Buying a boat

By Joanne Lemna  | 
Mar 9, 2016 12:34:59 PM

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There's nothing like getting in a boat and heading out. Whether you're fishing in the early morning, soaking up the afternoon sun, going for an evening lake cruise, or doing something more action-packed like waterskiing, there's just something awesome about a day spent on the water. Purchasing a boat can be one of the best - and biggest - recreational investments you can make.

Find the Right Boat for Your Needs

Deciding on the right boat can be tricky. There are countless makes, models, and styles and it can quickly become overwhelming. A good place to start is with a dealer or boat show. Walking through the models and talking to sales representatives can help you get a better idea about the type of boat you want and what the price point will be. Online research is also a great idea, although it can be overwhelming, especially at first.

Keep in mind your budget, what you want to use the boat for, and the boat's size (think of storage and towing capacities). For instance, if you're just interested in fishing for an hour or two on a nearby lake, an aluminium, flat-bottom boat that can be outfitted with a motor may be exactly what you're looking for. However, if you're more into wakeboarding and taking you and your friends out for a jaunt around a big lake, a sports boat with an inboard motor may be more your style. Discover Boating is an excellent resource to help you find the perfect boat.

Many seasoned boat owners suggest buying a used boat first. This lets you become better acquainted with boating and learn what you like to do with your boat. These crafts are usually cheaper, but may not be under warranty. You may also be taking a risk since you may not know the history of the boat.

Buying a Boat

You can purchase a boat from a dealer or through a private sale. If you're new to boating, it's best to go through a reputable dealer or have an experienced friend with you. Discover Boating offers a free buying guide that's helpful if it's your first boat.

Make sure you do a walkaround inspection of the boat yourself. Look for cracks and any damage. Small cracks or spiderwebs in localized areas are mostly cosmetic, but anything bigger than 2 inches can be a problem. Mildew is also an issue, so be sure to check the seats. Check all electronics and start the engine. Test driving the boat is ideal, but that's not always possible. Consider getting an inspection done, too, especially if the boat is being sold through a private seller.

When you make the purchase, make sure you have an official bill of sale. This protects you and the seller.

Protecting Your Boat

We often spend more time deciding on what type of boat to buy than on how to protect it once we've got it. Owning a boat is a lot like owning a car - with the right storage and maintenance it should last you a lifetime. Like a car, an insurance policy will protect your boat against possible unforeseen events.

A boat insurance policy will offer protection against loss or damage, as well as certain marine-related risks such as salvage work, wreck removal, pollution, or environmental damage. Why is this important? If your boat gets damaged, it can be very expensive to remove it from a waterway, sometimes exceeding the value of the boat. The best insurance policy is an "all-risk" policy which provides coverage for all types of losses, except those specifically excluded (such as wear and tear, animal damage, manufacturer defects and ice/freezing).

Whether you buy a small runabout, a pontoon, a sailboat, a 30-foot yacht or a set of sea-doos, the best option is to talk to your insurance broker. They'll be able to get you the right coverage for an affordable price.

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