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5 Things to think about before you buy a boat

Living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is an easy way to get into boating. South Florida is not called “Venice of America” for nothing. There are tons of beautiful waterways that can take you everywhere from Downtown on the New River to look for restaurants and night life to residential and secluded areas to anchor off. At Denison Yachting we get a lot of questions by people who are naturally curious about boating when they come here.

Some are brand new to yachting and don’t even know how to tie a knot and a few have told me they were afraid to ask. Admitting that is a sign of a person who may well be up for great adventures in yachting, no matter how young or old you are. I recall meeting a number of  retired folks while I spent a year crossing the pacific on a 75 Hatteras. Some were inexperienced with crew and others didn’t have crew at all but had a basic foundation, started small and kept growing.

 There are some basic questions you need to ask to help you narrow things down when you are looking to buy a boat:

1) What do you plan to use your boat for?

Do you like to go fishing or maybe scuba diving? Do you like to do day trips and cocktail cruises? Would you like to go to the Bahamas or explore even further? These are questions that will help place you into the major categories of Motoryacht, Sportfish, Trawler, Express Cruiser, Catamaran, Center Console or Sailboat.

2) Do you need to get there fast?

If you have a busy schedule you won’t want to take a couple of days to get to the Bahamas – and you won’t need to if you buy an Express cruiser.

You will leave Fort Lauderdale and be there within 2 hours for lunch. Keep in mind, however, that depending upon the size of your boat and engines, the fuel may cost you. On the other hand, if you have spent your life’s savings on your sailboat then it may well not matter how long it takes to get there – or how long you stay.

3) What size boat would you like?

If you are doing day trips to go fishing or scuba diving then you will need to know how many people you would like to take along. The size of your center console is not going to matter nearly as much if you’re not sleeping onboard. Your considerations are going to be your gear and whether you want Mercury or Yamaha outboards. If you plan to do longer range cruising then you will definitely need to consider how many cabins and heads you want. Something to consider is how often new buyers wished they had purchased a larger boat within the first year. In spite of the enjoyment you will have, a boat can seem smaller when you live aboard and even more so if you want to invite friends and family. It is good to start small and grow with experience but it is also wise to go with the slightly bigger option up front if you feel comfortable to do so.

4) How much are you willing to spend?

Similar to automobiles but even more so there are choices of construction, luxury, propulsion and seaworthiness that will determine the make of your vessel and its price range. 

As far as motoryachts are concerned, a high pedigree American build, such as Hatteras, may cost almost twice the amount of a standard build such as a Cruisers’ yacht or a Cranchi. What you receive when you purchase a Hatteras would be a vessel that is at the top of her game in all aspects of quality and seaworthiness, which is why we chose one for an ocean crossing.

Another aspect would be whether you buy new or pre-owned. Yes the new boat will lose value but it will also come with a warranty plan. This has value if you consider that it can be estimated you will pay 10% of the boat’s value per year on its upkeep. Another expense is dockage. You need to find a convenient place to dock your boat so that you have easy access to it. Take these things into consideration before you spend your entire savings on your boat. It is wise to hold back for hidden expenses that will jump out at you along the way.

5) Do you know how to handle a boat?

I’m not going to labor this point because it is a service that I offer to all of my clients. I know of enough occurrences of new owners damaging their boats or other boats and wasting unnecessarily large amounts of money and causing unwanted stress. It is invaluable not only for your pocket but for your enjoyment, that you receive a little orientation up front before you get out there and hope for the best. The introductory course we offer not only helps you to gain confidence and safety but will also help you in deciding what boat to purchase. If you’re already decided upon a boat then as a broker I will guide you through the process and spend a few days with you on your new boat as part of the deal. In terms of value this should be an easy decision to make.

In closing it is good to remember that yachting is a luxury. Luxury cars are a massive business but you cannot sleep in your Lamborghini. Nor wake up in it the next morning to the view of a beautiful bay with palm trees and then just dive in from your swim platform, followed by breakfast on the aft deck. John, the owner of the MC5 in the featured image of this article is making use of his boat in this way. There is nothing to compare to yachting if you have the resources to do so. In today’s world of unhealthy hobbies it is a great way to get you and those you love to spend time with, back out into the world of adventure.

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