Before you take the boat buying plunge let me clue you in on two of the most widely spoken quotes in the boating world. "The happiest day of a boat owner's life is the day they buy the boat and the day they sell the boat" and "Boats are nothing more than holes in the water, into which you throw money."
Sounds so gloomy, doesn't it? It doesn't have to be. That's why it is so crucial for you to do your homework prior to purchasing a boat. Most people who are about to buy a boat have visions of nonstop fun on the water, but the reality is boats can be lots of work and require extreme care and regular maintenance in order for that fun on the water to be long lasting.
If you're still up to the challenge and responsibility of being a boat owner, use following checklist to go by when purchasing a boat.
BOAT BUYING CHECKLIST
PURPOSE OF THE BOAT
- Decide what your main purpose(s) for the boat will be. Do you want it strictly for tournament waterskiing or strictly for recreational wakeboarding? Or do you have kids that like to do a little bit of everything behind the boat? Will it mainly be a fishing boat that you'll occasionally want to water-ski behind? These factors will determine your engine type (inboard, inboard/outboard, or outboard). Boats.com explains some tips in its article, "Choose the right type of boat for your needs."
- Larger, more wide open bodies of water require bigger boats, or those with V-drives or inboard/outboard engines. Larger boats handle rough water better than smaller boats. Direct drive boats are good for smaller lakes that generally have smooth water. Serious slalom skiers usually prefer direct drives and serious wakeboarders prefer V-drives. If your body of water is large and often chops up a bow-rider may not be the best choice. You don't want to run the risk of water coming in over an open bow.
- How much can you afford? Saving money on a purchase up front can cost you in the long run. Be sure to buy quality. Remember to take into consideration the following costs beyond the actual price of the boat and your monthly payments: insurance, boat and trailer registration fees, taxes, fuel, docking/mooring fees, storage, and equipment such as lifevests, fire extinguishers, flares, marine radio, anchor, dock lines, and a trailer if needed. When the boat is not in use you'll want to give it proper storage. Boats.com explains storage options in its article, "Learn the best way to store your boat."
Don't over look maintenance and repair costs to the boat. This can be the most discouraging factor to a boat owner. On average these annual costs averages around $50 per foot (boat length), however they can be significantly higher, depending on if you do the work yourself, or you let a marina do the work for you. This is not an area in which you want to skimp. Good maintenance habits can add years to your boat and save you many pounding headaches.
Also consider these optional items, depending on your water sports preferences: water skis, wakeboards, wet suits, towables (tubes), tow ropes and gloves, weight system for wakeboarding, pylon, boom, tower, etc.