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Boating, in a word, is AWESOME!! If you are reading this article, you probably already are interested in this unique and fun-filled activity. If you’re a first time boat shopper, no doubt you have a lot of questions. If you’ve been around boating for a while, you may just need to be reminded of some things you’ve forgotten about. 

There are plenty of reasons people decide to take up boating. Maybe their neighbor just parked a shiny new vessel in the driveway. Maybe they watched a water-related movie that stirred something inside them. Or, maybe they rented a boat on vacation and caught the bug.

Whatever the reason, boating is an addictive lifestyle that can attach to your soul like a barnacle attaches to a hull.

Before you walk into the showroom and get mesmerized by the smell of new gelcoat or call that Craigslist advertiser that swears up and down his 40-year-old pontoon is just like new, I’d like to offer you a little advice.

Start by Choosing the Right Size Boat

I have shaken the hand of many new boat buyers over the years and they have rarely purchased the size boat they thought they wanted before visiting the showroom. 

Choosing the right size boat isn’t like deciding between a coupe and minivan. There are many factors beyond occupancy demands and current budget one should consider.

Speaking of occupancy …

Do Not Rely on the Max Occupants Sticker

These are merely what the Coastguard will allow based on seating and buoyancy calculations. It doesn’t mean that four full-size adults with coolers, bags and extra towels are going to be comfortable after four, six, or 10 hours hanging out on their favorite body of water.

If you are a family of four, plan to buy something with at least a maximum occupancy of eight. You won’t be sorry.

Next, consider the size of the lake where you plan to use your new boat. If it’s larger than 30,000 or so surface acres, stay away from anything less than 20 ft., especially if it’s a popular lake that tends to have a lot of traffic. 

The last lake I lived on was over 90,000 surface acres and had tons of weekend boating traffic. There were days when even my 26 footer felt too small based on the wave action created by other boats and the sheer size of the lake itself.

Budget concerns are a factor when choosing your first boat like they are for any other big ticket purchase. Some folks will make the mistake of buying a smaller new boat to keep their budget in line instead of looking at something a few years older that may be a better fit sizewise. 

The problem is, when they figure out it isn’t comfortable, they wind up coming back, in short order, to trade the smaller boat for the boat they should have bought in the first place. In addition to losing their initial investment over trade value, they have to go through the whole boat shopping exercise … again.

My former employer used to tell people, “Buy your second boat first.” This is sage advice, and it just means to protect yourself from the above scenario. 

Make Sure You Know the Size Restrictions for Your Lake

Now, it just may be that some of you will be living on a private lake that is less than 1,000 surface acres. Obviously, the above advice isn’t for you and the powers that be may even tell you the maximum size allowed for your particular lake. 

Lakes of this size are going to limit your boating activities to visiting your neighbors docks for sundowners and pulling the kids around on a tube once in a while. In this case, buying too much boat can be just as bad as not buying enough boat. The last thing you want to do is to be the family out floating around on something you can’t even get up to full speed on.

These type lakes usually have horsepower restrictions as well, so make sure you know the rules before you plunk down your hard earned money for something you can’t use. 

Well, that’s it for now, Captains. 

Don’t forget Boat Buyers Consulting Services is here to serve you in all phases of your boating treasure hunt. Be sure to let us know how we can help by calling Captain Rob at 321-626-3792 or visit our website for our list of menu options.


Until next time, here’s to wishing you fair winds and following seas.