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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