Boating Lake County Blog

Tips for Buying Your First Boat in Lake County

Northern Illinois Boat Show

There are a slew of boat shows going on as we lead into the spring. Have you gone out searching for your dream boat?

For Lake County residents and visitors, the Northern Illinois Boat Show is rapidly approaching. The show will be held at the Lake County Fair Grounds in Grayslake from February 28 – March 3. You can’t just go in empty handed with a plan of attack. Buying a boat in Lake County is similar to buying a house or a car. Proper research must be maintained before making that leap.

With this comprised checklist, you have taken a step in the right direction in making your purchase for your new boat.

Select the type of boat

There are many different styles of boats to choose from. Taking into consideration the activities utilized for the boat, as well as the body of water you’re going venture on are typical questions you need to ask yourself.
The leading activities on a boat are cruising, fishing and water sports. You research boats that are for multiuse. Below are the categories for each of the boating activities:


Cruising boats are excellent for entertaining guests. Therefore, these boats have plenty of room provided for day boating or and an overnight stay. These are some of the styles listed below:

• Bowrider
• Deck Boat
• Pontoon Boat
• High-Performance
• Express cruiser
• Trawler
• Motor yacht


Many of the fishing boats are constructed to have open cockpits and with an abundance of deck space. In this style of boat, there is less seating than the cruiser. Although they are smaller, these boats still provide overnight accommodations. Other fishing boats styles are:

• Bass boat
• Flats boat
• Center console
• Cubby Cabin
• Open express
• Convertible/​sport fisherman
• Jon boat

Water Sports

These boats are constructed for individuals who are avid water skiers and wakeboarders. Water sports are only suggested for those who are experienced on the water. Some recommended boats in this category are:
• Personal watercraft
• Bowrider
• Sport boat
• Ski boat
• Wakeboard boat
• Jet boat
• Inflatable

Indicate the Boat Size

In most cases, the bigger the boat is the better. If the boat is bigger, usually the vessel will carry more features i.e. cabins, galleys and much more. Your experience in driving a boat comes into play because usually with bigger boats, you will have more controls to comprehend.

Nobody wants a hassle when you’re relaxing on the waters. If you’re a first-time buyer, the boat size shouldn’t stretch pass 22 to 24 feet. Also, an estimate of how many guests you would invite on your vessel.

To be used or not to be used; that is the question.

Would rather buy a new or used boat? There are benefits and disadvantages to both ends of the spectrum. New boats will work properly from the beginning of usage. Exploring the dealer or boat show exhibitor’s reputability is significant when purchasing. By going online and researching the Better Business Bureau is a method of finding out if you have a trustworthy dealer.

Obviously the disadvantage to new boats is the price tag. You will possibly pay an inflated value, but you will also be covered with a warrantee.

Used boats may or may not still be covered under a manufacture’s warrantee. The quality of the boat may not to be in the best condition. You also won’t receive a history of the boat like damage or accident report.
It’s not always a dealer that will sell you the boat. Brokers or private sellers may not have the familiarity of the watercraft like dealers. Contacting a surveyor associated with the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS) or the National Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMS) would be lucrative to hire.

You may be buyer that has the time and money to do a fix-up project. If you are sav vy in the department, you may be more interested in buying a new boat. Sure, the boat could be in good condition after a test ride and the purchase could be a steal. Boat buyers must be skeptical or do the research to discover a reputable dealer.

It is in your best interest to buy a used boat less than three years old.

Brands and Models

Take the time to visit the seller and give the boat a test spin.

You must pay attention to the beam, weight, draft, ideal cruising speed, level of noise, ABYC Report, brand CSI rating and equipment. Going to a boat showroom and envisioning yourself at the wheel is important.
How comfortable do you feel sitting at the helm? Is their sufficient legroom? How far is the reach to the wheel and controls? Can you see clearly at a sitting or standing position?

Checking the basics of the boat like oil dipsticks, power steering levels and coolant levels is something you should look into. Ask the dealer or seller how often you need to check this.

Examine the small print

The contract on the boat sometimes is laced with extenuations, intricate language and conditional terms that could be detrimental to a buyer. Make sure you look over the fine print and if you are unsure about any statement, contact a lawyer.

Contact a Current Boat Owner

Need to know more about anything else before buying? Visit your potential port and ask boat owners information about the boat. Those individuals will be the most honest and non-bias advice you receive as you speculate your future purchase.

Test out before buying
It is in your best interest to do so. It can be a slight issue if you are buying in the winter season. That being said, a road trip to a warmer climate may be a good choice or waiting till you have a hands-on opportunity. You don’t want to empty your bank account for something you’re uncomfortable with.

You’re never too old to learn

When operating your new vessel, you must be savvy on the natural elements i.e. wind, waves, tides, currents, weather and how the rest of boat traffic flows. For more boat education, continue here

Many states require boating individuals to obtain a minimum of a safe boating certificate. This indicates that you have passed an approved boating course. You may also enroll for the course online at the BoatUS Online Boating Course. Courses are also instructed by the U.S. Power Squadron or the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

For more advice on your first boat purchase, continue here and/​or here

Once you’ve taken the time to save and purchase, you will be on your way to a new lifestyle on one of our beautiful 75 Lake County lakes.

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