Beginners Guide

Guide To Buying A Boat: How To Choose The Right Boat

Choosing your boat to purchase for the first time may call for high expectations. You won’t get the one that’s best for you if you don’t give it much thought. Here are tips on how you can make an informed decision when buying a boat.

Know What You Want

Have a list of the features you need your boat to have. This will depend on the intended purpose of the vessel. But first-time boat buyers who mainly want the vessel for recreational use can already enjoy time in the waters with towable bowriders, cuddy cabins and deck boats. Below is a list of common types of boats and what they are best used for.

  • Flatboat – shallow water fishing
  • Yacht – racing, cruising, sailing
  • Bowrider – day trips, water sports
  • Jet boat – shallow water water sports
  • Cuddy cabin – family overnight trips, watersports
  • Deck boat – group day cruise
  • Trawler – longer cruising trips Longer cruising trips
  • Sports fisher – overnight offshore fishing
  • Express cruiser – small group trip, overnight or weekend trips
  • Rib Inflatable – transportation, shallow water play

Get More Information

Head down to a boating club or local marina and meet people who own a boat similar to the one you’re considering buying. These people can give you an honest feedback and even helpful suggestions on the specific type of boat you’re looking into.

In general, do your homework if you want to buy a boat that will perfectly suit your needs. Check out the classifieds for new and used boats for great deals. Remember to always check for the boat’s makes and models as you do your homework.

New vs Used

If you want a boat that you can keep for more than five years and if you have the funds, go for a new boat. But before making a purchase of a brand new vessel, read as many reviews about that boat as you can. Also, spend time with the boat to get yourself familiar with its features and layouts.

Going for a used boat not only lets you save money but it can offer some advantages too. For instance, a used boat may already come with safety features and extras that are not found in a brand new one. A used boat can also be a great alternative if you can’t afford a new one since there are boats that haven’t clocked up many miles. Know first how often the previous owner got out in the water so you’ll know just how overused or underused the vessel is. The only downside to having a used boat is that it may have cosmetic blemishes. Since you’re a beginner, your lack of experience might contribute more to those blemishes as you learn the ropes in boating.

Tips to Assess a Used Boat

If you want to own a fiberglass boat, inspect for cracks that may have been produced from impact. Deep cracks should be more of a concern than superficial cracks from wear and tear. If repairs were done, ask the previous owner for receipts to check if the boat had undergone quality repairs.

If you’re considering aluminum, look for corrosion of metal as well as cracks along the welding joints. Patchy paintwork also tells you that the boat had undergone repairs.

Look for discoloration on the boat as this suggests that the vessel wasn’t maintained well. Also, make sure that the ropes and rigging are still strong and has not deteriorated. Handrails should still be securely bolted. Check for rust marks inside the boat as this would indicate it has taken water. Safety equipment should still be on board. More importantly, check if the boat still has good water flow by starting the engine to see if it tilts properly. If you need help with assessment, consider hiring an accredited professional.

Ask the right questions

There are plenty of questions you need to ask the seller before making a purchase, especially if you’re going for a used one. Questions include but are not limited to: “What activities was the vessel used for?” “What’s the reason for selling?” “How long was the boat in possession of the previous owner?” and “How often was it taken out in the water?”


Don’t hurry when making a boat purchase. Come up with a list of questions or even print several of them so you can compare your options. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, you can start making offers. Remember, if the deal looks too good to be true, then it probably is. Being equipped with the knowledge about specs and prices helps you negotiate better with the seller.

Don’t hesitate to get the boat out for a test drive. An independent surveyor can tag along to help you check out the boat’s condition.

Important Note

Take your time when deciding what to purchase. Buying a boat is no joke and should be done on an informed – not impulsive – decision. If you feel you’re going to struggle with the abovementioned tips, it’s best to work with a reputable boat dealer.

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