After dreaming about it for years, you are finally ready to buy your first boat. You have loved sailing for as long as you can remember, and you are really excited to become a boater and make plenty of fun memories on the water with your friends and family.
In order for the entire process to be smooth sailing—literally and figuratively—rather than choppy, please consider the following tips:
Choose the Right Boat for Your Needs
The first thing to consider is what type of boating you want to do. Boats are not a one-size-fits-all type of thing, so do plenty of research before committing to one. If you want to primarily enjoy cocktails with friends on your boat, you will choose a different boat than someone who wants to go water skiing or have overnight trips on the water. Once you decide on a specific type of boat, you might want to start the shopping process online. This way, you can compare makes, models and prices and take virtual tours of different boats, all from the comfort of home.
Get Your Financial Ducks in a Row
Before heading out to buy a boat, it’s a good idea to get your finances in order. For instance, if you don’t have enough cash saved up to purchase your boat, you’ll have to look at other options. One idea is to use a credit card with a cash back feature or other perks. For instance, USAA has credit card options that are transparent and can give people 1.5 percent back on every purchase. Even if you have most or all of the money saved up, you can use the cash-back credit card, pay it off right away and get the additional bonus.
Shop for Safety Gear
No matter what type of boat you purchase, you will need to invest in certain types of gear. For instance, you will need a wearable life jacket for each person on board, and if you are going to be towing your ecstatic teenager on water skis, he or she will need one too. You will also need one or more floating devices that you can toss in the water to help a person who is struggling. Other needed safety equipment includes a fire extinguisher, a distress signal like a flare and/or a horn or whistle. Prior to going out on the water for the first time, it is imperative that you have all of these items purchased and on the boat.
In some ways, your boat is similar to your car—for instance, it will need regular maintenance. A few of these issues are things you can do on your own, while others usually require professional help. In general, the boat’s engine, hull/bottom and topsides, electrical system, plumbing, moving parts like zippers, canvas and HVAC all must be properly taken care of and maintained. One thing you can definitely do on your own is to keep your boat really clean. Wash and wax the fiberglass gel coating on your boat on a regular basis and then clean any canvas and upholstery to prevent mold and mildew from growing.
Enjoy Your Time on the Water
Fulfilling your lifelong dream of boat ownership is definitely something to be celebrated. By doing your homework to choose the best boat for you, paying for it in a way that will reward you with cash, being safe and taking great care of your new investment, your boat will be a source of great joy and relaxation for years to come.