Winter is boat show season, a time when boater’s dreams drift off to the new models, accessory upgrades, and fun new toys hitting the market before the upcoming season.
It’s also a time when many boaters consider their current boat, and dream of trading up to a larger boat. Or down to a smaller one. Or across from sail to power, or vice-versa.
I am available as a Buyer’s Agent, who’s job it is to understand what my clients want, find the right boat or boats for their consideration, then inspect it, test run it, and advise my clients on whether it’s worth their time and effort to make an offer.
I will also act as their negotiator, then surveyor, and then Delivery Captain once the deal has been made if selected for those tasks.
Because of that experience, I’ve come up with a list of important considerations for people looking to buy a new or pre-owned boat.
No matter what plans you might have for upgrades or changes, these are important things to keep in mind before throwing your hard-earned cash down on a shiny new, or new to you, vessel.
In fact, these topics are important enough that I’m in the middle of writing a book about them to help people with buying a boat. Stay tuned for more info on that.
Here are the questions I ask –
Is this your first boat, or 21st? There’s no wrong answer.
What is your prior experience at the helm? DId you own a bigger boat that never left the dock, or did you take your 39 -footer up to Mackinac Island several times a year?
What’s your budget? Are you ready to put $100,000 into an older boat that needs some work, or are you planning to spend $1 million on a turnkey floating palace?
What style appeals to you, day boat? Fly bridge? Coupe? Each has their strengths and weaknesses, and each appeals to a different prospective owner.
What do you want the boat to do for you? Water sports? Overnights? Long trips? The Great Loop? What is your primary goal?
What size boat is too big? Or too small? Does a 40-footer seem like a cruise ship to you, or does a 50-footer seem like it’s not going to be big enough?
Where do you plan to go boating, and with how many people? Do you plan to idle out into Lake Michigan and drive up the coast a mile or so to drop the anchor near the beach for the day? Or do you want to regularly buzz across from Saugatuck to Chicago for a long weekend?
Once that information has been collected and discussed, I set out to find a vessel I know will meet my client’s expectations.
If you are my client and you’re looking for a 40-foot day boat with a cabin big enough to make overnights comfortable and easy, I may find you an Absolute 40 STD.
If you’re looking for a comfortable cruiser with room for 6 that’s comfortable enough to live on as a summer cottage but small enough to operate alone, I might search for a Prestige 460 Fly with a joystick.
Want something with the performance to get to cross Lake Michigan in under three hours but still big enough to spend a comfortable weekend away? I think I’d probably look for a Formula 380 SCC.
Every boat has its strengths and unique personality traits that make it ideal for certain owners and certain needs. Having run more than 50 unique models in the last three years alone, I have a solid grasp on which make and model best meets each prospective buyer’s needs.
If you are looking to buy your first boat, 51st boat, or anything in between, you first need to answer the questions above. You can just dive in and start looking at every boat on the market until something sticks, but life will be much simpler if you know what you want and why.