Top Tips for Buying a Boat

Sailboat on a mooring ball near Youngstown, NY

Sailboat on a mooring ball near Youngstown, NY (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Any experienced sailor will tell you there is a big difference between dreaming of sailing into the sunset and actually doing it. Here are some tips for buying a boat.

Choosing the right sailboat for your experience level and intended use is particularly important, and can mean the difference between a dream sailing adventure and a nightmare on the high seas.

Most novice sailors or "armchair sailors" tend to think a bit bigger than is safe or practical. When it comes to sailboats, size does matter!

A smaller boat is more appropriate for day sailing or the occasional overnight trip. They're easier to handle and they are cheaper to own -- just about all boating expenses are tied to the length of the boat. For example, moorage costs are tied to length, many parts and things such as rigging and sails are bigger and more costly for larger boats, and, of course, insurance costs multiply as well.

My advice: start small with a 20-foot sailboat. Get to know the basics of sailing, and make sure your wife or significant other is "onboard" with your plans.

If your dream is to one day cruise off to warmer climates, start with short hops in your local area. Setting off on a long-range sailing adventure requires experience and a lot of planning. Cruising locally in a small boat will familiarize you with the bohemian nature of sailing -- minimal luxuries and comforts. If you can handle that, you'll have a better appreciation of the sailing life as you move up to larger vessels.

When checking out sailboats for sale, you'll want to understand that the age of the sailboat has little to do with its quality and suitability for your plans. New boats, while bright and shiny with lots of high-tech bells and whistles, can be a curse if you're in a foreign port where parts are not readily available.

Above all, you need to be honest with yourself in relation to your own personal skills and abilities. If you love DIY (do-it-yourself) projects, you'll do fine with an older boat in need of work. But if you expect all to be movie-perfect, and all you want to do is sip cocktails while the boat sails itself, you'd be better off on a cruise ship!

The cruising lifestyle can be tremendously gratifying in many ways, but you need to start with the right boat and realistic expectations.

About the Author:

 In his 20+ years of sailing, Capt. Morgan Swift has owned many sailboats from a 21-foot weekender to a 43-foot sloop and sailed throughout the Pacific West Coast from British Columbia to Mexico. He occasionally writes articles about boating and yachting.



Why and How To Buy A Boat (Part 1 of 3)

Learn more about boating and also learn more about the things to look out for when buying a boat in this video from host Gary Ingman.


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