Trailering Magazine Archives - Featured Articles
Questions to Ask and Answers to Have
When the Topic Turns to a Larger Boat
Everybody thinks about it.
You may be perfectly happy with that 18-foot aluminum boat and its 9.9 hp outboard sitting outside on the trailer. It serves all your needs. But that doesn't keep you from dreaming about …well, something bigger.
Or you may be ready to look at a boat that can accommodate more people, with more power, more accessories and with a larger range than the one you currently own.
In both cases, there are some questions that have to be asked and some things that have to be known.
Dreams vs. Reality
"The first question I ask a customer if what are you looking for," says Bill Mudgett of Chaparell Boats. "The boater who wants to upgrade generally has some idea. I'm not looking for hull designs in their answer. I'm looking for what are they going to do with the boat? Once I know that, then I can start suggesting appropriate models."
George Hetzel, Manager of Dealer Development at Boston Whaler says customers are always asked first what they want to do with the boat? Once a Whaler dealer has that answer, they can show the particular design that will best suit the buyer's need. Follow up questions will be asked regarding what their intended budget is for a boat, how it will be stored and if they intend to spend nights on board or seek protection from the weather.
"The body of water is a key," says Louis Alcamo of Bay Watersports, a dealer for Mastercraft and Century powerboats in Grasonville, Maryland." They can be on a small lake and four people will be comfortable in a 20-foot boat because you're not traveling any great distances for a period of time. But if they intend to take that boat out into the Chesapeake or somewhere with a lot of wind and waves, then they'll need something bigger."
Mudgett agrees. "If they have no plans to overnight or do any camping, a bowrider is probably a model they ought to consider.. If they want to be out in waves of any kind and not get wet, then a cuddy cabin might be the better boat. So I'll also ask how many people they normally take out on their current boat? With those two answers, that's a good beginning for a dealer to start making suggestions. Another way to get to this point is to simply ask,'well, what don't you want?' You'd be surprised how many boaters considering an upgrade can answer that question."
But as happens anytime a boat is involved, there aren't any firm rules. Sometimes a boat owner decides they want something completely different from what they currently own. Ron Young of Tri-State Marine in Deale, Maryland has been selling boats for 15 years, some of them to people looking for a new experience. "I had a recent customer with a 23-foot boat that he used for bay fishing who decided he wanted to upgrade and go into the ocean. He bought a 28-foot boat with twin outboards. Another couple had fished but decided to explore and cruise instead. Suddenly, they wanted a boat with storage."
A number of BoatUS Trailering Club Members have written letters about their experiences with upgrades. The most common reason for making the decision to have a larger boat is based on children. The result is a need to have more versatility with a boat than when only two people were on board. Children require entertainment. Entertainment requires both capability to pull a tube or a wakeboard or a skier as well as room for carrying more food, a head and places to put games and a change of clothes. One other theme became common in these letters from Members: parents seek a place on board for their own quiet time while the children are sleeping or swimming. It can be something as simple as a seat located away from the cockpit.
Bill Mudgett says children change not only how a family occupies the hours during the week but during weekends as well. "Dads and moms realize they need to spend some quality time with their family and having a boat is a good way to do it. But having the right kind of boat to do it is important. With a family, seating onboard is an issue. They need storage for a wakeboard. They need things for kids to do, be it water skis or swimming."
Ron Young agrees. "Safety is always an issue and so a family will be looking at boats where everything is on one level if possible. A walk-through deck is a feature that is attractive to families because there is no climbing over, stepping down/up or around to move about the boat. Having a bathroom or a porta-potty is important too."
Louis Alcamo of Bay Watersports notices something else when a family is in the showroom. "As we all know, having a boat that makes the kids happy is important. If kids are attracted to a particular model, chances are good that's the boat the family is going to buy." Alcama points to the competition tow bar for water skiers and the new bridge designed for pulling wake boarders as two examples of what can attract the younger boater to the Mastercraft models.
These five questions provide a good starting point for anyone giving any kind of thought about The Upgrade:
1. Is there room to park the larger boat and trailer outside? In the event you don't have room in your driveway, does your community have any restrictions on boats and trailers being parked on the street?
2. If the boat and trailer are used, what will it cost to put them in working condition (if applicable).
3. What will the upgrade allow you to do that you aren't able to do with your current boat (water ski, travel farther, accommodate more people on board) and how often will you be using the boat for these specific reasons? Is this enough to merit the cost of this pending purchase?
4. Will your current tow vehicle be able to accommodate the increased load.
5. Is the boat wider than 8 and one-half feet? If it is, then you will be required to apply for special permits for every state in which you tow (note: boats that are 27-feet or longer usually exceed the eight and one-half feet beam).
The preferred way to finance a boat is to walk into the broker with cash and negotiate a price. It's also the rarest way to do it. Enter financing.
Depending on the size of boat you are considering, most lenders will insist upon a survey by a qualified expert prior to approving a loan. Once you have selected a lender, it is essential to pick a surveyor who is approved by the financing organization. This protects the lender from possibly financing a boat that is worth less than the amount of money it has the given the buyer and it protects the buyer from owing more than the boat is worth. Money aside, the marine survey also points out areas where the boat needs attention and in some cases, protects the buyer from getting involved with a weekend special project that can last all year at a cost of thousands of dollars.
BoatUS provides loans for new boats beginning at $25,000 with a down payment of 15% for a period of 15 years .The BoatUS web page has an online calculator to figure monthly payments for prospective buyers: http://www.boatus.com/boatloans
While many banks and credit unions are quick to say they'll write a loan for a new or used boat, marine finance industry experts urge consumers to work with an institution that specializes in this particular area. Many bank branches may be able to offer a lower interest rate but it is usually for a period no longer than seven years. The best deals are going to be found when doing business with a lending institution that has a background is marine finance.
The idea behind insurance has always been to plan for the absolute worst and do everything possible to make sure the absolute worst doesn't happen. Most of the time, it doesn't. But when the day doesn't go as planned, having the right kind of insurance will protect your investment…and depending on the circumstances, you.
There are a number of caveats about which buyers need to be aware when the topic turns to insurance. Jim Nolan, manager of the BoatUS Marine Insurance Division says knowing what is in the policy you are about to sign today will bring peace of mind in the event that policy is needed tomorrow. Put another way: it's important to read the fine print. He suggests paying attention to the following:
Storm Damage BoatUS insurance policies cover all weather-related events but some carriers leave themselves an "out" by stating the policy is invalid in the case of "named storms" (such as Tropical Storm Gabriella or Hurricane Andrew). Others will offer a "storm deductible" that can costs as much as 10% of the insured value.
Trailering BoatUS covers the boat while it is being trailered. If you desire insurance for the trailer, this is a separate item. When the trailer is added, the policy is for the physical loss of the trailer while the liability for any damage or injury to a third party would be covered by your tow vehicle policy. Some insurance carries cover a boat on a trailer only if it is being carried by a professional transport hauler. Other companies, including BoatUS, will limit a policy's coverage for a trailered boat depending on the size and value of the boat.
Medical coverage Most policies include a set amount of medical payment coverage if liability is also purchased. BoatUS has a standard payment of $1,000 for medical expenses but policy owners can buy higher amounts if so desired.
Actual Cash Value vs. Agreed Value An insurance policy usually falls into one of these two categories. If repairs to the boat exceed the value of the policy, the boat is either covered for its value at the time of the loss (Actual Cash Value), or the boat is covered for an agreed-upon value at the time of the loss. PWC's are always covered under Actual Cash Value. In the case of Agreed Value, depending on the circumstance of the loss, the boat is covered for the cost of a new replacement.
"I'm seeing a new trend in boat-buying," observes Chaparelle's Bill Mudgett. "A lot of our first-time boat buyers are starting with something in the 24-foot range. This hasn't happened before and I think it's because they not only have the income but also because they are talking to folks who already own a boat. And those people are saying if you start with an 18-foot runabout, you're going to want to upgrade to a 24-foot boat in a few years so save the expense and the time of that extra step and just get a 24-foot boat now. "
Ron Young of Tri-State Marine says customers are better able to do their homework on the various models that are available. The Internet is one reason but the number of boat shows around the country is another. "The person thinking about an upgrade usually has a good idea of what they want their next boat to be able to do. It becomes a matter, then, of finding the model that is going to do it."
So if you are having those thoughts about The Upgrade, make sure you are also getting answers to the questions you are going to be asked. If you don't, you'll be looking for Another Upgrade in a few years.