What Kind of Boat Should I Buy? Tips For Beginners

There are many reasons people buy boats. Some people do it to join yachting clubs or participate in fishing tournaments. Others want a watercraft to race friends. Some folks want a simple paddle boat to take fishing and attach to the top of their RV. Really, the kind of boat you buy is very much about what kind of activities you enjoy doing. Once you figure out what activities you’ll be doing, it will be much easier to figure out what type of boat is right for you.

Your First Boat

boatsYour first boat should be easy to operate and maneuver. So, avoid buying a huge one and go small at first. The good news about smaller boats is that they are towable. They also cost less and are much cheaper to maneuver because of their lighter weight.

Also, remember that you can always sell your first boat and buy a bigger one. Similar to other types of recreational vehicles, there is a large market out there for resale boats that are in good shape. Think of your first boat as a temporary commitment. However, don’t buy something so small that it won’t accommodate your guests. The bigger the boat, the more rooms and toilets it will have.

Types of Boats

There are quite a few types of boats. To determine which one is right for you, figure out which activities you plan to do in the boat. Will you be cruising, racing or fishing? Some boats can even be used for all three of these main boating activities.

The three categories of boats you can research are:

  1. Cruising Boats. Some cruising boats are built to run overnight and have sleeping compartments. However, many cruising boats are day boats built for performance boating only.
  2. Watersports Boats. If you’re a jet skier or wakeboarder, then this boat type may be what you’re looking for. Most people who buy these boats are experienced at one or more watersports. If you’re a beginner, make sure you’re investing in something that you can continue to use and enjoy. These boats are a little bit more complicated to operate, but you should be fine with a little practice.
  3. Fishing Boats. If you’re looking to catch some trout, then you may want something simple. Fishing boats usually have plenty of deck space for fishing and open cockpits in the back. That means you won’t have as much seating as on a cruising boat, but some bigger fishing boats do come with sleeping compartments for overnight trips.

Additionally, there are many more types of boats that fall within the categories above. Learn the differences and check out the price ranges for all boat types. Knowing the names and the activities they’re best suited for will help you shop smarter. Then, after you decide on your boat type, go on test drives to see how different makes and models perform.

Here are the main types of boats you can choose from:

  • Bass Boat
  • Bowrider
  • Bowrider/Sportboat
  • Center Console
  • Convertible/Sportfisherman
  • Cuddy Cabin/Walkaround
  • watersports boatsDeck Boat
  • Express Cruiser
  • Flats Boat
  • High Performance
  • Jet Boat
  • Jon Boat
  • Motor Yacht
  • Open Express
  • Personal Watercraft
  • Pontoon Boat
  • Ski Boat
  • Trawler
  • Wakeboard Boat

Buying A New Boat

In some ways, buying a boat is not much different from buying a car. When you buy any new vehicle, you know we’re getting it directly from the factory. Therefore, you’re most likely not going to have many problems operating it. There’s also typically a great warranty on it, which could save you hundreds of dollars in repairs.

Financing A Boat

However, maybe it’s not within in your budget to buy a new boat upfront. There is the option to finance a boat with a loan. A boat loan is similar to a car loan, although it can be a little bit harder to get approved because it’s a bigger and more luxurious purchase. If you choose to finance your boat, do so through a marine lender or boat dealership.

Buying a Used Boat

You may decide that it makes more sense to buy a used boat. This is often a wise decision, especially if you know you’ll want to quickly go up in size once you get the hang of handling a small boat. Just as with any vehicle, there are more risks involved with buying a used boat as opposed to buying new. Even if you buy from a dealer, you can never be certain if the boat has been in an accident or has needed major repairs.

boatsYou may decide not to buy from a dealer. Often, the best deals come from private owners. There are also brokers who specialize in selling boats for individuals. It’s always best to hire an unbiased professional before finalizing a deal from individuals and brokers. To find a marine surveyor in your area, visit the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS) or the National Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMS).

Boat Features to Consider

  • Towing. Only boats under 8′ 6″ can be towed with a trailer without a permit.
  • Engine Size. Heavier boats ride better, but require a larger engine which uses more fuel. Decide if you prioritize more power or more savings. You should also compare fuel consumption rates, especially under the ideal cruising speed.
  • Noise. The noise factor in a boat usually has little to do with the engine size. The same engine in two boats can have completely different ranges. Listen attentively during test drives. You should immediately be suspicious if you hear strange rattling or creaking sounds.
  • Leg Room. Make sure it’s not so restrictive that it prevents you from reaching the controls easily.
  • Visibility. Check to see your visibility in both a standing position and a seated one.
  • Maintenance. Although most of this information is in your owner’s manual, you can always speak with the dealer or broker about what you need to do to keep your boat running smoothly. Just like a car, a boat needs oil and fluid changes. You may also want to learn how to do these chores yourself.
  • Ride. See how the ride feels. Do you feel comfortable? Does it have good pick up? How does it handle waves?
  • Construction. This is the main factor in price, but it’s also not one you want to skimp on. It’s not just about looks either. Ruggedness, strength and quality keep a boat in good shape for a long time. Are the fittings stainless steel? Are the surfaces of the deck safe? If you don’t buy a high-quality boat now, you’ll have trouble re-selling later.
  • Storage. Where do you plan to keep the boat during winter? Also, know how to winterize your boat so you can avoid expensive damages from busted pipes and rust.

Boat Insurance

boatsAfter buying your boat, you’ll need to register it with the state. You’ll also need to buy the right Boat Insurance. Speak with a trusted Insurance Specialist at (866) 501-7335 about your seasonal or year-round usage of the boat. They will provide you with a free quote based on the coverages that fit your lifestyle. Buying the right insurance is important. Accidents that happen in the water can be just as expensive as a car accident on land. It’s important to be protected with Boat Insurance from a reputable agent.


The information in this article is obtained from various sources. This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements, nor is it intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. The definitions, terms, and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here. Such policy will be governed by the language contained therein, and no warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.

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