Tips on Buying a Boat

January 20, 2014

BBB offers the following advice on buying a boat:

Plan Ahead

  • Determine how much money you have to spend on a boat and related costs (insurance, registration, required safety equipment, boat cover, accoutrements, storage, repairs, fuel, trailer, additional warranty, etc.).
  • Will you need financing? If so check with your local financial institution for financing rates.  A boat dealer may also offer financing, comparison shop.
  • What kind of boating are you planning?  Ocean, large lake, river or quiet lake?  Sailing, paddling or motoring?
  • What are your plans for the boat? Will you be fishing, tubing, water-skiing, sailing or cruising? Will these activities require you to purchase other equipment?  At what cost?
  • Where will you keep the boat?  There options like a marina, on a trailer at home, rental storage area? What will the storage or mooring cost?
  • How much maintenance is required and will you have time to perform the maintenance yourself or will you hire a company to perform it.  How much will the maintenance cost annually?

Buying a Boat

  • Ask the right questions. Before falling in love with a boat offered by a dealer, make sure the boat will cover your wants and needs.  Find out what extras are included in the price and what other items you will need to purchase.
  • Get All Promises in Writing. Be sure to document with whom you spoke and all verbal agreements (sale prices, add-ons, etc.) made or mentioned. Don't be pressured to put down a large deposit for fear of losing out.
  • Research the boat dealer before signing a contract. Go to to see a company's business review and any history of complaints.  Make sure you look up the manufacturer of the boat as well.
  • Bring someone with you who is not as emotionally or financially connected to you buying a boat. This individual may provide a different, yet helpful, perspective when talking with dealers or manufacturers.