Buyer's remorse is something that nearly everyone experiences at least once in their life. The purchase of a boat requires commitment, and a lack of careful planning and research can lead to a costly lesson in remorse. Whether a seasoned boater, or preparing for your first boat purchase, here are four ways to avoid regret after buying your dream boat.
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1) Choosing a Boat
The first thing to decide is how you will use the boat and selecting the one that best fits your needs and lifestyle. Will you use the craft for early morning fishing trips on protected waters, extended trips in open water, or do you plan on entertaining family and friends at the dock? Boats are specialized, with cruising, fishing, and sports boats each having unique capabilities and limitations. Time spent thinking about how your boat will fit into your life will ensure that it matches the dream.
2) Consider Your Budget
Boat ownership requires a financial commitment beyond the initial purchase of the boat. Associated expenses such as docking, storage, maintenance, fuel and insurance can add up fast. If financing your dream, keep in mind that boats depreciate and terms may run as long as 20 years, which could quickly put you in a position where maintenance costs exceed the value of the vessel.
3) New or Used
You may have already decided this question, but it is worth comparing the pros and cons that each option offers. New boats are in perfect condition direct from the factory, guaranteeing trouble-free operation with warranty protection as well as manufacturer and dealer support. The downside is they are expensive.
Used boats are considerably less expensive than new models, and depending on age, may still have warranty protection. The money saved by purchasing a quality used boat, even without warranty coverage, can easily offset any additional maintenance costs related to age.
The main risk with used boats is that you may not know the vessel's history and whether it has been maintained properly or damaged in any way. To protect yourself and your investment it is vital to have a marine surveyor inspect the vessel before purchase. The cost of a survey is a small price to pay for knowing you bought a good boat and not a headache.
4) Rules of The Road at Sea
Piloting a boat is considerably different than driving a car. In addition to the way watercraft turn, stop, and handle, a safe day on the water requires a fundamental understanding of how to deal with wind, waves, tides, currents, weather, and boat traffic. Knowing the Rules of The Road at Sea is vital before heading out on the water, regardless of how big or small the vessel or the body of water.
Many states require boat operators to, at the minimum, pass an approved boating course and receive a safe boating certificate. Both the U.S. Power Squadron and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary offer safe boating courses, and there are state-specific boating safety courses available online through the BoatUS Foundation. California has recently implemented a state required safety class and licensing which is being phased in by age.
Buying a boat is a long-term commitment and the second largest investment that most people make, so it is critical to weigh your options carefully. Doing some research and choosing a reputable dealer will ensure that you purchase the right boat at the right price and that you avoid regret after buying your dream boat.
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