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Try to avoid ‘NBF’ when looking for a new boat

July 26, 2019
By GEORGE TUNISON , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Summer may be the best time of all when thinking about that new or lovingly used or first boat. Life is short, go ahead treat yourself.

After rising from the blacktop after fainting due to sticker shock, maybe that new boat might not be in your budget? If the price doesn't matter, good for you. For everyone else, don't be discouraged as it's now time to look for a great deal on a well maintained used boat, but be prepared as the used boat market is also strong for obvious reasons.

The first rule of boat buying is first recognizing that you may already have the dreaded "New Boat Fever." NBF is more than, I'm thinking about buying a boat. That's rational thought. If more than 70% of your daytime thoughts are about a new boat and how are you going to hide it at Larry's house from my wife who goes to work each day and needs at least four new tires - you have NBF. These totally irrational thoughts are sure first stage symptoms. Fortunately, if diagnosed early, there's still hope for recovery without expensive therapy.

Without recognizing the disease, you may make the No. 1 classic mistake of falling in love at first sight/gotta have it now and end up with a leaking lemon, a mechanical misfit, paid too much or simply, just the wrong boat for the job.

To cure NBF, it's really a three step process. R-TAB-R as in Recognize you have NBF (buy her tires right away before it becomes deposit money), Take A Breath, Research.

First define what kind of boat you need. Will this be a family cruiser going offshore? A hardcore flats fishing machine that floats in 5 inches of water? A double duty flats/bay/family fun boat? What is your budget?

Once you've defined the boat's mission, then start talking to dealers, pro guides, pro crabbers and netters that use their boats and engines daily. Haunt launching ramps. Most all boat owners will readily tell you about this "piece of junk I bought" or bad experiences with dealers and service.

How much do you know about boats and engines? Cylinder compression? Milky oil? How much water is in the fuel tank? Last serviced and the records to show it? Engine hours? Fireworks show when switches are turned on? Clean title? Trailer and tires road worthy? Seller willing to dicker? Will the seller agree to have a third party certified marine mechanic look over the boat which would include a compression test if you represent yourself as a serious buyer? Seller agrees to a test ride?

If you can answer all of these questions positivity, you are a prepared buyer. Not so sure about most of them? Remember Recognize - Take A Breath Research, then get an experienced friend or hire a pro to look it over.

Never buy a boat if the seller won't agree to a mechanic's inspection. Walk away. A serious buyer asking a motivated seller to split the cost of the tech's time is not unreasonable. If paying bothers the seller and you love the boat, then pay for it yourself. Final happiness is the goal.

The internet hosts a few sites for used boats and after you've defined the type of boat you need check them out to see what's available and price ranges.

I used to find my current flats boat. Turns out, the boat was five miles from my house, a creampuff and at a good price.

If you find an older boat in really good shape but the motor has lots of hours or no motor at all, you might be able to strike a good deal and take the old hull and get it repowered with a new or rebuilt motor still coming in far under the price tag for a whole new outfit.

Iced, wet towels around the neck can save the day.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or



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