In an age where cell phones and video games often replace quality outdoor time, getting your kids on a boat can be the healthy relief for your family no matter what their age. Spending the day on the water can create an interest in boating that will last a lifetime and be passed down to future generations. The memories made fishing, tubing, or playing at a sandbar are often some of the most cherished ones as we get older.
The number of new boater registrations is steadily shrinking, however, according to a study by the industry group GrowBoating.org. The study cites to major implications that have caused the decline in numbers, particularly the recovery from the recession from 2008 to 2011.
The other issue keeping new boaters from jumping in is the knowledge barrier. Families that didn’t grow up boating have anxiety about what it takes to be a boater, the rules of the water, what type of boat to buy, and even how to use it. While there is definitely a cost associated with boating, it is far more of an investment in your lifestyle and family’s well-being that will have positive benefits for years to come. Below are a few ways to get acclimated with the idea of being a boat owner.
Take a boating safety class
Spending a little time on Google can yield many online resources that show local schedules of boating classes taught by the Coast Guard or the Power Squadrons. These courses go over many of the proper boating and yachting safety requirements such as what gear to buy and how to use it, what the markers mean, how to read the weather forecast, and what to do in case of an emergency.
Attend a boat show
There are several major boat shows each year like the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show and the Miami Boat Show, but regional shows are always scheduled in almost every state. This gives you a chance to climb on board every type of boat or yacht there is, new or used, and in all different price ranges. Popular brands like Sea Ray Yachts for example, have models that range from 18 feet up to 40 feet. Most shows have a wide variety of fishing boats, wakeboard boats, cruising yachts, and motor yachts to really narrow down how you might use the boat the most.
Talk to a professional yacht broker
Most professional yacht brokers are stewards of the industry and of boating in general. If you are really contemplating buying a boat, this is a great place to start. Professional brokers have years of experience fitting people into the right boat based on their needs, budget, and lifestyle. For someone buying a boat, using a broker costs you nothing as they get paid from the seller, just like real estate. Many brokers will even take the time to help you learn about your new boat, recommend marinas, and give you tips on where to boat.
Rent or charter before you buy
Renting a boat or chartering a yacht prior to buying can be a great way to experience boating firsthand without the expense of buying it. For smaller boaters, renting a boat for the day is economical and can be a great way to introduce your family to being on the water. Rental companies will generally give you a crash course in operating the boat and will help you dock it upon arrival. For the larger yacht owner, chartering through a professional agency can fit you with the right captain in the right destination for an unbelievable luxury vacation.