The smart way to buy a boat

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 16, 2005

This past week I attended the United States Naval Institute’s Gulf Coast Seminar in New Orleans. Co-hosted with the Marine Corps Association, the seminar looked at Homeland Security and Homeland Defense issues.

During one of the breaks between seminars I had a chance to talk with a longtime friend from Cape Canaveral, Fla. He is an avid boater and reminded me of an old boating saying, &uot;The happiest times in a boaters life are when he or she buys his boat, and the day he or she sells it.&uot;

Owning and operating a boat, especially a larger power or sailboat isn’t easy or cheap. If you take it seriously (and I sure hope you do), owning a boat entails attending classes (such as those the Coast Guard Auxiliary offers) and ensuring detailed preventive maintenance occurs. It is as demanding as home ownership. You need to make sure your safety equipment is fully operational and that any visitors be fully briefed on how your boat operates. Like I said, it is very demanding indeed, but can be a ton of fun.

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There are a number of ways you can prepare to buy a boat and understand the ins and outs of working with a seller either privately or from a manufacturer.

One of the best Web sites that I have found that offers a potential buyer is www.takemefishing,org. This site has well-written practical advise on all sorts of fishing and boating topics. The site is easy to navigate and a fun read. is another top-flight web site.

Obviously in this small space I can’t look at aspects of buying a boat. I do however want to focus on two specific areas – &uot;Why do you want to buy a boat?&uot; and

&uot;How do you get the best value?&uot;

So let’s start with the most basic of questions. Why do I want to buy a boat? Some things to consider as you ponder this overarching question. First and foremost you need to consider where you live and where you intend to boat? The closer the availability the better; one wants to commute long distances to boat, as it makes it a lot more of a chore than a joy.

Here in Suffolk we have plenty of places to keep your boat in the water or locations to launch your boat.

Why own a boat vice rent it? Ownership entails significant expense from fuel to safety equipment and insurance? Do you have the funds to sustain these costs?

How big a boat do you need? If you are taking friends fishing or water skiing than you need a certain size? Do you want power or sail? So look at all these questions.

Second, once you have answered all the questions

as to why you want one, then start looking for how you can get the best value.

There are three primary sources that you can use for boat values. Armed with this information you will be in a much better position to work with a seller. It’s pretty much identical to buying a car.

My favorite of the three information sites is the NADA Marine Appraisal Guide P.O. Box 7800, Costa Mesa, CA 92628. The telephone number is (800) 966-6232.

This is the same group that people have relied on for years for fair prices for autos and trucks. The NADA site provides information on not only boats, but also personal watercraft, marine motors and trailers.

We could go on but the list of topics is virtually unlimited, Bottom line, do your homework regarding a boat purchase and look ahead to costs, time and requirements.

Next week we start our look at National Safe Boating Week 2005. Until then….Boat Safe, and Boat Smart!