Man driving a Jet Boat

The complete guide to buying a boat

Buying a boat is like buying a house and is a life-changing decision – so we have decided to create a guide to help assist you in buying your first boat!

In this guide we will cover:

  • Boat types
  • Try before you buy
  • Your budget
  • Running costs
  • Maintainance costs
  • Insurance costs
  • Mooring costs

Owning a boat can be a very rewarding thing to do and offer a fantastic way of life. However, there are many important things you should consider before buying.

What type of boat do you require?

There are so many types of boat it would take a very long time to list them all out! However, here is a list of the top 8 most common:

  • Sailboat
  • Motor yacht
  • Bay boat
  • Jet boat
  • Fishing boat
  • Deck boat
  • Pontoon boat
  • Center consoles

Depending on what you want to use your boat for will depend on what type you will need.


Sail boat at sea

Sailing is an activity in and of itself – plotting an maintaining a course is an adventure that requires constant attention and care. You can cruise or even spend the night aboard.

A sailboat uses the power of the wind instead of an engine to move them through the water – at least most of the time. Some very small sailboats will rely solely on the wind, whereas large ones will also have an inboard or outboard engine to help move them through the water when the wind is absent.

The smaller sailboats have a centerboard – a board that reduces unwanted sideways motions. And a rudder to maintain course.

Larger sailboats instead have a fixed keel – take not that the depth of the keel could prevent sailing into shallower waters.

Motor yacht

yacht on a body of water

A Motor yacht is primarily used for leisure. They are 12 meters+ in length and have one or two diesel engines.

This type of boat has various styles depending on what you plan to use it for, such as day sailing yachts, weekend yachts, cruiser yachts and luxury sailing yachts – perfect for family trips for long periods of time on the water.

Bay boat

2 ladies in a bay boat on a body of water

Bay boats are designed to work in waters less than two feet deep. These boats are great for fishing from as there is a large platform that the bow to cast their lines.

There is an elevated platform at the back of the boat to allow passengers to move through the water with the help of a pole, watching for fish.

Bay boats are shorter than motorboats and have higher sides and deeper hulls to allow for a smoother ride when in coastal waters. They also have a movable outboard motor that can be raised up allowing the boat to continue through shallow water.

Jet boat

man driving a jet boat on a body of water

Jet boats are powered by a jet of water that is ejected from behind the boat and is well noted for its high manoeuvrability. The jet boat offers a large seating area and a swimming platform.

Most jetboats allow you to do all of the most popular activities; wakeboarding, tubing, cruising, fishing and more!

The propulsion system is securely inside the hull protecting it from external damage

The advanced propulsion system is securely enwrapped in the hull, to protect it from any external damage.

Fishing boat

Man casting a line on a fishing boat

A fishing boat would be very beneficial to you if you plan on doing a lot of fishing!

Obviously, you can easily cast a fishing line from many different boat types, but the fishing boat encompasses a wide range of boats that are designed with a specific body of water or even species of fish in mind.

For example, bass boats are very slim types of boats that are positioned low to the water and have high horse-powered engines, perfect for cruising around rivers and lakes.

However, offshore fishing boats are generally a lot taller that are created to withstand saltwater environments along with the much harsher weather that comes with fishing out in the open sea.

Deck boat

A moored up deck boat

A deck boat comes with an open deck area that provides a seating area for small groups – hence the name. It features a V-shaped hull along with a wide beam which accommodates more passengers than a pontoon boat.

These types of boat are usually around 25-35 ft in length and are mostly used for activities such as swimming and watersports or even just a day out enjoying the sun.

Pontoon boat

3 people aboard a pontoon boat

Pontoon boats are popularly used for small bodies of water such as inland waterways. They are relatively flat and rely on tubes (or pontoons) to float on the water.

These boats are used more for a relaxing cruise than anything else. There is plenty of room for both sitting and standing and are very comfortable and versatile.

Although mainly used for relaxing or entertaining, a pontoon is also capable for use in fishing and less intense watersport activities.

Center consoles

A couple on a center consol boat

If sportfishing out in harsh offshore waters is your idea of a good time, then a center console boat may be perfect for you.

They are hardy and reliable boats that are aptly named due to the fact that the steering column is in a central location. It has a very deep V-shaped hull which creates a smooth ride on offshore waters.

There is plenty of seating and cover so can also be used for a day cruise too.

Try before you buy

If you have a few different types of boat in mind, then we recommend you try them all before you buy and really think about what you will use it for and how often you will use it.

The last thing you want is to spend thousands of dollars and end up with a boat that hardly gets used or isn’t built for the purpose you had in mind.

Try to go to various marinas and boat shows and get on board to really get a feel for the boat.

Your budget

This is something you really need to know. For instance; do you want to buy new or used? Do you want something humble and basic or all the bells and whistles?

Take into account that different types of boats will also have a difference in price. Generally speaking, a sailboat would be less expensive than a deck boat.

Knowing specifically what you want will help you look and find the perfect boat for you.

Running costs

Do you plan on entertaining and having a fridge to keep beverages cool? Do you plan to cruise around or stay relatively still, such as for fishing purposes?

Again, knowing exactly what you want a boat for will help you to know how much it will cost to keep your boat running.

Maintainance costs

Boat engine

Maintaining your boat is generally done yearly (if not more often )and is ongoing. If you have an engine on your boat, this will need to be serviced and the cost will vary on the type.

Be aware that marinas will vary in cost for removing your boat from the water and then putting it back in again.

If you want to protect your investment then you will want to look after your paintwork. Factor in the cost of keeping rust away and for occasional touch-ups.

Some marinas will do maintenance work for you but please check the materials they use are to your standards first. Remember to add in costs of materials for preparation and application should decide to DIY.

Insurance costs

Not all boats are required by law to have insurance, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need it. Some states will require you to have liability coverage on some types of boats, such as a powerboat that has more than 50 horsepower.

However, even if your state does not require you to have insurance, your bank will should you have a loan for the boat and also your marina might. Most marinas will require proof of liability insurance before accepting a contract for mooring.

Mooring costs

Various boats moored up

Mooring costs will vary wildly depending on what type of boat you have, where you plan to moor, how long you plan to moor and what state you are mooring in. We suggest you do lots of research so you don’t end up spending more than you had bargained for!

Owatrol Team
About Owatrol Team

Our team are ready and willing to support you with your requirements whether it is protecting your newly laid deck or renovating a luxury yacht, whatever the application Owatrol US has the solution you are looking for.

4 thoughts on “The complete guide to buying a boat

  1. You made an interesting point when you talked about how it is a good idea to go to boat shows and marinas when you are looking to purchase a boat. I would say that it would be important to figure out the towing capacity a boat has and how much weight it can pull before you buy it. If you are going to do things like water skiing or tubing, you will want to make sure that the boat can handle the weight.

  2. I find it interesting when you talk about movable outboard motors available these days which will help the boat continue through shallow waters. That is a great choice if there are Suzuki marine outboards like that because it will make it easier for my brother to take the vessel near the dock. And since it is going to be his first time having his own vessel, it would be great if he could choose options that will make it easier for him to navigate until he becomes an expert.

    1. Dear Mia,

      Thank you for your message. We are very sorry for the late reply. We would be more than happy to support you on how to help your brother to take care of it’s boat.
      Feel free to contact us by email or by phone (305) 779 3390

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