far, the most frequently asked question we get in
our emails is the one by first time boat buyers asking
about what brand they should buy. Bewildered by literally
hundreds of choices out there, they have neither the
knowledge to make an informed choice, nor any place
to turn for answers.
-vs- Stern Drive
-vs- Raw Water Cooling Systems
You Use Your Boat
Owner or Dealer
we're almost as bewildered as they are. It would take
a cast of dozens of experts just to survey the field
of new offerings every year, not to mention hundreds
more experts to assess the existing millions of used
boats. That's a feat no one has yet managed to tackle.
That's why no one just give you a list of recommended
boats. We can't just line boats up on a counter top
and evaluate them; they're too big and the boats can't
come to us, we have to go to them.
is that all of you who
- make internet searches for serious information on
boats, like we provide in our boat reviews, aren't
going to find it. Not many people are willing to risk
getting sued by publishing negative information. It's
far easier to go with the flow.
said that the Internet has been largely responsible
for creating better informed consumers. This comes
mainly though complaints on forums and web sites like
"My Crappy Larson" at Griperadio.com.
We agree. Nowhere else
can information be rounded up and transmitted so rapidly
and made available to such a wide audience. But it
has also led to a higher level of wariness by first
time boaters that have cruised the forums and have
heard the horror stories of first time buyers who
have gotten burned.
to do? Well, our first recommendation is one that
won't sit too well with many first time buyers who
are intent on purchasing a new boat. That's because
our suggestion is to buy a used one. Yes, an used
heard the arguments about buying someone else's troubles
a hundred times over. But since when don't new boats
have problems? How many times does the typical new
boat owner have to lug his boat back to the dealer
for warranty work? Much too often, if our experience
is any indicator.
is that there are huge economic and reliability advantages
in purchasing a boat that has been pre owned and pre
tested, if I may use that term. A boat that has been
used for a couple of years has been out there banging
around on the waves. If there's anything that's not
right, anything that's going to break, it is likely
to have already done so. If the deck is going to pop
loose from the hull because it was fastened with aluminum
rivets, a quick glance at it will surely tell the
new boat has a warranty, you say? Sure, but how many
heart aches do you want to go through seeing to it
that the warranty gets properly honored for a brand
new boat that clearly has problems?
make even greater sense. Take a cue from larger boat
buyers. Over 90% of all boats over 30 feet sold every
year are USED BOATS! Ninety percent. And we're talking
here boats of up to ten times the value of the typical
entry level runabout. Take it from the more experienced
boat owners who know value when they see it; used
boats are a tremendous value. Let me explain why.
say that the new twin outboard, twenty foot runabout
you're looking at can be had for $40,000 straight
out of the box. A comparable model that's four years
old sells for $20,000. That's a whopping $20,000
difference. And for whatever may be wrong with the
used one, that twenty thousand will cover the cost
of repair of any problems many times over. And the
higher the price, the greater the new/used price spread
is going to be.
in mind that part of what you are paying for with
a new boat is the fancy dealer show room, as well
as his profit.
inducement can be offered a first time buyer? And
even if your purchase does turn out to be a mistake,
it will be a mistake that only costs about half as
-vs- Stern Drive Many people still aren't
clear on this point, yet getting the right criteria
to make a decision is simple.
a boat is to be left afloat in sea water, outboards
are the best option. Why? Because outboards can
be lifted up out of the water; stern drives can't.
drives are fine for fresh water and those who
keep their boats in dry storage.
-vs- Raw Water Cooling Systems This applies
to any type of inboard power. This choice is also
a simple one.
you're operating in sea water, the closed cooling
system should be considered mandatory. Sea water
does the same thing to your engine as salt on
the roads in winter does to your car. And sometimes
the corrosion damage occurs very, very quickly.
you're operating in fresh water, you do not need
a closed cooling system and there's no point in
paying the extra cost.
apply to outboards? No. The outboard motor sits vertically
on the drive unit. When the engine stops, all the
cooling water runs out by means of gravity, so internal
corrosion is not the same problem as it is with inboard/stern
drives without closed cooling systems.
When it comes to quality and separating the wheat
from the chaff, this is not an easy task. Asking others
is one way to get information. Try taking a trip to
the local marina or launching ramp on Saturday and
start asking questions. But beware that most boat
owners take boat ownership personally. Many are reluctant
to admit that the boat they own is not all that it
should be. If a guy says that his boat is the greatest
thing on the water, he may not be giving you the whole
story. Assuming he knows the whole story. Not many
people are willing to admit to making a mistake.
a guy who says his boat is a pile of junk is probably
so irritated with the thing that he'll probably be
glad to show or tell you exactly why. So take him
up on it. Or at least ask a few pointed questions.
The unhappy owner is usually a better source of accurate
information. On the other hand, if the owner can give
you some very specific reasons why he likes his boat,
by all means listen to him.
is the other major part of the equation. Generally
speaking, repeat, generally speaking, higher
prices indicate higher quality. The problem
is that with a new boat, it's tough to prove that
claims to higher quality are really valid until the
boat has been put to the test.
again we come full circle to fact that the used boat
usually represents the better buy. It's been put to
the test, so that if it does have problems, at least
you have the opportunity to discover those problems
by getting it surveyed.
the "experts"? Could you hire a surveyor
to advise you? When it comes to small boats, probably
not. The fact is that there's no money in small boats
for surveyors, so there are probably very few that
would even try to specialize in building a wealth
of information about small boats. Besides, there are
too many of them.
line is, whether you buy new or used, that when making
that first boat purchase, there is some risk involved.
Keep in mind that boat builders are very, very small
companies, not the likes of a General Motors or Honda
with billions of dollars in resources. Boat builders
come and go with considerable frequency. Some aren't
very good with, or even have the ability to give good
warranty service. Hence, that fabulous warranty the
salesman touts may have a different basis in reality.
the element of risk isn't all that great between buying
a new boat or used. Of course, we'd recommend that
you get any used boat you buy surveyed first. That
will cut the element of risk right down to size.