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So You Want to Buy a Boat

Buying a Boat Can be Easy if You Follow Several Simple Steps

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We all get the urge every now and then, either to buy our first boat, or to trade the one we already have. That urge normally falls right in a time line with the local boat show going on over at the convention center, and it is a hard one to overcome. Seems that every year the boat builders add a little something extra, a lagniappe, that didn't come on the model we currently own.

Take heart if you are one of these poor souls. You have a lot of company out there. Lots of us get that urge every year.

There are a number of ways to overcome the urge, the most obvious of which is don’t go to the boat show! But if the urge really snags you, there is a method that you need to follow to overcome any emotional decision you may be trying to make.

If you are going to buy or trade boats, take a look at these issues before you go looking, and then apply the answers to any of the boats you find.

BUDGET

First and foremost, sit down and determine just how much you can afford or how much you plan to spend on a boat. People who go out blindly, particularly when financing agents are on the premise, often spend far more than they originally planned. It’s even a good idea to get pre-approved for a loan if you are borrowing, so you can deal from a position of strength and virtually pay cash for the boat. You also can make a rational decision about how much money you want to spend prior to being influenced by the boats themselves.

USE

Just how in the world are you going to use the boat? Are you a pure fisherman, or a family fisherman? Do you need a flats boat for shallow water only, a deep-V model for offshore angling, or a compromise boat – often called a bay boat? Does a bow rider or cuddy cabin better suit the needs of you family, or will they accept a pure fishing machine? You need to plan this out with your family in mind. Nothing is more miserable than a family of four trying to have an outing on a pure flats boat. It simply won’t work.

SIZE

Within your budget constraints, you need to determine just how big you boat will be. Do you plan to trailer it and keep it in your garage? If so, the whole rig can’t be longer than about twenty-two feet or it won’t fit in the garage. If you plan on a really big boat, can it be trailered? Boats over about twenty-five feet in length become very difficult to trailer without a large towing vehicle (at an additional expense!). Do you plan to store it or dock it? What kind of fishing do you plan to do? Offshore trips further than about twenty-five miles almost demand a boat capable of some very heavy seas – if only from a safety standpoint – and that means more size and more money.

More on page 2

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