You have always dreamed of owning a boat. You finally have the money you need to purchase it. Are you sure you are ready? Before you put up the large amount of money necessary to purchase a boat, make sure you are getting a good deal on a boat you can realistically use.

Features to Consider

When you buy a boat, you need to make sure it works well on the type of water you have nearby. If the water you will be boating on is small and fairly sheltered you do not need a lot of deadrise or freeboard on your boat. On the other hand, if the water is going to bring waves your way, you will need these features. If you are boating in a cool climate, look for a boat that will protect you from the elements if it gets cold or starts raining while you are on the water. On the other hand, if you are boating in a warm climate, you may want some shade from the sun, but other than that an open boat is just fine.

Should You Buy New or Used?

Just like car buyers, those who are shopping for a boat must decide whether they want a new or used boat, and the decision is not necessarily easy. New boats are less likely to need to be repaired right away. New boats often come with a warranty. On the other hand, used boats cost less and often have already received the upgrades that you might want. Used boats also do not depreciate as quickly as new boats, because their purchase price already reflects some depreciation.

If you choose to buy a new boat, visit boat shows or shop towards the end of the model year, which occurs in July. These are the best times to find a good deal on a new boat. If you decide to shop for a used boat, use online classifieds to find a variety of boats in your area. You can also shop at dealerships to see boats that they received as trade-ins. These are not as prevalent as they are in the used car world, but you can find them.

If you decide to buy a used boat, you have one important thing to consider. Boats are commonly stolen. Before you buy a used boat that has a great price, make sure that you see the owner’s proof of ownership, such as the title to the boat. If the owner does not have these, he may have stolen the boat. Find a different boat to buy.

Researching a Particular Boat

If you decide to shop for a used boat, which is the most economical option, you will want to do some research before you buy a boat that seems to fit your needs. You can call the U.S. Coast Guard to find out if the boat has had any manufacturer’s recalls. If it has, find out from the seller if the necessary parts have been repaired. If they haven’t, do not buy the boat unless the recall period is still in effect and you can get the problems fixed.

Inspecting the Engine

 Never buy a boat unless you have thoroughly inspected the engine. If you do not know much about engines, have a mechanic or technician who is knowledgeable about boats do an inspection for you. Boat engines work much harder than car engines, so you need to look at the engine carefully. Keep in mind that boats that run in salt water are prone to more corrosion than those that run in fresh water.

Check all hoses, gaskets, and plugs for signs of leakage. Inspect hoses and belts for signs of cracking. If they are brittle, they have not been well cared for or are old. Check the bilge for oil, as this can be a sign of an oil leak. Inspect the sacrificial anodes for signs of wear and corrosion. Check the engine and gear case oil. If they are very dirty, the boat has not had the normal maintenance done to it. Boats that were run hot will have a white residue on the engine. You can inspect the spark plugs to see how well the engine has been serviced. Poorly serviced engines will have burnt or poorly gapped spark plugs. Be sure to inspect the propeller, rudder, and drive for signs of damage caused by hitting something that was submerged underwater. While this does not mean the owner was negligent, these are damages that could cost you significantly as the boat’s new owner.

Consider Hiring a Professional

A marine surveyor is someone who can do the necessary inspections on a boat you are considering buying. You will probably find that your insurance provider or your loan officer requires you to have a surveyor inspect the boat. If not, you should hire one to inspect before you buy the boat.

Besides inspecting the engine and body for normal problems, a marine surveyor knows all of the laws regarding boat safety and manufacturing. He will know if the add-ons that the owner has put on the boat are safe or not. You can find independent marine surveyors using the classifieds or phone book. Be sure that you are present for the surveyor’s inspection, so you can ask questions about his findings.

Take It for a Test Run

Before you buy a boat, ask for a “sea trial.” Take the owner along with you and take the boat for a spin. Ask the owner to keep the engine cold before you arrive, so that you can make sure that the boat starts well with a cold engine. Maneuver the boat through a variety of tests, such as forward and reverse, turning, accelerating, and slowing down. Be sure to take some waves at various angles. If the water is still, make some circles with the boat to create waves. These tests will help you know whether or not the boat handles well. If it does and it passes the inspection process, you have found the right boat for you!

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