Finance / Finance & Insurance

Boat Buying Guide: Factors to Consider When Choosing Between New and Used Boats

When it comes to buying a boat, there are many factors to consider. One of the most important decisions you’ll need to make is whether to buy a new or used boat. Both options have their pros and cons, and it’s important to weigh them carefully before making a decision.

Buying a new boat can be exciting, as you’ll be the first owner and everything will be in pristine condition. However, new boats come with a higher price tag, and you may need to wait for your boat to be built if you’re ordering from a manufacturer. On the other hand, buying a used boat can be a more affordable option, and you may be able to get more boat for your money. However, you’ll need to be diligent in your search to ensure you’re getting a boat that’s in good condition and won’t require costly repairs.

Key Takeaways

  • Consider the pros and cons of buying a new vs used boat before making a decision.
  • Understand the factors to consider when buying a boat, including cost, size, and intended use.
  • Research boat terminology, where to buy a boat, financing options, and the boat inspection and sea trial process to make an informed decision.

New vs Used Boats

When considering buying a boat, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether to buy a new or used one. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to weigh them carefully before making a decision.

Benefits of New Boats

One of the biggest benefits of buying a new boat is that you’ll be the first owner. This means you’ll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing the boat has never been used or abused by anyone else. Additionally, new boats often come with warranties that can provide added protection and peace of mind.

New boats also tend to have the latest technology and features, which can be a big selling point for those who want the latest and greatest. They’re also generally more fuel-efficient and require less maintenance than older boats.

Advantages of Used Boats

One of the main advantages of buying a used boat is cost. Used boats are generally less expensive than new ones, which can be a big factor for those on a budget. Additionally, used boats have already gone through the initial depreciation period, which means you won’t lose as much money if you decide to sell it later on.

Another advantage of buying a used boat is that you have a wider selection to choose from. Since you’re not limited to just the latest models, you can find a boat that fits your needs and budget more easily. Additionally, since used boats have a history, you can often get a better idea of how well it’s been maintained and any potential issues to look out for.

In summary, whether you decide to buy a new or used boat will depend on your personal preferences and budget. While new boats offer the latest features and peace of mind, used boats are often more affordable and offer a wider selection. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons carefully before making a decision.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Boat

When it comes to buying a boat, there are several factors to consider to ensure you make the right choice. Below are some of the most important factors to consider when buying a boat.


Your budget is one of the most important factors to consider when buying a boat. Boats come in a wide range of prices, depending on the type, size, and age of the boat. It’s important to set a budget before you start looking for boats so that you can narrow down your search and avoid overspending. Keep in mind that the cost of a boat doesn’t end with the purchase price. You’ll also need to factor in ongoing expenses such as maintenance, fuel, and storage.

Boat Type

There are many different types of boats to choose from, each with its own unique features and benefits. Some of the most common types of boats include fishing boats, pontoon boats, sailboats, and speedboats. The type of boat you choose will depend on your intended use, budget, and personal preferences.

Boat Size

Boat size is another important factor to consider when buying a boat. Larger boats are generally more expensive and require more maintenance, but they also offer more space and amenities. Smaller boats are typically more affordable and easier to maintain, but they may not have as many features or be as comfortable for extended trips.

Maintenance and Upkeep

Boats require regular maintenance and upkeep to keep them in good condition. Before you buy a boat, it’s important to consider the ongoing maintenance requirements and costs. This includes things like cleaning, repairs, and winterization. Be sure to factor in these costs when setting your budget.

Insurance and Registration

Boats require insurance and registration, just like cars. Before you buy a boat, be sure to research the insurance and registration requirements in your area. This will help you budget for these costs and ensure that you’re in compliance with all local laws and regulations.

By considering these factors when buying a boat, you’ll be better equipped to make an informed decision and choose the boat that’s right for you.

Understanding Boat Terminology

If you’re new to boating, the terminology used by experienced boaters can be confusing. Here are some common boat terms you should know:

  • Ballast: Weight added to a boat to enhance stability. For example, “The J/24 has 950 pounds of lead ballast.”
  • Berth: A sleeping area on a boat.
  • Bow: The front of the boat.
  • Cabin: An enclosed space on a boat used for living quarters.
  • Cockpit: The area of the boat where the captain and crew sit or stand while operating the vessel.
  • Deck: The flat surface of the boat that you walk on.
  • Hull: The body of the boat.
  • Keel: A fin-like structure on the bottom of the boat that helps to keep the boat stable in the water.
  • Port: The left side of the boat.
  • Starboard: The right side of the boat.
  • Stern: The back of the boat.
  • Transom: The flat surface at the stern of the boat.
  • Waterline: The line where the hull meets the water.

Understanding these basic boat terms will help you communicate with other boaters and understand the instructions given to you by your captain.

Where to Buy a Boat

When it comes to buying a boat, there are several options to consider. Each option has its pros and cons, and it’s important to do your research before making a decision. In this section, we’ll explore the different places where you can buy a boat, including dealerships, private sellers, boat shows, and online platforms.


Boat dealerships are a great option if you’re looking for a new boat. They offer a wide range of boats from different manufacturers, and you can usually find a boat that fits your needs and budget. Dealerships also offer financing options, warranties, and after-sales support, which can be helpful if you’re new to boating.

One advantage of buying from a dealership is that you can see and test the boat before you buy it. You can also ask the dealer any questions you have about the boat and get advice on maintenance and repairs. However, dealerships may have higher prices than private sellers, so you should compare prices before making a decision.

Private Sellers

Buying from a private seller can be a good option if you’re looking for a used boat. Private sellers may have lower prices than dealerships, and you can often negotiate the price. You can also get a better idea of the boat’s history and condition by talking to the seller.

However, buying from a private seller can be risky, as there’s no warranty or after-sales support. You should also be cautious of buying a boat that has been poorly maintained or has hidden problems. It’s a good idea to get a survey done by a professional before making a purchase.

Boat Shows

Boat shows are a great place to see a wide range of boats from different manufacturers. You can also talk to dealers and manufacturers and get advice on buying a boat. Boat shows may also offer special deals and discounts, which can save you money.

However, boat shows can be overwhelming, and it can be difficult to make a decision with so many boats to choose from. You should also be cautious of buying a boat on impulse, as you may regret your decision later.

Online Platforms

Online platforms such as eBay, Craigslist, and Boat Trader offer a wide range of boats from different sellers. You can often find good deals on used boats, and you can search for boats based on your location and budget.

However, buying a boat online can be risky, as you can’t see the boat in person before you buy it. You should also be cautious of scams and frauds, and make sure to get a survey done by a professional before making a purchase. It’s also a good idea to check the seller’s reputation and read reviews before making a decision.

Boat Financing Options

When it comes to financing a boat, there are several options available to you. Here are some of the most common:

Personal Loans

One option for financing a boat is to take out a personal loan. This can be a good choice if you have good credit and can get a low interest rate. With a personal loan, you can often borrow up to £25,000, which may be enough to purchase a small to medium-sized boat.

Boat Loans

Another option is to take out a boat loan. These loans are specifically designed for purchasing boats and are often offered by banks and specialist lenders. With a boat loan, you can often borrow up to £100,000 or more, depending on the value of the boat.

Home Equity Loans

If you own a home, you may be able to take out a home equity loan to finance your boat purchase. With a home equity loan, you borrow against the value of your home, which can allow you to borrow larger amounts of money at a lower interest rate than a personal loan or boat loan.

Dealer Financing

Some boat dealerships offer financing options to their customers. While these loans can be convenient, they may not always be the best choice. Dealership financing can sometimes come with higher interest rates and less favourable terms than other types of loans.


Finally, if you have enough money saved up, you can always pay for your boat in cash. This can be a good choice if you want to avoid taking on debt and paying interest, but it may not be feasible for everyone.

Before deciding on a financing option, be sure to consider your budget, credit score, and other factors that may affect your ability to borrow money. It’s also a good idea to shop around and compare rates and terms from different lenders to find the best deal for your needs.

Boat Inspection and Sea Trial

When buying a boat, it’s important to inspect it thoroughly and take it for a sea trial to ensure that it meets your expectations and is seaworthy. Here are some factors to consider during the inspection and sea trial:


During the inspection, you should check the boat’s condition, equipment, and maintenance history. Here are some things to look for:

  • Hull: Check for any cracks, blisters, or signs of damage. Look for any signs of osmosis, which is a common problem in fiberglass boats.
  • Deck: Check for any soft spots or signs of delamination. Make sure all fittings and hardware are secure and in good condition.
  • Engine: Check the engine’s condition, oil level, and any signs of leaks. Make sure all belts, hoses, and filters are in good condition.
  • Electrical: Check all electrical systems, including lights, navigation equipment, and batteries. Make sure all wiring is in good condition and properly installed.
  • Safety equipment: Make sure the boat has all required safety equipment, including life jackets, flares, fire extinguishers, and a first aid kit.

Sea Trial

Taking the boat for a sea trial is an essential part of the buying process. During the sea trial, you should test the boat’s performance and handling. Here are some things to consider:

  • Speed and handling: Test the boat’s speed and manoeuvrability. Make sure it handles well in different conditions, such as rough water or wind.
  • Noise and vibration: Listen for any unusual noises or vibrations from the engine or other systems.
  • Steering and controls: Test the steering and controls to make sure they are responsive and easy to use.
  • Water systems: Test the water systems, including the bilge pump, to make sure they are working properly.
  • Electrical systems: Test the electrical systems under load, such as running the anchor windlass or other high-draw equipment.

By thoroughly inspecting the boat and taking it for a sea trial, you can ensure that it meets your needs and is a sound investment.

Closing the Deal

Once you have found the boat of your dreams, it’s time to close the deal. This can be an exciting but nerve-wracking process, so it’s important to be prepared.

Negotiating the Price

The first step in closing the deal is negotiating the price. If you’re buying a used boat, it’s important to get a survey done before making an offer. This will give you a better idea of the boat’s condition and any repairs that may be needed. Armed with this information, you can make an informed offer that takes into account any necessary repairs.

When negotiating the price, it’s important to be realistic. Don’t try to lowball the seller, as this can be seen as disrespectful and may sour the deal. Instead, make a fair offer based on the boat’s condition and market value. Be prepared to compromise and meet the seller halfway if necessary.

Legal Considerations

Once you have agreed on a price, it’s time to take care of the legal aspects of the sale. If you’re buying a used boat, make sure that all the paperwork is in order. This includes the title, registration, and any other relevant documents. Make sure that the seller is the legal owner of the boat and that there are no outstanding liens or mortgages on the vessel.

It’s also important to have a written contract that outlines the terms of the sale. This should include the purchase price, any contingencies, and the closing date. Make sure that both you and the seller sign the contract and keep a copy for your records.

Financing and Insurance

If you’re financing the boat, make sure that you have secured financing before closing the deal. This will make the process smoother and ensure that you don’t lose the boat to another buyer. You may also want to consider purchasing boat insurance to protect your investment.

Closing the deal on a new or used boat can be a complex process, but with the right preparation and knowledge, you can make sure that everything goes smoothly. By negotiating a fair price, taking care of the legal aspects of the sale, and securing financing and insurance, you can enjoy your new boat with peace of mind.

Frequently Asked Questions

Financing a Boat Purchase from a Private Seller

If you’re considering buying a boat from a private seller, financing your purchase can be a bit more complicated than if you were buying from a dealer. You’ll need to secure your own financing, so you may want to shop around for a good rate before making an offer. It’s also important to note that lenders may require a marine survey before they will approve a loan.

Choosing the Right Boat for Your Needs

Choosing the right boat for your needs can be a daunting task. Start by considering what you’ll be using the boat for and how many people you’ll typically have on board. Think about the type of water you’ll be boating on and the weather conditions you’ll encounter. It’s also important to consider your level of experience and skill as a boater.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Used Boat

Buying a used boat can be a great way to save money, but it’s important to do your due diligence before making a purchase. Consider the age and condition of the boat, as well as any repairs or maintenance that may be needed. You’ll also want to inspect the boat thoroughly and take it for a test drive before making an offer.

Understanding NADA Boat Guides

The NADA Boat Guides can be a valuable resource when shopping for a boat, whether new or used. These guides provide information on the value of different types of boats, based on factors such as age, condition, and location. Keep in mind that these values are just estimates, and the actual value of a boat can vary based on many factors.

Important Questions to Ask When Buying a New Boat

When buying a new boat, it’s important to ask the right questions to ensure that you’re getting the best value for your money. Ask about the boat’s warranty, as well as any additional features or upgrades that may be available. You’ll also want to ask about the dealer’s service and maintenance policies, and whether they offer any training or support for new boat owners.

Tips for Owning and Maintaining Your Boat

Owning and maintaining a boat can be a rewarding experience, but it does require some effort and attention. Make sure to keep up with regular maintenance tasks, such as cleaning and oil changes, and store your boat properly when it’s not in use. It’s also important to stay up-to-date on safety regulations and to take a boating safety course if you’re new to boating.

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