Do you want a boat?

Buying a boat

As a first time boat buyer, I had learned a lot in the past couple of months that I felt should be shared and passed down. I have had several friends over the years who have owned boats, but the actual reality of it was not something I was well versed on. Now that I find myself on the other side of the fence, lets discuss some things that may help another first time buyer. Tips and hints as well as lessons learned, and what to keep an eye out for. If you have any information to add please drop me an email mattgreene@palmettopursuit.com and I will add it to the blog post. This isn’t meant to be an “end all be all” for purchasing a boat, just a quick read to get your feet wet if you are in the market.

The first thing to be addressed is price. Every time I would look up boat prices, I would be astonished on how it is so common to see $50-100k boats all over the road and that so many “average” families could afford such an expensive payment. This fact alone kept me from purchasing a boat for quite some time as we couldn’t swing a large payment every month. It wasn’t until my research began that I learned you can drag these “recreational” loans out for 20 years pretty easily. In fact, it is rather common for people to have a 15-20-year boat loan.

For instance: Consider a $50,000 vehicle loan at 3% APR for 4 years and $0 down payment. You will be looking at $1,062 a month. (Bankrate.com)

Consider the same $50,000 price on a recreational loan at 6% APR for 20 years and $0 down payment. This monthly price is $358 a month. (Bankrate.com)

While in no way am I suggesting to take out a 20-year loan (we didn’t) or to pay $50k for a boat (didn’t do that either), these numbers just show that a really nice boat can be affordable to the average family.

The next topic to tackle will be the type of vessel you want to get. For simplicity (and my experience) I am going to discuss common center consoles with outboard engine boats. Weighing your personal needs against the pros and cons of each type of boat can help you narrow your choices down into what you need. Since this is a hunting / fishing blog I will stick with the two most common choices in our world of a flats boat, a bay boat, or a deep V.

Courtesy of East Cape Skiffs: The EVO 

Courtesy of East Cape Skiffs: The EVO 

Flats Boat: Very common for the intercostal fishing enthusiast. The flats boat specializes in being able to navigate very shallow coastal waters. Most of them in fact can operate in less than two feet of water. The cons to a flats boat mainly surrounds rough waters and ride comfort. While calm days on the intercostal are great, if you need to cross a large bay or anywhere that waves can exceed “white caps”, you are in for a rough ride.

Sea Fox 200 Viper

Sea Fox 200 Viper

Bay Boat: This type of boat is kind of like a bass boat on steroids. It offers a lot of the same features as a flats boat, but with a deeper V in the front. The Bay Boat will generally handle rough water better than a flats boat and they are easier to fish out of due to its wide front bow. You can get them in many configurations and sizes that suite your needs specifically. Some of the cons include that they can’t go as shallow as a flats boat. My bay boat has no problem operating in 3 feet of calm water but anything less you can guarantee you will be getting out to push it. While the Bay Boat can handle some open water, it can’t handle going too far offshore or waves bigger than a couple feet.

Courtesty of Sea Pro: 239 Deep V Series

Courtesty of Sea Pro: 239 Deep V Series

Deep V: If you can see yourself in 2-4 feet of chop, the deep V is probably for you. This configuration will allow you to go a little further offshore and handle fishing deeper waters. They are typically much larger with more horsepower and can handle the load of a larger party. The cons of a Deep V starts with the fact that it has a larger draft, so they can’t operate in very shallow water. That is why you won’t see very many of them fishing the shallow intercostal. They also typically have larger (or multiple) engines and are very thirsty. This can bring up average operating cost as you are feeding more fuel to the monster on the back of it.

Engines

There are only a few manufacturers that are commonly seen on the water and who you go with is often up to personal opinion. Some things to consider would be the type of water you will be in (fresh or salt) and the size you want. If buying a used boat, make sure you know how many hours are on the engine and how it has been maintained. If the boat has been primarily in salt water, you want to be absolutely sure it was flushed out after every trip and the engine is not rusting from the inside out. I personally went with the trusty Yamaha 150 four stroke as it has been a proven work horse for many years.

One thing to take into consideration is offshore fisherman. I have talked to several charter boat captains that have 3,000+ hours on them and they are running great. These engines are made to run and to be run hard. Personally, I would feel more worried about a 20-year-old engine with 50 hours on it than I would a 4-year-old engine with 1,000 hours on it. I am no expert in this field but just from gathering information from fellow boat owners, this is the general consensus.

Maintenance

When you start looking to buy your first boat someone along the way will surely try to talk you out of it. There are many common “jokes” about boat ownership but the two you are guaranteed to hear are:

“The best boat is a friend’s boat”

“The best two days of boat ownership are the day you buy it and the day you sell it”

I won’t argue that those jokes don’t have some truth to them, BUT.. I also can’t sit here and say that they are accurate. Boats are a lot of work and the maintenance starts the day you buy them. Outside of the initial cost, before you ever take the boat on the water you will have a shopping list of supplies to buy. Every time you go out you will have to come home after a long day on the water and flush out the motor, then scrub the boat inside and out. At least once a year you have to wax the boat, change the oil, air filter, water separator, etc. The list goes on and on and can seem like a daunting task if you don’t truly enjoy being on the water. For me, all of this extra stuff is done with a smile on my face knowing that I can escape into nature whenever I want.

The unexpected costs are also a huge factor in boat ownership. The more gadgets you have, the more you will have to maintain. I have found the best way to prepare is to get a boat loan through a separate bank. Set up a pay allotment that is $150-200 more than your payment and let that money build up to a nice cushion in case you need it.

Just remember, if you are using your boat in salt water… you have to stay ahead of the rust. This includes soaking down the trailer with fresh water at the end of the day as well. All of that salt water will sit in the carpet and drain down over your brackets causing them to rust and fall apart.

Hopefully this short article can help someone on their pursuit of boat ownership. If you have any specific questions you can’t find an answer to we are here to help! Now it up to you, GET UP AND GET AFTER IT!

-Matt