A boat, just like a car, is not a one-time payment. There are upkeep costs, costs of running, cost of insurance, and cost of storage. You also need to think of how you are going to transport the boat. You would need a heavy-duty vehicle that can pull heavy equipment. Know what you have, what you can pull, and you’ll at least save on transportation costs. Then there is the cost of the trailer itself, and how and where you will store it.
Know your budget beforehand, and budget out costs for your boat in the future. Not being able to keep up with payments could mean that your boat will end up rotting somewhere on your property.
New or Used?
The decision whether you want to buy new or used depends on the budget that you have. Buying used means that you can buy your dream boat at a price that you can afford. Make sure that the boat you are looking at is typically made of fiberglass or aluminum, so you don’t have to worry about any materials that might have rotted. There, are, however, many things that you must worry about when you are looking at buying used. These are:
Naturally, the boat will not run without the engine. Show up early so that the engine, when you test it out, hasn’t already been warmed up. You want to start it and see how the engine runs, sounds, and functions after being sitting out all night. Check the oil to make sure that there isn’t water mixed in, and that it is clear. If you want to be certain you are making a smart buy, make sure you bring a mechanic with you. It could be a friend, or a professional, but that is the only guaranteed way to know you are making a sound investment.
When you are looking at buying used, insist that you drive the boat and try out all and any electrical items. First turn them on one at a time, then all at once. If everything works well, that’s a start. Next you should check any fuse boxes that the boat might have. Are they different? If they are, that means that they have been replaced. Why they were replaced is important. You want to make sure that the problem was fixed before you think about buying the boat.
The pumps are what filter water out from the boat, and are a very important system. Make sure that they work automatically and manually.
Is it Even?
A good indicator of whether or not a boat is in good condition is if it sits evenly on the water. If it is tilted on an angle, this could indicate that there are problems internally with the boat, and therefore not a sound investment.
You don’t typically have to worry about rot unless you are looking at a much older boat, but it still happens. Check any wooden parts on the boat for rot before you make a purchase.
Breaks and Leaks
If anything is separate, cracked, or pulling away, it could mean that there are structural issues with the boat. This could mean the stringers are broken or separated, the hull is coming away from the deck, or any other problems. Essentially, make sure that every part of the boat is tight, whole, and not damaged. If possible, see the boat both outside of the water and inside the water, before you make your purchase.
Always Test It
Never, ever buy a boat without driving it for a reasonable and considerable amount of time. Ensure that you drive it over fifteen minutes. That way you can see how you like the drive, if there are any issues with driving it, and if anything sounds off. The longer you keep it running for, the better the test.