The Beginner’s Guide to Boat Shopping – Part 1

fishing boat

Part 1: Research

If you dream of getting out on the water in your own boat that’s great!

At we’re keen to help any way we can, which is why we’ve put together this basic guide on how to buy your first boat.

The most important thing is to get the right boat for you. Boats are designed with a specific activity or use in mind, so there’s not much point in getting a “tinnie” if you intend on doing a whole lot of deep sea fishing.

Think about what you want a boat for and go from there.

Common water activities & the boats that suit them.

Cruising/trips: Cruising Sailboats, Cuddy Cabins, Inboard Cruiser, Motor Yachts, Multi-Hull Cruising Sailboats, Sedan Bridge, Sports Fishing Boats, Stern Drive Cruisers and Trawlers

Entertainment: Deck Boats, Inboard Cruiser, Motor Yachts and Pontoons

Fishing: Bass Boats, Bowriders, Centre Console, Closed Bow Runabouts, Cuddy Cabins, Fishing Boats, Flat Boats, Inboard Cruisers, Multi-Hull Cruiser, Multi-Hull Power Boat, Sedan Bridge, Sports Fishing Boats and Walkarounds

Water Sports: Bass Boats, Bowriders, Closed Bow Runabouts, Cuddy Cabins, Deck boats, Fish and Ski Boats, Fishing Boats, Inboard Ski Boats, Inboard Wakeboard Boats, Jet Boats and Stern Drive Cruisers

Once you know the type of boat you’re looking for you can start considering other factors. The first consideration is obviously going to be your budget. You can talk to a boat loan financer in advance to work out what you can afford. You can even get a pre-approved boat loan so you have the assurance that what you’re looking at is definitely in your price range.

Other considerations include:

Boat Size – All boats have a maximum carrying capacity for safety reasons. Is this boat going to be your own private escape, or are you taking friends, family or big groups out on the water? Do you need cooking facilities and somewhere to sleep? And are you going to berth your boat or tow it home? If you get a vessel that’s too large to practically take home after every outing you’ll need to find somewhere for mooring, which is an extra expense to factor in.

Where You’ll Be Boating – Lakes, rivers, estuaries, harbours, or out into the ocean, just like your car, different boats are designed for different terrains. Sailboats will have trouble getting wind on a river, just as a tinnie would struggle with rough seas. Check the size, hull and equipment of the boats you’re thinking of to make sure they’ll hold up against your boating plans.

Engine Capacity – As above, where and what you intend to do with your boat will determine the power you’ll need. For water sports, you need maximum power while fishing boats don’t need a whole lot. Consider whether you want in inboard, outboard or jet engine and whether it should be diesel or petrol.

Storage & Transport – As mentioned earlier, you need to consider where this boat will be kept. Can you afford mooring fees at your local marina, or are you going to be loading it on a trailer and taking it home? Is there even room at home? You also need to check if your car has the power to tow the load, which may mean you’ll need to buy a new car depending on how ambitious your boating is.

Make of Boat – What your hull is made of will be determined by where you’re planning on taking your boat and where you’ll be storing it. Hulls can be made from aluminium, fibreglass, steel, timber, composite, plastic or even inflatable materials. You can even choose between single or multihulled boats. What your hull is made from will affect the weight, maintenance, cleaning, and transportability.

Now you have some idea of the things you want from your boat and hopefully the type of boat you want. Armed with this you can start your research to see what’s available in your area, the market value of what you’re looking at, and the prominent brands that make your ideal boat.

Once you have a clear picture of what you want, what you can get, and what you’re willing to pay it’s time to consider your market.

Part 2 will look at the Pros and Cons of buying from Boat Brokers versus Private Sellers.