What Is The Best Boat To Buy For A Beginner?

Just like all big purchases, we all want to educate ourselves a little bit before buying something substantial. For most of us, we consider buying a boat, a pretty big purchase. Making sure we buy the right one is a pretty big deal!

What Is The Best Boat To Buy For A Beginner? Many different factors determine a beginner’s boat. What does the person want to do with the boat, where do they live, how much money do they have, and many other variables play into what is the best boat to buy for a beginner.

I am not selling boats! This article will help you know what you want to consider when deciding what boat is best for you as a beginner.

Is This Your First Boat?

Buying Your First Boat

If it is your first boat, there are a lot of things to consider. There are also a lot of things that will factor into what kind of boat you will want to buy.

I want to put it out there once again, I’m not here to sell you a boat.

Unlike most of the articles that you will find when trying to learn; they are just packed full of different boats that they are trying to sell you, which isn’t helpful, nor enjoyable, in my opinion.

I want to help educate you, as well as, help you learn from my experience from being in the boating industry for over ten years.

I get to see firsthand a lot of the mistakes and bad experiences that new boaters have when they are starting.

As well as some things that could have been avoided if someone just took the time to help teach them.

We all have to learn from someone else when it comes to learning something new. If you want to be an attorney, a doctor, a nurse etc., you got to school.

The fastest way to get to that position is to go to school and have someone teach you how to do it.

When it comes to some things though, like boating, a lot of us are stubborn and hard headed.

We’ll figure it out ourselves; we don’t need someone to teach us. We got this, it can’t be that hard!

In reality, there are a lot of things that need to be considered and learned when it comes to boating; and having the best and most enjoyable experience out on the water.

What Kind of Boating Experience Do You Have?

Boating Experience

A person’s boating experience will help us decide what exactly is best for you when it comes to buying a boat.

If you have almost zero experience, I would suggest reading an article we wrote on How To Prevent Boat Accidents: Written By An Actual Boater.

Don’t let the title fool you. It is packed full of helpful hints on how to become an experienced boater; while avoiding a lot of mistakes that are made when learning to operate a boat.

If you have some experience being out on the water, then you can probably skip forward to the next topic that is more geared toward you.

For those that have limited to none, these are the main things that you are going to want to learn quickly.

If you are planning on trailering the boat, then you are going to want to get used to backing up a trailer and driving with a trailer.

It won’t take you long; you want to find an empty parking lot and spend 1 hour backing the boat into an empty spot from different angles and different directions.

This may sound stupid and embarrassing,

but I can tell you that it will be far more embarrassing if you are messing up at the boat ramp with a bunch of people waiting on you and watching you!

The same goes for driving the boat. Take some time at an empty dock somewhere, to pull up to and away from.

I like to say 1 hour because that is plenty of time to get on and off the dock and get yourself more comfortable to how the boat handles and how to go into and out of gear.

Another thing that you are going to want to learn is that you are going to want to be prepared.

Having your lines organized, anchor ready, and gear in a specific location will make it easier whenever you are doing something.

There is nothing like having a problem and needing to throw the anchor out really quickly. Just to find when you grab the anchor the line is all tangled up or not tied to the boat!

Being prepared will make dealing with a problem a lot better than it turning into a bad experience.

Should You Buy New or Used?

Buying A New Boat

Your experience level is also going to play into what kind of boat is going to be best for you when you are just starting out.

You can go to all kinds of dealers, magazines, boat shows, and anywhere else you find the mainstream marine industry thriving.

What you will ultimately learn, is a lot of that is all about selling a new boat.

If you look at it from the other side though and think about it. You are just learning to drive the boat and use it.

Then do you really want to pay top dollar for something that you are going to be worried about scratching or damaging?

Things are going to happen, and that is just part of owning a boat.

It makes it worse when you are learning on a brand new boat with a beautiful gel coat finish and amazing cushions and carpet.

Would you let a 15-year-old learn to drive in a classic antique all original Ferrari, or maybe a brand new Lamborghini?

Probably not, because they are going to be super hard on the car and probably just destroy it within three years. I like to apply the same concept to buying your first boat.

You are going to be super hard on the engine when learning how to shift. You’ll forget the ladder in the water and take off ripping it off the boat.

You may lose the anchor off the front of the boat while underway and have it smacking around on the bottom of the boat.

There are a ton of different scenarios that will happen when first starting out. So, spending less money and finding a good used boat for most people is way better.

But What About Reliability?

Buying A Reliable Boat

This is where most people have the misconception that something that is used is less reliable. Which is not the case at all.

You can read all about the difference of value and cost when comparing old vs. new in an article that we wrote to help you decide whether A Boat Is A Good or Bad Investment, here.

Now there is a difference between a used boat and a project boat. There are some Things You Should Know Before Buying A Project Boat! But you can read about that in that article there.

For what we are talking about today, we just want to talk about whether a new boat is more reliable than a used boat. Which I would say, it depends!

It really depends on the engine and the boat. People have the idea that a brand new boat is going to be good to go for 10 years without having any issues.

However, it doesn’t take long before they learn that boats have problems, new or used.

Running an engine in water, or even salt water has its consequences whether the thing is new or used.

(If you aren’t familiar with saltwater and the effects it has on a boat, we recommend reading this: Moving A Boat From Freshwater to Saltwater!)

That goes for the entire boat.

Lights, electronics, buttons, switches, seats, cushions, and everything else receives a lot of damage and abuse from the water and the sun.

It is amazing how hard it is on a boat especially the farther south you go!

So new boats have all the same problems as the used boats, it just depends on how you care for the boat. As well as who owned the boat before you.

The main concern is the quality of the engine. Which you can find all of that information in the articles that we talked about a little earlier.

The engine hours and year of the engine is the main concern that you should consider when buying a used boat.

Which takes us back to what we were talking about earlier with the experience.

If you buy something used, you will learn all about the damages done by the sun and the water, without having that gut-wrenching feeling that this has happened to a brand new boat you have had for only a couple of years.

The used boat will help out on your wallet, and get you going in your educational curve that we all had to go through.

What Kind of Boater Are You Going To Be?

Now the next thing we need to talk about is making sure that you have the right type of boat for you.

There are tons of different things to do on the water. Making sure that you have the right boat to do those things is key in having an enjoyable experience when boating.

Taking the time to think about what you are going to want to be doing is huge.

What Is The Best Boat For A beginner

Are you going to just be canal cruising, going to the sandbar, diving, snorkeling, fishing, trolling, flats fishing, traveling, or anything else that you can come up with to do?

If you have a pontoon boat, then offshore trolling is not going to be very fun. The same goes for flats fishing, if you have an offshore boat, then getting out on the flats is not going to be a possibility.

Are you going to be doing a lot of water sports? Towing people on tubes, water skiing, wakeboarding, kneeboarding?

Making sure you get a ski or wake boat is pretty crucial if that’s what you want to do.

There are a lot of different things that you can do on the water, we just want to make sure you think about what exactly that is that you want to do.

If you buy a boat and realize that you don’t really like flats fishing and you really want to do water sports; then you are stuck with a boat that you don’t like and now you have to sell it to buy what you really want.

There are a lot of different types of boats, pontoon boats, deck boats, flats boats, center consoles, walkarounds, cuddy cabins, yacht’s, skiffs, sailboats, catamaran’s, Jon boats, bass boats, ski boats, and wakeboard boats.

All of these have their very own specific functions that allow the operator to do exactly what they want to while on the water.

Where Are You Going To Be Boating?

This is a question that a lot of people take for granted. Living in the same area for a really long time can make us go blind to the little things like this.

Most people on the coast or in the islands already know that they want either a flats boat or an offshore boat.

Those on lakes either want a bass boat, pontoon boat, or a ski boat. Without even taking into account the little things about these regions that will affect the type of boat that you want to buy.

First Time Boat Buying

We strongly recommend reading our article on the freshwater to saltwater. It is packed full of insights that you will want to know if you are thinking about moving to anywhere near saltwater!

The location is going to play into the type of boat because of the style or type of engine that you are going to want to have. There are different types of engines, either gas or diesel. Then there are inboards and outboards.

We recommend this article here to learn more about Inboard Vs. Outboard: What’s Right For You?

It might seem strange to a lot of people, but living on an island in the middle of the Florida Keys, you do not want an inboard gasoline engine.

These become a huge problem and the things that you don’t think about can lead to whether or not you enjoy owning a boat, or you hate it.

It isn’t surprising why so many people say the two best days of owning a boat are when you buy it, and when you sell it.

You don’t want this cliche to be applicable to you!

How Often Can You Use the Boat?

The absolute worse thing that you can do to a boat is to let it sit.

This does happen a lot so in all of our writing, we also gave a really good tutorial on What To Do If An Outboard Has Been Sitting For Awhile!

When a boat sits for a long period of time. Things dry up, rubber gaskets and o-rings crack, creating leaks on important components on the boat.

The sun eats up the cushions, fades the gel coat, and the fuel that is so expensive sits in the tank until it gets gummy and looses all of its octane; making it unusable and needing to be pumped out!

Ethanol draws in condensation and fills the tank up with water! Steering brackets dry out and freeze up, making it impossible to steer.

Shift and throttle cables crack and split, rusting up until they burst leaving you without control of the engine.

There are many different possible problems that can occur when a boat sits for an extended period of time.

If you are going to let the boat sit, we give a ton of great tips and tricks that you want to do before Storing Your Boat For A Long Time.

This is something that I don’t think a lot of people think about.

Which is why I think that I see a lot of people really discouraged and hurt when they leave their boat down here and go home for 8 months.

Thinking that they can come back down for a week on vacation and everything will be just as they left it.

Once they come back down for that week of vacation. They spend the entire vacation working on the boat and angry that they aren’t able to go out on it.

Replacing batteries, messing with bad fuel, cushions blown out in a storm or a multitude of other problems.

It’s important to think about how often you will be able to use the boat and whether or not you will be dealing with storing and un-storing the boat.

How Much Are You Looking To Spend?

How Much Should A Boat Cost

The infamous break out another thousand, B.O.A.T. You can go wild here and the amount of money that can be spent on a boat is almost unlimited!

Seeing 60-foot center consoles that cost 3 million dollars is quickly becoming a common thing.

After asking yourself all of the questions that we have talked about here today. You should have a pretty good feel for what kind of boat you are looking for.

This is where you need to start scanning the market and comparing the prices of the boats that fit you and your needs.

There are also some costs that you might not think about which is why we wrote this extensive article on What It Actually Costs To Own and Operate a Boat! We also have even more information on top of that with all this post on the details you can use to decide Whether or Not a Boat Is A Good or Bad Investment for You!

I would also suggest to start out by looking at the new boats.

See the prices and what you are going to get.

Then head out into the market, boattrader.com, craigslist, local ads, and other boat sales websites. See what is available locally and compare the prices.

Don’t jump on the first thing you see but be patient and shop around. This will give you an idea of what the number is that you will need in order to get the boat you need.

If the new boats are $80K and you can find good used ones with low hours and only 4 or 5 years old advertise for $20-30K. Then getting into the $25K range for your budget will be right on point.

Once you have the money you can go out and begin the bargaining process! Find the boat you want, buy that bad boy and get out on the water!

Best Starter Boat For A Family

I wanted to hit on this just a little bit because it is a pretty common question now.

We see a lot of boats coming out called “family sport” or “best family boat.” The goal of most articles out there these days are to promote and sell boats.

We want to go back to the questions that we have talked about already. Answering these will get you to the boat that is going to fit your family best.

Most of the family boats that are promoted are pontoon and deck boats. The thing is not all families are the same. Plus, not all families want to do the same thing on the water.

Those boats are limited in what they can do and the purpose of them is not right for most families. So don’t get sucked into the whole deal about you’ve got a family, you need a deck boat!

When maybe your family enjoys wakeboarding and skiing more; or you guys like to spend Saturday morning fishing in the back end of the lake, which takes you 1 hour to get there on the pontoon boat.

It’s best to figure out your likes and dislikes,

before making the commitment and saying that a certain style of boat is a “family boat.”

It might even be worth it to go out and rent a boat for a weekend to try out a couple of options. Get yourself used to operating it.

Remember when we talked about pulling up to and away from a dock for an hour?

Rent a boat for a couple of hours and do exactly that. Pack up the family and have an educational Saturday where you guys all learn to operate a boat.

It will be a great learning and bonding experience for everyone. Or it could get all of the fighting and bickering over with before buying a boat and having that battle at the boat ramp!

Check Us Out!

We hope this has been helpful in your endeavor to find out which boat is best for you as a beginner!

I know there are a lot of links in this article, but like we said in the beginning. We are not here to try and sell you a boat.

Our goal is to help you think about and consider the right things to make sure that your boating experience is a great one.

Most people are just salesman that just want you to buy a boat and that’s it.

We want you to love boating as much as we do and help you avoid a lot of mistakes and problems that so many people encounter.

Which ends up ruining their boating experience, making them hate boating to where they stop and never want to go out again!

If you’ve got any questions or comments, let us know by subscribing to our YouTube Channel!

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Thanks for reading and we look forward to reading your responses and comments.

We’d like to invite you to come and check us out on our YouTube Channel: Born Again Boating! Where we cover all kinds of how-to, DIY, and helpful outboard service tricks and tips videos.

Get subscribed to the channel and then add us to your favorites so we can become your go-to resource when it comes to all of your boating projects and adventures!

Aaron Hilligoss

Aaron has been working in the Marine Industry for over a decade and holds certifications for Yamaha and Mercury Marine. It is not uncommon for him to own and be working on at least three different boats at any given point in time!

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