With two thirds of the Earth covered in water buying a boat may seem the logical choice to many, however the practicality of owning and maintaining a boat to others may seem too expensive to consider. This guide is to offer the choice of owning a boat to all and to show that you don’t need to be a millionaire to own your own floating paradise.
Setting a Budget
This is a must! It doesn’t matter if you have a million dollars to spend or five thousand, make sure you know how much you can afford. Decide if you want to pay up front for the boat or make monthly payments but remember most companies will want up to 10% of the overall cost from you at the beginning, before you start your monthly repayments. One thing to remember is that you want to have fun. If you can’t afford to use your boat then you won’t be having any fun so don’t over spend!
Consider Annual Costs
These are the horrible costs that no one wants to spend but must. Mooring prices can vary greatly so consider where it will be. Do you have a mooring on your home? Will you need to hire a mooring at a local destination? Can it be taken out and parked on a trailer in your yard. Another annual cost is Insurance. Again, shop around. Servicing and maintenance will differ depending on the boat and age you buy so consider this when buying and even speak to local boat yards or marinas for prices before you hand over your hard earned bucks!
Choosing a Type
So we have our budget in our mind, the next step is to consider what type of boat we would like to buy. With so many different types of boats available from super-yachts to dinghy’s, this may seem a little daunting however most of us will already have a style in mind. If you are undecided, try and think what you would like to use it for and where you will be using it. Do you want to Jet Ski from the back? Do you want something small just to fish from? Do you want a sailing boat? Browse the ads and see which style you take a liking too. The second thing to think of is where will you be using it? A small dinghy is no good if you are exploring the Mediterranean however a super-yacht is not going to get you up and down the canal-midi, so always keep this mind.
Consider the Size
We now have our budget set as well as a boat type; the next thing we must consider is the size. We have briefly covered this however we must now put this into practise with our chosen boat. The bigger the boat the more features it usually has, including cabins, galleys (kitchens), heads (toilet areas), and so on. The questions we need to answer now are; do we want to tow this boat with a vehicle? Do we have space to park it? Do we want to park it at a local marina? Will the local marina accommodate it or do we need to find somewhere more substantial? Once we have these questions answered we are now in a good position that we can narrow our search down substantially.
New or Old
This may seem an easy choice to many however both options offer many advantages and disadvantages that you may not have thought about. When buying new, you have the option of buying a boat solely designed and made for you, complete with your colour scheme and input. The boat is immaculate and of course comes with all the warranties that a new boat would come with. You may also be able to “Haggle” a few extras as well as servicing into the deal while buying. You will also be able to do research on the dealer to check he is reputable as well as ask others who have bought of him in the past. Visiting trade shows is also another way of buying new and can sometimes offer extra incentives to the consumer. The one simple drawback to buying new is the price and this is where the used trade market comes into play. With so many used boats to choose from the used market is large, therefore making great deals possible. Many people are put off buying used as they don’t know the true history of the boat, however as long as you take simple precautions then you will be as safe as you can be. First, do a check on the boat security number to check it is not stolen. Different countries will have websites dedicated to this, (The UK for example has http://www.stolenboats.org.uk/ ). Once checked you should get an independent professional or Marine Surveyor to check the bodywork, engine and electronics out for you. If you do not know someone personally, visit your local marina that will be happy to help or point you in the right direction of someone who will. They may charge a small fee, but it could save you a lot of money in the future. Remember if you are buying a boat thirty years old, you must expect the general wear and tear that a boat of that age will come with.
Choose the Make
We have narrowed down our boat search but now we must decide on the make, or at least narrow it down to a few makes. Just like buying a car, different companies offer different styles and extras, different cruising speeds and noise levels as well as different mpg. Some boats have a better brand name in the industry and you must decide what the name means to you as well as what boat you can afford from that brand. Try to narrow it down to about three different makes.
Get out on the water
Now we have narrowed our search, it is time to get out on the water and test a few. We may like certain brands from their pictures but once we have a drive they may not be the boat we were looking for. If possible hire the make and model you want for a few days to get a real feel for her handling. Maybe after hiring it you may choose you want to spend more and go for the better model or that you can spend less and get something smaller, only getting out and experiencing the real thing will tell you this.
Ok, we are nearly there. We have everything in place and we know our models. Scour the web for the boat you want, buy magazines and look through websites to find the best priced boat. Be prepared to travel for the right bargain. Once you have found it, get your quotes for insurance and find the prices for mooring the exact model you have chosen. We don’t want any hidden surprises or charges.
Be prepared to bargain. All boats will have a margin that they can move on. Do not pay the asking price, make sure you get a discount and any optional extras you can get are always a bonus. Surprisingly, simply asking for a better price might save you money. It certainly cannot do any harm. Have your finances in order and ready to go, you will have a lot more power in your bargaining armoury.
Most important thing to remember is the reason why you bought the boat, to have FUN. Enjoy your boat. It is no good sitting on your drive or moored up all year if you don’t use it. Make the most out of your new purchase, Fish, Ski, Sail….whatever “floats your boat”, just enjoy.
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