Tips for buying your first boat
This time of year is all about goal setting, and if one of your goals to is buy your first boat, then you need to do your research. Lucky for us, living by the waters of Lake Windermere and having over 30 years experience of selling and repairing boats from Bowness Bay Marina means that we have learnt a lot of do’s and don’ts when seeing customers make their first ever boating purchase.
Lucky for you, we decided to impart our wisdom with top tips on: how to buy your first boat!
Are you thinking new or used?
Have you budgeted for all the costs associated with buying your first boat?
Have you gained knowledge through sufficient research?
Let’s get started with the fun stuff...
... How do you plan to enjoy your first boat?
We’re delighted that you are clearly drawn to the water and want to enjoy it much more by investing in your first boat purchase. That’s a big moment, so ask yourself, why?
In our opinion, all boating activates are split into three simple components:
- Water sports
So, are you a day out with the family on the water type of buyer, a keen fishing person, or an adrenaline junky? Don’t worry, you can be all three, or two, as several boats can be adapted to be multipurpose. However, let’s breakdown the options and highlight what types of boats are suitable for each boating activity.
Tips for buying your first cruising boat
Cruising is all about family time and entertaining. You pack your picnic and you set yourself up for a full day, weekend or weeks on the water to simply have fun and enjoy the sunshine and the spray. Therefore, it is important to look at boats that will remain comfortable for that long duration and have the power and simplicity to take you to your destinations, especially if you are new to the boating game.
A powerboat, such as our brand new 2018 Jeanneau Merry Fisher 695 with a Suzuki DF115 Four Stroke Outboard Engine is a great option. This Jeanneau model as it is a perfectly designed for day outings for a family of four. If you’re thinking of staying out on the water overnight, the Merry Fisher 795 is also due to arrive in our showroom this February. The high class brand, along with the well thought out cockpit and deck design make these a great option for first time boat buyers.
Of course, we understand that you still want to do your research. That’s the most fun part and according to Boatest, the best types of boats for first time cruisers include:
- High performance - great speed, good comfort and maximised deck and cockpit space for outings
- Deck boat - designed to be nippy on the water and are open to all the elements (apart from a canvas cover if required). This means you truly experience an exhilarating time on the water from start to finish
- Express cruiser - slightly larger, with enough room for overnight stays
- Motor yacht - for those requiring plenty of luxurious space for entertaining and intend to spend time out on the water overnight
If cruising is your thing, your check list for a choosing the right boat must include:
- Usage: are you just wanting a boat for the day, or are you planning overnight trips?
- Does the seating and space is adequate for your requirements?
- Spending time in the cockpit to make sure that it feels deep and secure with lots of grab handles
- Checking that there is enough stowage for a family day out, or weekend away
- Checking that the cockpit is large enough for extra bodies if the weather changes and you need to take cover
- Not overlooking the party accessories like drinks holders, cushions and stereo.
- Do you need a head (toilet)? Not all cruisers have them as standard.
- What power engine will you need to safely reach your destination
Tips for buying your first water sports boat
If you’ve discovered the thrill of watersports such as water skiing and wakeboarding, then you need to look at a tow boat style vessel with an inboard engine, which according to Boats.com, is the engine of choice, especially when it comes to safety.
We currently have the 2017 Glastron GTS185 in stock which ticks a lot of the boxes, including an extreme wakeboard tower and an add on swim board extension. Again, this is a great first time buying option, as the power of the in board engine is manageable and safe for beginners.
We also know that speed is just as much of an adrenaline rush, so we’ve added speed boats into this section too. For both you need to:
- Think about power, yes speed is great, but the longevity of the engine is just as important
- Go for a sea trial to see how you handle the handling. Experience, personal preference and the boat itself will be unique to you. As much as a sea trial is important for a cruiser to test out comfort and space, you’ll only ever know how a speed boat works for you, if you test it out first.
- Think beyond speed, and do consider comfort, space and your expected time out on the water
- Research the history of a used boat, or the sturdiness of the model that you’re considering. As Boatingmag quite rightly suggest, do an internet search for hull failure with this 40 Point Check list
- Consider your experience. If this is your first boat, then you probably lack the experience to manage a super high powered boat. Good entry level boats to consider include the sport boat, jet boat or very basic water ski boat.
Tips for buying a fishing boat
For the more laid back of us - who can think of nothing better than anchoring up for a day of stress busting fishing - comfort, visibility of the water and space will be the main criteria.
You also need to:
- Think about the waterway you intend to fish on and what boat is accepted on it
- Consider that there is enough space and comfort for any additional passengers (and all their fishing equipment)
- Don’t over spec on engine power, especially if slow and steady is your preferred pace
A boat such as our used Merry Fisher 635 would make an ideal option for fishing fans on a budget.
Now that you’ve thought about your usage, and we’ve recommended the types of boats suitable, your next decision is...
New v’s used
There are several advantages and disadvantages for buying new or used. Budget plays a massive part. Just like a car, the benefit of buying new should guarantee a relatively fuss free ownership and there are finance options available. Buying used can be more cost effective, but any problems you face are completely yours to deal with. It also depends on how much you are willing to compromise on some features, unless you are lucky enough to come across the perfectly specified used boat.
From our experience however, we have a bit of general advice for first time boat buyers:
- Whether buying new or used, try to buy through a dealer or at a boat show.
- If buying through a finance deal, check when the title of the boat passes to you
- Ask about title documentation such as Part 1 Registration, Previous bills of sales and evidence of RCD compliance.
- Make sure you are satisfied with the seller’s title documentation before you sign on the dotted line
- If you have very strict requirements, for example, you want a family sized cruiser that can tow a water skier, we suggest looking at new, or use a highly experienced dealer who will source a used boat to your exact requirements
Finally, it is very important not to forget:
- Budgeting: Cost in insurance, mooring fees, boat safety certificates, cruising fees , the cost to carry out an independent survey and of course, running costs
- Comparing photos and descriptions carefully to see what you are getting for your money.
- Always check what is standard and what is optional. Exactly the same as buying a car, you will find that the price shown is a starting price, so budget accordingly when researching
- Before you buy, conduct a walk around, sea trial and a get an independent survey on a used boat
- Find out at what stage in the buying process you obtain ownership. That is the moment when you are personally responsible for insuring the boat and paying mooring fees.
- If the boat is not registered, who will manage this, you or the dealership?
- Think about taking a training course beforehand to get the most out of your brand new purchase.
Knowledge is power when it comes to any first time purchase, so we hope these tips will stand you in good stead when you first approach a dealer. If you have any more questions, please get in touch.