When you decide to buy a boat there’s a few key things to keep in mind.
First, congratulations! You’ve made a decision that when properly carried out, will enrich your life more than you may think possible. You’ll bond with family and friends in a genuine, long lasting and enjoyable way, and create some of the best memories of your life.
Whether you are buying an 18’ bowrider or 200’ megayacht, the most important thought is this: let your requirements drive the process. This can be tricky because boats elicit lots of emotion, and that’s a good thing, but it’s easy to go to a boat show and fall in love with something before you’ve really thought through what you need. Think about where you will keep the boat, where you will go, who will typically be with you, and what you envision doing when you’re on the boat. Write this stuff down and talk it over with your partner and family.
There is a boat out there for everyone. If you are primarily into skiing, wakeboarding etc, there are boats designed specifically for those pursuits. Likewise if fishing is your thing the market has you covered with plenty of sportfish yachts for sale. Maybe when you review that list you made you see you’d like to do a bunch of things – if so there are plenty of ‘hybrid’ boats out there that will accommodate a variety of activities.
Don’t forget to take stock of your skills and knowledge, especially if you are getting a bigger boat than you are used to, or are new to boating. Take advantage of the many sources of education out there. Your state may well require you to have a license to go boating and there are other great venues for boating classes such as the USCG Auxiliary, US Power Squadrons, and others.
Remember this from a former Pentagon desk jockey: a requirement without funding is a hallucination. So, sharpen the pencil and come up with your budget. Consider not only the up front cost of buying the boat but storage/dockage, fuel, maintenance and care and feeding costs.
If you are buying something 30’ and up, and especially if it is a cabin or cruising type boat, consider enrolling in one of the vessel management services out there. These are subscription based platforms that allow you to track in detail everything on your boat – engines, auxiliary generators, electrical, plumbing, etc. All this info is very mobile and can be accessed from a tablet or smartphone for your convenience. If you don’t have an organized method for tracking all this you will find it difficult to keep up with all your service requirements.
No doubt you have friends who have boats. Bum rides! (pro tip: offer to help pay for fuel) Ask them what they like and don’t like about their boats. Go to boat shows and look around – don’t rush this prep phase. The more you look around and talk to people the better informed you will be which increases the odds of you getting something that fits you and your family.
And finally, if buying a pre-owned yacht, I’d recommend that you use a professional yacht broker. Why? Yacht brokers are typically in the business because they love boats! They probably own one themselves, and it’s likely that they have years of experience and knowledge to share with you.
Have fun and enjoy the journey!