Boating: A Joy That Opens Horizons

Sailing, fishing, pontooning, zipping around on a jet ski.

These are all the pursuits of people with a passion for the water, and they traverse salty and fresh expanses all over the country. There is nothing like being on the water, with the freedom, joy and adventure it brings.

If you’ve got a penchant for some seafaring adventures, a new or used boat can help you realize your dream

Do you want a yacht or a sailboat?
Determining what size vessel you’ll need is all about how you intend to use it. Prices range from $10,000 for a new 20-foot sailboat to $275 million for a 350-foot super luxury yacht. Annual insurance for the sailboat is around $195, and it’s $240,000 for the yacht. And don’t forget docking and mooring fees, which can range from nothing to thousands of dollars, depending on where the boat is kept, for how long and its size.

Although boat insurance is not required in all states, you should consider purchasing a policy to help protect against the risks of owning and operating your boat. As for your own choice of size, consider that 95 percent of U.S. boats on the water are 26 feet or less, NMMA says.

Still, take a tally of what exactly you plan for your boat. Do you want to sail the seas or just have a place to sit alone as you drop a fishing line into the bay?

Start your shopping online. Most boat brands have clubs where you can chat with people who have been, or are, owners. They might also offer tips on boats for sale. Check out online forums like iboats, BoaterEd and The Hull Truth. There are also sites for specific brands, such as Sea Ray and Bayliner.

Also, visit a boat show where you can examine each model and discuss your wants and needs with dealers and experts. When you are narrowing the search, consider the boat’s safety, physical condition, options and accessories, look, performance and, of course, cost. And, of course, by the water you can always find warehouse-sized stores selling boats.

New or used?
Cost will be dictated by whether you buy a new or used boat. There can be advantages to both, depending on the amount of use you plan and just how good a deal you can get on a water-worthy craft.

When it comes to new boats, while they may look pristine, they can come with glitches like refrigeration that doesn’t work. For used boats, become a detective. Look for mismatched paint—that means there was a repair. Waterlines inside the boat mean a repair is needed or has been done. Make sure the steering is easy and the boat has all the required equipment that makes it legal.

While shopping for the right vessel is a lot of work, remember owning and taking care of a boat can be a wonderful experience, as you enjoy the freedom the open water gives you. It can be a relaxing diversion from what is otherwise a hectic world. And it is something the whole family can delight in.

Plus, don’t forget one of the more enjoyable parts about getting a boat—naming it, a sport in itself. Some designations that struck our fancy were: Seas The Day, What’s Up Dock?, Reel Time, All My Sea-Sons and A-Wave-From-It-All.

Resources: Maryland DMV, All Things Boat, National Marine Manufacturers Association, MoneyTalksNews