Let’s go boating! It’s easier than you think

Owning your own vessel is not necessarily out of reach; all the tools you need are available online or at your local marina.

STATEWIDE — You want to get into boating but have no idea where to start. The good news is boating’s barriers to entry are not as high as you might believe. Obviously there is a lot to know about buying and owning a boat. However with a little bit of patience you will find there are multiple resources available to walk you through the entire process and arm you with everything you need to know about the sale process, storage, insurance, navigation and everything else associated with acquiring and owning your own boat.

Online Tools and Guides

Charles Fort, BoatUS’s director of consumer protection, said consumers should do as much research as possible before pulling the trigger on a boat purchase.

Discover Boating is perhaps one of the best resources available to first-time and novice boaters. You can explore different types of boats and find consumer-friendly information on financing, insurance, vessel operation, what to do before you buy, how to get on to the water, the lifestyle of boaters, and whether to buy new or used.

Meanwhile BoatUS features a Boat Buyers Toolbox to provide practical tips to all levels of boaters for the purchase of their first or next vessel.

The ToolBox gives you tips on where to look for a boat, how to determine a vessel’s condition and value, dealing with insurance, and avoiding scams. There is also information on used boats and the differences between warranties and service contracts.

Doing a simple search on boating-themed websites (Discover Boating, BoatUS, NMBA) could provide you with all the information you need of what kind of boat suits your needs and how to properly finance a purchase.jannoon028/Shutterstock
Doing a simple search on boating-themed websites (Discover Boating, BoatUS, NMBA) could provide you with all the information you need of what kind of boat suits your needs and how to properly finance a purchase.jannoon028/Shutterstock

Boat Shows and Classes

Boat shows and boating classes are often great introductions into how to recreate on the water. Attending a boat show, for example, could provide insight of what vessel best suits your needs. Meanwhile boating classes are ideal for all boaters, whether you are a novice learning the Rules of the Road or a veteran seeking to have your skills refreshed.

Boat Shows

The Los Angeles and San Diego areas are home to several annual boat shows, including the Southern California In-Water Boat Show set to debut on Sept. 22 in San Pedro (visit socalboatshow.com for more information).

Boat shows are an ideal forum to learn about boating and find out what kind of vessel works best for you. There are plenty of seminars to attend and vendors on site who can explain the various amenities and safety techniques available to potential boaters. Local and state officials are also on hand, for the most part, so you can ask questions about marinas and boating regulations.

Also attending boat shows are brokers, who can answer questions about financing and how to pay for a boat.

Each boat show has hundreds of boats, in water, available for viewing. You might be able to negotiate a deal that works for you at one of these events, as boat shows are ideal forums for deal making.

The following boat shows take place in Southern California annually:

Boat Classes

There are a myriad of boating classes offered up and down the coast, almost all of which can be found by a simple internet search.

U.S. Coast Guard’s Auxiliary features a variety of public education courses on boating safety, general sailing skills, GPS and navigation, seamanship, and tying lines and knots. More information is available at cgaux.org.

Marinas and harbors often offer boating safety courses, as well.

Chula Vista Marina, for example, offers $10 courses on boating safety, how to read a nautical chart and what to do if you are suddenly in command of a vessel during an emergency.

Several options for boating education are available in Marina del Rey and can be explored at visitmarinadelrey.com/sailing/classes/.

Boating courses are also offered by marine-themed organizations such as Westwind Sailing and Orange Coast College’s School of Sailing and Seamanship.

The United States Power Squadrons provides coursework in Ventura on boating and navigation basics, seamanship, and communications.

Know the costs

If this is your first-ever boat purchase keep in mind, similar to buying a home or vehicle, money does not stop flowing at the end of the transaction.

Slip fees are paid in addition to your loan payments, insurance rates, boat maintenance, fuel, and other potential costs.

Fort says boaters should allocate at least 10 percent of the value of a boat for every year they own a vessel to cover the costs of annual maintenance and slip fees.

The Discover Boating website offers a little insight on what to expect when it comes to boat maintenance.

“Boat, trailer, and motor maintenance can be as simple as a freshwater wash down after each use and keeping them covered between adventures, helping to keep maintenance costs at bay,” the website explained. “Costs for routine maintenance vary by region, but for more involved services, such as oil changes and winterizing, expect to pay what you would for your car on an hourly basis. Pre-owned boats can require significantly more maintenance.”

Where you store your boat will also affect your overall monthly costs. Options include keeping your boat at a slip, parking it in your driveway and trailer it to a marina, or have it rest in a dry boat storage.

There are many marinas between Santa Barbara and San Diego. Below is a sampling of slip fees at a handful of marinas for a 20-foot boat:

  • Santa Barbara Harbor: $8.60 per foot per month
  • Ventura West Marina: $11.25 per foot per month
  • Alamitos Bay Marina: $165.45 per month
  • Dana Point Marina: $273 per month
  • Kona Kai Marina: $23 per foot per month.

A new powerboat will cost you, on average, $37,000 to purchase, though lenders who finance vessel purchases often offer loan terms of 10 to 15 years or longer to keep monthly payments manageable, according to the National Marine Bankers Association (NMBA).

There are multiple options available for potential boat owners to finance a vessel.

Discover Boating states a new boat can be finance for as little as $250 per month.

More information about boat financing can be found on Discover Boating’s and NMBA’s websites.

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