AN INVESTMENT THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE
Buying a boat is a very personal choice, so take your time and do your research. The following tips are a general guideline…
There are a lot of choices. Allow enough time to explore many different types of boats and several different brands within each category. This is a big investment that will change your life.
FIND THE RIGHT BOAT FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY
Begin by narrowing down your choices. Ask yourself the following questions: What do I want to do with the boat? Where do I want to go boating? Who is going with me? How many people should the boat carry? Will we be going offshore? Trailering? Overnighting? Entertaining? Fishing? Water skiing? How much am I willing to spend on boating? The answers to these questions will help you narrow down your choices.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT BOAT
Narrow your choices to a short list of boat types/categories and make short lists of features you require, features you would like, and features you want to avoid.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT DEALER
Once you have narrowed down your category choices, the real fun begins. It’s time to go shopping. Remember, you are interviewing your dealer as well as searching for the perfect boat. You want to find the right boat-brand-dealer combination. Look for a BIA member or BIA-certified dealer. Ask similar questions to each dealer to compare ‘apples to apples’. You may not know the exact boat you want yet, but you know what kind of experience and service you want to have, so don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions.
Investigate the warranties for every boat you are considering. Warranties are valuable and should influence your decision. Some warranties are transferable, which may become a selling point if you decide to sell your boat. Find out what the warranty includes (engine, hull, components, accessories, service, etc) and find out about the service you will receive if something fails. Any warranty that may still exist on a late model used rig needs to be transferred to the new owner. A good way to do this is to ask for references. Also check model serial numbers with the model year before parting with your money. It’s also advisable you to check there is no money owing by previous owners if you are buying a used boat.
KEEP A LOG
At the boat show and as you visit local dealerships, document everything: take pictures of the dashboard, the galley, the head, etc. Take notes, or record your reactions on a recording device. Involve your family with the decision and listen to their likes and dislikes about each boat. No two boats are exactly the same – but there exists a perfect boat for you and your family. Use your short list of features and brands to quantify your observations… make a chart and use it to rank your top choices.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO FIND THE RIGHT BOAT?
For some, one afternoon is all they need. It takes others several years. The right time for you to buy a boat is when you are ready. Boat shows often offer ‘show specials’ to entice you to purchase at the show. Ask the dealer if he/she would honour that price in a few weeks after doing some more shopping… chances are the answer will be yes. Refer the boat buyer checklist to check-off the key points to consider before buying a boat. When you are ready to do the deal, don’t forget to insist on signing the required change of ownership papers and to insure your new rig.
Did you realise you can test drive a boat with a sea trial? The way a boat handles and the way it feels on the water is a very important consideration. Bring the family along for your test drives and try to test the boat in the types of conditions where you will be using it. Try do this in moderate seas, not on a flat, calm water day, so you get an idea of how the boat performs.
LEARNING TO USE YOUR NEW BOAT
Boating is not difficult, but driving a boat, like anything else, is a skill. If you haven’t already, sign up for a boating education course where you can learn the rules of the road on the water. For on-the-water training, some dealers will train you on how to use your boat. Most marinas and dealerships have a network of instructors or experienced boaters you can hire to show you the ropes on your own boat. Some aspects will require practice like docking, launching and retrieving your boat. The best tip here is just to take it slow and practice.
FOR FURTHER ASSISTANCE
The various Boating Industry Associations around Australia will be able to provide further assistance with buying a boat. Click on each state/territory for specific information:
*(ACT is covered by NSW)
**(TAS is covered by VIC)