Six Things to Consider Before Buying a Boat
Purchasing a new boat is exciting, even for experienced boaters. It’s also a major investment that requires thought and research. Here are some questions every boater should ask themselves before making a decision on a new boat.
- How will you use the boat?
If fishing is your primary objective, will you be remaining inshore or heading offshore? If you intend to remain inshore, 18- to 20-foot flats boats are ideal, although you will be limited to a maximum of three anglers. If you’ll be heading offshore, you might want center consoles, walkarounds and cuddy cabins. If you’ll be doing both, consider a versatile 21- to 26-foot bay boat with a shallow draft and enough of a deep-V to slice through the waves.
- Who will be joining you?
Your answer will determine the size and layout of the boat. A center console with a spacious cockpit provides plenty of room to cast lines without hooking people more often than fish and is ideal for hardcore fishing with buddies. A small cabin with forward seating is great for family gatherings.
- How much space will you need for gear?
You’ll need room not only for rods and tackle, but also for safety gear, gaffs, landing nets, binoculars and rain gear. And depending on whether it’s more of a social gathering, you’ll need a separate cooler for food and drinks. Look for a boat with enough compartments and storage to accommodate it all.
- How far will you venture?
If you plan to travel long distances, it’s important to buy a boat with extensive range. The range is not solely determined by its fuel capacity, but also by the proper power option to produce the optimum fuel efficiency. As a rule of thumb, choose a motor that gets you to within 20 percent of the boat’s maximum HP rating. If you plan on carrying a heavy load of passengers and gear, go for the maximum rating.
- Choose the right electronics
Most anglers are fine with a chart plotter (GPS), a fish finder (sonar) and a VHF radio. But consider radar if you’re heading far from shore. Even smaller boats can easily accommodate these essentials.
- Budget, budget, budget
Laying down the purchase price of the boat is nowhere near the end of your costs. Don’t forget taxes, interest on a boat loan, storage, insurance and annual maintenance fees. Plan carefully for all hidden costs.