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Buying your first boat? How to find the right one

Few activities are more fun than spending a hot summer day zipping around the open water with friends and family on a boat. If you have been bit by the boat bug for the first time, you probably have started researching different options. Being unprepared and buying the wrong boat can turn your summer dream into a big frustration and cost a lot of money. The following tips will help ensure your first boating experience is a good one.

Compare options
Too often people may fall in love with a certain kind of boat without thinking about how they truly plan to use it. Getting a boat that is the appropriate size (not too big or too small) and is made for the type of activities you want to do – fishing, water skiing, cruising – will ensure you enjoy your boat for many years to come. If you’re unsure what boat you’d like, consider attending a boat show where you’ll see many different types of boats and can compare and ask questions.

What to know if you buy new
Buying a new boat does not mean you’ll avoid all potential problems. The good news is, just like when you buy a new car, most new boats come with warranties that cover many types of repairs. When you buy new, be sure to inquire about the warranty’s details – what it covers, any cost restrictions and how long it lasts.

What to know if you’re buying used
A used boat can come at a great price, but make sure you’re getting a good value also. Use a detective’s eye to look for problems like cracks to the exterior, different colored paint, interior stains and tears and a straight keel. Take the boat out on the water to see how it runs and check all the mechanics. Make sure it’s up-to-date on any boat safety requirements in the state where you live. Ask for the maintenance records to ensure the boat was properly taken care of over the years.

Think about the total cost
The price of the boat is just one aspect to the overall cost of ownership. After your purchase you may need to buy boating supplies like lifejackets, paddles and other safety and recreational items. In addition, the cost of fuel for a day out on the boat can add up quickly. Make sure your budget allows for these extra expenses.

Take a boating safety course
Operational error accounts for 70 percent of boating accidents, according to the Boating Safety Resource Center. If you are new to boating, it’s a good idea to take a safety course so you learn the rules of safe boating and other tips that can help keep you, your family and your boat accident-free.

Get the right insurance
Call your insurance agent and get quotes on boating insurance. You’ll want to get enough insurance to cover any boat damage or personal injuries should something occur. This helps protects your health and your boat investment so you’ll have many days of fun in the sun in the future.

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