(NC)óBoating tends to be a family activity, so members of the family should be involved in the process of choosing the boat. Will it be a fishing boat most of the time? A water-ski tow machine? The basic picnic cruise boat? Determine what it is the family wants the boat to do, then go find the model to fit those needs. Most boats are multifaceted Ė they can be fishing boats in the morning and ski boats in the afternoon.
Make notes of the family's "must haves," and "can do withouts." Determine your monthly budget for boat ownership and try to stick to it. But, don't give up a necessity for a few dollars that will cost you convenience or usage later on. Remember that you will often be inviting guests aboard, so plan a little extra room for them and for you.
Many boats are now being pre-packaged with motor and trailer as a complete unit. The manufacturers have been careful to outfit such products for the comfort of the average boater ... and the attractive prices of these units reflect cost savings passed on to buyers.
Generally, the packaged boat units will offer some power choice, so make sure there is enough push. Don't go overboard, either; too much power can be fuelish, costly or simply unsafe.
Remember that the dealer that sells the boat will be your partner for advice and service. He or she should be willing to listen to what you want in a boat, then make several recommendations. When the boat needs scheduled service or repairs, the dealer should be there to stand behind the sale. When shopping for a boat, also shop for the dealer you feel most comfortable with or one recommended by friends.
Finally, don't think you're making a lifelong commitment to a particular boat. It's not a marriage; it's more like an enjoyable relationship. That's because most boat owners trade up as their skills grow and needs change.
To get more information on boating, including a free CD-ROM entitled "Discover Boating", visit www.discoverboating.ca.
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