5 tips for buying a boat that’s right for you

5 tips for buying a boat that’s right for you

Ask anyone with a boat, and they’ll tell you that buying your own pride and joy is an incredibly exciting experience.


After all, having your own boat enables you to embrace life on the water like never before. If you’re also feeling a little overwhelmed by the process of buying a boat, then that’s completely normal too.


We’ve taken time out to create a step-by-step guide to help you with the process.


  1. Which boat is right for you?

Knowing what you want to use your boat for is vital to pinpointing the right boat for your needs. Consider what kind of activities you’re looking to enjoy on the water, and who you’d like to enjoy them with.

If you’re likely to spend most of your days freshwater fishing with a couple of mates, then an aluminium fishing boat may be the right fit for you. If cruising offshore is your idea of heaven, then a cabin cruiser or sailing yacht may be more your style.

If you’re buying your first boat, consider something smaller that is easy to handle and maintain. Then, if you do want to invest in a bigger boat, take the time to build up to a larger craft as your skills and confidence increase.

The following questions are a good starting point:

  • What activities do you want to do onboard?
  • How many passengers are you likely to have?
  • What kind of propulsion would suit you best?
  • Do you want to keep the boat at a marina or tow it in?

Once you have the answers, head to this Online Tool by Discover Boasting, which will help narrow down your search even further.


  1. New or used?

There are benefits to buying a boat new, and benefits to buying one second-hand – so determining which option is right for you will depend on what you’re looking for and your budget.

If a brand new boat in perfect condition lights you up, then that may be your ideal option. If you love the idea of restoring a second-hand craft, or buying a boat that’s well taken care of and only a few years old, then second-hand may be more your style.

Here are some more benefits to consider…

Pros of buying a new boat

  • No risk of hidden issues due to prior use.
  • Buy the exact kind of boat you want, with the latest tech and features.
  • Manufacturer’s warranty to protect you.

Pros of buying a second-hand boat

  • Possible to secure greater value for money.
  • Technology is tested by time, which means mechanical issues with certain models are likely to be documented in forums or other places online.
  • Choose to trade-in, go through a broker or via a private seller, who may be more likely to negotiate.
  1. How do I get the right price?

Securing the right price for your boat means understanding the market, and knowing how to negotiate with the seller. This is why it’s important to do your research before you start contacting sellers.

Consider the following:

  • Research the boat you want – the same model of boat can vary significantly in price due to differences in engine, rigging and other features. Many manufacturers have online tools that allow you to build your own boat using the features you want. This will give you a better idea of price.
  • Compare prices – take a look at what the boat you want is selling for online. Cross check multiple sources so you can verify an approximate market value. That way you’ll know if you’re being ripped off, or buying at a reasonable price.
  • Consider variables – if you’re buying second-hand, pricing may vary due to factors like usage, geography, the condition of the boat, where it’s been stored and any warranties it may have.

Ask upfront

Once you understand the approximate market value of the boat you want, it’s time to start approaching sellers. If you’re going through a dealer, it can be worth simply asking them what their bottom-line price is. Dealers know what profit they need to make for a sale to be viable and an honest one will give you this information upfront.

Tips for getting a good price from a dealer

  • Buy in the off-season – or at the end of the boating season, when dealers are trying harder to move stock.
  • Buy last year’s model – as dealers often want to clear stock in preparation for next year’s models.
  • Order a boat – instead of buying one off the lot, as the dealer has fewer additional costs. (This may take longer though.)
  • Buy at a boat show – dealers often offer special price reductions and incentives to encourage purchases.
  • Ask for extras – don’t be afraid to ask for an extended warranty, or additional features that make the sale more appealing to you.
  1. Do I take the boat for a test run?

Absolutely. If you’re considering buying a boat, then you’ll need to take it for a trial in conditions as close to the ones you’d encounter on a typical day onboard. Here are factors to consider when trialling a boat:

  • Test the boat as the driver and the passenger.
  • Centre the wheel at no wake speeds to see how it keeps its line.
  • Check reflections and glare by driving into and away from the sun.
  • Perform a hand turn at 30 mph to see if the boat carves clean. (Be safe and check your surroundings before doing so.)
  • If possible, drive the boat in rough conditions and cross wakes at different speeds to see how it handles.
  • Test out performance targets.
  • Bring a few people, so you can see how the boat handles with a greater load.

And finally, take your time! This is your opportunity to test out how the boat handles, and whether it suits your needs. Bring a checklist so you can methodically tick off each priority. There is absolutely no need to rush.

  1. What about marine insurance?

Now that you’ve found the perfect boat, it’s time to make sure it’s covered – so you can enjoy time on the water with peace of mind. If you need support with securing cover that matches your needs and budget, our marine underwriters can prepare an obligation free quote for you to review.

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