Buying a boat is no more scary than buying a vehicle. The first step is to decide what kind of fun you want to have with the boat. This will help you decide whether to look for a bow rider to take a ride to the island, or a center console fishing craft.
You may think you need to be rich to own a boat. But you don’t — 72 percent of American boat owners have incomes of less than $100,000 per household, according to a trade publication.
You may think you need to know how to operate a boat before your buy. But you don’t — boating lessons are available from local organizations in most communities near a body of water.
You may think you need to be a mechanic. But you don’t — plenty of boat dealers and marinas have mechanics who will come to your vessel at reasonable rates to repair and maintain your vessel.
So with your mind somewhat comforted, , here is a logical approach to determining what sort of vessel to pursue and purchase.
No. 1: Consider what sorts of activities you want to pursue. The top response is fishing, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Assoc. Family activities come in next, including tubing, water skiing and wake boarding. Sailing and weekend cruising are right up at the top of activities.
No. 2: How much time do you and your family intend to spend on your boat? Be realistic and consider the time you’ll spending commuting to the marina or launch ramp, rinsing down after a trip and driving home. The shorter the hours you have available, the smaller the vessel you’ll need to consider. For instance, if you want to fish but don’t have a lot of time, a center console might suit your needs far better than a sport fishing yacht.
No. 3: Remember the hiker’s adage that “less is more.” The NMMA reports that 95 percent of U.S. boats are 25 feet or shorter. Their owners get just as much enjoyment with friends and families as do those who buy much larger vessels — which themselves may become prohibitively expensive to operate. Consider that a fishing boat with a 150-horsepower motor would burn about 15 gallons an hour getting to and from the spots, less when trolling, resulting in a fuel burn of 45 gallons or so. That compares to a sport fisher that may burn 85 gallons an hour and take longer to get to the fishing spots.
No. 4: Where will you store the boat? A smaller boat can be stored on a trailer at home or in a storage lot at a cost lower than renting a slip at a marina. But remember that launch fees will add up. And the larger the boat, the heavier its weight and the greater the need for a larger vehicle to tow it and brakes installed on the trailer to help it stop.
No. 5: What sort of motor should I consider for the boat? The sky is the limit and the actual motor will depend on your budget and activity. A bow rider to run out to the island and hop over to a waterfront restaurant might do well on a 150 horsepower engine. A center console fishing boat may call out for a set of four engines with 300 horsepower each. Deciding on the power plant is a big part of the fun in buying, and using, your boat.
No. 6: Where do I begin? Right here is a good place, along with the other good boating sites on the Internet. Search for the types of activities you want to pursue and you’ll find the boats used to get it done.