Congratulations! If you’ve arrived at this page, then you’re taking the first step on the road toward boat ownership. Boats provide a wonderful opportunity to connect with the waterways around you in a myriad of ways–through recreation, fishing, crabbing, water sports, and more. You have a lot to contemplate during this boat buying process, from motivations to where to begin your search. Perhaps you have doubts about the amount of time you have available to boat, or feel unsure about the financial commitment. Either way, this article is designed to bring clarity to your decision and help you begin your journey toward becoming a boat owner.
What are my motivations for buying a boat?
Chances are that something occurred recently in your life that sparked an interest in boating. Feel empowered to delve deeper into that experience and discuss it with your loved ones, no matter how trivial it may seem. Many people decide to purchase boats after feeling inspired by movies, books, and even YouTube channels. What attracts you to boating and are your loved ones interested in sharing that with you? Boating can be enjoyed alone, but oftentimes it provides a new way to build community among family and friends. Creating memories on the water bonds people in a unique way. If you and your loved ones already enjoy visiting lakes, rivers, and/or beaches, then the decision to purchase a boat will only strengthen that love and the community feeling that accompanies it.
Can I afford a boat and its upkeep?
A boat always comes with some level of financial commitment. Potential boat owners must consider the initial investment, which includes the cost of the boat, any potential boat broker or boat dealer fees, if you need to get the boat hauled from one location to another, and state registration or Coast Guard documentation fees. However, before moving forward with the initial investment, you must decide if you can afford the ongoing investment. This includes upkeep, storage, and insurance. If you don’t have space in your yard or garage for a boat, then you will pay monthly or quarterly rent at a marina or boat yard. Upkeep costs can be difficult to anticipate, but should include fuel, engine oil, and an emergency reserve should electrical systems, upholstery, or anything else need to be repaired or replaced. Finally, insurance is a crucial tool that empowers you to protect your investment. Ahoy! has a variety of plans available for prospective boat owners and caters to the needs of all types of boaters. Our world is changing, and hurricanes aren’t the only threat to boat owners anymore–wildfires, tornadoes, and any other natural disasters could result in the loss of a boat. Let Ahoy! help keep your investment safe. Read more about anticipated boat owning costs in our guide: What’s the real cost of boat ownership?
What am I looking for in a boat?
You need to ask yourself what kind of vessel will serve your needs. People hoping to gather friends and family on the water in good weather may opt for a pontoon boat, which is spacious and comfortable for a number of people, while someone looking to practice water sports must search for a vessel with a powerful motor and good maneuverability. Luckily, the modern convenience of the internet revolutionized the boat market over the last two decades. Many people now look for boat inspiration on YouTube, which has a wealth of videos documenting the interior and exterior of new and used boats listed for sale. Though these boats may not be from your area, reviewing videos provides an idea of what you want (and don’t want) featured on your particular boat.
Where should I begin my search?
There are a variety of places to look for listings. YachtWorld and BoatTrader are two trusted websites that people use to find boats, but the market there is oftentimes saturated with people, which drives prices a bit. If you want to move your search offline, consider perusing newspaper or magazine classifieds (though sometimes these are available online as well). Boat dealers offer knowledge and a more personal experience, but come at a cost. Local bait shops or marine supply stores sometimes also have bulletins with boat listings. However, getting the best deal normally involves contacting your local marina or boatyard, where bargain boats that need a little love and work can typically be found at a great deal.
So should I really buy a boat?
Owning a boat enriches both your life and the lives of those around you. Boats teach you new skills and responsibilities while also equipping you to join a new community, perhaps through weekly local marina races or water-based festivals and events. If mulling over the points listed above only made you more excited at the prospect of boat ownership, then it’s time for you to take the plunge. Find a vessel that serves your purposes and then carve out time for boating in your schedule–you won’t regret it.