By Joe Sills

    Ok, it’s January, probably cold and wet, maybe even freezing with snow. So why even think about fishing, much less boat buying? Remember last year when you said this was the year for a new boat? Yep. You went boat shopping, found exactly the one you wanted, went to sign on the dotted line and discovered that one was spoken for a month ago. Ok, I’ll just order a duplicate. The salesperson made a few calls and returned with the news that he could have another like you wanted ready for the water in six weeks! What? Six Weeks! The fishing is great right now! So you just made do with the old wreck after spending $1500 on the motor, $500 on new seats, and anther grand on the trolling motor and batteries.


    Denny Dennison of Beech Lake Marine points out some of he finer details of a new Triton to Dennis Smith.

    Right now, in spite of the weather and Christmas bills still rolling in, is the VERY best time to purchase your “Dream Boat”. Most dealers have a few recent year holdovers that are almost identical to the new-year models, and at tremendous discounts. They are as eager to clear their show rooms, as you are to have a sparkling new ride. Most likely the same warranties apply, as well. After all, the fish don’t know the difference between a new one and a twenty-year old craft.

    Speaking of old boats, your local dealer may have a few trade-ins left at bargain prices. These are usually thoroughly checked out but may have only a brief dealer warranty. If the boat is less than three years old, it may still have some factory warranty left. Depending on the brand, many motors have a five-year warranty. Good to know as most repair shops have a minimum of $100 an hour labor charge, some are up to $150 an hour plus parts. Even then, the demand for parts may be so great, that several weeks are needed just to get them. By the time your boat is water ready, the early bite may be entirely over.

    What next? Internet shopping is also an option. But it is a scary “buyer beware” scenario. What looks great on your screen may be a fifty-footer. That’s the term car dealers use to describe a vehicle that looks great until you do a more up- close check on it. Always insist on a close contact visit before you hand over your cash. If at all possible, try it out on the water, or at the least, crank the motor with a hose attached to check the water pump and avoid damage to the power head. If it’s a big rig and big money, have it inspected by a certified mechanic.

    Well-known brands are always your best bet. It means a better value when you do trade or when you decide to sell and move on. Reputable dealers are other factors to consider. How long have they been in business, do they have a good BBB standing, is their shop and display room clean and well kept? Do the salespeople seem professional? All are important when investing in such a non-essential purchase. And, above all, buy within your means. All of us are tempted to over estimate the value and time spent on our individual pursuits. Why commit to a multi-thousand dollar luxury item when a less expensive and more practical purchase may do the job. Good boating MSHFN.