Summer heat waves often kindle dreams of owning a boat. When temperatures creep toward triple digits, nothing sounds more refreshing than cruising on the water and feeling the wind on your face.
Is it time to make that dream a reality?
As fun as boats can be, they also take a lot of work. If you’re a first-time boat owner, you’ll want to go into it fully aware of the ups and downs, ins and outs, and costs and rewards of owning a boat. Use this quiz to assess your boat readiness.
1. What would you do on your boat?
- Go fishing.
- Take the kids waterskiing.
- Throw parties for all my friends.
- All of the above.
There’s no right way to answer this question, but the answer will help determine the type of boat you should buy. Your enjoyment of your vessel depends on being able to do what you want with it. While boats today are more versatile than they used to be, there’s still a big difference between a yacht and a fishing boat. Before you start shopping, make list of the features you want, and use it to guide your search.
2. How handy are you?
- I can make a radio out of a coconut and a Q-tip.
- I know the difference between a flathead and a Phillips.
- I’d rather pay someone to do it.
Boats take a beating when they’re out on the water. Imagine constantly driving your car over 6-foot speed bumps—that’s a lot of extra wear and tear! Parts on a boat break more often and problems that don’t get fixed could be very dangerous. There may even be times when you need to troubleshoot an issue on the water. If you’re not a DIYer, you can certainly pay a marine technician to make repairs, but be prepared to budget for the expenses required to keep your craft seaworthy.
3. How comfortable are you with risk?
- I’m a cliff diver in my spare time.
- I’m willing to take calculated risks.
- I always keep both hands on the steering wheel.
Buying a boat involves some amount of risk — especially if it’s used. You can’t always tell how meticulous the previous owner was and it might have hidden problems that didn’t show up during the test drive. Plus, being on the water poses its own dangers. Are you willing to shoulder the financial and physical risks of owning a boat? Keep in mind that a little risk-aversion isn’t a bad thing if it makes you more diligent about staying on top of maintenance, equipping your craft with the necessary safety gear and enforcing safety rules while on board.
4. How often do you plan on boating?
- Every chance I get.
- When the mood strikes.
- Only on special occasions.
When you buy a boat, your return on investment is the enjoyment you get out of it. Make sure you’ll use it enough to make up for the time and money you’ll put into it. Between docking fees, winter storage fees and maintenance, a boat costs money even when you’re not using it. It’s up to you to decide how often you’ll go boating and whether it’s worth the expense.
Boat ownership isn’t for everyone, but those who choose it often see it as a labor of love. Once you’ve decided it’s the right move for you, there’s only one thing left to do: Get pre-qualified for a boat loan, and start shopping!