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First Time Boat Buyer…Here’s How to Buy a Boat!

First Time Boat Buyer…Here’s How to Buy a Boat!

Are you a first-time boat buyer looking to purchase a boat?  If so, we highly recommend it.  There is a massive number of things you can do and fun you can have on your own boat.  When you first start looking for a boat to purchase, you should visit sites like, as well as other listings of different boats that are new and used.  You should begin looking over listings and different types of boats way before you go to the dealership to buy.  Below are 6 basic steps in purchasing a boat:

  1. Choose the type of boat you want to purchase.
  2. Would you like to purchase new or used?
  3. You can attend a boat show, work with a broker, or review listings (or do all 3).
  4. Pick a specific boat you would like to purchase.
  5. Conduct a walkaround, sea trial, and survey of the boat before purchasing.
  6. Make the purchase.

Choose the type of boat you want to purchase

The first question you need to ask yourself is “what type of boating will I be doing?”  Answering this question will narrow down the options of boats you will have to choose from.

Each boat is different and are specialized for different types of boating:  skiing, fishing, flats boat, etc.  Take the time to research all the different types of boats and what they are used for before narrowing your search.  You need to make sure the boat fits your tastes, activities, and price range.

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself when making the decision on what type of boat to purchase:

  1. Would you like a boat that you can haul with a trailer from your house to the dock?
  2. Are you going to be entertaining guests on evening cruises and cocktails?
  3. Will you be staying overnight on the boat?
  4. Do you have kids – will they want to wakeboard or water ski?

Would you like to purchase new or used?

It only takes a few minutes to learn that there are tons for used boats on the market.  These used boats are also, in most cases, much lower in price compared to the purchase of a new boat.  Boats today are made of mostly fiberglass and aluminum, which last much longer than the traditional wood boats of the past.

But when buying a used boat, just like buying a used car, you can save money on upfront costs, but there are still unknown variables with the purchase.  This is why if you choose to purchase a used boat you need to have a seasoned boat mechanic review the boat before you make a purchase.

Boat shopping

After you have narrowed your boat type down, it is time to start shopping!  The best place to start your shopping is online.  There are dozens of different websites for buying a boat.  On these sites you can search for boats based on prices, models, and they even have virtual tours of the boats with an array of different photos.  The listings have a large selection of different boat types along with many different search features and insightful facts/information about the boats.

Even if you have the upmost patience for reviewing used boats, you can get frustrated based on the pictures and information posted about a boat.  Sometimes that boat doesn’t even look the same as the photos!  Here are a few tips to help you deal with this problem:

  • Compare listings of the same boats online.  If there are discrepancies with a post, this could be a red flag.
  • Evaluate the certain types of boats – see what the stock dealer equipment list is and what is different between each individual boat (post).
  • If the boat is listed through a dealer, look over the other listings that dealer has.  Also, look online for reviews of the dealer.

Boat inspection

Many people wonder “how thoroughly should I inspect the boat before I purchase?”  I tell people – just as thorough as if you were buying a car!  If you’re purchasing a boat for the first time, especially if it is used, you need to have a seasoned boater with you.  I would have you and the seasoned boater inspect every inch of the boat, inside and out.

Along with performing a walk-through, you want to make sure you take the boat on a sea trial (test ride).  You need to confirm the boat rides properly in different types of water, the motor runs correctly, and you like the way it drives. 

If the boat is in the water, you need to have it hauled or trailered out of the water to view the bottom areas of the boat.  A lot can be hidden with the boat kept in the water and not viewed on land – be sure to survey the boat on land!

When I buy the boat – what do I get?

When you purchase a boat the type boat you buy, if the boat is used or new, what dealer you buy from, will all play a role in to what is included when you purchase the boat.  When you purchase from a dealer, there are “packages” that you can buy which will include additional items that you will need to start boating.  You can also opt-out of these types of packages and purchase these items on your own.  Just remember that if you do opt-out of these packages, to have additional money held aside to buy these items.

Making the purchase

When it comes time to purchase the boat you need to make sure to do your research on who you’re buying it from.  Make sure all the paperwork is carefully reviewed and that the person selling the boat is the actual owner.  Also, if the boat is at a marina or boat yard, you want to make sure there are no outstanding balances towards the boat.  Buying a boat is an emotional decision.  Be sure to take a step back and review all the details before making the purchase and that you have total piece of mind when signing the deal.

If you have any additional questions about purchasing a boat, or boaters’ insurance, please feel free to reach out to us – we would be happy to assist!  Click Here