Is there a new boat in your 2018 New Year’s resolution?
You’ve spent the Christmas season finding the perfect gifts to delight your family and friends. Now, it’s time to treat yourself by finally purchasing that boat you’ve been thinking about all year . . . or at least, by upgrading your current boat’s engine(s).
Let’s say it’s a new boat you’re after. How do you start your research (in addition to the advice you’ve received on the docks)? On the web, of course. Look up the websites for boat brands that have caught your eye recently, along with those your fishing buddies or cruising companions swear by.
Boating magazines are another good source for researching boat models, since they not only publish photos and specifications, but also include hands-on boat tests and reviews. Several magazines put out January “buyer’s guides” that tell you all about the new boat models that launched in the past year.
Make a list of the things you plan to do in your new boat. If you are going to spend all your time on the water fishing or wakeboarding, you probably should stick with models that are purpose-designed for those sports. If, on the other hand, you want to do a little fishing, a little skiing, a little touring, and a little anchoring out with friends at the sandbar, island or cove, then you’d be better off with a runabout or express-style boat that can accommodate multiple pastimes.
At this point, it’s a good idea to visit a boat dealer who can use his or her experience to help you with this process
“I meet with customers to figure out how they are going to be using their boat,” said Tom Shelton, sales associate at Lauderdale Marina in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “We are a Boston Whaler dealer, and Whaler offers many different models. I help them find the one that fits their needs.
“Right after I find the right boat for a customer, I bring in our dealership’s Mercury Master Tech to talk about the engine options, service and maintenance.”
If you love your existing boat but know it would perform better with a new engine(s), your research process should be similar. Talk to friends about their experience with different engine brands. Go online and/or read the magazines to learn about new engine models and review their fuel consumption statistics. Interview a marine service technician who is certified by the engine manufacturer to find out how easy (or difficult!) they are to maintain.
If a boat show is coming up in your area, make plans to attend. Or, if you are in the snow belt and feel like taking a trip somewhere warm, consider attending the Miami International Boat Show in Florida, Feb. 15-19, 2018. Boat shows let you compare and contrast boat or engine models all in one place, and you often can find special boat-show discounts as well. Shows often offer an opportunity to test drive boats and engines.
“With all the innovations and new technology in the boating industry we continue to see, there are naturally going be price increases for 2018,” said Shelton. “But, in the overall scheme of things, these innovations and new technology make for a better boating experience. If you compare the industry 10 years ago with now, there’s a world of difference.”