Before Buying a Boat, Choose the Right Size

Yachts docked at a harbor

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When you are in the market to buy a boat, important considerations in choosing a boat include use, price, and size. The trick to buying a boat is to purchase one that is large enough to suit your needs without breaking your boating budget. The larger the boat, the higher the price tag and operating costs. Your answers to the following questions will clarify the ideal size boat to buy.

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How Big, or Small, of a Boat Do I Need?

Because you want boating to be fun, you will want to purchase a large enough boat to meet all your needs. In the case of a family of four, space will be at a premium. Do you want to entertain guests, or possibly do some cruising? By knowing the primary use of the boat, you can narrow down the size of boat you will need.

In some cases, you may need to sacrifice on the bells and whistles to stay in your budget, yet purchase a large enough boat that has the accommodations you desire. In other cases, you may decide a smaller boat will do just fine, and you can splurge on the bonus items.

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What Is the Environment I Expect to Operate In?

It would be foolhardy to daydream about perpetual sunny skies and calm seas when purchasing a boat. That's easy enough to do in Florida, but it's an entirely different matter in the Puget Sound, for instance. Inland lake boating is different than boating on the Great Lakes, which have sea conditions comparable to oceans. When you purchase a boat, take into consideration the size of the boat and its limitations in different environmental conditions.

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What Size Boat Can I Safely Handle?

If you are new to boating, a 40-foot boat may not be the best option — even though you may want one. That's not to say you can't buy a large boat and learn quickly to captain it well, but for the most part, it would be wise to start small and trade up as your experience grows.

Most people don't want to be in the position of a family we heard about recently. They purchased a ​36-foot boat without previous boating experience. After a few close calls, the wife refused to step onboard the boat until her husband took a course. Since he was a very busy man and taking a course was not a feasible option, the boat was put up for sale. Sadly, they are the perfect example of people starting out with good intentions and getting in over their heads.