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First Time Buying a Boat? Here are 6 Useful Tips Blog Feature

By: America's Credit Union on August 17th, 2023

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First Time Buying a Boat? Here are 6 Useful Tips

Personal Finance

An increased number of Americans have embraced the freedom, excitement, and peaceful enjoyment of the boating lifestyle in recent years. As the number of first-time boat buyers rides a wave of enthusiasm, it may be prudent to feather and drift while conducting due diligence. Buying a boat can be a significant investment that provides years of good times and fond memories. But before purchasing your first boat, consider the following tips to make an informed decision.


6 Useful Tips for Anyone Buying a Boat

It’s important to understand that not all boats are created equal. Too often, first-time boat buyers plunk down their hard-earned savings on a model that looks attractive but lacks the functionality for their desired use. The boat-building industry creates niche vessels to accommodate specific on-water activities. Rather than resell your first boat purchase and buy a second one that actually serves your needs, apply the following useful tips for buying a boat.


1. Do Your Research

Deciding on the size of the boat you need requires some thoughtful consideration. The length, width, hull type, and engine need to be in sync with the waters you plan to traverse, activity, and number of people aboard. Answering the following questions should give you a clearer picture of your boating needs.  

•    How many people do you expect to have aboard?
•    Do you own a truck with enough power to haul a trailer and boat to area launches?
•    Do you anticipate using the boat in deep or shallow waterways?
•    Will you store it at home or in a marina?

You wouldn’t be able to safely take a 12-foot Jon boat out on rough ocean waters because that style is best suited for angling in freshwater lakes, rivers, and ponds. Substantial watercraft are typically needed for ocean treks and large groups of people. During your research, do your best to match the right-sized boat to your answers to the questions.  

2. Determine Your Budget

Although making a first-time boat purchase may be more affordable than you realize, too many people get in over their heads. The common thread that runs across first-time boat buyers that overspend is adding unnecessary bells and whistles. The cost of the seemingly little extras adds up quickly. After the downpayment, monthly boat loan installments strain their budgets.

Before making an impulse buy, consider establishing a reasonable budget. Determine how much you can afford. Then use a Boat Loan Calculator to determine how a boat fits into your monthly budget. It’s also important to read the Costs of Boat Ownership to learn more about the overall expenses.  Use our financial calculators to get a better idea of how much you can afford


3. Spend Time on the Water on Different Boats

The adage that experience is the best teacher holds true when entering the boating community. It’s essential to spend time out on the water to understand how sailing, fishing, or pleasure cruising truly works.

If you don’t have enough opportunities to experience different boats and conditions, spend some time speaking with seasoned enthusiasts at the docks. Ask questions about how much time and money goes into owning a boat. The anecdotal information you gain will likely help you make an informed decision.

4. Visit a Boat Show 

Boat shows are designed to promote products and make sales. Visiting a boat show can also be a rare opportunity to gain a wealth of information about makes, models, accessories, and the lifestyle. Consider sitting in on an expert-led discussion and asking vendors these questions.

•    What are the benefits of inboard boats?
•    What types of engines are available?
•    How comfortable is the boat’s helm?
•    How much storage space will I need for my usage?
•    What can I expect in terms of boat warranties?

It’s also wise to ask industry professionals about the best type of boat for your expected use. If you have a budget in mind, don’t be bashful to share that information. First-time boat buyers are wise to set limits.  

5. Be Honest About Your Boating Skills

While taking friends and family members on an excursion can be exciting, it’s crucial to know your skill level and limitations. As a newly-minted boat owner, you will be responsible for the people onboard your watercraft. You’ll also need to know when to avoid creating a wake that might negatively affect other crafts around you.

And keep in mind that more than a few inexperienced boaters lose their way once off the coast. If you are not knowledgeable about navigation systems, best not to venture far from land until you’re ready.



6. Take a Boat Safety Course BEFORE Making Your Purchase

Responsible boat ownership starts with taking a boating safety course. Before you apply for a boat loan, complete an online course that covers the basics and makes you aware of pertinent state and federal regulations. Owning a boat can be a wonderfully life-changing experience as long as you put safety first.

Make Buying a Boat a Breeze with America’s Credit Union

Once you have decided to take the plunge and start the process of buying a boat, let America’s Credit Union help you finance your new boat! With competitive rates and fast loan approvals, America’s Credit Union can help you start enjoying the water in no time. If you have any questions please contact us today!


Fore more useful information  for anyone buying a boat for the first time as well as the real cost of ownership  make sure to check out our, "Boat Ownership Costs Checklist"


Membership in America’s Credit Union is open to anyone who lives or works in Dallas, Rockwall or Collin Counties, Texas, and their family members. Employees of select employers may also be eligible. See our Membership page for details.

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