Here’s What You Need to Know About Buying a Boat

You are about to venture into an amazing lifestyle filled with watersports, cruising, and fun! Here’s what you need to know about buying a boat.

What Kind of Boat Do I Need?

One of the first questions to ask yourself is, “What kind of boat do I need?” Are you looking for a family cruiser? Maybe you’d like something you can wakesurf, wakeboard and water ski with? How about a pontoon boat? They’re all great choices. It depends on what you’d like to do most of the time.

Cruisers are versatile and can handle varied water conditions and activities. While they’re designed for cruising in comfort, some boats from Cobalt and Four Winns can lay up a very robust wakesurfing wave that rivals the capacity of more dedicated wake boats.

Wake boats, like those from MasterCraft, are designed to manage the shape of your wake specifically for wakesurfing, wakeboarding, and even water skiing. They are capable of dealing up impressive waves in the waist to chest-high range. You can ride a variety of different kinds of surfboards and truly experience endless waves.

Crossover boats like the MasterCraft XT Series offer up impressive wakesurfing waves, yet with the push of a button, you can dial in the perfect wakeboarding and water skiing wake.

Pontoon boats are always a great option for cruising as well. Modern pontoons like Barletta and Crest will keep you high and dry while offering a quiet, stable ride every time.

Also, pontoons typically feature an outboard motor, offer a lot of open deck space and can be quite versatile when hosting a lot of people.

What Size Boat Should I Get?

Next, you’ll want to think about what size boat would work best for you. Boat size depends on a few things.

  • How big is the body of water you’re looking to boat on?
  • What are the conditions like on average? Calm, choppy, wavy, etc. Smaller boats handle flat water great, while bigger boats can handle large chop and small waves.
  • Will you be trailering your boat to and from the water? Smaller boats are easy to trailer, while larger boats might require a little more thought and preparation.
  • Also, how many passengers do you see yourself having on average? Are you running about with a friend or two, or do you like to host the whole crew?
  • Are you planning on spending entire days on the water or just a few hours at a time? In reality, you’ll probably experience everything in between.
  • Will you be storing your boat in your garage? If so, make sure to measure accordingly.
  • Does your body of water have any existing boat size regulations?

The Cost of Boat Ownership

Depending on finance, insurance, fuel, maintenance, winterization, and storage you will need to allocate for around $5000 to $7000 to own and operate your new boat each year. Obviously, these costs will vary by boat size, fuel efficiency, the average length of your trips, how many hours you put on each season, and so on.

These costs may be significantly lower for a used boat, however, you’ll still want to take it all into consideration so there are no surprises down the road.

Towing Your Boat

If you’re planning on towing your boat, you’ll want to make sure to check and see what your vehicle’s towing capacity is. And you’ll need to have a towing package installed if needed. When in doubt, a quick call to your auto dealership will answer your towing capacity questions.

Remember to account for your boat’s “dry” weight, the weight of your boat trailer, plus any gear that you’ll be hauling in your boat on the way to the water.

At the Boat Launch

For those of you without any prior towing experience, be prepared to spend some time learning how to operate in around the boat launch. Backing your boat into the water for the first time can be a little bit nerve-wracking. Especially if it’s a busy day and there are people waiting in line to launch and land boats.

For your first few times, pick a boat launch that has plenty of room for you to navigate and turn around in. Some have plenty of room, while others can seem a bit tight for the new boater. Also, pick an off time to practice, like maybe late morning during the midweek. That way, you’ll be after the early morning fishing rush, but before the after-work crowd.

Just take your time, be patient and practice. Also, bring an experienced friend along to help you out on your first few times to the ramp.

Where Can I Store My Boat?

If you live on the waterfront, your storage choices are typically going to be either docking your boat, putting it on a boat lift, or using an in-and-out service at your local marina. One thing our customers really enjoy is our ability to pick up, deliver, and store your boat during the offseason.  

If you’re trailering your boat, you’ll have more options to consider.

If you have a driveway with plenty of room, then that is usually a solid first choice about where to keep your boat when you’re not using it. Be sure to check any bylaws if you live in a condo community, as some don’t allow for boats being parked in driveways. And if you have a garage that’s big enough for your boat, then that’s always a great option. Also, your local marina or boat dealership may offer boat slips and rack storage.

Where Are the Best Places to Go Boating in My Area?

Many people enjoy trailering their boats and exploring new lakes throughout the season. This is a lot of fun for boaters who like to go cruising and enjoy time on the water while checking out new areas. There are always plenty of new marinas, restaurants, and parks to visit by boat.

Check out this link for some great places to go boating in Michigan this season:

Also, a quick search online will reveal many resources for you to begin exploring nearby waters. Here are a couple of helpful links that we have found:

Michigan DNR “Where to Boat”

Florida DNR “Boat Ramps and Access”

Fueling your Boat

You’ll want to note the manufacturer’s recommended fuel types for your given boat. Also, be sure to check fuel and battery levels before heading out on the water each time.

Head Call

Some boats have the option for an onboard head, or bathroom. While cruising in summertime conditions usually presents you with the option of getting into the water to take care of business, cold water is, well—cold. We’ll leave it right there for you to decide.

Also, when you use your onboard head, you will want to have it pumped out each day of use. Most on-water fuel stations offer pump-out service for a small fee and it only takes a few minutes.

General Boat Maintenance

Two points to be aware of regarding general boat maintenance:

  1. Boats can sometimes have more service challenges than cars do.
  2. In many cases, problems will develop during off-season storage or during long periods of non-use.

This is where preventative maintenance is key. Get in the habit of scheduling Spring and Winter maintenance on your boat every season. If you’re proactive about it, you’ll often head off small problems before they become big problems.

Click here to schedule your service with us.

Boater’s Safety

If you haven’t already done so, please make sure to take a certified boater’s safety course.

There are many options available online and in the classroom. Here are links for Michigan and Florida, however, a quick Google search for “Boater’s Safety Course Near Me” will provide you with everything you’ll need to get started.

Boater’s Safety Course | Michigan

Boater’s Safety Course | Florida

Getting Coast Guard Approved

You’ll also want to make sure that your boat is always in compliance with Coast Guard safety regulations before heading out on the water.

Download: Boating Safety Guide and Equipment and Departure Checklists

Thank you again, my friend. We hope to see you on the water!

Hopefully, we’ve helped you to consider some important factors about owning a boat. If we missed anything, please contact us with any questions that you may have. We’re always here to help.

Traverse City, MI

Fenton, MI

Hudsonville, MI

Central Florida