Getting Your Boat in the Water
Okay, you bought it. Now, what do you do?
Whether the boat is new or used, make sure your insurance is in force before you accept legal responsibility for the boat. If you're not financing with the boat seller, this is especially important since the seller has no legal responsibility for the boat at the moment of sale.
If you're buying from a registered boat dealer, the dealer may handle all registration issues with your state. Ask them specifically what registration items they do not handle.
Each state has different laws and requirements for various things about boats including age of operator, required safety equipment and trailer restrictions. In addition, the federal government has a minimum set of safety requirements for boats.
- The following site details federal requirements: Federal Requirements and Safety Tips for Recreational Boats from the U.S. Coast Guard
- Boating in Texas, a site from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, provides info on Texas regulations, registration, safety rules, etc.
Additional things to consider:
- Your boat trailer will need registering before you can use it. Ask the seller if they can handle this registration/transfer.
- If your rig or any options on it are new, you will generally be responsible for registering individual items on your boat like radios and other "add-ons."
- Boat Theft, a brochure (pdf) from the National Insurance Crime Bureau gives tips to prevent theft.
- Make a detailed list and take snapshot of each item on your boat covered by insurance — from the hull to the engine to the radio. Put this information in a safe place away from your boat.
On-the-Water Boat Towing Insurance
If you are planning to boat on any body of water bigger than a farm pond--lake, river, ocean--a boat towing insurance policy can be a boat owner's smartest purchase. These plans function like a highway service club for the water. Just like autos, boats do break down or experience difficulty. When that happens, marine towing or assistance can cost well over $100 per hour, and the clock starts ticking when the service boat leaves its dock. In addition to paying for towing, most insurance plans also offer other benefits. Here are three major insurance plans.
- Sea Tow is a marine assistance organization that provides unlimited service area towing, covered ungroundings, fuel delivery (doesn't include cost f fuel), jump starts, prop disentanglement service, navigation assistance, sea condition reports, radio checks, and more. Gold Card Membership costs $169 per year for both fresh and salt water and includes nationwide coverage, a lake card membership is also available for $119 per year.
- BoatU.S. provides towing services through TowBoatU.S. BoatU.S. basic membership costs $25 per year ($19 online) and provides $50 per towing incident. An additional $116 provides unlimited saltwater and freshwater towing service. There are several other service options. The towing service includes on-the-water towing, battery jumps, fuel deliveries, and soft ungroundings.
Have the appropriate towing kit installed on your towing vehicle. Make sure the kit is rated for a boat the size and weight of your vessel.
For tips on towing your boat safely, check out the following sites:
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Available Cash Calculator
Your Available Cash is the maximum amount you have to spend on a boat. This calculator enables you to determine 1) the amount of cash a boat loan will yield and 2) the total Available Cash from all sources, including the loan, you have to purchase a boat.
If the estimated amount of Available Cash is too little for the boat you would like to purchase, you have several options: A higher monthly payment and/or a longer loan term will typically yield higher initial Loan Cash, thus increasing your Available Cash. You may also wish to consider alternative boats that better fit your budget.
*Check the current interest rate for the loan term.
This calculator is solely for informational purposes. It gives you a reasonably accurate estimate of your Available Cash. Results for your actual loan will vary based on your final rate and loan amount.