What to Look for in Your First Boat

What to Look for in Your First Boat

Posted by: Krista Lowery on Mar 17, 2018 9:35:00 AM

You've been dreaming of boat ownership for years, and now you're finally ready to take the jump. It's time to choose your first boat. You have a lot of research to do before you can decide on the right kind of boat for your lifestyle. Here are a few of the most important characteristics to consider during the decision-making process.


Boat Type and Style

The first question to ask yourself is what you want to do when you're on the water. Your primary usage guides the rest of your decision making. Fishing, jet skiing, and leisure boating all require different types of boats. If you want a mixed-use vessel, consider which activities benefit the most from specialized features.

Here are a few of the most common boat categories you'll encounter during your search:

  • Fishing: These boats have many features that are well-suited for river, lake, or ocean fishing.
  • Houseboats: Get an apartment out on the water with this option. It's excellent if you like to spend time disconnecting from the world or enjoy throwing waterfront parties.
  • Pontoons: This shallow draft boat is perfect for leisure activities on lakes and in rivers.
  • Yacht: You can enjoy long-term sailing with these large, fully equipped boats that provide a comfortable living environment and lots of amenities.
  • Ski: This boat packs a punch in the speed department, allowing you to get out on the water for water skiing.

Once you narrow down the boat type you want, it's time to look at the style. Some differences between boat models are purely aesthetic, while others can make a significant impact on performance.


New vs. Used Boats

A new boat is tempting, as you'll be the first owner and everything is pristine. You also have a warranty, the ability to customize features, and access to the latest technology. However, a used boat lets you reduce the cost of ownership by avoiding the depreciation that occurs after a new boat purchase. You also get equipment that has been tried and tested in a variety of conditions. Anything that wasn't working properly after the initial investment is likely already replaced.



You also have a range of motor specifications that can impact your boat's performance and price. The weight of the motor and its total horsepower are the primary features you'll want to pay attention to. The type of motor depends on the size of your boat and several other factors. Some common options are outboards, jet boat, diesel inboard, gas engines, and sterndrives.


Exterior Finish

The exterior finish plays a large part in the appearance of your boat, as well as how well it holds up to the elements. Fiberglass and composite materials provide a sleek, modern appearance and a relatively low-maintenance finish. If you prefer a traditional wood look, heavy duty varnishes can enhance the appearance of the wood and seal it under a protective layer.


Selecting your first boat is a big decision and a deeply personal choice. The right combination of price point, features, appearance, power, and amenities requires a lot of research and time spent testing out different types of boats. Keep this guide handy as you start to look through your options. Before long, you'll be out on the water in your very own boat.

Miller Marine Boat Buying Chart