This blog is part of a series for new boaters. To read more from the full article, see Boat Buying for Absolute Beginners, Part I.

Buying a boat for the first time can be an overwhelming process. You've got about 10 million decisions to make before you even start looking. And just because your friend has a 30-foot cuddy cabin doesn't mean it's the right boat for you.

Never fear. We've outlined the top considerations here so that you can start your search online at with a firm idea of what you want.

boat to buy

Boat shows can be a great place to get a feel for new boats — just don't let the shiny hulls make you lose sight of your actual needs.

Water activities

Begin by considering the activities you’ll pursue on the water, such as:

  • Waterskiing and Wakeboarding — Calm, protected waters are best for these “get-wet” sports.

  • Dockside Entertaining — Moveable dock parties are common weekend events in many marinas.

  • Weekend Cottage — Whether at its home dock or in a quaint port down the coast, a boat can be an excellent summer cottage.

  • Vacation Cruiser — A family vacation discovering new ports of call requires a boat with a few extra amenities, of course.

  • Runabout — Many folks own a boat to “runabout” on the water. Runabouts are usually small, trailerable boats that reflect their owners’ personalities.

  • Fishing — You might want a boat with a large, open cockpit for fishing gear and a live baitwell.


Ease also plays a role in deciding which boat to buy:

  • Do you have a busy schedule that allows for little time on the water? A trailerable boat (under 32 feet) might make sense so that you're not paying for a permanent dock on weekends you're out of town.

  • Prefer to have your boat ready to go upon arrival? Consider wet docking, in which case you can choose a larger vessel.

  • Are you an older boater? Consider the ride and feel of the boat in choppy waters.

  • Going out on long day (or night) trips? You'll want a head on board.

  • Have money and time to spend? A large yacht with multiple berths (and quite a few amenities) could fit the bill.

Money matters

For a few, money isn't an issue, and the boat's features will depend more on personal use. But for most of us, price is a determining factor when making a large purchase.

Later we'll discuss the full scope of finances associated with boat-buying, for now know that you should consider spending approximately 60 percent of your budget on the boat and saving another 40 percent for related costs. Some auxiliary costs include:

  • Boat survey

  • State and local taxes

  • Insurance

  • Docking fees

  • Maintenance

What's love got to do with it?

Above all, never buy a boat unless you have fallen in love with it. That love will sustain you through the frustrating times you're sure to endure in your relationship.

What other major considerations would you add to this list?

Other installments in this series: