Summer is in full swing and millions of Americans are taking their boats out on the water to enjoy fishing, water skiing and wakeboarding, while others will gather with friends on their boats to cookout, picnic or just relax.
And, thanks to easy financing terms, there's never been a better time to take the plunge and buy your first boat, purchase boat insurance, or upgrade to a larger model.
When purchasing a boat, the most important thing you need to do is consider what
activities you'll enjoy while on it. Then you have to determine which boat is right for your budget. Just as important is checking
whether the boat you buy is certified by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), the trade association for the recreational boating industry.
What does a boat cost?
The cost of a boat? Since prices can range anywhere from $1,000 for a used motorboat -- to hundreds of thousands for a new cruiser -- that's a tough question to answer. (Of course, you'll want to add a couple of zeros to the end of those figures or a brand new yacht.)
On average, you'll be spending additional cash on docking fees, repairs, oil changes, and fuel -- to the tune of about $400 each time you fill up -- so it's important to find an energy efficient model cruiser whenever possible. Just like a car, there's also title, registration and insurance. Expect to pay more for boat insurance if you live in a US southern state or in any area prone to storms and hurricanes.
Then there are life jackets (average cost: $70 per) mooring ropes, an emergency kit including a fire extinguisher and flares to help the Coast Guard find you if you get lost sea. For longer trips, you'll also want a GPS system on board along with a chart plotter and radio system -- items that easily add on an extra $20,000.
Value for the money
United States Coast Guard safety standards requires most boats to meet a set of minimum safety regulations. NMMA Certified boats not only meet the safety regulations of the U.S. Coast Guard, but they are also built to meet the more comprehensive industry standards established by the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC), says NMMA's Tom Marhevko, a former U.S. Coast Guard captain. Choosing an NMMA-certified boat is one of the best and easiest ways to be sure you're getting a quality boat,
To receive certification, a manufacturer's entire line of boats must
meet the standards; every model is inspected regularly at the factory. When buying a boat, look for the NMMA Certified Using ABYC Standards label, which shows that the craft's key safety systems have been thoroughly examined by a third-party inspector.
Boaters have different priorities when choosing a new boat. They look at the size, determine how much they can spend and decide which boat is the best for their lifestyle. They also need to consider safety, and by purchasing a boat that's NMMA Certified, they can be confident that the electrical systems, powering, flotation, fuel systems and navigation lights on their new boat meet the highest industry safety standards, says Marhevko.
Consumers can look for the NMMA Certification sticker or label on the boat's
windshield or near the capacity label. They can also ask the dealer to show them NMMA Certified boats, or find a particular boat manufacturer at www.nmma.org.