So you have decided that you want a new pontoon or boat! Before you head down to your local boat or pontoon dealer there are several key questions you should ask yourself. Listed below are 6 easy questions to answer that will help you make a better and more informed decision.
1. Can I afford to buy a new pontoon or boat?
Boats and pontoons are not cheap these days, in case you have not noticed! A huge portion of the cost is the engine and getting that extra horsepower can really add to the purchase prices. You can expect to see prices ranging from $25,000 (good entry point for new pontoon boats) all the way up to $50,000 (good entry point for new sport boats). These are starting ranges, however, they can get much more expensive as you add options, look into specialty boats, etc.
2. How much horsepower do I need on a Pontoon?
This is the most important question. Many pontoon buyers get tricked into the “low price point” 50HP special at the local Boat show or dealer lot only to find out once on the water you can walk faster than that boat will go. If you plan to take the family out and do any type of water sport you need at least 115HP and 150HP or up is where you really want to be. Listed below is a speed chart for the approx. speeds you should see from a pontoon.
- 50 HP ~13MPH,
- 115HP = 25 MPH
- 150HP =35 MPH
- 200HP = 42MPH
- 250HP = 48 to 53 (depending in the model)
3. Where will I store my new pontoon or boat?
Will you be one of those people that has a shiny boat sitting in their driveway 9 months out of the year? or will you opt for keeping your boat at the marina? This is an important decision and there are many pros and cons to each. If you tow, you need a truck that can handle the wieght and size of your pontoon or boat. As a good rule of thumb, a pontoon will get about 8 to 10 MPG when on the road. Its like pulling a very large parachute. A Ski Boat can do a little better even though they tend to be heavier due to less wind drag. Then there is the cost of a trailer and where at your house will it go exactly?
If at a marina, expect to spend $1500 and up to store a boat. Covered slips are even more! Do you homework
4. Can I take care of your new boat?
Think about how you take care of your car – do you wash and wax your own car? Do you keep it detailed, neat and clean at all times? Owning a boat is something that requires a lot of maintenance. We find that the type of person who ENJOYS doing all of their own auto maintenance makes the best boat owner. If this is not your style – then you’ll have to consider marina storage and possibly hiring others to keep your boat clean and maintained.
5. Do I have time to enjoy my new pontoon or boat?
Buying a treadmill and having it end up as a place to pile things is bad enough – buying a new boat and having it sit in your driveway because you never have the time to get out and enjoy it is a very expensive lesson. Take stock of how much free time you actually have, and how much of that time you can dedicate to getting out on the water.
6. How big (or small if your lake or ocean?)
This is really important (read carefully). When you buy a house you always need to ask, what is traffic like here at 7:30 Monday morning. It is always nice when the Realtor takes you out on Sunday afternoon or at lunch … right? Lakes are the same way. You have to get the right boat for your body of water. Too many times folks do not test drive a boat at all or at a time when no one is one the lake. Make sure you get out there on a weekend when it is busy. You will quickly learn if your boat is the right one for you. Many folks will never go out again after a bad experience.
7. Are there other options to buying a new pontoon or boat?
If these questions cement your desire to buy a new boat – that’s great! We hope you and your family will get the most out of the boating lifestyle. However, if these questions give you reason to second-guess, then we have done our job. Nobody should have to make a $60,000 mistake.
So what are some other options? Some people rent, and there are a lot of things to consider about renting. Especially liability – 99% of the time, when you rent a boat, you assume ALL liability to the boat, and more importantly, to any property damage or personal injuries. That can be an expensive proposition.
Another great trend is joining a boat club. A boat club is much like a country club – you pay an amount of money each month and in turn – you have access to an entire fleet of boats, rather than only the boat you purchased. Much like a country club member reserves a tee-time, a boat club member reserves their time on the boat. Boat clubs are perfect for those who simply don’t have the time to maintain a boat. With a boat club, you simply show up and use the boat, park it when you are done and go home. The club handles all of the hassles. Boat clubs also keep you covered as far as insurance and liability goes.
We hope this article helps in making the best decision possible. The boating lifestyle is one of the most rewarding choices you can make for you and your family, and the memories you make on the water will last a lifetime. Happy boating, and we’ll see you on the water!