Boat Buying Tips

Which type of boat is right for me?
Since you are thinking of joining the 18 million Americans who enjoy recreational boating, you probably have an idea about the kinds of fun on the water that your boat will provide. One of the terrific things about boating is that there are boats designed for different activities, and there truly is something for everyone.

To narrow down your search, simply ask yourself what will the boat be used for. Fishing and generally enjoying local waterways? Waterskiing, wakeboarding and exciting watersports? Cruising with family and friends? Racing? A little of everything? There is a boat that’s right for you.

How big a boat will I need?
This depends on several things: how many people will be boating with you? Where will you use it? Every new boat has an "NMMA capacity plate" that tells you how many people you can safely have on board. If you want to enjoy the boat in different places, the boat should be 26 ft. or less, for easy trailering.

What will it cost?
There’s a boat for every budget. Boat owners are often surprised that their dream boat cost less than they’d expected! New boats and pre-owned boats bought at a reputable dealership can be financed, so you can take advantage of monthly payments. As with cars, pre-owned boats typically cost less than a similar new model.

What is the best time of year to buy?
The best time is when you are ready! You can find a great deal on a boat at any time of year. Boat shows provide excellent opportunities to find "show specials." At a boat show, you can also comparison-shop among a wide variety of brands and dealers.

How do you find a good dealer?
Boat shows are ideal for finding the dealer that suits you best. You’ll want to look for a dealer who is Marine Industry Certified, and one that is convenient to where you’ll be using your boat. Depending on your needs, your dealer may also service and store your boat. The dealer who is open about his facilities, and who offers to take you for a test drive is probably a good choice.

Where can I learn the waterway rules?
Boaters’ education courses are available through the Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadrons, and on the Internet. Go to for a list of the best online boating courses & to find boating safety and seamanship courses offered in your area.

Should I buy new or used?
We recommend shopping new first. You will gain insight into which type of boat is best for you and the market price. You can comparison shop for similar pre-owned models. Think about warranties when comparing new and pre-owned. Then you can zero in on your perfect boat!

If I buy used how do I know the boat is in good condition?
Get a qualified marine surveyor’s inspection. Surveyors will check all systems, as well as the hull structure. Call several insurance companies in your area for recommended surveyors.

Day Cruising