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The common misconception is that boats are an expensive luxury that only a few people can own. The reality is that everyone can enjoy the benefit of owning a boat. Not everyone may be able to own a luxury cruiser, or a fancy speed boat. They can however, own a boat that will provide years of enjoyment for a small cost. The following are guidelines for finding the best boat for your needs:
Whether your boat is new or used, it should have what is known as a Hull Identification Number, or HIN. This number is similar to a Vehicle Identification Number on a car, and is essential for recording a boat's history, especially in the case of major repair or accident. The HIN is a unique set of 12 characters and all boats built after 1972 have one. It is found on the back of the vessel in the upper most, right-hand corner. The HIN may also be written on the title or registration, or in the packet of insurance information. Even though your boat has a HIN secured to its exterior, you should write down the number and keep it in a secure place off the boat such as a safety deposit box. That way, if your boat is stolen, you'll be able to help the authorities locate it.
Financing options are available for new boat owners. Buying a boat can now be just as easy, and just as affordable, as buying a car. If you have a good credit history, you can obtain an installment loan to pay for your boat. A down payment may vary in amount and is likely to be between 10 percent and 20 percent of the total cost, while your interest rate will be in the range of 12 percent. Using these figures, a person could buy a $25,000 cabin cruiser, put $5,000 down and have a monthly payment of about $287.
It might be tempting—once you see all the fancy boats on display in the showroom—to buy the biggest boat you can afford. But, many experts don't advise it until you have significant boating experience. The size of the boat you buy is an important consideration. One downside to very large boats is that they will require you to learn many more systems in order to operate them. For this reason, you may want to first buy a smaller boat, get used to being on the water and then trade up when you feel ready. Some advise first buying a boat that is between 22 and 24 feet.
Before you buy, take adequate time to think about how you plan to use a boat and how many people will likely be on it at one time. For example:
*Will you often invite friends along?
*Do you want a boat primarily for fishing or other activities like water skiing?
*Do you want a boat that you can take on the water for one day? A long weekend? Or a week-long excursion?
*Are you a leisurely person or do you like getting from place to place as fast as possible?
All these questions will help narrow your search for a boat and make it less likely that you'll purchase one that doesn't suit your lifestyle.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|