Finding The Perfect Boat Finding the perfect boat is an undertaking for an experienced boater. For the first time boater, it can be a very difficult task to accomplish. To help you with your quest for the perfect boat, there are a few things you should know. Deciding what's important Choosing the right boat is all about knowing what's really important to you. You need to decide whether you'll be using the boat for your own private use, fishing, or cruising. You should also consider your families feelings, as buying a boat for your own personal needs without consulting your family will probably lead to disappointing experiences or less time spent on the water. Types of boats Typically, boats will fall into five categories -- fishing boats, power boats, sailboats, personal watercraft, and self powered boats. To help you find the perfect boat, we'll take a look at what each one offers. Fishing boats The designs for fishing boats will vary quite a bit, as are the places you can use them. The boats that are meant for shallow waters of inland lakes and rivers aren't the same boats meant for deep seas and great lakes. There are many different designs, even boats that serve no other purpose besides fishing. These types of boats normally have stowage and holders for bait, fishing poles, tackle, and even special tanks to hold live fish. Other types of fishing only boats feature an open platform where anglers can fight fish from all sides of the boat. Power boats Power boats are the most popular boats sold. The designs with power boats are as varied as their uses. Boats with seating in the front are called bowriders, which are mainly used for towing skiers or rafts. Most boats can also be used for fishing as well. If you want to do both, there are ski and fish combinations available. Sailboats When you first learn to pilot a sailboat, it can be very challenging, although very rewarding as well. A sailboat requires more skill and knowledge to operate than boats, although they are considered more rewarding once mastered. With all available sailboats, the single masted sloop is the most popular design. For those who only boat on occasion, catboats, daysailers, and dinghys are small and easily trailerable. When you finally decide on the perfect boat for you, look at what each one offers and how you plan to use it. The perfect boat for you is out there, all you have do is find the one that best matches your needs. Financing A Boat Once you decide to buy a boat, you'll find yourself wondering how you are going to pay for it. This type of purchase will involve some type of financing, whether it's a credit line through the home, an unsecured loan, or a boat line. Choosing the right financing source can be just as important as choosing the right boat. When choosing a source of financing, there are several things to consider. The first factor is how long you plan to keep the boat. If you are buying a first boat, it'll make more sense to find a loan that will be flexible enough for an early payoff via private party or even a trade in. If you are purchasing the boat of your dreams, you should expect to have it financed for a long time which makes it important to get a fixed rate loan with terms that allow for a low monthly payment. Another factor you'll need to consider is the down payment. Most lenders or dealers would like to see at least ten percent down. Zero down payments do exist for those with good enough credit. Normally, the down payment doesn't significantly change the monthly payment for your boat loan. Choosing the right type of boat loan is a very important part of the entire buying process. You can start with a boat finance brokerage, which will show you how each one of the available options fit into your profile. Doing this will give you the knowledge and ability you need to find the loan that best fits you and your budget. The, you can concentrate on the important things -- taking your new boat out on the water. Custom Built Boats Almost all boats are constructed on a production basis, as this is the most efficient means of production. There's only one set of molds and many boats being built from the mold, reducing the cost of tooling per boat. Normally, there are a limited number of options to make assembly line production more efficient in terms of cost. Leaving the ranks of production boats, there are several types of custom construction. There are many boats built with a limited budget, which is normally by amateurs. If you don't want to build the boat yourself, the next le vel available is what sailors call "semi custom" boats. These semi customs are normally built by small or mid sized shops out of one set of molds so the hull and decks could end up being identical. The builders will however, allow the owner to pick out the interior and other options. The true custom built boat, or one of a kind boat, is specifically designed and built from scratch for a single customer with an unlimited budget. A true custom boat is a one on one project, and can get very expensive before you know it. Before you decide to go out and buy a custom boat, you should give the used market another look. Those who have built custom or even semi custom boats in the past do put them on the market for sale at some point or another. This is a much less expensive way to go, simply because you won't be paying a professional to design the boat from scratch. You can find used boats that offer one of kind features and options, all you have to do is look around. Costs Of Owning A Boat Normally, the prices for new boats will vary depending on the size and make, although many dealers and manufacturers will be willing to sell you one for less than the cost of a new car payment. Financing your boat Financing your boat is just like financing a new car. Similar to car and home loans, loans for boats have became even easier and more lexible in recent years. The terms will generally range from two to 20 years. To get the most from financing, you should compare rates online. Outfitting All new boats are offered with a variety of options and accessories. When you are pricing boats, make sure you factor in the costs of electronics, accessories, and water toys -- then buy what's appropriate for your boat type and size. Most modern marine electronics are very reliable, loaded with features, and more affordable than ever before. Today's accessories can make boat trips more fun, safer, and easier than you ever thought possible. Operating costs Boating isn't like driving, as you aren't using gas all the time. If you fish or swim with your boat, your actually not using the motor at all. If you happen to own a sailboat, the motor is used less. Most boats today are less than 21 feet in length. All of these boats don't require a lot of gas, with most using less than 50 gallons of gas per season. Maintenance Simply washing down your boat and trailer with fresh water after each use will keep them covered between boat trips. If you don't have the time to do it yourself, you can always hire a professional. Insurance The insurance for boats will vary by length and type. Therefore, you should consult your insurance agent for quotes, or simply shop online. Choosing The Right Engine Choosing the engine (or propulsion system) for your boat is very important. Both the weight and the horsepower will have a major impact on the performance of your boat. If you have a boat that's underpowered, the engine will work twice as hard, giving you poor performance. Now, we will take a look at the motors available for boats and vessels: Outboard motor An outboard motor is very popular and very useful on small boats. These motors are very light, powerful, and extremely quiet. Normally mounted on the transom of a boat, there are boats available that offer a motor well or even a bracket to mount the motor to. The entire motor will swivel about, providing easy steering as the turning propeller pushes the stern about. Outboard motors come in many different sizes and the horsepower can use different types of fuel. Stern drive These motors are also known as I/O engines, and normally heavier than outboard motors. Consisting of an engine mounted inboard and a lower unit attached to the transom, these motors offer power and versitility. You can also tilt the motor up and down to help provide boat trim while you cruise. Inboards On boats that are over 26 feet in length, these motors are very popular. Similiar to the stern drive motor, the inboard motor is mounted inside the boat towards the center, giving you good weight proportion. Inboards connect directly to the transmission, then on through the hull of the boat. Then, the shaft is attached to a propeller which will turn and propel the boat. The shaft is fixed and doesn't swivel around. Therefore, a rudder is mounted behind the shaft and propeller to help deflect the flow of water which provides your steering direction. Jet drive Jet drive propulsion systems have a big advantage -- no propeller to cause damage or injury to those in the water, including marine life. Normally, they are inboard engines that will take in water that flows through a pump, powered by an impeller. Then, the water is discharged at a very high pressure through a nozzle that will propel the boat. To provide steering for the boat, the nozzle will swivel. For personal watercraft, a jet drive is the way to go. Keep in mind that when power isn't being applied, jet driven boats will lose steering, as the stream of water that propels the boat won't be there. Therefore, always keep any part of your body away from the pump intake -- and never operate these types of boats in shallow water. Buying A Fishing Boat Selecting the right fishing boat can be a real challenge and also a lot of fun for someone who is new to boating. If you haven't experienced buying a boat before, it can also be a daunting task to say the least. Before you start looking, it's important to consider the purpose of your fishing boat. A fishing boat serves but one purpose -- fishing. You have to decide if you plan to fish in the ocean, or in other bodies of water, such as lakes. This is very important, as there are different types of fishing boats available. If you plan to use your fishing boat for ocean cruising and overnight stays, it would be ideal to buy one that has a hull. This design is meant for rough waters, riding the waves, and providing more comfort for anglers while they fish. When you buy a fishing boat, you should know if it includes a warranty. If it does, you should really study the warranty as not all are the same. Buying your boat from a dealer is always a smarter decision, as dealers will provide repair services is the boat is found to be defective. It's also important when buying a fishing boat to note if the boat is certified by the NMMA. This agency will guarantee that the certification they give to every boat passes the agency's standards of excellence. When it comes down to it, you should do more than just look around when it comes to a fishing boat. You should learn how to look for the best details to ensure that your boat is worth the money. If you take the time to look around, you'll find a boat that you can truly be proud of. Buying A Cruising Yacht Everyone out there likes the idea of a shiny new boat. While buying a new yacht is an accomplishment in itself, you shouldn't spend over your budget then be unable to take it anywhere. When you buy a yacht, always look at what comes with the boat and decide if it's everything you want. Types of construction GRP: Almost all cruising yachts out there today are made of GRP construction. GRP material is long lasting, strong, and easy to repair. Osmosis is the only real problem here, as the blisters it leaves can be sometimes costly to repair. Steel: Steel is always a great a idea, as it is by far the strongest material. There have been steel boats ran into reefs and banks and received just a few mere scratches. Even though steel has many advantages, rust is the true enemy here. You must keep all surfaces thoroughly painted, primed, and ready to avoid all types of rust. Aluminum: Although rare in the normal cruising market, aluminum is very popular with the construction of top quality custom built yachts. If you are looking for an aluminum constructed yacht, always make sure that it wasn't constructed by an amateur yacht builder -- as this can cause major problems later on down the road. Wood: Even though it's the most traditional building material, wood still has a lot t o offer. If you get the right kind of wood, it can last just as long as any other type of material. The maintenence costs are very high with wood, especially if you do your own painting. Ferro-cement: Concrete type boats have been around for a long time. A cheap method of hull construction, it was very popular in the 70's. If done properly, it can be a very strong method of yacht construction. Rigs: The most popular choices of yacht rigs include sloop, cutter, and ketch - in that particular order. Sloop has the virtue of simplicity, while ketch and cutter rigs will split the sail plan into more easily managed areas. A ketch rig can sail under mizzen and headsail alone, while cutter rigs can offer a simple twin headsail with downwind option. Essentials versus desirables: Before you begin looking for a yacht, make a list of what you must have then make a list of what would be nice to have. There are many additions and add ons you can get for yachts, although they can get very expensive in a hurry. When you shop for a yacht, always plan out your budget before you even start looking. A nice yacht can cost a lot of money, which is something you may need to save up for. Yachts are great to sail on, especially for those who have a lot of money to spare. Buying A Boat Trailer A boat trailer is something you really can't go wrong with, as it is a dual purpose device. It provides a convenient way to store the boat, and also allows you to explore new areas by taking your boat down the road. Good trailers must perform both duties equally as good. Most people buying boats are into getting the boat, and not the trailer. They are more than willing to spend money on a boat, then end up getting a cheap trailer. If you want the most from boating, these tips will help you with buying a trailer. - The total weight of the boat, gear, and motor should be in the mid range of trailer's carrying capacity. You shouldn't pick a 2,500 capacity trailer if you have a boat with the same weight. - Go for larger diameter tires and wheels. The larger tires will rotate less times per mile, producing less heat and wear on the tread. The wheel bearings will last much longer as well, as they rotate less times per mile. - You should look for trailers with "drive on" capabilities. These drive on trailers will allow you to drive the boat onto the trailer, close enough to the winch so that you only need to winch the boat up a few inches. - Select trailer lights (for the highway) that are protected and sealed against water. - Pick your trailer based on the environment it will be operating in. If you plan to launch in salt water, you'll need a trailer for that purpose. There are many types of trailers available, each one designed for a specific type of boating. Although most are protected against weather and rust, you should always pick the one designed for the type of terrain you will be using your boat with. This way, you have no worries about your trailer not doing the job it should be. There are some trailers that include a spare tire, which is an excellent investment for those who plan to travel long distances. Even though it can be hard to find trailer tires in the dark, it's still great to have a spare if you get a flat while you travel. All in all, a boat trailer can save you a lot of time and money. You can store your boat on your trailer when it isn't be used, even take it to other lakes or oceans. A trailer will open up new roads for you and your boat -- all you have to do is find one that you need. After Your Boat Purchase Once you've made the purchase on a brand new boat you'll be very excited -- as you should be! The first thing to do is celebrate with your family and friends, you deserve it. You shouldn't rush out on the water immediately after the purchase, as you have some things to take care of first. If you are new to boating, you should take a safety course first. There is a lot to know about boats. Being out on the water is a lot of fun, although there are things you should know and things you should always be aware of. After buying your boat, you should register it and re-title the boat and trailer if you need to. Pay your sales tax and apply any up to date registration stickers if you need to. Also, make sure you buy the proper insurance for your boat, as it will protect you while you are on the water. When you make your first trip on the water, you should do so with an experienced boater. You can have them show you turning in tight spaces, even trailering and docking. Practice docking in different currents and take the helm with the boater there to help you. Get comfortable at the helm enough to where you'll feel comfortable taking others out for a ride. The world of boating can be very fun, offering you many things to do and a lot to see. Boating offers plenty of freedom as well, especially for those who are completely new to boating. Your first boat purchase is very important, as it opens up new doors in life. Your family will enjoy boating, all you have to do is give it a chance! Types Of Boats Available There are many boats out there on the market, with something for everyone. If you are new to boating, selecting the right boat can be hard. There are boats for every purpose on the water, all you have to do is find the one for you. To help you in your quest, we'll go over the several types of boats available. This way, you'll know the differences when you head out to buy one of your own. 1. Vessel: The vessel is the most common name for a boat, as it's the description used or capable of being used on the water. Basically, it's another name used for a boat or anything capable of being on the water. 2. Power boat: A power boat is any boat or vessel that's propelled by machinery. Fishing boats are great examples, as they are powered by motors or engines. 3. Houseboat: A houseboat is fitted for use as a living vessel or for leisurely cruising. Normally, a houseboat will include living accomodations such as sleeping quarters, kitchen facilities, and even a full bath. The cruising models are normally propelled by power. 4. Sailboat: A sailboat is any boat that's under sail along with no mechanical means of propulsion. The modern sailboats range from one person boats to luxury yachts that can accomodate several people. They are divided into three basic types: 1. Daysailer -- This is a small boat that's designed for comfortable sailing without sleeping accomodations. It offers a roomy cockpit and can also contain an outboard auxillary engine as well. 2. Cruiser -- Cruisers are medium sized or large boats that contain a cabin with sleeping quarters, toilet, food area, and usually an auxillary engine that's built inside. 3. Racer -- Racers are boats built for speed and ease of handling -- normally at the expense of comfort. 5. Zodiac: The Zodiac brand of high performance aluminum boats are some of the most popular in the entire boating industry. These boats are constructed with a conventional rigid hull with increased buoyancy and stability. The deep V hulls offered by these boats are made to take any weather. They are well known for their prowess and are used all over the world for commercial search and rescue operations. 6. Catamaran: These boats come with twin hulls. They provide safety, comfort, speed, and stability that's unmatched by single hulled boats. Popular with boating, they offer you a new twist to hitting the water. Types Of Boat Sellers Below, you'll find many people who sell boats, and how to go about dealing with them: Private sellers looking to upgrade These sellers are those who have outgrown their current boat and are looking to buy something bigger. Normally, they are knowledgeable and take care of their boats. They are also less than likely to give you a great deal, as they need the money for their next boat. They are also likely to strip the boat of electronics and accessories, as they need them for their next boat. Private sellers wanting out These types of sellers decide to sell their boat because they don't use it much. Even though it may sound great because the boat may have sat for a long time, this is actually a bad thing. When a boat sits for a long period of time, the boots can crack, batteries can dry up, and many other things can happen. Sellers who want out may not have maintained their boat well, as they didn't have a passion for it. You can get a good deal with these sellers, although you should be prepared to make some repairs after you make the purchase. Forced sales Sometimes, you are able to find an experienced boater who is selling due to an injury or disability. Many times, these boats come well equipped and have been very maintained. These boats sell quick, as you can normally get a great deal because the seller needs the money. Private sellers who aren't serious These types of sellers aren't serious about their boats, as they are trying to get a high price so they can buy a lower priced boat. They normally don't care if they sell the boat. If they can't get a high price, they will normally keep the boat. They should be avoided, as they can be very frustrating to deal with. Dealers Dealers of used boats normally get their boats on trade or consignment. They know how to make the boat attractive, although most times they don't know the history of the boat too well. Dealers are more middle men, as they have a profit margin that has to be met. Brokers These sellers normally don't waste time with smaller boats, as reputable brokers can easily put together high dollar sells. They aren't really the ones to help you, as they aren't likely to help you get a great price on a boat. When you decide to buy your boat, always proceed with caution and really think about who you plan to buy the boat from. This can help you get the best possible price, avoid headaches, and help you get what you want. There are many sellers available, all you have to do is compare prices and see what each one has to offer you and your family. Towing And Trailering A trailer can add a new dimension to the sense of freedom associated with boating. Once you have a trailer, you're pretty much free to boat anywhere you decide, lakes, rivers, or inlets. A trailer allows you to explore your area, and is also the most affordable way to store your boat. Starting out If you've never owned or trailer or trailered a boat before, there are several things you should know and consider. The first thing is the towing capacity of your truck, car, or SUV. If you don't know, you can easily find the information in your owner's manual. Normally, small cars or family sedans aren't suitable for towing, although small boats may not be a problem, if you have the proper towing equipment installed on the car. Most standard trucks or SUV's can tow boats up to 25 feet, although you'll need to check the owner's manual to be sure. Weighing in In your boat's owners manual, you'll find the dry weight of your boat. The dry weight is the weight of the boat without fuel or gear. Always make sure you assess your vehicle's towing capacity, and add a few hundred pounds to the dry weight to cover these types of extras. Muscle and power As the weight, length, and beam of a boat increases, so does the power needed to retrieve and launch it. Smaller boats may be easier for one person to handle, although larger boats will require more than one person. If you need extra help, don't be afraid to ask for it -- as trailer boaters are always ready to give you a hand if you need it. Storing Your Boat One of the keys to owning a boat is the question of where to keep it when you aren't using it. Your budget, convenience, and availability are all keys that should be talked about. Trailering There's no less expensive way to store a boat than on a trailer in your driveway or yard. A trailer offers you the advantages of taking your boat into different areas of water, taking your boat out whenver you like, or just saving fees on your winter storage. Before you look into a trailer, make sure that your vehicle has the towing capacity for your boat and the equipment you need. Rack storage For smaller boats, a great alternative to storage is rack storage, or dry stacks. Typical rack storage facilities will keep your boat in a covered shed filled with plenty of room. Simply call the facility before you want to use the boat and they will retrieve it for you. When you are finished boating, simply bring it back, tie it up, and they will return it to the storage area for you. Marina advantage If your a boat owner craving convenience, a marina slip is just what you need. Simply drive your family to the mari na, get in the boat, and go. Rates will vary from state to state, although most offer you several other perks as well. Buying your slip In some areas, you can actually buy a permanent slip at a marina. This can be great to have in high demand areas, as it guarantees you a slip at the marina whenever you need to store your boat. The purchased slip is a long term asset, and is good for as long as you own a boat.
Reasons To Buy A Boat Many studies have shown, and many people already know that being with friends and family, relaxing in the outdoors and being close to nature are the best reasons to buy a boat and spend time on the water. Your family doesn't need to spend a forture or travel to a theme park to have an experience that everyone will enjoy. Boating is family If you've ever felt that your family is going in different directions, a boat can help to bring things back together. When you spend time with your family on a boat, it's all quality time. No matter if you're fishing, tubing, swimming, or just cruising, your doing it together -- as a family. There are no distractions on the water, so you can focus your attention on each other. You can share stories, laugh, have conversations, or reconnect and create all new memories together. To put it in simple terms, a boat will make life much better. Boating helps you relax Being on a boat makes it easy to relax. There are no faxes, computers, or interruptions on a boat. You have the open water, fresh air, the warm sun, and adventure that you won't be able to find anywhere else. With a boat, a great getwaway is all but a weekend away. You may be a few miles from home in reality, although you'll feel like your a million miles away. Having fun On a boat, the fun will never stop. There are always things to do, places to see, fish to catch, and new memories to create. Buying a boat is easy to do, even if you are on a budget. If your ready to start a new journey in life -- a boat is something you and your family simply must have. New Or Used Boat Similiar to cars, there are a few pros and cons to new and used boats. Even though there are hundreds of used boats available, you should look at the newer ones first. New boats With new boats, you'll know each and every piece of history with the boat and the motor. If something happens to go wrong, you'll have a warranty to fall back on, so you don't have to focus on restoring or repairing your new boat. This way, you can get out in the water immediately. When you finance a new boat, you can usually get a much better interest rate as well. By shopping new you'll also get a better idea as to which type of boat is best for you and your family. Just like a car, the depreciation value is the highest in the first season of use. Used boats Used boats can be a great option, especially for those who don't know what they want to do with the boat, or those with tight budgets. Even though you may be planning to buy a new boat, it's always a good idea to shop new ones first. Attending boat shows are a great way to see the boats that are out there, helping you to get an idea of what you want. You can look at the many used boats that are there, then narrow your list down as to what type of used boat you prefer. Whether you plan to shop for your used boat online, through the newspaper, or by visiting one of the local boat dealerships, make sure you get a marine survey of the boat before you make the purchase. A marine survey may be a bit expensive, although it's money well spent. Often times, structural defects or mechanical problems with used boats that weren't cared for properly will be quite difficult to detect. A marine survey is similiar to a home inspection, as the surveyor will inspect every inch of the boat, from the engine to the electrical system and the hull to the steering wheel. Depending on the results you receive, you can use the results to get a lower price, or just stop the deal altogether if the results are that bad. The marine survey is the smartest way to buy a used boat, as it can save you a lot of time, headache, and even money -- which makes it well worth it. Inspecting Your New Boat The viewing, or inspecting your boat is a very important part of the buying process. Inspecting will allow you to see what you are buying before you pay any money. You may want to use a surveyor to do this, as they will perform a very detailed inspection of the boat you are interested in. You can be present if you like, as this will give you the chance to ask questions if you like. Although using a surveyor is the best way to do an inspection, you can do it yourself if you are experienced and confident enough. There are many parts of the boat to inspect, which makes it nearly impossible for beginners. If you inspect yourself, make sure you look at the bottom of the hull, the interior, the control cables, electrical system, pumps, and be sure that everything is in working order. If the boat has been well maintained, you shouldn't have a problem looking everything over. The engine should also be checked, as it is very important to the boat. If you don't know a lot about boat engines or engines in general, you should get a mechanic to look over it for you. You may want to do this anyway, as the engine can be very tough to inspect. If everything is up to par, it's time to take a test drive. Before you fire up the engine, check to see if it's already warm. If the engine has trouble starting or smokes when cold, the seller could have warmed up the engine prior to you arriving to disguise any problems. Check for oil leaks as well, checking the bilges at the start and end of the test drive. When moving around, see how the boat performs. You should experiment with hitting the waves from different angles, looking for any type of roll or pitch. Make sure you also test that all the instruments are working correctly, then run the engine for a period of time to see if it overheats. If you are buying a sail boat, put the sails up and see how the boat performs under wind pressure alone. Also, make sure you examine the mast and how the boat rigs under load. If the boat you are planning to buy doesn't pass any of your tests, don't rule it out just yet. If you are willing to put both time and money into making things work, you can use any problems as bargaining tools to try and get a lower price on the boat. How To Test A Boat If you think you've found the boat of your dreams, it's time to test it. Testing your boat is more than just taking it for a test drive around the harbor. You should look at everything closely, as a professional boat tester would. Sometimes, it can be hard to tell a top quality boat from one that may have problems later on. To an untrained eye, both can look good on the surface. When you start to break everything down and give it a careful inspection, you'll be able to tell a great boat from a not-so-great boat. By opening up all doors and access plates, you can get great insight on the the construction of the boat. You should also stick your head into the anchor locker of any boat you are considering to buy, as if they've cut any corners you'll normally be able to see it here. Looking into the anchor locker also lets you look at the hull to deck joint. If there is light coming from through, or if the fiberglass around the joint can be seen through, it normally means the boat has poor construction. When you buy a boat, you should put it through a rigorous visual inspection. It's also equally important to conduct a vigorous test on the water as wel l. A private seller or dealer will normally want to stack the deck, ensuring that the boat will perform well. Normally, this involves a near empty gas tank, no gear or extra passengers, and keeping the boat in sheltered water. Therefore, it's up to you to insist on a more realistic test. Think of the test as an actual day out on the water, and you'll find out if the boat is indeed something you should spend your money on. During your water testing, you should determine if the boat performs well and meets all of your expectations. You should determine if the boat travels at the right speeds, and whether or not it is capable of doing everything that you plan to do with it after you buy it. When test driving the boat, you should put it through all paces in open water, cutting waves at all angles. If you plan to test a saltwater boat, you should bring along a 5 gallon bucket and try throwing some water onboard. Any boat you plan to use offshore should quickly shed water through the scuppers. Some boats will pool water in the bow and drain slowly -- which can be very dangerous in rough waters. If a seller or dealer balks at the mention of any requests you have, simply find yourself another dealer or another boat. There are plenty of great quality boats available, ranging in prices. Make sure to check everything very carefully before you make any decisions. Getting Started With Boating One of the best things about boating is the fact that there are many boats designed for many different activities. For the majority of boaters, a general purpose craft that serves as a fish, ski, and picnic boat is ideal. To help you narrow down your search, ask yourself how you plan to use the boat. Fishing, cruising, water skiing, watersports, racing, or a bit of everything is what you should be wondering. There is a boat out there for you, all you have to do is find it. Finding the right size Finding the right size of boat depends on how many people you'll have boating with you and where you plan to go. All new boats have an "NMMA capacity plate" that wil you how many people you can safely have on the boat at a time. If you plan to use a trailer, you shouldn't get a boat bigger than 26 feet in length. Power needs Those who plan to water ski will need more power while those planning to fish will need less. The boaters of today will also be able to choose from new engines that are more efficient in fuel and very friendly to the environment as well. Boat costs There are boats for every type of budgets. Many new boat owners are very surprised to find that they can get their dream boat for much less than they ever expected. You can get new or used boats at a reputable dealership with financing, taking advantage of low monthly payments. Boating can be a lot of fun, as you long as you don't go overboard when you first begin. There is a lot to know about boats, costs, and types, which is something you'll learn over the years. Always have fun -- and you'll enjoy boating for many, many years. Choosing The Right Boat The first thing you should know when choosing a boat is that no single boat will do everything. If your looking for a boat that inspires confidence, don't expect it to shine in light air. Boats that are exciting to sail on the weekends aren't the ideal boats for a passage through the ocean. You shouldn't expect to find quick acceleration and load carrying capacity together with the same boat. You can buy a boat now to race or fish, then sail around later -- as you can only do one or the other with a specific type of boat. The logic to choosing the right boat is determining how you plan to use the boat. Think about why you want to own a boat, what you plan to do with it, and how you plan on using it. For some, beauty is the first consideration. For sail boats beauty is very important, as you'll spend a majority of time floating and sailing around, with many people looking at your sail boat. With people looking at your vessel, you want to make sure that it looks nothing short of amazing. If you are planning to race instead of cruise, then speed is your primary consideration. There are many cruising sailors out there who simply can't be happy unless their boats are moving very fast. The ideal boat for speed demons are those that can cut through the water, creating plenty of waves. Fishermen on the other hand, want to look towards fishing boats. Trackers and other boats that are designed for fishing are ideal here. Fishing is one of the most popular boat activities, meaning that you'll have plenty of boats to select from. When it comes down to it, selecting the right boat is up to you and what you plan to do with it. Take your time, weigh your options, and you'll have the right boat before you know it. Cash Or Finance For Your Boat Before you go out and purchase your boat, remember that boating is a hobby and you shouldn't go overboard with it. Unlike your house, boating isn't really worth going into debt for. First time buyers who aren't sure about boating should always make sure they spend well within their budget. To get the most out of your boat, it's always a better idea to scrape up your recreational dollars, sell a few of your belongings, and simply save up for a while. In the meantime, you should carefully study the boating market. When you manage to save up 3,500 -- 25,000 dollars, go ahead and buy the boat you want. Whatever you do, make sure you d on't spend all of your money on the just the boat itself. When you purchase the boat, you'll need to have enough money for taxes, registration, storage, towing insurance, gas, equipment, and even minor repairs if your boat requires them. When buying a boat, used or new, cash is always better than financing. You can save money with cash, as there are no finance charges. Financing charges can get high, very high in fact if you don't know a lot about it. If you simply must finance your purchase, it's a smart idea to use a home equity loan instead. This way, it'll be tax deductible. Always be on the lookout for boat show financing, and never, ever use it. Several boat show financing ploys will extend the loan out over the course of 10 -- 15 years. A new boater will either advance with boating or get out of it all together. Most boaters don't keep their boat for more than 10 years, which is reason enough not to get an extended finance loan on your boat. Buying The Right Fishing Boat If you are planning to buy a boat, you'll first need to evaluate what you plan to do with it. If your primary purpose is fishing, then you'll want to look into boats that are designed primarily for fishing. If you happen to be a tournament fisherman, or hope to be, then you probably wouldn't be happy with a boat less than a 150 HP motor and shorter than 19 feet in length. Those of you who plan to fish in really deep water on a regular basis will probably need a 200 HP motor and at least 20 feet of length. If you don't plan to tournament fish, but go after bass fish instead, you'll want a 17 -- 18 foot boat with at least a 115 HP motor. This way, you can enjoy the lake or the river. Those of you who like to fish for species may want to look for a more versatile boat with plenty of walking around room, higher sides, and a different seating arrangement. This type of boat is ideal for several people, even a trip out with your wife and kids. If you plan to fish on occasion, but not enough to invest in a boat, you may want to look at a fish and ski model. This is a hybrid boat, crossing between a bass boat and pleasure boat, and can easily serve your purpose. The biggest part of the buying process is getting what you can afford. Luckily, there are many new boats available, giving you several that fit your budget. If you prefer, you can shop and find a used boat that fits both your needs and budget. Buying The Right Anchor The right way to use an anchor is probably one of the least understood areas of boating. If you are new to boating, you may be thinking -- how hard can it be? You simply throw the anchor in the water, wait until it hits the bottom, then tie it off, correct? Anyone who is experienced with boating has probably seen the types of problems that type of attitude can cause. Just like everything else in boating, anchoring requires the right equipment, careful thought, and a lot of practice. The starting point is selecting the right ground tackle (the proper term for the anchor, line, chain, shackles and swivels) for your boat and your style of boating. There is no single anchor that will do everything perfectly. Each style has its own unique benefits and drawbacks, and each one performs best under its given conditions. The Danforth anchor The Danforth anchor is one of the most popular, being easily identified by its two long, sharp pivoting flukes and long shank. The Danforth is also a great choice for small to medium sized boats as well. The anchor is light and easy to store, digs well into sand and mud, and releases easy when pulled from different directions. The flukes on the Danforth pivot so that the shank can be pulled at a more vertical angle. It's ideal for fishing, which requires quick release and moving around to different locations. If you fish overnight a lot or travel to different areas of water you may want to consider a different anchor, which will hold better in changing conditions. The plow anchor The CQR, or plow anchor, features a single shaped fluke that pivots at the end of the shank. This design works well on many bottoms. The plow shank pivots from side to side, while remaining parallel to the fluke. This design also makes releasing a snap when the anchor is pulled vertically. The Bruce anchor This anchor was originally created for offshore gas and drilling rigs. The more scaled down version of this anchor is popular with boaters. The anchor holds fast, yet it will still come loose when pulled vertically. Always make sure to select an anchor system that matches the length of your boat, displacement, and the windage. If your looking for strength, elasticity and durability, you should use only top quality braided nylon anchor line. It's very important that the size and length of your anchor line is appropriate for your boat and it's requirements. Small or medium boats should use a section of galvanized steel chain between the line and the anchor. If you are new to boating, anchoring is something you should become familiar with. As you use your boat more, you'll pick up the proper anchoring techniques. Or, if you prefer, you can always take classes and learn everything you need to know about anchoring from a qualified professional. Buying Inflatable Boats As you are probably already aware of, inflatable boats are very popular today. Each distinct group of inflatable boat is designed for a specific use and therefore equipped with different components and equipment. If you're looking for a small boat to get you from your ship to the shore, a typical inflatable boat is the best answer. If you are looking for a medium sized boat for diving or swimming, there are many choices in that area as well. For recreation or rescue work, there are large inflatable boats available as well. Dealers The location of a reputable dealer is very important, as you don't want to travel too far to get an inflatable boat. Whether you need parts, repairs, or just technical support -- a close dealer can also be a close friend. As a new boat owner, you may also have questions, need to claim your warranty, or just need regular servicing. No matter how you look at it, a close dealer is always better than having to travel. Prices Many years ago, inflatable boats were the most expensive types of boats and only a small amount of people could even afford them. The reason for this, was the use of exotic materials and the numerous hours of hand labor that went into their construction. Today, there are machines that do a majority of the construction work. Zodiac and its sister company Sevylor, are the leading low cost producers today thanks to technology. You can even finance an inflatable boat if you need to, making them available to almost everyone now. Warranty You may have heard claims from all competitors, with each one promising they have the best or even the longest warranty. A few years ago, a company offered a lifetime warranty -- although they soon disappeared shortly thereafter. Many manufacturers will use an attractive warranty to substitute for quality or even proper boat design. In the back of your mind, you should be sure that the company you buy from will be around long enough to deliver on their warranty. Zodiac has been building inflatable boats for over 50 years, and offer a limited 5 year warranty on their inflatable boats. Therefore, Zodiak is one of the best you can buy today. With all inflatable boats, you should know which type you want before you purchase. You can always look around and see what each dealer offer, then plan your purchase accordingly. An inflatable boat is great to have, especially for those who own big ships and vessels. You can't go wrong with these boats either -- as they serve many different useful purposes. Buying Boat Insurance Those of you who own boat will want to make sure you get watercraft coverage. Often times, people don't realize that they need this type of coverage for their boats. There are many boat owners that don't even realize this type of insurance is even available. You need boat insurance if you own a boat, it's that simple. Before you buy boat insurance, here are some things you simply must know. - Many states now require that you carry watercraft liability coverage. What this coverage does, is protect you against any damage that you cause to other people or their property with your boat. This insurance will also cover you for vandalism, theft, fire, stranding, sinking, and even collision. You should always call your insurance agent and see what's required with your state and what policies they cover. - There is also optional coverage that you should really consider. One type of coverage that you should strongly consider is Wreckage Removal. In most areas, the removal of sunken or wrecked boats is required by law, and the responsibility of the owner to pay for the removal, which can easily be very expensive. Wreckage Removal coverage will pay these costs for you. You should also consider adding coverage that will pay for repairs and mechanical failure as well, along with towing charges -- should you ever need to be towed back to the shore. - Not all insurance companies cover everyone who operates the boat. This is something you should always ask about, find out who is covered when operating the boat. There are several companies that will only cover the owner of the boat. Make sure that the insurance agent defines who is covered when operating the boat. - When you shop for boat insurance, call your current company first, then check with other companies to see what type of rates they offer as well. Always remember that insurance agencies are in competition with each other, and they'll work with you to get you to join them. Let one know about a better rate that you've been quoted and see if they'll go one better. Before you shop for boat insurance, think about the investment you have made with your boat. Boats are not cheap, replacing or repairing them isn't cheap either. Therefore, you should always make sure you get the coverage you need to protect you against anything that happens with your boat. Buying A Used Boat Those of you who have the money and plan to keep one boat forever, should buy it new. If you happen to be on a budget and skeptical about owning a boat, you should buy it used. Buying used is great for some, although it isn't always the most glamorous decision. The oceans and lakes are filled with boaters who are far wealthier than most. Many boaters go well beyond their means and finance their boats at extreme levels. What really counts with a used boat is being out there on the water. Someone who is out there every weekend on his beat up boat is a great boater. A businessman who only has time to ride on his 60 foot yacht once or twice a year isn't considered a boater at all. If you look around the water, you'll se that the little boats are the ones that move, while the big boats are the ones that never move. Those that are too busy earning money and never have the time to go boating shouldn't really have a boat at all. New boats can lose half of their value in less than 2 years. With a used boat, the previous owner has already fixed the problems that are associated with new boats. The previous owner has also already hassled with the dealer to get the warranty service taken care of. A used boat normally hasn't be used very much at all. A boat will sit a majority of the time, which is nothing like a used car. You can find many boats with less than a couple hundreds hours of engine time. For the sake of comparison, look at how many hours are on the engine of your car. A used boat will already have scratches and dings, so you won't feel half as bad when you add a few of your own. When you purchase your used boat, you should leave at least a grand to outfit the boat and make any necessary repairs. A used boat will normally come with dock lines, life jackets, spare props, a radio, safety equipment, and other nice additions. New boat owners will have to pay hundreds of dollars for these kinds of things. The wild card is, of course, whether or not the previous boat owner did the proper maintenance of the boat. Prior to buying you should always get the boat surveyed to be sure that it's in reasonable condition. This way, you'll know your getting a great used boat.
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