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What to Consider When Buying Your First Boat

Finding the perfect boat doesn't have to be a challenging task, as long as you make sure you are informed as to what your looking for. To do that will take some research as to the type, price and abilities of the boats you are looking to buy. Before you go off signing checks, ask yourself a few questions.

Why do you want to buy a boat?

Are you taking the family out of small day trips, or are you trying to cruise yourself to Tahiti? Are you just trying to get chicks with bikini's to hang out with you or are you looking to hide from the law on a boat for awhile? These questions must be answered.

With all of the options out there, make sure you have your purpose down. You don't need a huge cruiser to go fishing in the flats. Many first time boaters get caught up right here because they don't know exactly what they want, they end up being talked into buying something they don't need.

If you really aren't sure what it is you want, then ask friends or family members how have boats themselves and see what they find useful. Go out on a trip or two with them and see what you like about it and why. It's also a great excuse to boating on someone else's craft.

Here's a few things to consider:

Bigger boats cost more money and require more on your part to maintain. They also allow you to entertain more people and cruise further distances. Depending on how big you get, you might even have to pay people to look after it. This all adds up, so you must keep costs like this in perspective when purchasing a boat.

Conversely, smaller boats don't hold as many people and you can't go as far. They are however easier to move around as you can put it onto a trailer and drive it to new boating spots. Plus it allows you to go in shallower waters as it has a smaller draft.

New or used?
This is another huge price difference when buying a boat or considering whether to get one that is new or used. Obviously, new boats will cost a lot more than a used boat, but it is helpful to consider each before moving on.

New boats cost money. It is that simple. Although due to the poor economy of recent, you are going to get a better deal on a new boat now than you ever could. Talk the dealers down like you would a car salesman. They have the power to offer you upgrades and the customizations that you get with new boats, and maybe you can get the deal of a lifetime.

You can also get a used boat for less money, but perhaps it could be a better deal in the long run. You can always upgrade it later with the money you saved.

If you are still uncertain about what kind of boat to buy, then contact a yacht or ship broker as they have experience in finding you just what you're looking for.

To ensure you don't get a floater, you should take it to an independent marine surveyor. He will have your bets interests in mind as you are putting down your hard earned money. Don't go with the dealer provided surveyor, as that might have been done before certain problems arose. This cost will come out of your pocket, but it can be well worth it.

You can find Marine Surveyors at the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS)
1-800 344-9077

As you test drive the boat here are a few things you should look for. Make sure you see the dealer or owner cold start the engine. If it is warmed up before you go out, they might be hiding start up problems. Check the gauges, and engine for any obvious leaks or pressure problems.

When you go out on the water for sea trials be sure to use the boat in every way you can. Slow and fast over waves. Feel the handling and its tightness around corners. How are the controls? Do they feel good, or uncomfortable. These are things you will get a feel for as you drive more and more boats, so the more boats you try, the more confident you will be about your purchase.

Show me the money?
Hopefully you have some to show. If not, you should go to any of the various brokers or dealers who will have payment options available for you. I'm sure they won't let a lack of money get in the way of a boat sale.

For a bit more leverage when deciding on a purchase price, have your financing available before you go looking for a boat. This can help drive you price down.

And finally, good luck. The happiest day when owning a boat is the day you buy it.

Find more information about buying used boats online with the California Department of Boating and Waterways, used boat buying guide.

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