Tips For Buying A BoatTips For Buying A Boat
If you're searching for that perfect boat, there are several factors to consider while you're looking.
By Bonita Staples
Figure out what price range you can afford. It would be a good idea to talk to your bank or credit union to get the monthly rates based on different price ranges. With some of the financing packages the boat dealers are offering you can stretch out your payments up to 10 or 12 years. I don't recommend this because most people don't keep a boat that long and it puts you upside down on your loan if you want to sell in five to six years. Stay in the 5- to 7-year loan periods or less if possible.
Look at the construction of the boat hull, stringers, transom, cap (top of boat), casting deck, floor and carpet. Most of the better fiberglass boat manufacturers have gone to composite construction because it will last longer and not rot or deteriorate, like wood. Push your hand on the sides of the boat and see if it gives or flexes (it should not), walk on the deck (how solid is it?), check the doors on the boxes, are they water tight and insulated? The same goes for aluminum boats, you need strong stringers, heavy hull and side thickness to resist dents from stumps and rocks. Has the aluminum been pre-stressed? Check the paint for toughness. The aluminum boats manufactured now have the rough-water handling, feel, "fishability" and look of the fiberglass rigs and are economically priced.
Check the quality of the carpet, upholstery, door handles and locks. If your fishing spot is the back deck, how big is the area and is the seat comfortable? If you share the front deck, is the deck area large enough for two to fish comfortably? Does the butt seat have more than one seat-mounting hole to give you flexibility in fishing area and be able to reach for the trolling motor with ease? Sit down in the driver's seat and see if you can see the gauges. Does the steering wheel tilt, can you see over the dash to drive and is the seat comfortable for long runs down the lake to that hot spot?
Sit in the passenger's seat and check it out. If this is your side of the boat, do you want it to be a dual console? Having a second dash will help protect you from the rain (rain at 50 miles per hour feels like marbles hitting you) and wind running down the lake. What accessories come with the base package, does it include the electronics? These are things you need to pay attention to because ad-on items will raise the price. Check storage. Does the boat have a large rod box? How long is the box and how many rods can you carry?
Consider the outboard motor. It should be at least mid-range or larger in the recommendation for horsepower of the boat manufacturer (If the recommended range is 100 hp to 200 hp, then a 150 hp or 175 hp may be the best choice). You don't have to get the largest motor the boat will handle. Generally a size or two smaller will work great and give you good performance and gas mileage.
Check out the trailer. If you will be handling the boat by yourself, I would recommend a single axle. If you get a 20-foot or larger boat you will need a tandem axle with brakes. Tandems are hard to move by yourself and the brakes can add to your problems in backing up, but they do pull on the road great. You can save a few dollars on the trailer by sticking to steel or chrome wheels rather than aluminum and make sure that there is a spare.
You need to include a demo ride on the water, preferably in the boat you are getting, or at least in the same exact model boat with the same horse power motor. Taking a ride in a different model and or horsepower may leave you with the wrong impression about what you are buying. Pick a somewhat windy day. Any boat will run good on a smooth surface, but how does it do in real conditions?
By all means, common sense will tell you that if you become uncomfortable at some point with your selection, don't make the deal. You're making a major investment and need to shop hard to get the best deal. If you find the boat you like, check with a couple of dealers to get the best price, but don't let a good boat show deal get away from you.
You may also want to consider as part of your selection criterion, the dealer's service, how responsive and friendly the sales people are and their reputation for standing behind the rigs they sell. How you are treated when you are looking at a purchase will also give you an idea of how they may treat you after the sale.
Bonita is sponsored by Cobra Boats, Mercury Motors, Bowie Marine, Hamby's Protectors, Solargizer, Falcon Rods, Bob's Machine Shop, Minn Kota, OutdoorTexas.com and Tournament Chasers.
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