An Accident at Sea can ruin your whole day!

How to Own a Boat and Stay Happy!

By Hal Roberts - Surveyor

Look before You Leap!

Many people are unhappy boat owners because they buy a boat that is not suited to their needs. Ask yourself a few questions first.

  • Who will use the boat? Family?, friends?
  • How will you use the boat?, Fishing?, water skiing, cruising?
  • When, and how often will you use your boat? Year round? Seasonally?
  • How much can you afford to spend? Don't forget maintenance, nsurance, registration fees, and other incidentals.
  • What type boat fits your lifestyle? A leisurely sailboat? The thrilling speed boat or the efficient cruising trawler?

Don't Buy More boat Than You Can Afford

  • Many people are lured into buying more boat than they need, or can afford. You will enjoy your boat much more if when you are out on the water you're not worrying more about making the next payment than you are enjoying your boat.
  • Avoid becoming "Up side down" in your financial position by owing more than your boat may be worth within a few short years after that "Long Term Financing Deal" that looked so good the day you bought your boat.

Educate Yourself in All Things Nautical

  • Read as many books on Boating as possible.
  • Learn the "Rules of the Road", the basic safety procedures used in boat operation.
  • Know the U.S. Coast Guard requirements as to safety equipment, fire extinguishers, life jackets, & flares.
  • Familiarize yourself with nautical terminology. The bow instead of the "front", the head, not the "bathroom", the berth, not the "bed".
  • Research proper mooring techniques, and accompanying basic knots and marlinspike seamanship.

New, or Used? That's The Ouestion?

  • There Is something to be said for the new boat. if you can swing it you are starting with brand new everything, and theoretically, if you maintain it properly you should be able to enjoy the "Pride of ownership" that comes with that new purchase for many years.
  • Buying used can give you the leverage of being able to afford a much larger, better equipped boat for the same "new" dollars. If you shop carefully and knowledgeably this could be the way to go.
  • Don't hesitate to employ the help of professional marine experts. The money spent for a survey, or mechanical inspection of the vessel you are considering buying may be the best money you have ever spent.

Keep Your Boat In Good Condition

  • Much of the routine maintenance you can do yourself, and will enjoy doing, such as buffing, bright work refinishing, and general engine maintenance.
  • Stay ahead of the game, So many boaters let small, inexpensive maintenance "tasks" go unperformed until they become expensive major repair "problems".
  • For other than routine maintenance, trust the professional. find a marine mechanic you trust, and stay with them. You will find that it is cheaper to pay them to do something right the first time than it is to pay them to fix what you "attempted" to fix.
  • In the off season, install "improvements" to your boat. As parts and systems need to be replaced, upgrade them to modern parts or new systems where desired.

Use Your Boat, Enjoy it!

This article was provided by Hal Roberts, a long time Pensacola area vessel Surveyor.

Return to Boating Education Page

Return to Maritime History Main Page