4 Tips to Help You Buy Your First Boat

Here's What to Look For Before Buying a Boat

It’s time.  You’ve spent enough time tagging along on your brother-in-law’s boat, or looking at them in the marina and now you want one of your own.

You’ve saved up your pennies and now it’s time to take the plunge.  But before you rush out and plunk down your hard earned cash on just any boat, you need to do some serious thinking and research, so that you make sure you’re making the right purchase for you, for your family, etc.

Clearly, it’s a lot like buying a car. Your choices depend on your goal for how you’ll use it, how many people you need to fit in it, where you go, but it’s also about that big ole thing called a budget.



I wanted to put together some considerations so that you will need to think about before you do it just to provide some guidance. Boats lose money fairly quickly, so it’s important you can get as much use out of it as possible so it really should be the right one.


There’s tons of different types to choose from, and people buy boats for all sorts of reasons and you have to be clear about your “boat vision” so you know what you really want it for. Will it be for watersports, fishing, just getting out on the water and relaxing, or competing in sailing related activities? There are basically three main types of boats that are key to what you want to do with them: cruising, fishing and watersports.  

Boats to cruise in such as bowriders, deck boats and pontoons, are suitable mostly for entertaining and as the name suggests, simply just relaxing and cruising around the water.  Depending on the size and model, they’ll offer a variety of features (e.g.: ones that have cabins to sleep over).

Fishing boats such as bass boats, flats boats and center consoles are open in the back of the boat and offers a lot of space for fishing. Depending on the size they’ll offer a variety of features and of course some have cabins so staying over is no issue.

Watersports boats like personal watercraft, bowriders and ski boats are for those that will be having lots of escapades in the water that is all about the activities.  There’s lots of activities that can be done from these boats, so if you want action, these are the ones to look at first.

In addition, says Trever Dorics, our buddy and boat expert from Trevacy Outdoors, “Always consider the body of water that you will be on when selecting the make and model of the boat.”


Deciding on the size of the boat you will purchase will depend on many factors and the budget will really dictate this.  The bigger the boat you buy, the more it will cost. While that seems like a “duh” statement, it’s not just the purchase of it, but it’s also about maintaining it, operating it, and all of the little things you may not think about right off the bat. Gas alone can guzzle up those dollars! For first time boat owners, keeping your boat a bit smaller can allow you to gain experience and keep it fun and less of a headache. This really also depends on where you live. Don’t forget that winter maintenance if you live where it gets frigid for months at a time.

Says Dorics, “the skill set of the owner should dictate the size of the boat. Remember, loading a large boat on a float on trailer is not fun in the wind!”


Just like when buying a new car, deciding on a new vs used depends on your personality, your budget, and your personal taste. If you buy a brand new boat you’ll have the benefit of a smooth, guaranteed operation.  There will be a warranties and you will be aware of it’s history and know first-hand of any issues that arise.  

On the other hand, if you decide to go with a used model, you may get much more boat for your money, but included with that can be some research on the health of the boat and expert advice on that is smart.  Make a call to a Marine Surveyor (the boat equivalent of your friendly neighborhood car mechanic or appraiser on houses), and you can find surveyors in your area at the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS) and the National Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMS) websites.


Financing is a good option if cash won’t be the route you’ll take. And, if you’re going the boat loan route, make sure you get financing from a reputable lender who can help navigate the process for you.

Of course, as with a car or home, you will need to insure your boat adequately for damage and liability.  Your lender will be able to help you choose the right level of coverage for your specific model of boat.  

Finally, make sure your boat is registered with the state.  You will need to check on the requirements for your particular state, but the boat dealer or insurer will be able to assist you with much of this process.

According to Dorics, “Boats are a luxury and if properly maintained can be a great weekend getaway to reduce stress and bring families together.  All new boat owners should take a basic boaters safety course to learn critical safety and proper waterway etiquette. This can reduce insurance costs in some states.”

Enjoy the boat buying process! It’s awesome once you get one in your hands, and if you have any questions ask us any time via our social channels or comment below.

1 comment

  • Thank you for the very helpful article.

    We’re looking to buy a boat this spring and while we’re still not sure on the exact type. Your article did give us a few ideas – Mainly that we should consider a used boat. We’ve been looking at both on www.boatdealers.ca but still not sure which direction we’ll take.


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