July 2, 2018. By Anthony Norris:

Summer is in full swing and with fireworks lighting up the sky it is time to hit the water and enjoy the pleasures of boating. If you are an experienced boater you know how rewarding and costly boat ownership can be. For those wanting to take on the adventures of boat ownership, here are a few words of advice and tips so that you can find the perfect boat without breaking the bank.

When looking at boats, it is important to remember that size matters. As you look at bigger boats the costs increase rapidly, especially when you graduate from a boat that you can tow to one that requires special machinery to take in and out of the water which can cost between $100-$200 each time. Furthermore, if you do decide to keep your boat in the water, you may have to pay for a slip which can run you between $1,000-$5,000 per season depending on the size of your boat. This cost does not include what you will have to pay in bottom paint, and possible damage done by floating debris, storms, or other boats. Additional expenses such as fuel, sail prices for sailboats, insurance, registration, transportation, storage costs (both on and off season), safety equipment, cleaning, maintenance and so on will increase dramatically the bigger the boat.

Experts in the boating industry say that annual costs are roughly 10% the value of the boat. This may even be higher if you are new to boating. As such, it may be prudent to talk with fellow boat owners and consider starting out with a smaller boat so you can acclimate yourself to the costs.

In any case, it is important to know that a cheap boat will not necessarily save you money in the long run. Always have a boat properly inspected before making any purchase decision. Engine issues, compromised fiberglass, a weak hull, cracked tanks, poor wiring/hosing etc, are difficult to detect on your own and could result in massive repair bills. An inspection can cost between $3-5 per foot but is well worth it as it can help with price leveraging and possibly insurance.  As a measure of good practice, it is wise to only spend 60% of your budget on purchasing the boat and the remaining 40% on equipping and maintaining the vessel.

In addition, before making any purchase, write down what your intended uses are. For example, if you plan to use it for water sports (water skiing, wakeboarding, tubing etc.) a big boat will land you with high fuel bills. If you are looking to visit different ports, research what the size restrictions are and be sure to consider what would be the ideal size that fits your driving ability and comfort. Other factors to consider are seaworthiness, guest seating, sleeping accommodations, and so on.

If you are new to boating and are thinking about buying or have recently purchased a boat, consider taking classes to boost your confidence and to keep you and your guests safe. In most cases only a driver’s license is required to drive a boat, however avid boaters will attest that this is not enough and strongly urge individuals to take courses. Furthermore, taking approved courses can reduce your insurance and will teach you how to avoid causing minor damages that insurance would not cover.

Boating is meant to be relaxing and provide you the opportunity to spend time with friends and family. Make sure that you are always prepared for unforeseen costs and to boat responsibly. Taking the proper steps can eliminate all the stresses associated with boat ownership so that you can focus on enjoying your purchase.

From everyone at Centerpoint we hope you all have an enjoyable summer and wish you smooth sailing.