Owning a boat is a dream for many people. Whether you want a boat that you can cruise in, fish from, or use for water sports, it may be a challenge to know what to look for when buying a used boat.

Once you’ve bought your boat, you’ll need to think about all of the other things that go with owning a boat for the first time. Where will you keep it? How will you move it around? And whether or not you need to get a license or register your boat.

If you’re not sure where to start when buying a used boat, you’re probably not alone.

For that reason, we’ve created our definitive boat buying guide to help you find the right vessel.


What Type of Boat do You Need?

Before you start to look for a boat to buy, decide what you are going to use your board for.

Recreational boats generally fall into one of three categories:

  1. Cruising boats. These are boats that are used for general enjoyment, relaxation, and entertainment.
  2. Fishing boats. This type of boat will be specifically designed with fishing in mind.
  3. Water sports boars. These boats will have powerful engines, be capable of towing, and will be able to move at high speeds.

There will be variations on each of these types of boats. The variations may center around the material from which the boat is made and the way that the boat is powered.


Do You Need a License for Your Boat?

Boat licenses are generally required across all states of the United States. The types of licenses and the way that you can obtain these is determined by the specific state. There is no legislation nationally.

Some states will require boat owners to complete a boating program before they can use their boats.

You can find out the different license requirements for your state from the DMV website.


Do You Need to Register Your Boat?

You will need to register your boat in the state that your boat will be kept or use it in.

Every boat needs to have its own registration number printed on the side of the hull. This form of identification is much the same as with a car license place.

You will also need to display hull identification numbers that will provide the manufacturer’s identity, the serial number, and the month and year of production.


Where Should You Buy Your Boat?

Once you know what type of boat you want, you can start your search. You can buy your boat from several different places.

Online listings will be one of the best ways of finding a boat that is in your price range. You can easily compare listings to help you to choose between boats. Message the seller if you need any further information about the boat.

It is always advisable that, however you buy your boat, you still take a look at the boat in person and carry out an inspection of the vessel.


What to Look For When Inspecting Your Boat?

Before you agree to buy any boat, you should always make sure that you carry out a full inspection of the vessel. This will help you identify any problems with the boat. It will also help you determine whether it is the right boat for you.

In your visual inspection, you should walk around the entire boat. Check the hull and look for any cracks. Look for signs of damage, or where repairs may have been made.

There may be signs of corrosion, rust, algae, and leaks throughout the vessel. Keep a keen eye out, particularly around areas such as the fuel lines, the fuel tank, outboard cowling, and the sterndrive.

Take a look at the wiring. Pay attention to loose or bare wires.

Inspect the gas and oil. You’ll need to check that there is no water in the gas or oil. You can do this using a gauging paste.

If you are able to, ask to see the boat in action. This will let you hear the engine and get a feel for it out on the water.


Do You Need Insurance?

If you are going to take your boat out, you will need liability insurance. This will cover you in the event that your boat is in an accident. Insurance will help cover any costs that are incurred during an accident that was your fault.

Before you buy your boat, be sure to research the specific insurance costs relating to that vessel.


How to Move and Store Your Boat?

One of the most important things about owning a boat is considering where it will be stored when it is not in use.

Think about finding a harbor where you can dock your boat. Many harbors will rent out secure moorings where you can keep your boat when it is not in use.

When paying for this type of storage service, you should remember that you’re also paying for the security that may be on offer.

If you plan on keeping your boat at your own home, you’ll need a trailer. Not only this, but you’ll also need to ensure that you have a vehicle that is suitable for towing it.


Boat Buying Guide: in Summary

Buying a boat is a major commitment, and it is not a decision that should be taken lightly. It is essential that you find out the specific state requirements surrounding boat ownership before you buy your boat.

Owning a boat can be very rewarding. It will give you the freedom to get out on the ocean or a lake and enjoy life-affirming experiences. It is important to remember that boats can be dangerous, and you’ll need to consider your safety first.

We hope this boat buying guide will have helped you to get an understanding of the types of questions that you should be asking when looking to buy a boat.

Now that you know what you’re looking for, be sure to browse the listings for your ideal boat.