catching the Boat-buying fever

Hook, line and sinker

M any people decide to buy a boat almost by accident. You may be sitting in traffic on your way home from work when you decide you would look pretty hot at the helm of the colorful speedboat next to you.

Maybe you’re watching a fishing show on a cold winter day, and thoughts of getting out of the house to go fishing become paramount. Or maybe friends invite you out on their boat and you think, “This is for me!”

While these are all good reasons to want a boat, they won’t help you decide which one to buy.

Most people don’t have a clue what they want in a boat. A fast boat is fun, but it won’t do you much good on a small lake. While you might want to go fishing, your family may not be so keen on waiting around for you to catch that 6-pound largemouth. Maybe you want something with a cabin or maybe something to haul a bunch of boogie boards. You may even want a sailboat, though you’re likely to spend most of your time waiting for a good wind.

Once you decide the type of boat you want, you can think about size. Bigger isn’t always better. You don’t want to end up with a boat that’s too large for your intended use.

Consider where you will buy the boat and how you will pay for it. Do you want new or used? A new boat can be more expensive, but no one has abused it yet, and it sure is shiny! A used boat can be a challenge, depending on whom you purchase it from. It’s probably not a coincidence that most people who want to sell you a boat are nicknamed “Slick.”

Your insurance company or bank may require a survey to prove the boat’s value, so seek out a qualified marine surveyor who can assess both the hull and the engine. Once you obtain the estimate, you’re ready to close.

Next, line up financing, registrations, a slip, rack storage or a trailer. As for the insurance costs, if you plan to take the boat to a hurricane-prone state, you might only be able to boat from December to April!

As a final word of advice, have the broker or seller fill the gas tank. With these prices, it might be the last time you can afford a full tank. Welcome to boat ownership!