Purchasing your first boat is a milestone in the life of a fisherman. It’s an exciting time that you can always look back on and smile. But the search for a new boat is rarely easy, and involves lots of research in order to find something that fits your needs. Here’s a few tips that will help you along the way!
TAKE YOUR TIME– Again, purchasing your first boat is extremely exciting, but don’t jump the gun and buy the first thing you see. No matter what type of rig you’re looking to buy, a boat is no small investment. Whether you’re buying new or pre-owned do your research, go look at several boats in person and make an educated choice. Even though it might take you several months before your new toy is sitting in the garage, taking your time and selecting the right boat will benefit you in the long run.
HAVE THE OUTBOARD TESTED– This isn’t always an option, but do everything you can to have the outboard ran through at a marine shop before purchasing a boat if you’re looking at pre-owned. If you’re buying a used boat through a dealer, this is relatively easy and many times the tests have already been done. This can be a little trickier if you’re buying from private parties,, but don’t be shy. Ask the owner if they wouldn’t mind getting the motor tested. If they deny your request this is a major red flag! The main things you’re looking to learn here are total hours that are on the engine and the results of a compression test. A marine shop can and will do several other tests as well such as a lower unit check, spark plug test and anything else they see fit.
GO FOR A TEST DRIVE– Don’t hesitate to ask a dealer or a private party if you can take the boat out for a spin. It’s amazing the additional things you can learn about a boat while actually on the water vs. looking at it in a garage. If you’re buying a used boat you’ll obviously be taking the exact boat you’re looking to purchase which is ideal. If you’re buying and ordering a brand-new boat, several brands offer test drive events that allow you to jump in whatever model you’re looking to order. Ask your salesperson for details on these types of opportunities.
PAY ATTENTION TO THE BOAT’S ACCESSORIES– With fishing boats, there’s a lot more to the package beyond just the boat itself. This mainly applies to used boats, but make sure you run through EVERYTHING with the owner. Turn depth finders on, run the trolling motor, test all tilt and trim buttons, test livewell pumps, test bilge pumps, test boat lights… The list goes on and on. If there’s a button for it, test it! This idea also applies to the batteries in the boat. Be sure to ask the owner how old the batteries are and even get them tested if possible. Last, but certainly not least, pay very close attention to the trailer. Test the trailer lights and look closely at the tires and axels. Look for worn tire tread, milky hubs or excessive amounts of grease that has escaped the hub assembly. At the end of the day, if you don’t have a working trailer your boat is pretty much useless!
READING THE OWNER– Again, this applies heavily to people looking to purchase a used boat, but do what you can to get to know the owner of the boat you are interested in. Did they take special care of the boat or did they drive it like they stole it and store it outside? Did they fish 20-30 tournaments per year, tow the boat all over the nation and pound the boat through big waves on massive bodies of water or were they very casual fisherman that got up to the cabin just a few times per year and stored the boat in a heated garage the rest of the time? You can learn a lot about a boat by simply talking fishing with an owner and learning what type of things they did or didn’t put the boat through.