6 tips to buying your first boat

So, you’ve decided to take the plunge buying your first boat. While this can be an exciting but stressful time due to the fact a boat purchase can be the second biggest investment you make next to your home, we’ve put together these six tips to help guide your through the process.

1) What Type of Boat Do You Need?

I’m not talking about whether you want a Bayliner or a Sea Ray. When thinking of your first purchase you need to focus on how you plan to use it. Are you planning on cruising the Broadwater with family and friends? Are you looking to fish? Wake boarding or water skiing? How you plan to use the boat should drive the type of boat you buy. What’s most important to you - passenger space, power, fishing features, overnight capabilities, or some combination of things? This will dictate the type of vessel you need to start looking for and also the style be either- bow rider, centre console, cruiser or flybridge

Once you’ve narrowed this down you can effectively research the makes, models, and tradeoffs that will be your short list. One word of caution - while it’s tempting to already have your mind made up on a specific make or model (and there are a lot of great ones out there) think hard about starting your search with what you want to get out of it. In the long term your choice will fit your lifestyle much better and make you a happier boater.

2) Always Involve Your Significant Other Early in the Game

Women are increasingly becoming boat-buying advocates. While it was once the sole domain of men (“big toys for little boys”) in the buying decision, and the female spouse had to “sign off” on hubby’s dream boat, now we see more and more women taking the lead in the actual boat-buying, with the male partner as the “sign-off” spouse. In fact, there are a surprising number of single women who are now boat owners, if our mail is representative of the country at large.

No matter who wears the deck shoes in your family, make sure the significant other has input and “buy-in” on the boat selected. Life is too short, and even large boats are too small, for one partner to be disgruntled about which boat was selected. No matter what, make sure your partner is part of the crime.

3) The Budget

Once you’ve decided on what type of boat you’re looking for, now you need to match that up against your budget. The budget for your boat isn’t as straight forward as it seems. The cost of the boat itself is an obvious big piece of the equation, but it’s not the only thing. Once decide on a boat all the other costs start to come into play and add up fast into the total bill.

If you’re starting from scratch, there are a lot of ‘little things’ that add up to big dollars before you know it. Basic equipment ranging from first aid, safety gear, lines, fenders, anchors, radio and more can start to add up very fast. Beyond the basics consider where you’re storing your boat. Do you need a trailer? Mooring or marina dock? What about insurance and other regular costs that will add to your first-year investment like servicing? When considering your budget add up all of those little costs to see how much room you have left for your actual boat and what’s saved for everything else. A good rule of thumb is to add 10% to the value of the boat as a yearly guide to its upkeep

4) New or Used?

Once you know what you’re looking for and have an idea of your boating budget, another big question is new or used. This isn’t just a function of price. There are many pros and cons to this choice beyond just money.

When looking at new boats there is a certain safety net that comes along with it. Dealers back their boats with warranties and service (even new owner training in some cases). This all comes with the knowledge that your boat is free from any maintenance or repair issues. All of this does come at a premium for example the average 30 foot cruiser will cost between $280,000.00 to $320,000.00 where a decent second hand one would cost around $75,000.00 to $95,000.00 depending options and the gap is widening.

If you’re looking for a deal or don’t have the means to buy your first choice new, there are plenty of good used options out there, like boat sales websites such as Gold Coast Boat sales, boats online ,your local marina or boat yard, there are many options out there for one looking to do the legwork. This being said buying a boat used can come with its own risks. Being able to know what shape a boat is in - either from inspection or service history - is key. If you don’t have the experience to recognize issues with a potential purchase bring someone along who does. Needing a new engine or expensive hull repair can more than offset the savings of a low price. Be aware - not all deals are as good as they seem.

5) Get it checked out use a professional!

This would have to be the most important step. Marine surveyors and marine mechanics work for the people who hire them so use them as much as you can. As well as verifying the condition and quality of the boat you plan to buy, it is also worth asking a surveyor for advice on boat buying procedures such as making sure the boat will suit your needs. And in a lot of cases you require a marine survey to insure your boat.

6) Storage

Buying a boat is one matter, knowing how you’re going to store and maintain it is another. Are you going to trailer it to the launch ramp each outing? Do you have the space if your garage or back yard to store it when not in use? Outside of that there are many other options - Marinas, moorings, hard stand storage, etc. that can be available. It’s important to understand what options are open to you and that you can afford. Like finding out there is a low bridge between your pontoon at home and where you go boating and you new boat won't fit under unless it's a low tide. Having this plan locked in before you sign for your boat can save you many headaches and last minute scrambles.

End note

Remember at the end of the day, pay attention to details, go with your gut instinct, if you do not feel comfortable with either the seller, question the product or have any doubts you are always better to leave it alone and move on. Gold Coast Boatz believes that there is a boat for everyone! At Gold Coast Boatz we offer all our clients a complete hand over on every boat we sell as well as any training they may feel they need totally free of charge.

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