Whether boat ownership is something you've always dreamed of or an idea you're looking to further explore, knowing where to start is sometimes the hardest part. Boats come in all different shapes and sizes, and they have options and features to fit just about any budget.
How to Buy a Boat: Find the Right Boat for You
One of the (many) great things about exploring boat ownership is that you can take your time, do your research, and figure out what's the best decision for you. After all, it's not just about buying a boat - it's about figuring out which boat is right for you. Before entering "boat stores near me" into a search engine and working with a salesperson, take a little time to prepare and narrow your search.
How Will You Use Your Boat?
Before you get into details like motor options and special features, think about what purpose you want the boat to serve. Your number one priority could be fishing, towing people as they tube or ski, leisurely cruising the lake, or any combination of all three. There are boats specifically made for recreation, fishing, leisure, skiing and tubing, and wakeboarding, but there are also boats that have crossover capabilities and are great for numerous uses.
How Often Will You Be on the Water?
Beyond knowing how you'll use your boat, think about frequency of use. Will you be on the water every weekend or one weekend a month? Similarly, will you keep your boat at the lake, or will you trailer your boat to and from the lake for every use? While you don't have to have all of the answers right now, it's helpful to start thinking about how you'll use your boat in order to figure out what will be the best boat for you.
How Many Passengers Will You Have?
Maximum occupancy is not a phrase to be taken lightly when it comes to boat ownership. All watercrafts are rated with maximum capacities by the U.S. Coast Guard, and following those ratings is essential to both passenger safety and safe operation of the boat itself. Boats are rated in three separate categories:
- Maximum passenger weight/number of passengers
- Maximum total weight which includes gear, engine, and people
- Recommended maximum horsepower capacity
In the case of a fishing boat, you might be looking for something that can hold two or three people, along with your fishing gear. Alternatively, if you're looking for a boat that can accommodate the whole family along with a friend or two, keep that in mind as you shop. Once again, knowing how you plan to use your boat will help you determine how many passengers you'll have and how much gear you'll need.
What Comes Next?
While all of the things that will help you know how to buy a boat won't fit nicely into a single blog post, we have created a comprehensive boat buying guide that provides more detail on the information included above, along with a lot of the finer details of boat buying. In our boat buying guide, the following are covered:
- Different boat types
- Motor options
- Price ranges and budgets
- Special features
- Questions to ask when you visit a boat dealership
- ...and more!