Should You Buy a Big or Small Boat?
I know you don't want to hear this, but...
For your first boat, I encourage you to consider a smaller boat than you currently anticipate purchasing - mostly to make sure you buy a late model boat.
Even if you have to spend slightly more than your budgeting software had calculated, your total cost of ownership (TCO) will be less if you buy a brand new boat or at least a high-quality boat that is less than 4 years old. Believe me, you will be much happier spending an extra $10,000 (spread over 10 years that may be only an additional $100/month) if it means you don’t have to go through the hassle of trying to sell the boat in a few years with a heavily eroded engine or hull – then you have to start all over again!
Your best bet is to start smaller than you intended to, and work your way up after enjoying your first boat for a few years. It is sad when you first come to the realization that you might have to buy a smaller or less “fancy” boat than you had planned on buying.
Additional benefits include:
You'll save money on gas with a newer/smaller boat.
A smaller boat will be easier to learn how to drive.
Personally, I was in big-time denial when I first came to this realization as a buyer. Call it sticker shock or naivety, but more than one boat dealer told me that I had champagne taste and a beer budget! I was also told that I wanted the equivalent of a Jaguar for the price of a Ford Escort.
What I found, as I came to the realization that I might not be able to buy the ultimate boat of my dreams right now, was that first of all, most people experience the SAME thing. Meaning, everyone I speak with at my marina wishes they had a bigger, faster or different boat than they currently enjoy.
Second, by looking at the used boat classifieds and seeing the same boats for sale at boat dealerships over and over again, I came to realize the fact that if you buy a big boat that turns out to be a lemon, you may get stuck with it for a very long time – it will take longer to sell than a higher quality boat.
Third, because of better and better designs each year, you may be surprised at how much more living space a brand new 24 foot express cruiser will have compared to a 10 year old 27 foot express cruiser.
That’s right, a “smaller” boat in description built ten years later will likely have a bigger beam (that means it will be wider), and almost certainly will be designed to give you more room to move around in the cabin. But wait - you think it sounds cooler to say you have a 27 ft boat built 10 years ago instead of a 24 ft boat built last year? Think again - I'll be out on the water in my uncool 24 foot, 2 year old boat, while your very cool, 27 foot, 11 year old boat is under repair again.