Boat-Shopping at the Shows

If you are new to boating, how do you start searching for the right boat at boat shows? We put the question to yacht brokers east and west.

The benefit of the boat shows is that they allow buyers to explore all the options available to them. You get to look at sailboats and powerboats, small boats and big boats, and everything in between. Walk on powerboats, walk on sailboats, sit down in a small boat and stretch out on a bigger one while asking yourselves what would you like to use your boat for? Are you looking for a day cruiser or runabout, a weekender, a live-aboard, or would you like to travel further afield. Are there enough berths for your children, friends or family?

Whatever your interests, there will be a boat at the shows to meet your desires, lifestyle and dreams. Of course, they should consult a Certified Professional Yacht Broker (CPYB)   ̶  there are many and they will be happy to help you navigate through your questions so your experience on the water is one that lasts a lifetime.

Lawrence Fronczek, CPYB

Owner, Specialty Yacht Sales

Vancouver BC

First, find a sales consultant who is knowledgeable, honest and wants to help you find the right boat. The salesperson is key and must ask questions to help you understand the advantages of certain styles, layouts and sizes of boats.

Here are some key points to consider when searching for the first boat:

Why are you looking to purchase a boat and what would you like to do with it? Personal or business? Family-entertainment:  how many?

Where are you planning on using the boat? This helps determine the size and possibly the style of boat that would best suit you. Consider where you will spend the majority of your time. Typically, it is the cockpit 90 percent of the time, as we day-boat, entertain and swim.

Budget versus size – which matters most? If you are comfortable you will enjoy the boat more.  If you buy too small it will cost you to upgrade.  Do your homework first and make sure the boat fits your family and requirements. In some cases you may decide to spend a little more now rather than later. The cost difference between a 30 and a 35′ boat year over year is not huge compared to the comfort it offers at the dock and out on the water.

Kevin Marinelli, CPYB

Product Specialist

Skyline Marina

Orillia ON

Buying a boat is more than just the purchase of a new toy; the boating community is an amazing collection of people who share a passion for enjoying time on the water.

Take a moment to answer some basic questions. Are you a powerboater or a sailor? Do you want a large yacht or a small cruiser? Will you keep it in the water or trailer it around? Do you plan day trips, overnights, extended cruising, commuting, fishing or watersports, or even a workboat? How many passengers on a typical trip: just two of you, or a crowd? Where do you plan to do your boating – open water, protected water, lakes or rivers?

New or used? Each has its pros and cons. If you choose new, you get the peace of mind that comes with warranties, and new systems and running gear. There will also be less upkeep on your new boat as well. But new boats can be expensive and, like cars, boats can depreciate as much as 40 percent as soon as you leave the dealer. This means that most buyers choose used. Pre-owned boats are at historical low prices right now due to the recent recession, and there are great bargains to be had. If you are new to boating, it may be wise to dip your toe in the water, so to speak, with a used boat.

A good yacht broker will be able to guide you through the process from start to finish, including boat handling lessons after purchase.

What are you waiting for? Get out on the water and enjoy!

Cormac O’Kiely and Andy Mosier

Thunderbird Yacht Sales

West Vancouver BC

Over the years, I have developed a linear process to guide people to achieving the dream of boating. I like to sit them down for a half-hour or more to get the facts. I like to tell first-time buyers, with a bit of humour, that the first boat they buy I will tell them what to buy…and the second boat, they will tell me what to buy.

I then ask questions to guide me as to the best type of boat that will suit their needs. Are kids in the picture and if so, how old? How old are the buyers and are they active people? Where are they going to boat? Will they be anchoring a lot or going from shore power outlet to shore power outlet? Will they use the galley a lot? Will they sleep on the boat a lot?

I place the budget at the top of the page. It is my practice not to mess with the budget. I get them to honestly tell me the budget. I allow for some negotiation room, then I stick to the budget.

At the Toronto Boat Show, Discover boating offers a seminar for new boat buyers and I am part of the four-person panel. We will discuss our areas of expertise and answer audience questions. On the panel will be Barry Goodyear (certified marine surveyor), Drew Robertson (insurance specialist), John Gullick (Canadian Power Squadron) discussing boating education, and myself discussing the business of searching and purchasing, and the ethics of the industry.

Pat Sturgeon

Pat Sturgeon Yachts

Mississauga ON

To say that boating opens up a whole new world is no exaggeration. But the process of getting on the water in your own boat can be daunting. For a new boater, the process takes research, planning and education. However, it can and should be an enjoyable experience.

Every potential boat owner brings a unique package of experiences, skills and requirements. Before selecting their ideal boat, there are a host of questions that need answers.  The prospective owner has to evaluate not just the features that they consider important, but a host of other factors, besides budget.  What led to the decision to own a boat? What are their short and long-term plans? What sort of boating experience do they have?  Is this a one-person adventure, a couple’s or a family’s? How old are the kids or grandkids? How long do you anticipate owning this boat? Some questions area easily answered, and others have answers that will change over time.

Check out different boats, talk to dealers and compare the elements that are of most importance to you and how you will use your boat. If budgetary or other considerations are guiding you to a pre-owned boat, then I believe that the most important step in the process is selecting a yacht broker that you feel you can work with and who will have your best interests at heart. That may sound a little self-serving, but venturing out to deal with all of the factors in the purchase process for a used boat is something that is better done with an experienced, trustworthy person in your corner. 

Done right, this can be a fun and rewarding experience that will result in years of enjoyment, relaxation and satisfaction.

Perry Woodman

Swans Yacht Sales

Pickering ON

Photo Captions

1) At a boat show, indoors or afloat, shoppers can see and experience the huge of range of options offered in today’s boating marketplace.

2) If you’re new to boating, the show is the perfect place to “try on” all the boats that might meet your requirements.

Photo Credits: Duart Snow

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