Boat Buyers Guide - How To Choose The Right Boat For You

Interested in purchasing a boat, but need some help deciding which one? Here, you’ll find a comprehensive guide that covers every aspect of purchasing a boat.

Boat Buying Guide: What You Should Know

There are many excellent evaluations of newly released boats, in addition to lists of both recently released and secondhand boats of every imaginable sort from which to select. But before we get into that, let’s talk about the steps involved in purchasing a boat, the pros and downsides, and the things you need to think about before purchasing the boat of your choice, shall we?

New vs Used Boat: What’s The Best Choice?

Do you want to buy a brand new boat, or would you rather buy a used one? Especially for a first-time boat buyer, that’s a challenging call. Answers can be both correct and incorrect. It is entirely up to your own preferences, financial means, and level of technical expertise. What causes you to have a bigger grin? Is it a shiny new trophy or a well-obtained deal that you polished to perfection? A couple-year-old pre-owned boat from a reliable dealer is often cited as the optimal choice, but ultimately, the decision is yours to make. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Buying a New Boat

Who doesn’t enjoy a brand-new, gleaming toy? No need to question if the boat has been properly winterized and commissioned or how it has been used or mishandled. With a new boat, there isn’t any past to unearth because you’ll create this boat’s on-the-water memoir.

Pros of a New Boat

When you buy a brand-new boat, you have complete control over the design and construction process, and you can customize the boat to your exact specifications. You can pick and select the options that best suit your requirements while leaving out everything you decide you don’t need. Furthermore, new boats are typically more dependable and protected by warranties.

Cons of a New Boat

New boats are hard to come by these days due to supply chain problems and the surge in demand caused by the popularity of boating. You should count on waiting a few months for a new boat to arrive if you order it. Some people have waited for six months.

The cost is the main drawback of a new boat. When comparing the cost of a new and used boat, the new one will always cost more. You’ll also be responsible for much of the boat’s value decline.

Buying a Used Boat

Don’t forget that a used boat has seen some serious use before you buy it. If you’re lucky, you can buy a used boat that has been on the water for little more than a dozen or so days a year by the average American boat owner. When purchasing pre-owned items, keep in mind that they may or may not have any blemishes.

Pros of a Used Boat

Those with more limited financial resources may consider the advantages of purchasing a used boat. Because of the substantial amount of value loss that has already transpired, the value of used boats holds up better than that of brand new ones.

Cons of a Used Boat

It’s crucial to exercise caution while shopping for a pre-owned boat because many of them have not been properly maintained and/or have hidden problems. When considering the purchase of a pre-owned boat, it is often a good idea to hire a competent boat surveyor to check it out beforehand. Always check the compression of an old engine before buying it.

Getting The Best Value For Your Money

However, there are a lot of variables to think about, and they might be very different depending on the size and kind of boat you own. Because of this, developing an accurate “cost of owning a boat” calculation is next to impossible. You should consider all of the following points and situations if you want to clearly understand the genuine cost of owning a boat so that you will get the best value for your money.

Best Ways to Finance a Boat

Following the identification of your preferred hobbies, the following stage is to determine how much you wish to spend. What kind of boat can you afford? You can make your boat purchase by using that number as a guide. If you’re financing the purchase, keep in mind that your credit score will affect your decision; since this is a purely optional buy, don’t lock up funds for your essential daily expenses in your boat.

Other than banks and credit unions, there are other places to receive a loan. These are options, so you should thoroughly investigate them. Investigate the lender’s validity because it’s crucial to do so. You will have to prove and show the lender your capacity to repay a boat loan. Your credit rating will be examined by banks, so it’s crucial that you check it first.

You can save a lot of money by obtaining a loan from a bank, or with us at Southeast Financial!

Other Boat-Related Expenses

In addition, not only do you have to spend on the boat expense but also on the additional expenses, which are:

Boat Insurance Cost

One must have at least liability boat insurance and, especially with a newer boat, damage insurance as well. The financing institution usually mandates the full coverage policy for the financed item. If something were to happen to your boat, such as theft or vandalism, having insurance would be a wise investment.

Boat Maintenance Cost

Similar to buying a car, buying a boat also has yearly maintenance expenditures. These prices might change depending on the type of boat, how frequently it is used, whether it is used in freshwater or saltwater, engine size, the kind of storage (inside a building or outside, covered, rack storage, etc.), and whether it is purchased new or used.

Boat Loans And Financing That Fit Your Budget

Boat Fuel

In comparison to faster boats like speed and motorboats, which can consume 20 to 30 gallons per hour, tiny, personal watercraft boats typically utilize 3 to 8 gallons of gas per hour at cruising speeds. You will need to decide within this extremely broad range, depending on the weight, size, and type of your boat.

Marina Fees

If you want to keep the boat at a marina, you will have to pay a monthly fee for those months of storage. The cost will differ depending on whether you store the boat inside or outside, how frequently you use it, and whether the marina charges for cleaning and upkeep.

Boating Equipment

Safety equipment (such as life jackets, paddles, horns, signal flares, etc.) should always be considered when buying a boat. An excellent strategy for buying extra accessories is to “treat your boat” to a new one every spring and fall. Other accessories to consider adding include stereos, lighting, watersports towing gear, and more. You’ll appreciate your boat and all the summertime enjoyment it brings if you manage your money well.

Finding the Right Boat For You

With such a wide variety of boats available, selecting the one that is best for you may seem difficult. Looking at your goals and needs will help you narrow down the options. Take into consideration your preferences for different activities, the number of people you often take out, the size of the boats you’re interested in, the sort of propulsion you like, and whether or not you want a tailor-made boat.

Factors To Consider When Buying a Boat

Consider the following factors before deciding on the type of boat you want to acquire:


You’ll need to know how many others are joining you, whether you’re going for the day or intend to be away longer. The maximum number of passengers allowed on board is typically listed on boats. Make sure the boat you buy can accommodate the number of passengers you expect to have.


There will need to be more people on board a larger boat. Even motorboats require docking, which is sometimes difficult without assistance, especially for larger ones.

Sailing Location

If you want to go boating on rivers and lakes, you are probably searching for a modest pleasure vessel that you can use on a regular basis; therefore, you should give some thought to this before buying a boat.

Boat Storage

The length of the boat you want may be constrained by the amount of storage space you have available. In addition, it should be able to fit on a trailer that you already own, and your vehicle should be powerful enough to pull the boat behind it easily.

How To Survey a Used Boat

Given the comparatively low cost compared to the risk of receiving a boat with significant issues, don’t even consider purchasing a boat without first having a professional survey performed. However, a fast 10-minute survey can indicate whether a boat is worthwhile for a more thorough examination, and anyone with boating experience should be able to complete it. Consider the following to do it:

How To Survey a Used Boat

Given the comparatively low cost compared to the risk of receiving a boat with significant issues, don’t even consider purchasing a boat without first having a professional survey performed. However, a fast 10-minute survey can indicate whether a boat is worthwhile for a more thorough examination, and anyone with boating experience should be able to complete it. Consider the following to do it:

  • Overview: Are there any visible or obvious indications of neglect?
  • Keel: Check for corrosion at the hull-keel joint. It is easy to inspect the joint when the boat is hoisted and it shouldn’t open up at all.
  • Steering: Check the cables and quadrant for signs of wear and tear when steering.
  • Hull: Is the Gelcoat intact or is it covered in surface dirt and grime?
  • Mast: Verify that all fittings are firmly fastened and free of corrosion.
  • Engine: One of the best indicators of the level of general boat maintenance is the condition of the engine compartment.
  • Deck: While walking around the deck, look for any cracks that would indicate deck fittings, such as chainplates, have been stressed.
  • Accommodation: Search for leaks near windows and hatches.

Types of Boat

There are more varieties of boats than you might think possible. Nonetheless, there are three broad categories into which boats can be further subdivided:


A boat that is propelled by an engine is known as a powerboat, often known as a motorboat or speedboat. Some powerboats even have hybrid inboard-outboard engines, where the gearbox and propeller are outside while the internal combustion engine is housed within the boat. The size of powerboats varies substantially. If you want to learn more about powerboats, check out our boat manufacturers’ guide.


Boats with sails are ideal for leisurely cruising. Sailboats are also significantly more environmentally friendly and use smaller motors for docking. Because they are infrequently utilized, these engines are also less expensive than those found in motorboats, and petrol and fuel are far less expensive for sailboat owners. With a sailboat, you may travel further without using fuel.

Human-powered Boats

Watercraft that are propelled by human strength are known as human-powered boats. Directly using the hands or feet, using the hands and oars, paddles, or poles, or using the feet and pedals and a crank or treadle are the three basic ways to harness human energy.

Boat Size

Learn about the boat size as much as you can to make sure it’s an ideal fit for your lifestyle:

Length (LOA)

LOA, o/a, o.a., or oa stands for length overall, which is the term used to describe the length of a vessel’s hull as measured perpendicular to the waterline. The ship must be docked; hence this measurement is essential. It is the most common way to specify a ship’s size and is also used to calculate the price of a marina spot.

Width (Beam)

The term “beam” describes the distance from the boat’s widest point to the other side. Catamarans can be as broad as 22 to 30 feet, but most boats have a width of 18 to 20 feet.

Draft (Depth)

Draft is still another significant characteristic. The vertical distance between the waterline (where the hull contacts the water) and the bottom of the hull, or keel on a sailboat, is referred to as the draft of a boat. It establishes the shallowest level of water a boat can travel through without coming ashore. Simply said, it assists in determining how deep the water should be.

Air Draft (Height)

For sailboats and catamarans with a fixed mast, as well as sportfish boats with tall towers, air draft, or vertical clearance is crucial. The height of the boat is measured from the waterline to the top of the mast or flybridge.

Where To Buy a Boat

It can take a while to shop for a boat, and even after you’ve spent days, weeks, or months whittling down your options, you could still be unsure when and where to make the purchase. Even so, it all comes down to two buying options:

Buying a New Boat From a Dealership

The following are some benefits of purchasing a boat from a dealership: most dealers service the products they sell, so you’ll build a relationship with the company that will probably take care of your needs in the future and will want your repeat business; dealerships typically have a thorough understanding of the brands they sell and service; they can serve as your advocate and go-between with the manufacturer if warranty work is required, and they can help you arrange boat financing.

Of course, not all boat dealers are made equal, as is true of any type of business.

Buying a Used Boat From an Owner

You’ll often be looking at a secondhand boat or even a brand-new yacht that was bought unfinished if you purchase from a private seller or an owner. Since it’s frequently the least desired way to purchase a boat, we purposefully placed this option last on our list. Yes, you might receive what appears to be a terrific offer. But in this instance, the adage “buyer beware” is appropriate.

Southeast Financial

Allow Southeast Financial to get you the perfect loan for your next boat since we have the network, connections, and web resources to get the perfect one for you! And many financial options to fit your needs.

Last but not least, keep in mind that purchasing a boat, whether new or used, is all about enjoyment and new experiences. If this is your first time purchasing a boat, take your time to find the ideal model to navigate all your desired rivers, lakes, and seas. At Southeast Financial we can make things easier for you and your dreams.