A beginners guide to buying your first boat

A beginners guide to buying your first boat
When people go for their boat license they generally have a boat or have a desire to get one. There are many things to consider when buying a boat under these circumstances and this article will help you to ensure you choose the right boat for your needs.

1. Things to consider before you look at boats

Your happiness with the boat you purchase, will all depend on whether the boat you have bought is right for your needs.

- Size: Is the boat just for you or will other people use it? Will friends be invited aboard? How many?

- Purpose: Is it for fishing? Water skiing? Wakeboarding? Cruising? Taking day trips? To live in?

- Usage: How often will you use the boat? At what time of year?

- Location: Where will us use the boat – in a lake, a river or on the ocean?

- Storage: Where and how will you store the boat? Will you cover it with a tarp, will it be under cover or left in the open on the water or on land? Will you keep it at your house, on a mooring or at someone else’s property?

- Condition: Do you want something new or used?

- Budget: What can you afford to spend? Remember to factor in insurance, registration fees, maintenance, course fees and storage (if needed).


2. Start looking with caution

Careful not to get too wrapped up in what you see or the sales pitches and instead remember to keep in mind all the factors you just considered. At this point you may also like to learn and understand boating terminology, spend some time at a local marina and talk to people about boats. Talk to other boat owners about their experiences, what features they like/dislike and any problems they have encountered.

Things you need to pay close attention to when inspecting a boat include:

- Safety

- Physical condition

- Options and accessories

- Looks

- Performance

- Cost


3. Properly inspect the boat

Whether you go with a new or used boat somethings you will need to consider with your purchase include any add-ons and if you truly need them. If you decide to get a few bells and whistles make sure they are equally in good condition: electronics installs, generators working, refrigerators in good condition, stereo working etc.

If you choose a used boat – consider getting a qualified marine surveyor to take a look over it for you, just as you would get a mechanic to look over your car. It’s best to ask at the local marina for a recommendation and you may also like to make sure they are a member of a marine surveyor association. Alternatively, you could call a marine association for suggestions.

Here are some very basic things to look for, but also ensure you get a professional to assist with the inspection process:

- Mismatched paint: it indicates an accident or that repairs have been made. If they didn’t mention it previously, it indicates they may not tell you the full truth on everything else.

- Obvious waterlines in the boat or on the engine – this is a sign that the boat could’ve taken on water.

- The shaft should turn correctly and not wobble and there should be no nicks or cracks in the prop.

- There shouldn’t be any soft spots when walking around the decks, the bow or inside the cabin (if there is one).

- The steering should be free and easy to move.

- There shouldn’t be any water stains near hatches or windows – or you may need to fix them to keep rain and spray out.

- Musty smells or mould indicate leakage, prior water damage or neglect.

- Handrails should be secure.

- There should be good water flow when the engine is started.

- Check the maintenance records and look for any reoccurring problems and at how it’s been maintained.


4. Remember the alternatives

You don’t need to buy a boat to drive it – you could lease, rent or charter a boat. Remember there are a lot of fees associated with buying a boat and for many people this detracts from the need of owning one.

For more information about learning to drive a boat or purchasing the a boat for a learner driver, search for an instructor near you through the CanadianDrivingLessons directory.