Boat Buyer Sins and Considerations

Boater's Chat Boat Buying Information Muskoka

We continue our discussion of sound bowrider, pontoon boat and fishing boat purchasing rules as they apply to the 2015 Toronto Boat Show or as an upcoming guide to the right informed in season purchase.  In today’s world we are bombarded with marketing spin and the words or phases “sale”….”save now”….”time limited”….”limited stock hurry”…..”clearance”….and so on!  Price in my opinion has become too much of a buying decision over quality and purchasing the actual right quality item for my family.  I remind everyone again that a major boat purchase should be looked at as a long-term buying decision as you can expect to have this boating purchase for perhaps 2 decades.

The Four Non Recoverable Cardinal Sins of Boat Buying 

  • Not purchasing sufficient horsepower to meet actual family needs.
  • Buying the wrong size and hull shape versus actual needs.
  • Placing price or the deal over considerations of what actually I should be purchasing which includes the failure to match long-term ownership requirements including changing family requirements.
  • Not achieving best value for your hard-earned dollars usually revolving around construction and certain boat line overpricing .

The Big Five Boat Buying Considerations

  • Required size both in beam and length to meet family seating requirements now and in the future coupled with consideration of just what body of water is home turf for my family in combination with the average boating conditions.  A caveat to this is the ability to haul this with my available vehicle or are you going to adjust the vehicle to match the towing requirements?
  • Required Horsepower to meet actual family needs now and in the future.
  • Type of boat…pontoon…bowrider or fishing boat.  Understand that each has its strengths as it relates to its features and designed purpose.
  • Construction quality and how it interacts with longevity, maintenance and resale value.
  • Servicing requirements and how this will interact with ownership, its costs and ease of attainment.

The Toronto Boat Show can be a very intimidating place!  All of us are seeking out the best deal which should revolve around the best value for the money understanding that time of ownership should enter this decision in a big way.  Sit down or stand up but do have a real and honest discussion with the members of the family on just what features and what traits the new boat has to have today and in the near and long-term future.  Have a plan and a budget including a monthly payment that is acceptable and prudent.

The 75 Percent Rule

Those who know me have heard this many times and I absolutely believe it make sense for all boat buyers!

  • Buy a boat that will do what is required of it 75% of the time minimum with respect to size, horsepower and family activities.  It is too expensive to say a boat that will carry safely 10 people once per season when the rest of the time the maximum is 5/6.  Or for example my uncle visits the cottage once per season and he likes to ski but he weights 285lbs….too much horsepower for the rest of the family requirements when no one is over 185 lbs.

A Word About Service

At the Toronto Boat Show you will have the ability to see, touch and examine many different boat  lines represented by dealers throughout Ontario all looking to do business with you.  Huntsville Marine is a Muskoka Marina located on Fairy Lake in Huntsville, Ontario.  Generally speaking Huntsville Marine services boating families for some 90 minutes in each direction as this represents a convenient distance and time to have or arrange service.   Each marina in Ontario is an independent business entity of which the majority are family owned and operated and some can be fiercely thought patterned to service or not service based on where you purchase your boat.  You do have the right to purchase any boat that you see fit from the Company or marina you choose…but marinas retain the same rights to choose who and when they offer service to.   

Some boat buyers do decide primarily for price considerations to buy a boat brand that is not represented in their cottage or expected use area.  Any marina that has a reputation as a good servicing dealer will not be able to service you the same as if you purchased the boat from them.  The main reason is that they are already very busy and most should or do operate on a priority service situation for those having decided to purchase from them.  In many cases this can mean weeks waiting to have your boat serviced and warranty may not be available at all.   From a dealership perspective completing Mercury Outboard or Mercruiser Sterndrive Warranty for a unit not originally purchased at that dealership is a comfortable situation as we will get paid for our service.  Volvo on the other hand and Huntsville Marine is a servicing dealer….not so much.

Just last summer we have a gentleman approach us requiring warranty service on a Four Winns boat.   This person did not talk to Huntsville Marine or any other marina in our area…bought the Four Winns as he felt he was receiving a deal.  The boat needed some significant warranty work…..but Huntsville Marine and no other marina’s in Muskoka are Four Winns dealers…..so he then had the requirement to return the boat to Kingston each and every time ( 4 hours each way) for Four Winns warranty.   It is not safe to assume that any dealer can and will handle your outboard or engine warranty when you chose not to purchase the power plant from them.   I know of one major dealer that says ” if you did not buy it here then we will not service it here”.   I am not suggesting that this is right but it is what it is!  Should you buy a boat brand that is inferior with this in mind….well I personally have a problem with that as well.  It would be safe to say that if you are strongly committed to having a particular marina service your boat….time might be well spent discussing service before you buy.  The new Volvo warranty program has buyer commitments to having their power plant service by an authorized dealer or your warranty is void.

Huntsville Marine has taken the position that we will service engines purchased from outside sources and will do warranty work on the same for Mercury/Mercruiser and Volvo as we see this as an opportunity to introduce ourselves and start a relationship.   It would be wise to consider service in your purchase and if you cannot buy the brand that the local dealer has most dealers would appreciate at least the opportunity to speak with you. 

For those living in the Toronto region and who will be utilizing their boat in Muskoka or Halliburton…..Wise advice would be to consider buying if possible in the same area as your cottage….you will receive better service and have someone close by when you need advice or a favour!