Advice on buying a boat for the first time

Many first time boat buyers don’t realise how many different brands of alloy boats there are, and all have similar concerns and questions.

Let’s take a look at some important information before you buy:

Handling the Boat

Handling the Boat When Towing

People often ask about tow weight but often forget there is a rating on your tow bar for downwards weight on the tongue. While tow weight can’t be helped, downwards weight can be helped by correct positioning of the axle(s). Too much weight and your vehicle may have trouble steering and braking; too little weight and the trailer will push the back of your vehicle around (fishtailing).

As well as this remember: 

  • Trail weight over 1500kg must have hydraulic brakes.
  • Trail weight over 2500kg must have electric over-ride brakes.
  • Combined weight (vehicle and trailer) over 2500kg must have class 2 licence.

Handling the Boat at the Ramp

Another question relates to weight for holding the boat at the ramp while the car is being parked. The truth is, if you have a properly designed system for loading, unloading and holding your boat, any size should be easily manageable. Things like trailer guide poles, bow ropes, stern ropes, small holding anchors, etc, can all be made use of to take the work out of your time at the ramp. This may sound complicated but if you have the right length ropes worked out, etc, it will be very quick and easy. Make sure you know the ramp you are going to use and be confident using it. If you are nervous about it have some practice runs when no one else is around. Being nervous at the ramp can mean you will be more likely to get flustered, make bad decisions and end up giving up on boating.

Handling the Boat on the Water

Despite what some say, there is no secret formula or weapon for this. For hull design, everything comes at a compromise - more stable at rest the harder it rides; better in a head sea worse in a following sea; etc. There are a few things that can be done to bend the rules but they still come at a compromise. Welded variable-width chine’s can help performance but cost more to fabricate. Flooding keels create stability at rest but add weight, so require more horsepower for similar performance to non-flooding hulls. They require deeper water to launch as they float lower and the nature of the cavity makes it impossible to clean all the salt out which may cause corrosion at a later stage. Deep vee’s often require planning strake’s for lift, which adds wetted surface and which in turn makes a hull less efficient and can make an alloy hull a lot noisier inside.

The bottom line is, narrow down the models you like and test-drive them to see if the performance is what suits you. Contact us now using the form below for YOUR no obligation FREE QUOTE

The Price

The Initial Purchase Price

If a boat is cheaper than the competition, it is at the expense of something else. For example if the boat has similar features then it might be the trailer that is inferior or something behind the scenes that no one asks about. Electrical wiring loom, steering components, navigation lights, the bilge pump and even the aluminium itself can be imported to save money and while its grade can still qualify as “Marine Grade” its quality can be a big step down. There are of course ways to cut costs without cutting quality. Simpler designs can cut labour down, a dealer trying to move a boat that he’s had for a while may cut their margin, or you may get a better deal direct from the factory if this is an option.

Resale Value

Often a first boat is a stepping stone whether it’s planned that way or not. Something to consider is what the boat will be worth to sell or trade in 2, 5 or 10 years’ time. A look through magazines or online to see how much, and how many, of the models or brands you are looking at are selling second hand for can help make your decision. If there are a heap of them for sale second hand, consider why. Or, if you can find hardly any, or they move quickly, chances are you will get closer to your asking price.


The Warranties

Be sure you know what is covered under warranty and for how long.  ASK!  A 1-2-3-5+ year warranty WILL NOT COVER EVERYTHING (this goes for hull, trailer and motor and the warranty may be conditional). It may seem strange to put this under the price heading but there has to be some allowance made for this across the products sold and sometimes cheaper can mean reduced warranty. You will always have some cover under the Consumer Guarantees Act and while you might think you are clever screwing the price down on the retailer at the time of purchase, they will remember it and can still make it difficult to claim while still staying inside the terms of trade.


Boat Size

Or more specifically: “What does the number on the side refer to?”

It should really only be used as a guide. Some people think because the number on one boat is bigger than another it must be a bigger boat. Not true; there is no standard measurement for what the number has to refer to. It can be:

  • LOA (length overall) which is tip to tip.
  • HL (hull length) which excludes additions like boarding platforms and bow sprits.
  • LWL (length on water line) which is basically the length of contact the boat makes with the water when floating.

As well as variations in between, the best advice I can give people is to forget about the number on the side and instead stand in the boat and see if it “feels” big enough. If you need to, get a tape measure out to satisfy yourself. Contact us now using the form below for YOUR no obligation FREE QUOTE

But… What Will It Be Used For?

Now all your questions are answered, time to buy a boat right? But have you thought about what you want the boat for and what is required? I like to do my best to give the customer exactly what will suit them best. I like to listen, offer alternatives or solutions and ask questions as in the long run it will result in happier customers. Some of the questions I ask which you should aim to know the answers to before buying are:

Primary Use

What will it be used for the majority (e.g. 50 - 80%) of the time? With alloy boats it’s usually fishing.  

Secondary Uses

These are the things it may be used for occasionally such as diving, water skiing, overnighting, etc. But be realistic about how much the boat is dedicated to secondary uses. You may be able to add uses together to better determine your requirements, i.e. if you fish half the time but dive and ski a lot, you may want to forego a little cockpit space to give the boarding area more room to get on and off. Alternatively, if there is only a couple of people on the boat at a time it may not be a concern to give a lot of space to the cabin as there will still be plenty of space in the cockpit for the people on board.


Other Considerations

Number of People On Board

This needs to be considered not only from a comfort/practicality standpoint but safety as well. It is not uncommon for people, especially those new to boats, to all go rushing to the side when a fish is brought up. If the boat is not capable of carrying the load you might find yourself in a nasty situation.

How Far Off Shore

How far from shore you go should also be considered. There are models in similar size ranges that are considered more “blue water” boats. This is due to the construction methods and materials used.

Towing Considerations

What will the boat be towed with? Will it be safe to tow? Is it legal for the boat to be towed with it?

Boat Storage

Where will it be stored? Will it fit length wise, height wise, width wise?

Your Budget

Don’t be afraid to let the dealer know what your budget is. There may be other options to bring price down but still get what you want, and you will never know if you walk away without giving them the chance. If you have a budget then stick to it but remember the most expensive way to buy is on price, especially if you soon realise the boat is not exactly what you wanted. Sometimes the better option is to hold off a little longer until what you really want is in budget.


Final Advice

Now you should be ready to buy a boat. Make sure you drive the deal with the seller to get what you want, not what they want.That’s enough unbiased advice, now it’s time for my plug.

Here at Marco Boats

At Marco Boats we do our best to give you the boat you want. We have a range of models so you can find something to fit your requirements. We mostly build only to order so don’t have stock to try to force on you. Furthermore, we don’t have dedicated sales people to bug you. Everyone you talk to welds or grinds or fits out which means we all know exactly what goes into our boats and a fair bit about them as well. We do of course have some dealers around, and their circumstances may be a little different to ours, but the ones we do have are there because they give our customers the attention and after-sales service we require and you expect. As well as that, you have our commitment to making sure our customers are as happy as possible.

Contact us now using the form below for YOUR no obligation FREE QUOTE