Buying a Boat? Do Your Research

Spring is right around the corner, and if you are thinking about buying a boat this year, now is the time to start your purchasing process. Outdoor boat and sporting shows are scheduled nearly every weekend, and they can be great spots to get an idea of what you want and how much you’re likely to pay. However, when buying a boat, do your research.

Trolling for information on the internet is also an excellent resource to start your search in order to make it easier when you begin working with dealers at the boat shows. Lund Boats has an excellent website boat builder application which allows you to specify options, colors, styles as well as pricing. This is awesome, because you can go into a dealer well-informed and ready to negotiate on price, not options.

The following is a series of questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Money shouldn’t be the only consideration, but obviously it must be among them. Get the best value you can afford while coming as close as possible to the boat of your dreams. In today’s environment, there are a ton of deals out there for you to choose from.
  • What do you plan to do with your boat? Will you use it mostly to fish? Do you need to plan for other family activities like skiing or just cruising around the lake? There are several fish-and-ski type boat models on the market.
  • Fishing boats have come a long way over the years. Their designs reflect the demands put on them based on the kind of fishing you do. Bass fishermen like modified “V” hulls which offer large casting decks on the front and back. Muskie fishermen can adapt to using one of those, or they may want something designed more for walleye anglers who tend to be out in unpredictable weather during early spring and late fall. Walleye guys want a deep “V” hull to cut through rough water and provide more protection for people onboard.
  • Where will your boat be used most often? The giant waters of the Great Lakes demand extensive safety precautions, such as a second bilge pump, marine radio, more powerful outboards and a smaller “kicker” outboard that can double as a trolling motor and an emergency back-up engine to limp you back to safety in a pinch.

Size does matter. We’ve all seen people fishing for walleyes far out from shore on big water in 12-foot jon-style boats. It doesn’t matter what manufacturers’ name is on the side; that craft should be called a “Widow Maker.” On big water, you are safer in big boats like the Lund Pro V or Tyee in either fiberglass or aluminum, which can stretch up to 21 feet in length. Even then, there are days when it doesn’t matter how big your boat is, you’re better off staying on shore.

Mid-sized lakes get rough, too. But you’re never far from a boat ramp, so you can get by with a smaller 16- to 18-foot boat and a smaller outboard. Still, use your head and pay attention to weather forecasts. If you plan to stick entirely to the very smallest of lakes, a 14- or 16-foot boat will do.

Another factor on what size boat you should buy is the towing capacity of your vehicle. Look it up in your owner’s manual before you shop. Otherwise, you just might be paying a visit to the truck dealership, too.

  • Next, should the steering on the boat be a console or tiller? Consoles have steering wheels much like a car. They take up floor space, but offer easier handling. Tiller steering leaves the boat floor wide open for fishing, but some people find tillers not quite as comfortable, especially in bad weather, like big wind and waves.
  • Do you want a fiberglass or aluminum hull? Fiberglass can yield a slightly drier ride due to the hull design. Others prefer aluminum because of durability, hole shot and reduced weight. The decision will often boil down to personal preference.
  • Make sure the layout of the boat has the floor space you need and enough storage areas for lifejackets, tackle boxes, rods and other gear. Make sure the live wells are big enough to accommodate your catch.
  • Consider buying the most powerful outboard the U.S. Coast Guard recommends for the craft, because you will get the best performance out of the boat. You’ll be glad you have all the power you can handle when big storms approach. Think of the future. Resale value is usually best when the boat has the biggest motor it is rated for.
  • Horsepower isn’t the only consideration with motors. Over the past several years, there have been vast improvements in outboard technology, which have improved weight-to-horsepower ratios. Lighter motors are producing more power. Some models, like Mercury’s 4-stroke Verado, are built with a super-charger and have been made super-quiet with power steering. Brand new V-8 high-performance 4-stroke engines, like the Pro-XS, are burning cleaner, more efficiently, and using less gas than ever before.
  • You’ll need good marine batteries for power. Don’t scrimp. Everything from starting your outboard to running your electronic gear depends on having enough juice on board.
  • Ask about warranties and consider extending them. Repairs on large outboards can be costly.
  • Make a list of accessory items, such as electronics, bow-mount trolling motor, shallow-water anchoring devices and other networking systems which allow everything to communicate with each other. Check all of the potential items on the internet for specifications and features.
  • Don’t leave the dealer without the safety gear required by law. Have lifejackets for everyone on board, a throw cushion, a fire extinguisher, horn or whistle and a paddle. Federal requirements on the Great Lakes are more extensive which includes a flare gun.
  • Spend time getting to know the dealer. Ask about his maintenance and repair service.

A new boat is exciting, but overlooking some details can turn your dream into a nightmare. Asking a few questions before you buy will pay big dividends on the water.

 

 

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