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Outdoor Matters: Get to know ins, outs of buying a boat
Hector Claudio Outdoor Matters mug
Hector Claudio is a Richmond Hill resident.

Happy new year and welcome to my first column of 2020. I hope that one of your new year’s resolutions is to get well ahead of your boat maintenance now, so you can be ready to enjoy fishing and fun on the water when the weather really warms up – though right now it’s hard to tell what the season is with temperatures in the 70s last week and now the 40s!

For those of you who aren’t doing maintenance on a boat, maybe you’re in the market for purchasing a boat but are not sure where to start. Well, in this article I’m going to spend a little time talking about the upcoming boat show season and offer you some general tips for purchasing a boat. If you don’t already know, most boat shows are held during the off seasons of fall and winter, so I’d call November to March the “peak season” for these events. While I’ve never purchased a boat from a boat show myself, nor have I ever purchased a new boat for that matter, I’ve discussed doing so with a few people who have.

Let me digress for a moment and ask you why. Why would you want to get into such an expensive hobby?

This is no exaggeration. Treated as an acronym, the word boat can be short for Bust Out Another Thousand. And there’s the old analogy that a boat is like a bucket in the ocean that you throw your money into.

All of this is true. However, my answer to the question of why is simple and also true: On your boat, you’ll easily share the most valuable and memorable moments possible with your family and friends. You’ll find nothing on the phone or sitting on the couch at home that will be more memorable and entertaining than boating.

Nothing will bring you more happiness, relaxation, exhaustion, exploration, discovery and generate life lessons. You’ll experience quality time and, sometimes, even bring home some food by fishing.

Now, it’s not for everybody, but for me, I absolutely love the good and the bad about being a boat owner.

First, I want to acknowledge one common question, are the deals at the boat show really good?

Generally speaking, yes. You have to understand that the boat vendors spend a large amount of time and money on these events and they absolutely have to obtain a return on their investment.

That’s not to say that every deal is a good deal. You still have to practice good judgement. The fundamentals of a boat purchase are not that much different than those of buying a car.

Principles of supply and demand exist and the age-old principle that once you drive it off the lot it begins to lose value applies to a boat just like it does to a car.

In fact, you can obtain a much better deal on something slightly used while it’s still under warranty. Furthermore, when looking at boat prices – regardless of whether it’s new or used – it is safe to assume that the cost you see on the price tag is 50% boat and 50% engine. Yes, the numbers can slide a little but, generally speaking with regards to pricing, most boat purchases break down to roughly 50/50 or 60/40.

There’s a lot more to be said about purchasing a boat, but for the sake of space let me just say this: I’m not criticizing the decision to purchase a new boat; however, personally, I’m a budget friendly boat purchaser.

If you’re a budget conscious person, please know you don’t need to be afraid of spending “sweat equity” by tinkering on a used boat if you really want to save big money.

I’m always looking at boats and lately I’ve found that the days of looking for boats on Craigslist are diminishing. Deals can still be found there, but they tend to be a little more questionable.

Some deals really are too good to be true, more deception than truth, or some sort of a “switch-aroo.”

The best way of looking for a boat that I’ve found, which wastes as little time as possible and usually proves to be a safer purchase, is through exploring the Facebook marketplace.

On Facebook, you can actually check the validity of the seller, giving you more confidence about making a purchase.

Again, you still need to practice common sense. You can’t believe everything you read and hear, but at least you might lessen your chance of meeting someone and getting mugged!

Lastly, I want to make an important point about managing expectations regarding boat costs. Don’t blow your entire budget on the purchase price of the boat.

There will be so many incidentals, upkeep and extras ahead depending on how you’re going to use the boat.

For instance, if you’re doing offshore fishing, you can blink and spend $2,000 on fishing gear. That’s the value stuff. Luckily, you don’t need much of that for the Savannah area.

Inshore and nearshore fishing can be accomplished by many types of boats under 21 feet long, and you can probably catch more fish here inshore/ nearshore that you can offshore. (Offshore fishing is a discussion for another day.) Simply put, you can spend $40,000-$60,000 on a new 21-foot boat, or you can save your pennies and maybe avoid interest by buying a nice used boat for $10,00-$20,000.

Not in the market for a boat right now? No problem, don’t buy one. But when you go out on your buddy’s boat, please remember that “thanks” doesn’t put gas in the boat’s tank.

Meanwhile, please enjoy the mixed winter weather we’re having here. I hear there are just a few more weeks to enjoy some more hunting. We’re only a few weeks into the new year, so keep those resolutions going!

Hector can be contacted at hector@everydayboater.com or at everydayboater.com.

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