If you’re just browsing:
- Go with Your Buddies, and Have a Good Time! Even if you’re not in the market for a boat right now, it’s still fun to take a look around and see what kind of features might interest you if you’d like to own a boat down the line. In addition, boat shows often include much more than just boats, including seminars, appearances by outdoors experts and all kinds of other sights, sounds and spectacles. Enjoy!
If you’re looking to buy a boat:
- Do Your Homework. The sort of questions you’ll want to explore might include: What sort of boater education and licensing will you need to secure as a boat operator? How do you plan to use the boat, and in turn, what kind of boat features are important to you? How much are you looking to spend, including cost of upkeep and so forth? Which boat models are on your shortlist, and how have others reviewed them? What are the warranties like on the boats on your shortlist? How do you plan to transport, store and maintain the vessel? What other questions do you have that can be answered ahead of time?
In addition, consider purchasing an NMMA Certified boat from a Marine Five Star Certified dealer. NMMA Certification ensures that the boat has been inspected by a third party and meets all industry safety and construction standards, as well as federal regulations. Marine Five Star Certified dealers have also met high standards and are only certified if they show excellence in operations, facilities, professional sales/service processes and customer satisfaction and employee/training satisfaction.
- Secure Financing. If you’re serious about purchasing a boat and require financing, you may want to go ahead and get pre-approved for a loan ahead of time to make the buying process go more smoothly.
- Take a Test Drive. If you’re at a boat show on the water, you may be able to test drive the models you’re interested in then and there. Otherwise, it’s wise to set aside another time for a test drive to help you determine which vessel you like best.
- Points to Consider when Insuring Your Boat. A number of factors go into boat insurance costs, including the type of boat, the value of the boat, the age of the vessel, and whether you’d like to insure it for the value when the policy is written or for the value when factoring in depreciation.
When shopping for insurance, ask ample questions in order to understand what it is you’ll be paying for and what will be covered; standard policies commonly cover against risk on boat components like permanently attached items, oars, life jackets and trolling motors, while exclusions typically include wear and tear, ice and freezing, manufacturer’s defects and animal damage. For those looking for additional coverage, add-ons usually come in the form of specialized coverage (for particularly accessories) and consequential damage (for wear and tear).
Finally, note that you may qualify for deductions if you’ve taken boater education classes, have a good boat-driving record and if your boat is in storage seasonally.
- Warranties. In addition to boat insurance, warranties are an excellent investment for protecting your boat. Warranties protect against failures in steering, engines, electrical and more.
- Buy When You’re Ready. There’s no “right time” to pull the trigger on a boat purchase – except the time that’s right for you. For some people, making that decision can come in short order. For others, it’s a longer timeline. Use tools like this Payment Calculator to help you determine when the time is right for you, and follow through with a boat purchase on your own terms.