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Buying a Boat - Important Beginners Guide

Aug 18, 2007
You've decided to join the ranks of boat owners worldwide, but what do you need to know before you head to your local marine dealer? As is the case in making any large-scale investment (like a boat), there area few things you need to consider before making such a high-cost purchase. First, ask yourself:

Will I Really Use A Boat Enough To Warrant The Expense?
Go boating with some friends. Make sure it's something you can see yourself doing every weekend - or at leas enough to justify the time and expense owning a boat requires.

Understand What Owning A Boat Really Means:
Owning a boat is time consuming and expensive. Seriously consider the cost of ownership before investing big bucks for one. Consider the costs of buying it, insurance, interest, fuel and oil, trailer, storage, repairs, setting up a tow vehicle, lodging, weekend food, extra fishing gear, skis, life jackets, licenses and permits, maintenance, to name a few. And, don't forget the time it takes to round up the gear, get to the water, participate in water activities, get back home, unpack, and service the boat.

Do Your Research:
Go to a few boat shows to see what styles are available. Visit a few showrooms and talk to a variety of different salespeople and current boat owners to help you decide what size boat and options best fit your needs and budget.

Consider What Type Of Boat Best Fits Your Needs:
The kind of boat you ultimately purchase will depend a great deal on the types of activities you will be using it for. Will you be fishing, skiing, tubing, or cruising? Will you ever operate in salt water? Do you plan on pulling your boat by a trailer? All this will help you determine the best boat for your lifestyle.

Find A Good Dealer:
If you know little about boats or what's entailed in boat ownership, then it's important to find a dealer who can guide you through the buying process and beyond. Ask other boat owners about dealers in your area who offer exceptional service. This should go beyond selling you the boat, by also offering tips of towing, winterization, and repairs.

Avoid Buying Too Much Boat:
Bigger isn't always better - especially for the first time boat owner. The larger the boat, the harder it is to handle, and maintain, and the more it costs to operate. Start with a boat that is small, economical, easy to use. A used one from a reputable dealer is even a better choice until you know exactly what size and style boat you'll be happy with for the long haul.

Understanding the Difference Between the Asking Price and the Selling Price
Just like cars, buying a boat doesn't always mean the sticker price is the "real" price. Most boats sell for less than the asking price. Do your homework so you understand what the real value of the boat your interest in is, then be prepared to haggle for the best price.

Buying a new boat is very similar to buying a new car: it takes persistence, patience, some know-how, and the ability to walk away until you find the best deal.
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