The Mistakes You’re Bound To Make When Buying Your First Boat

By on November 15, 2012

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking boat boat boat boat boat boat boat. Who doesn’t want to have their own boat? You get the wear a hat and make people call you captain and go out onto the big blue sea singing sea shanties and fishing for mussels and all sorts of cool stuff.

But before you put on your lifejacket and charge screaming out to the nearest boat shop, maybe you should consider the common mistakes often made by enthusiastic, but possibly ill-informed souls in your position.

For instance, many first time boat buyer it’s easy to make mistakes such as:

Buying A Yacht That’s Just Too Damned Big
Bigger is better, right? You don’t just want a boat, you want a BOAT, a huge dreadnaught of a thing that crushes seagulls into a fine paste if they don’t get out of your way in time, a gigantic nautical behemoth that causes icebergs to turn and flee in the opposite direction. What’s that? No! Of course you aren’t compensating for anything.

But maybe you ought to take into account that a big boat needs more people to keep her running, and takes more time, effort and money to maintain. Instead a smaller, easy to handle boat may be better, as it means you can just pop down the marina whenever you feel like it and go for a spin, and isn’t that the point in owning a boat in the first place?

Not Budgeting For The Extras
So you’ve saved up enough money to buy a boat! Well done you! Now you just have to go to the boat shop, give the boat shopkeeper all your life savings, then walk away with your very own boat that you can go boating in.

Except to navigate you’re going to need something in the way of electronic instrumentation, which can come to as much as £5,000. Also, you’re going to want some basic creature comforts if you’re planning to bring the family on board, that can easily add another £5,000 to the cost.

Have you got all the safety equipment sorted? Well, that’s going to be another couple of grand you never see again. Then there’s insurance, paying for somewhere to keep it etc. etc.

So, maybe spend a bit longer working on those sums before you decide whether you can afford it.

Getting Into a Fixer-Upper Opportunity You Can’t Afford To Finish
You know what’s better than buying a boat? Building a boat! Just getting the barest essentials of hull and deck, or some old wreck that’s seen better days, and putting in the love, care and craftsmanship needed to turn it into a genuinely seaworthy craft.

It’s cheap and it’ll give you a real sense of pride when it’s done- Providing it is ever completed. Trust us, no matter how simple the job may appear at first, there will always be a hundred or more other problems hiding just out of view, waiting to pop up every time you think you’ve fixed the last problem. Don’t go anywhere near these until you know exactly what you’re doing.

Going For the Ocean-Going Yacht When You Just Want a Coastal Cruiser
A common mistake among first-time boat buyers is to go and ask the salesman what a good “starter boat” would be, then buy a much bigger and more capable craft. After all, you might still be learning the ropes, but you want the best, right?

Well, no. When you first begin boating you aren’t going to be crossing the Atlantic any time soon. To start with you’re mainly going to be going up and down the coast, stopping off at the occasional seaside town. At the same time, as you learn your boat is probably going to take a beating, bouncing off pontoons, riding over buoys and scraping chains across the topsides, and wouldn’t it be so much better for that to happen to a cheaper boat that’s already seen a bit of rough and tumble than a shiny new one with as-of-yet unblemished paintwork?

Ignoring the Running Costs
Buying a boat, even buying all the necessary electrics and doohickies and what do you call thems needed to run a boat, is only the beginning. A boat is like a child or dog, in that it is always constantly demanding more, more, MORE!

You’ve got to pay to keep the boat in the marina, you need to pay for engine servicing, sail repairs and laundering, the winter haul-out, antifouling, fuel, insurance etc. etc. After the first couple of years if you aren’t careful you’ll have spent more keeping the boat than you did buying it.

Factor in the costs in advance, and look out for savings that can be made along the way. For instance, a smaller boat that can be pulled around on the back of a trailer will help save on lots of storage costs.

So when you see a big “Yachts for sale” sign, think carefully before running in there and throwing all your money at the sales guy. Then run in there and throw all your money at the sales guy, because owning a yacht is awesome.

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Sam Wright is a freelance writer, but he likes to be called “Captain”.

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