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Before You Buy a Boat

Five Tips to Choosing a Boat That Best Meets Your Needs

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Buying a boat is a big decision that requires research before taking action. When broken down into smaller decisions, though, you'll find it much easier to decide on, shop for and buy a boat that is the best fit for you. Below are five areas, including links to in-depth coverage of each topic, that will help you define the boat that best meets your needs.

1. Consider more than the price tag.

Don't look at just the purchase price of the boat. The price tag is just the beginning of the total cost of owning a boat. Prudent shoppers will prepare a boating budget that accounts for the purchase price, maintenance, operating costs and insurance.

2. Choose the right size boat for your needs.

Boat size is related to the price of a boat. Knowing the amount you can afford to spend on a boat after taking it's real cost into consideration will make choosing the size easier. You may find that while you want a larger boat, your boating budget requires you to start smaller. But, even if you have an unlimited budget, it may not be prudent to purchase a large boat if you don't quite have the boat handling skills to captain it.

3. The perfect boat is one that you have time to use and care for.

Possibly before you decide firmly on the size of the boat, you may want to consider how much time you have to spend boating and maintaining a boat. Boat maintenance can be time consuming on a large boat, or even a small one with high maintenance features such as teak. If you don't have a lot of time to devote to maintenance, opt for a smaller, simpler boat.

4. Choose the best type of boat for your boating activities.

After price, size, and determining the amount of time you have to boat, decide which activities you most want to do while boating. There are many boat types to choose from, some specializing in boating activities such as fishing, water skiing, or cruising. No boat will do everything, but define the top three activities you want to do with your boat and shop accordingly.

5. Determine the drive system for your boat.

The drive system consists of the rudder, drive shaft, engine and propellers. Choosing the wrong one can make or break your boat owning experience. Choosing the type of drive system you prefer - inboard or outboard engines, inboard/outboard, stern drive, etc. - is important, so do your research before you buy a boat.
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